Monday, July 4, 2011


We're in the middle of the summer vacation I had not been looking forward to at all. The House on the Rock and Wisconsin Dells. Whoop-dee-doo. A place I never wanted to go in my life and yet another waterpark resort in a tourist trap town. Yawn. Ok, well, a lot of our New Mexico vacation was all about me. I got to go to Florida with Meghan earlier this year. I will put up and shut up. Gene and the kids will have a wonderful time and I'm sure I'll have fun even though we're not going somewhere new and exciting.

I can't BELIEVE I am admitting this, but I did not regret any time I spent at the House on the Rock. I didn't just find it tolerable, I loved it. I would be more than happy to go back someday. The doll carousels were pretty creepy, but the music machines, the main carousel and the organ room were awesome! The house itself was awesome. I even enjoyed the Alex Jordan museum area and plan to read more about him. The man was insane in an unbelievably cool way. Kaylin and Gene were cuckoo for the place and even Logan really liked it. I think the guy who created the City Museum in St. Louis must have gone to the House on the Rock and decided to create a similar place, but one that people could play on all the exhibits. Wow. My name is Susy and I love the House on the Rock.

Lacking many other options in the dink town of Dodgeville, we also stayed at the House on the Rock Inn. It wasn't as quirky as I would have liked, but it did have a pretty awesome pool area with a submarine playground for the kids and an outdoor pool with a dragon fountain. The kids loved the place. Gene and I liked it fine, but I don't know if I'd bother staying there again.

On the way to Dodgeville, we stopped at the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa. I had never been there and had been told it was a really cool place. I should have read and taken in the order of "museum and aquarium" because I have to admit I was expecting way more aquarium exhibits. I was really excited when we pulled up and saw two separate buildings. Then we went inside and it was mostly museum. It was a really good museum, but I had been expecting a really good aquarium so I was a little disappointed. They had tons of interactives and some outdoor areas with walk-through boats so the kids enjoyed it. My highlight was getting attacked by a very territorial nesting red-winged blackbird. He divebombed my head over and over and scared me half to death, but since I walked away unhurt and alive it was a pretty cool experience. At least in retrospect...

We're currently at Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells. The kids have spent hours at the waterpark and Gene and Logan hit the arcade while Kaylin and I went to MagiQuest. Since Kaylin's now old enough to do everything on her own, I went ahead and got myself a wand this trip. I worked my way up to Master Magi by completing a bunch of fun interactive scavenger hunts. Kaylin is on Level 7 or something. We're planning to go back in a little while. Gene and Logan are at some place across the parking lot riding go karts and bumper cars. GWL is having a big 4th of July party this afternoon with games and contests. They're even having their own fireworks show tonight!

This morning I got up early and headed to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. It is a 40,000 acre preserve that is a release point for whooping cranes and gray wolves. It is also home to jillions of sandhill cranes, bears, otters, badgers, and tons of other animals. I had been there about 30 seconds when I saw my first sandhill cranes and deer. I drove for miles and miles around the vast preserve and saw all kinds of birds and small mammals. The sandhill cranes were all over the place! I finally made my way to a pair of lakes and saw the unmistakable whooping cranes. They were as far away as they could get, but still looked huge! I needed my binoculars to even SEE sandhill cranes that were closer. I took a picture with my point and shoot camera zoomed at maximum and I'm sure if the cranes even show up they will look like white dots. Whatever, it was really exciting! I'm glad I didn't take Gene and the kids because it was possibly the buggiest place I've ever been. I took one mile-long hike and had bugs buzzing around my head the entire time. I didn't find any ticks on me, but found one crawling on the inside of the car window. The place was so huge and confusing I got completely lost and ended up having to drive back through the nearby town from an opposite direction and all the way back to the entrance I knew. I would love to go back in the fall during their peak waterfowl migration and in the early spring when the songbirds are migrating through before the trees leaf out.

Kaylin's done resting and ready for more MagiQuest!

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