Our trip from Dubuque, Iowa to Spring Green, Wisconsin was fairly uneventful. We first went to our hotel..er lodge that we were staying at The Round Barn Lodge first, though on thew as we saw the Spring Green Fire Department / EMS building, which just struck me as very pretty.
Up close you can kind of tell that it's not super special construction or anything, but it still looks very good, and fitting for the area, I suppose.
The Round Barn Lodge was chosen because we were on the off peak rates, which are quite a bit less expensive then the regular rates. It was clean, the staff was helpful and quiet. Though we did have a bit of a problem in Dave and JoAnne's room with one of their neighbors being a bit loud, though they did quiet down, not too late. Apparently during the night, there was a firetruck that came near by our hotel...That's what Dave and JoAnne said, I never woke up...so I had no clue.
For dinner that night, we headed over to The Bank Restaurant and Wine Bar. As the name suggests, it is a converted bank. We sat in the vault room, so we had a little bit of privacy (I think perhaps it was the Brother Ali t-shirt I was wearing that got us separated from the other guests). I have to say that dinner was pretty good. Certainly a surprising experience in a small town. Though I don't think it was really worth what was paid. Maybe 10-15% less would've been more fair. I had a glass of Boom Boom Syrah (which is one of my favorite wine grapes) from Washington, which was really quite good (I have since bought a bottle). I guess my biggest complaint had to do with my dessert.
First, all three of the cupcakes were surprisingly dense. I don't know if this was on purpose, or not, but I guess I'm used to light and fluffy in my cupcakes. My biggest problem was with the rightmost cupcake, which was gingerbread with crystallized ginger on top. The problem I had is ginngerbread does not have the same flavor as the crystallized ginger, so the crystallized ginger just dominated over the pretty good taste of the gingerbread. So if there was a lot less and a lot smaller pieces or no crystallized ginger at all, it would've been better.
For breakfast, we headed over to the Spring Green General Store Cafe, which was quite good and inexpensive (Shannon and I ate for under $20, if I remember right). A good hearty breakfast before a day of hiking.
We stopped by the fire department (see above) on our way out of town to take a few pictures. We headed over to the Taliesin Visitor Center. This building used to be a restaurant, and is (partially) again. But it is very nice and has a great view of the Wisconsin River (I think that's what the river is), across the road.
I love the geometric shapes that are inspired by Wright. My brain just loves them...I can't really explain it. I believe that's me in the background there...
We wandered around the store for a bit... If we had the money, we could have spent a whole lot (there were these chairs, about $1k each, and a table, near $6k and a ton of other things). So when the time came, we gathered up and headed out on the ~4 hour estate tour.
We got on the mini-bus and started off at the Unity Chapel (the private chapel of the family of the Lloyd-Jones, including Wright). We saw the grave marker of Frank Lloyd Wright (he's not actually buried there).
There were other markers there of the family since the building was dedicated in 1886. Apparently it is tradition in the family to get married and etc in the building. We then headed to the Hillside Home School.
Apparently people still live and learn here in the school. We actually heard a few. I was really quite sad that we couldn't take pictures inside the building. There were great shots that I could have gotten, were I able to...but I can understand why, to some extent. The building was certainly showing it's age, or the inability to maintain and upkeep it at the level that it probably should be. There were certainly areas where I was shocked as to how much age was showing. Kind of detracts from the whole mystical ideal that I believe is tried to be put forward with Wright.
We went through various areas of the building, the drawing studio, around the building, the theater and then headed up to the Romeo and Juliet Windmill.
The windmill has been rebuilt and restored, and the area provides a great view of the surrounding area. The concept is that the taller building, Romeo, protects and breaks the wind for the shorter building, Juliet, who supports Romeo. Certainly a nice story.
We passed several other buildings on the estate, which had been used for other things, but are now occupied by the Fellowship members, including Tan-Y-Deri. We also passed the more then appropriately named Midway Farms building. as we headed on towards the home and personal studio of Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesin.
We met Sherpa, the cat, and headed up to the terrace to have tea, coffee, water, and a rest before we continued on. The terrace had a wonderful view, which just seems natural of the area...
Even Sherpa enjoyed the view.
After the break, and my fat ass needed a bit of one, we headed in and saw courtyards, indoors, and several buildings. The inside itself, in certain areas, I found pretty frustrating (again with me being taller then the "human scale"). When I look back through the pictures that we took (they got less, because the camera that Shannon was using was running out of battery power (didn't bring the spare battery), I noticed that many different views of the building could be homes in and of themselves.
To me, the use of space, indoors, often seemed to be highly experimental, which I also got the impression that things would often get remodeled based on who was coming or etc. So something that weren't so annoying at say, Cedar Rock, were more troubling at Taliesin. The designs were still good, and provided great views, and again, I would've loved to be able to take pictures.
So in this last picture here, we have a shot through the grate, where you can see the burned out timbers of Taliesin II and III (the original burned all the way down, I believe).
While I can understand the emotional reason for rebuilding, to me, I often find myself complaining that I am not given the time to do things right the first time... I suppose if he had planned a bit, that end of the building wouldn't be having the problems that it is (it's basically built on the ashes of Taliesin II). That really kind of bugged me. Then again, it was his own house, and I suppose he can do what he wants with it.
After our tour ended, we bought some things at the store. We got some coasters, a Christmas ornament (continuing the tradition of getting at least one ornament a year), magnet and a few other things (maybe a Christmas present or two?). Then headed over to Mineral Point and had lunch at Brewery Creek Inn. I had a pint (I wasn't driving), and it was pretty good. The food was pretty good, though they did mess up Dave's order.
We did do a little, not much, searching for some Wisconsin cheese, and Dave bought some cheese curds, and then headed home. At one point, I think everyone but Dave was napping in the car.
It was a good weekend trip, and even though I'm a bit disenchanted with some of the stuff surrounding Frank Lloyd Wright, I think we'll be taking more trips to see stuff. Perhaps to Mason City (day trip), Chicago, and maybe more, depending on how things go. I also appreciated having Dave and JoAnne on the trip, because they've traveled to way north east Iowa more then we have, so they knew of good views to stop and see.
I also liked that other then the trip home, we basically took our time, had many stops, didn't have everything planned out (a nice combo of planned and seat of our pants).
I would suggest visiting Cedar Rock...and soon, because apparently the Trust for the house and grounds, which is not funded by the state, will run out in ~2 years. And after the trust runs out, it is unknown as to what will happen.