Saturday, February 6, 2016

Going Back: House on the Rock!

“It occurred to him that the reason he liked Wednesday and Mr. Nancy and the rest of them better than their opposition was pretty straightforward: they might be dirty, and cheap, and their food might taste like shit, but at least they didn’t speak in clich├ęs. And he guessed he would take a roadside attraction, no matter how cheap, how crooked, or how sad, over a shopping mall any day.” 
― Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

We arrived.  Here finally was the object of my long time fascination.  The first place (as opposed to person, important distinction) I decided to visit when I knew I would be undertaking my journey.
The entrance was fairly unimpressive and completely underscored the elaborate fantastical world that waited inside.

They started us right off...

 This cabinet was squished on the back wall of the ladies room before you enter the house proper.  You can see the stalls on the left.  

Next came a series of rooms sectioned off more like an art exhibit each showcasing a single object that (as I would discover) we would later see mashed among its fellows in the house.

I admit I was disappointed at first.  Was this it?  Was it all gonna be like this?  I had heard so much about it and I feared they had at some point decided to clean it out and make a proper museum of it.

Then we exited what I came to realize was just a bizarre preview room detailing the history of the place and got a few shots in the sun before descending into 3+ hours of crazy overwhelming, sporadically lit, carefully controlled chaos.

I really love this shot for some reason.

My favorite subject, photographers photographing stuff!

We descended into darkness and the utter randomness began immediately.

I struggled mightily to master my barely used speed light to little effect.  I managed to create enough light to make up for the ban on tripods, but only just.

We crossed over an idyllic little garden complete with koi pond but could not reach it from where we were and plunged into darkness once again.

About an hour in I had used up the batteries in my speedlight and had to make do with the completely inadequate light provided.  Sometimes even with the speed light it was too dark and my camera could not focus.  Many of the objects I attempted to capture stubbornly resisted my struggles and for the sake of time and sanity I had to give up.  This series of pictures are everything I was able to shoot, in order.

**Its important to note that this is just a tiny fraction of the images I took and the things we saw.  It took me countless hours to weed out the unusable images and edit the ones you see here so you could make out the subjects in the murky darkness and balance out the glare of my sped light.  The individual objects I am showing does nothing to properly convey the feeling of the place, top to bottom.  +Liz Kaetterhenry exquisitely described it as "The worlds largest Curio Cabinet".  It defies description.  I used most of a 32g and a spare 8g memory card and all 5 of my fully charged camera batteries.  The only images I did not include in this series were the ones I took of the carousel, and that is only because they were tied up in my Scavenger hunt album and I could not remember exactly where they went in the sequence.  I will include them at the end.

Welcome to The House on the Rock:

The eternity room.

Continuing on..

 detail from the image above

Quick bathroom break with an outdoor patio.

Screwing around...

And finally we emerged, to soothe our aching heads over 3 hours later, at the koi pond.

Here, as promised, are my Scavenger hunt entries I salvaged from my hundreds of unusable carousel images:



When we finally emerged from this amazing, elaborate, fantastic, wonderful nightmare we were both exhausted and in pain.  The eyes and the brain are just not accustomed to the kind of rigorous experience we had just put them through.  It was hard to imagine the excitement of the morning (remember the ravine?  Mischief's cliff jump?) was the same day, or even the same week.  With a subdued satisfaction we began the long journey back to the hotel and I at least knew it would be a long time before I was willing to brave the adventure that was The House on the Rock again.