Boxing Day at House on the Rock

The kids and I left Freeport fairly early to get back to Apple River to go to House on the Rock with my family. We were going to go before, but my dad wasn’t able to get out of work, so we waited. Because we waited, we were now able to go with my brother and his family as well as my sister.

It was about an hour drive up into Wisconsin. It’s a gorgeous part of Wisconsin.

House on the Rock is somewhere I hadn’t been since I was a kid. We used to go there in the summers when we would vacation in Galena. I remember all of us (I think it was me and 4 of my siblings at the time) would pile into the Suburban. It was always so hot. The house didn’t have any air conditioning. My mom’s favorite part has always been the Carousel.

It ended up being my three kids, my nephew, my brother (Akk) and his wife, my sister (Sis), my brother (Fruitbat), and my parents.

I love seeing my brother, Fruitbat. He has been my best friend since he was born. I think one of the hardest things about living overseas is being away from him.

The story behind House on the Rock as I remember it from my childhood is this guy wanted to build this house. It was pretty crazy design. The house sits on this huge rock or rocks. Supposedly, he carried the rocks up to the ridge on his own.

It is also said Frank Lloyd Wright hated his design, so the guy built it out of spite. The design is vaguely reminiscent of a Frank Lloyd Wright house, but it’s also very chaotic.

Then there is the infinity room. I remember it being much bigger when I was little. It’s built using perspective to make it look bigger. It is also built so that it can shift up and down by a certain amount. You can feel it going up and down when you walk out to the end. At the end, is a window where you can look straight down.

The story with this one is he was told he was crazy for building it, so he built it. It’s really a gorgeous view of the woods surrounding the house.

This place has no air conditioning. It also has no heat. It was quite cold on the day we went there. It was also not very crowded, which was really nice. I remember when I was a kid, when we went, there were so many people. It was so hard to move around. Now add to that it was my parents, my brother, another brother, and a very young set of twins. It was a nightmare. To be fair, it always seemed like a circus when we went anywhere.

By the end of it all, there were 8 of us kids. My parents took us everywhere. We went on a lot of vacations and to do things all of the time. By comparison (by some grace of God) we were fairly well behaved, and if we weren’t, out we went.

Anyway, not important to this trip. I guess it is just a very sharp contrast to what I have experienced with my own family. We are definitely not as many. My mom may have wanted 8 grandchildren from me, but there was no way that was going to happen. Ha!

The main house is massive. It is this winding maze of a house. It is also very old. It is still with the 70s style carpets and colors. It is sort of like a time warp being in there.

It is surrounded by forests and other rock formations.

Once you finish in the house, there are other buildings around with collections of … stuff? Junk? I don’t know. It’s all very bizarre people come here and pay to see all of this stuff, but yet here we were.

Now this was just … crazy. It was a 2 or 3 story carving of a whale fighting with an octopus. Around is built a building with a ramped walkway lined with all kinds of collections of nautical memorabilia. It was massive and actually worth seeing. Never thought I would say that.

Then there was the street of yesterday. It was an indoor recreation of an old main street.

They had all of these random music boxes with moving parts. Many of the stories portrayed in these music boxes were about the evils of drinking alcohol. Not sure if he particularly actually believed this, but they were everywhere. Usually, the person would drink, and then the devil would come out of somewhere and take them to hell. Sort of an interesting PSA.

The last part we saw was my mom’s favorite. It was the indoor carousel. It’s been her favorite thing since I was little. Monster wasn’t too thrilled about it though because it was so loud.

There were many parts of this places she had a hard time with because of all of the noise. It’s gorgeous though. I can’t believe this thing is still running.

It is a long walk to go through this place. I think we got there around 10:30ish and we got done around 2 PM. It’s definitely worth seeing. I am really glad I got to share that with my kids as well as be there when my nephew was there.

Afterwards, we drove to Galena to go to one of our favorite places to eat. Monster had been asking to go there before we even got to the US.

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