On the road from Cedar Rapids and first stop today was the Barrel Head Winery at Dubuque, Iowa. This place ended up on the itinerary when I found it while researching our other stop for the day. From the information I could find, the winery was given very good reviews for range and taste of their red wines. Well, red wine, just off where we were going anyway, how could we go wrong. Pulled in to the winery and met John Burns the owner and winemaker, turns out he was a Goldwing rider with mileage in the hundreds of thousands on 1100s, 1500s and 1800s. Red wine, Goldwing rider, must be one of the better blokes I've met.
The wine was every bit as good as reported. I sampled a few of the range but not as many as Therese. The process apparently worked, I had to find room for a bottle when we left and we enjoyed it with dinner tonight and will for the next couple of nights as well. A quiet morning at the cellar door so we had the opportunity to look over the small operation, about 10,000 bottles a year off only a small vineyard. Beautiful soil and abundant water. Not the heavier wines we are used to as those varieties can't take the cold. A few years ago, winter was -50 degrees F, the following year, -30 F. Apparently you have to be tough to survive out here in the winter. With the internal workings explained and the tasting completed we had a guided tour of the vines and of course Therese came away with a few bunches of grapes. More room I had to find. I've had to eat the red ones to make more room. Terrific little place and if you are ever up this way, drop in. We hadn't planned on spending over 90 minutes there, but it was great, so that put some pressure on the rest of the day.
From Dubuque, we crossed the mighty Mississippi River into Wisconsin en route to Milwaukee but on the way we intended to take a short break and a look see at a place called The House on the Rock. This was referred to me by a relative who had seen it a few years ago and said it was worth the effort, something that John also confirmed. What a place. Impossible to describe and so much is crammed into a limited space, photos do not do it justice. The house itself is built onto the side of a valley on a rock ledge and is designed to be part of the landscape, to the extent that there are trees that were already there and left growing from within the building. The rooms are built into the rock and therefore are narrow corridors into what are almost small caves throughout the building. After the house, it was on to two other sections of collected items all displayed within a massive shed on a number of levels reached by following a marked path through the various collections. From doll houses, guns, a massive carousel (which was in operation though not for rides), steams engines, circus dioramas and models, knights armour and a fantastic collection of mechanically played musical instruments from violins to drums, saxophones and tambourines, complete bands and orchestras, all in working order. Some of these machines would be over 100 years old and some were built by the house builder himself. All that is only scratching the surface and the photos we tried to take and have included do not do justice to what was there and the effort that must have gone into collecting and displaying them.
Needless to say, so much for the short break. 2 hours and that was rushed, you could spend the whole day there, enjoy it and still not see everything. That put paid to the rest of the day.
Then, here we go again. All we wanted was a table and seat in a pleasant spot for a late afternoon wake up coffee. This was after sitting on the curb under a tree for morning coffee. Low and behold, there was one in Waunakee. Beautiful park, near new tables and facilities and time to do the daily business of organising accommodation and responding to messages as we had been in no signal areas during the other stops.
Finally arrived in Milwaukee a bit after 7:00pm, another late night so see you tomorrow.
460 klms today, total to date 5385 klms.