Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mounds, Taliesin, Madison and Home

Joe Standing Tall with the Jolly Green Giant

Waking up early we were on the road by 5:30 am. Our first stop of the day was the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN. He stands 55 feet tall and was created in 1978 to mark the completion of I-90. Ned was still asleep so Joe ran out and stood at his feet. He doesn't normally wear a t-shirt though at Christmas he sports a nice red scarf.

After leaving Blue Earth we were back in the Iowa countryside on our way to Effigy Mounds National Monument on the Mississippi River just north of Marquette, IA. There we hiked up to the bluffs over the river to view some of the 200 mounds that are preserved by the monument. Most of the mounds are conical or bar shaped but 31 are effigies in the shape of birds and bears. We also hiked out to Fire Point Overlook with views of the Mississippi River and Wisconsin. At Eagle Rock Ned saw a bald eagle soar past. When we returned to the visitor center the boys received their 22nd Junior Ranger badge of the trip.

Little Bear Mound

Joe Reading How the Mounds Were Built

The Upper Mississippi River from Fire Point Overlook

Leaving Effigy Mounds we crossed the Mississippi River and to Prairie du Chien, WI. When we crossed heading west the river was high with flood waters and we were high with excitement for the trip ahead. Now crossing east 37 days later the river was back to normal and we were high with the anticipation of returning home and back to Mary.

After a quick lunch we set off for Spring Green, WI. We had a 1:30 pm tour at Taliesin the home of Frank Lloyd Wright. Taliesin has been on my places to see list for a long time and I was excited for this opportunity to visit. Taliesin is where Frank Lloyd Wright spent a large part of his youth working on the farm. It is also where he located the Taliesin Fellowship to provide architectural training with a"learn by doing" approach that stressed appreciation of all the arts. Students and staff lived and worked on the Taliesin property. Frank Lloyd Wright also used the property to develop the ideas and techniques he later applied to buildings he designed. The community continues today as the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture whose members are still known informally as the Taliesin Fellowship and who reside at Taliesin during the summer months.

We went on a tour of the Hillside House. Wright designed Hillside in 1902 for his aunts, who ran an children’s school based on the motto "learn by doing." Wright's building was as innovative as the school it housed. After his aunts retired and sold Wright the building he used it to accommodate the Taliesin Fellowship. Highlights of the tour are the Assembly Hall, the Drafting Studio where work is still done, the Romeo and Juliet Windmill Tower, and a small theater with a handmade curtain given to Wright by his students. We will have to return to visit the main house when the boys are older.

The Entrance to Taliesin

Hillside House at Taliesin

The Romeo and Juliet Windmill at Taliesin

We left Taliesin and drove through the Wisconsin countryside to Madison, WI. We drove through town a bit and found ourselves by the capitol building. We stopped and went up to the sixth floor museum and observation deck where we could look out over Madison and the picturesque waters of Lake Monona and Lake Mendota. Madison was a place I would like to visit again.

After leaving the Madison we were only about seven hours from home. So we headed south skirted Chicago and then east through Indiana and into Michigan. We had dinner at Redamak's in New Buffalo, MI for dinner. I had told Mary that we taking another day and driving home through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan so when we arrived home just after 11:00 pm she was surprised. The homecoming was wonderful.

The Wisconsin State Capitol

The Interior of the Capitol Dome

The View of Madison from the Dome

Blue Earth, MN to Ypsilanti, MI, 731 miles 12 hrs 13 min

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