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Entries about family

When in Wisconsin

Go to House on the Rock

overcast 83 °F

We're on the road again after a short stay by Shari's family, who very graciously opened up their home in Postville, Ia, to us this past shabbat. Many meals were eaten, in the proper order, according to tradition. In an interesting twist, Postville has a sizable Jewish community thanks to the kosher slaughter house there. So most conversations were in Hebrew or Yiddish. Everyone, whether Jewish or not, was very nice. People waved and called out greetings as we walked down the street Saturday afternoon. We also walked through the town cemetery, where there are graves dating back to the 1850's, and memorials for men who died in the civil war.

On our way to Postville, we took a scenic Amish detour. The road we drove down was meant for horse drawn buggies, not compact cars, and seemed to lead into greenness until we reached a twist that revealed a farm house, barn, and small shop. Chickens fed in the yard, and a dog bounded from the house to shop. The shop was full of hand made baskets and oven mits and aprons. We bought a few baskets and hit the road.

Heading out of Postville was similar to heading into Postville: Lots of corn and soy fields covering rolling green hills, fading to blue with distance. Our destination for the day is House on the Rock, a crazy feat of architecture and the human tendency to build collections of random things. Thanks to Neil Gaiman and American Gods for the introduction. First off, there are two tour options: the 2 plus hour tour, or the 3 plus hour tour. We opt for the 2 hour tour, because we have friend to see in Madison, and 2 hours is still a hell of a ton of time to see literal tons of stuff. The actual house is built on top of a rock spire, 75 feet above the ground. The house is full of narrow stairs, books, Tiffany style glass lamps, fire places, stained glass, and Asian sculptures. It is cozy and bizarre and the view from the roof is amazing.

The second building of the House on the Rock in and old mill near the bottom of the bluff. The mill is filled with collections of music boxes and automatons the play songs and enact scenes at the drop of a token. There are firearms and dolls and blown glass. I feel overwhelmed from the myriad of sights and sounds flashing and chiming and whistling. And there is so much more. There's the Street of Yesterday and the Origins of the Sea. The whole place is a bizarre amalgam of museum/ meticulously kept hoard.

The final part of our tour is the Carousel. One the largest in the world it host 269 creatures, but not a single horse. it is beautiful and gaudy and breathtaking. The accompanying music plays from a giant mechanized orchestra as the Carousel goes 'round and 'round.

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After the House on the Rock we head to Madison and meet up with our friend, Sander, who recently moved to Madison. We reminisce and wander around the quite downtown,, trying to get a good view of the lake

Tomorrow, we hope to check out Epic, where Sander Works.

Posted by MiriG 21:55 Tagged lakes road_trip driving friends family iowa madison wisconsin wi lower_48 mirig 48 post_college_stress_disorder neil_gaiman house_on_the_rock Comments (0)

Just Another Song About California

But seriously, there are a lot of songs about California. But now I understand why.

sunny 61 °F

This is gonna be a huge post, because California is a huge state. By this logic, when we finally get to Alaska for our 10 year anniversary, the post on Alaska should be a book. If you continue to follow our adventures, be sure to pre-order. It's gonna be epic.
We cross into California innocuously, missing the "Welcome to" sign. What is the California state motto? It's gotta be on the sign. Will I care enough to google it? (Yes, I probably will. Update: I did. The sign is either the classic green and white highway sign, sometimes eschewing the "welcome to," or a blue sign with yellow lettering and yellow flowers. So no state motto on the sign. State motto, a la google: Eureka! I have found it! Funny, we're staying in Eureka tomorrow night.)
So, anyway, we get into California early afternoon on Friday. The last 60 miles into LA are bumper to bumper, but we have time until Shabbat. The plan is: Get to Gabe's (my super awesome cousin), unwind, take care of important real-life things, head over to the Rabin's for Shabbat. This plan is perfect until we arrive at Gabe's ad realize we don't have a key. And Gabe is in Northern CA (therefore, no cell reception), catering a wedding. So we chill on the front porch and internet. Soon, neighbors come home and hey! they know Gabe. Think he is (rightly) one of the coolest people and they have his roommate's number who should be home. Viola! Connections made, keys acquired, cat pet. The cat's name is Mowgli. She is very friendly. I stay outside and continue to internet, because the weather is wonderful and I am tired of being inside buildings and cars for the day.
Shabbat by the Rabin's is really pleasant. Yael, whom we know from school, isn't home, but her family makes us feel super welcome. (She's at a wedding for two of my very close friends, David and Devora. Mazel tov!) Her dog, Bialik, also makes us feel super welcome. Shari, a self proclaimed "cat person," now wants a dog. Bialik makes our walk through Beverly Hills much more palatable. People are friendlier, it seems, when you have a dog. Which is good, because Bialik tries to make friends with everyone.
After Shabbat we head back to Gabe's place and make plans with Sarah (my super awesome cousin) to go to the Getty Villa tomorrow. In a surprise twist, my (super awesome) uncle, Ken, joins us for the day. The Getty Villa is an amazing collection of Roman art and culture. It's also a testament to what insanely wealthy people sometimes do with their money.
Monday is a rest day. Sarah, Shari, and I make lots of plans, and then realize that a body in motion needs to not be in motion for, like, a day. Shari gets her hair done, I get my laundry done, we go to the Santa Monica Pier in the late afternoon. Good stuff. I try on a kelp crown. We try using the selfie stick. We stop trying to use the selfie stick. Thing just ain't practical. The one problem is once the sun goes down, the pier gets super sketchy, super fast. I'm pretty sure I saw a con being run, but I'll never really be sure. And I'm okay with this uncertainty.
Tuesday is for touring. Shari heads to the Walk of Fame, while Sarah and I check out LACMA. I play in the spaghetti installation, because I am a child. Sarah and I check out the museum and after closing, check out the La Brea tar pits. The tar pits ooze and bubble, and are amazing treasure troves of fossils, and they smell. (See? Child.) We meet back up with Shari, and then go for drinks and dinner with Gabe. (A huge thanks to everyone who made Tuesday evening excellent.)
Wednesday begins our journey north. We had originally planned to stay in LA for a week and a half, but developed itchy feet (metaphorically) after a few days. We head up Highway 1, despite the GPS which desperately tries to put us on the 5. No dice. We use maps to stay the course. And are so glad we do. Driving the 1 is one of the most terrifying and beautiful places to drive. The ocean expands silver past the horizon, the mountain cliffs tower over head, and the hairpin turns alternate the view from eternal blueness to dense forest. Infinitely worth it. Go on crazy road trips. I dare you. It's agreed that we need need need to return here once were fit enough and experienced enough to hike the trails veining up and down from the road.
We end the day in Pebble Beach, staying by my (some order of magnitude removed) cousins. I love the way this trip helps me become closer to people, whether friends or family or both. Why not both?
See you in the morning! We're off to San Francisco.

Posted by MiriG 23:47 Archived in USA Tagged ocean california friends lower los_angeles family la road trip cousins highway_1 48 the_1 the_getty_villa lacma pebble_beach Comments (0)

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