Summer Plans

Back in Fort Wayne at my daughters home. Celebrating my grandson’s birthday today. Wednesday there’s 2 school ceremonies. Granddaughter “graduates” from kindergarten to first grade. Oldest grandson leaves elementary school for middle school.  And the little one is talking up a storm. Wow. Growing up!

Haven’t decided where the next road will take me. I’ve been thinking about maybe up into Michigan. I lived there for 10 years through high school and college. Later this summer I have a high school reunion in Three Rivers, but I want to see the “top of the hand” again. Perhaps a jaunt over to Mackinac Island. Holland is nice too, although I think I’m too late for the Tulip Festival.

In July I will be volunteering at the 3 Rivers Festival in Fort Wayne. (Funny how the name “Three Rivers” has been in my life so much.)

I’ll also be seeing some live shows. A play about an author I love. And a concert. More on those later.

 

 

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How Vincent Broke a Leg and Family Time

One nice thing about retirement is that when family needs you, you can be there for them.

Last week Vincent broke his leg. I was driving through a downpour and didn’t see an object on the road. It blew a hole in a rear tire and so I had to stop. Fortunately I was about 500 yards from a gas station, where I pulled in and called the Roadside Assistance Program that I have through Good Sam.  They changed my tire and I drove to the nearest Walmart to get a new tire. Then my sister called.

My brother had a small health scare which resulted in a trip to the emergency room. I was wandering around Indiana and about a hundred miles from where he lives. My sister, who lives there also, called me and asked me if I could come. So I did.

He’s fine and came home the same day, but I’m spending some time with them now. I probably won’t be traveling for a while.

I had originally envisioned my retirement to be all travel with a few stops for family events. But now, it is nice to realize that travel is not the all consuming passion I had thought it would be. Family time is so important and I am grateful for the way my life has evolved so that I can spend time with them when they need me.

Wisconsin – Governor Dodge State Park

On my trip to the House on the Rock, I stayed at the Governor Dodge State Park. It’s an interesting mix of prairie land and woodlands. I did a couple of hikes.

Stephens Falls is a beautiful spot. It’s down in a gorge right in the middle of the upland prairie. It was named after the family that farmed this land before they donated it to the state.

Here’s a spring house that they used for refrigeration

The falls

     

This is the path down into the gorge. Stone steps, thank Goodness there’s a railing.

Then I went on a walk to find the Lost Canyon. It too is a lovely scenic spot.

                         

This State Park is nearby several places of interest. (I don’t like the term tourist attraction) The House on the Rock, Taliesin which is Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, a folklore retreat, and it’s close to Wisconsin Dells.

Southern Wisconsin is delightful. Rolling hills with farm fields stretching to the sky is the scenery.

The House on the Rock

warning: this post is full of pictures. The House on the Rock is a famous place. There are billboards all over Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa advertising it. It has been written about in several novels. So my inner tourist had to go.

In the 1950’s Alex Jorden decided to purchase the land where his family loved to picnic. It included a five story high rock formation known as Deer Shelter Rock. He got the notion to build his house on top of the rock formation. And so it began.

As the building was created, people would come by and ask to see it. After all, it was unique. Alex thought it would be great if he could get people to pay to see it. Eventually he hired staff, started charging an entrance fee, begin advertising. Millions have toured it over the past decades. When Alex passed, once of his business partners bought and continues to run it today.

The welcome center is itself a reason to visit. The grounds are laid out as gardens, and the museum contains a timeline of Jorden’s life and the history of the buildings.

After this, you go into the house.

He used the actual rockface and trees as elements of the building.

One of the rooms is called the infinity room. It hangs out over the valley without support. I went in about 10 feet.

       

Eventually, Alex brought his various collections to the site and began  putting up other buildings to house them. Until he died in 1989, his collections grew to an enormous amount. There are currently 5 warehouses on the property to showcase everything.

And I mean everything. You name it and there’s a collection of it here. Dolls, guns, nautical items, circus posters, dollhouses and miniatures, ivory carvings, model airplanes, Tiffany lamps, hand fans, vases, 19th century farm tools, carriages, marionettes,  and that’s not even a fourth of them.

There are rooms filled with automatons which are music machines. This was one of his passions. You can buy tokens to play them and when several are going at once, it can get very loud. Some are large as an entire room.

Another passion Alex had was anything to do with the sea and one whole building is dedicated to this collection. It includes a statue of a whale being attacked by a giant squid that is four stories high. You have to climb to the top of the room to see the eyes.

Even the restrooms are used as showcases. Here are two.

The most famous piece in the complex is the carousel. It claims to be the world’s larges, and indeed it has 259 animals and is three levels high. The most unusual thing about it is that none of the animals are horses.

The complex is divided into 4 parts and you can tour as many as you want for different prices. I did the whole thing and it took me six hours. The tour has been created as a winding path through the rooms and buildings. You just follow the signs and you see everything as you go along.

I think is the most amazing museum I have ever been in. If you want to go somewhere that is fun, interesting, education, and unusual, this is the place.

Scary Overnight Trip

This past weekend I joined a group of friends and went to Winchester, IN to spend the night at The Randolph County Infirmary. This building is an abandoned nursing facility. It is haunted.

The history of the place indicates it has been several types of facilities… A poor farm, a TB sanitarium, an asylum for the mentally ill, and most recently a nursing home. It burned down once and was rebuilt. There are reports of cruelty to patients, accidents, and of course, death from disease.

The organization running the event is Ghost Hunters, USA.  They gave us a history tour. Then we had three sessions with their staff who incorporated equipment that let us hear voices, supposedly of the spirits who haunt the building. (I’m not sure I believe it was real cause the machines were run by a computer program) One session was in the basement, where there is a large kitchen where “Mary” the cook hangs out. Then there was a session in one of the activity rooms. And the other was in the attic, where supposedly children still play. They have toys up there for the children to interact with.

Then we were given free run of the entire building. We stayed up till 3:00 am checking out rooms and trying to contact a spirit. We were allowed to use equipment the staff had or take pictures to see if a ghost showed up in them. We were told we could sleep anywhere, but we chose one of the bedrooms that was for the servants.

I do not have any pictures of ghosts because I did not see any. Nor did I hear anything in the halls, or sense any kind of presence.

The event was fun and interesting, but I don’t think I’d do it again.

Then it was back to Fort Wayne for a visit from my older daughter who lives in Ohio. She gave me an idea for my next trip. There’s a place in Wisconsin called the House on the Rock which is full of collections, oddities and it has a carousel.

On a sad note, Vincent has a leak! The back window seal must be loose because there’s a wet spot just inside the hatch door. If it’s not too bad I’ll wait to get it fixed when these darn storms are over.