Day 10: Architectural Envy

A house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo: Jenny Williams

Another sleepy day, unfortunately. I was up late last night, waiting for John K. to come home from his final Lord of the Rings Director’s Cut movie viewing, and then was up earlier than I should have been to see the entire Kovalic family off for the day. But between some good food and a bit of exercise, I made it through.

Woodstock, Illinois. Photo: Jenny Williams

After packing up the car once again, we headed out from Madison. I even managed to lock up the house with my patented close-the-garage-door-and-run-while-leaping-over-the-door-sensor moves. Ha! Look at me go.

But today was a not-fun driving day. Because the places I wanted to go were a bit off the beaten path, we took many, many backroads from somewhere in Wisconsin to Woodstock, Illinois. I also missed a major turn, requiring backtracking. And then again later, too. Signage had not improved in Illinois. Street signs, people! Identify yourselves! On top of that, there was a mistake in the Google Maps directions. We ended turning in a tiny rural Wisconsin town named Darien. I needed to figure out where we needed to be, but the information I needed wasn’t on the map that I’d saved. But lo and behold, someone had an unsecured wifi connection (in addition to two secured ones, at the random spot I chose to stop, in the very tiny town of Darien). Thanks, trusting stranger! Crisis averted.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio. I love how it isn't showy. At least not on the outside. Photo: Jenny Williams

We drove past fields and fields of corn. The “Corn or Not-Corn” game was way too easy today. Rural Wisconsin roads, just like rural Kansas roads, are generally in really good shape, and much more interesting than driving on the interstate. I actually like seeing barns and silos. And I like avoiding tolls. Which was harder later in the day. Illinois and Indiana are filled with tolls. Grumble.

But we finally made it to Woodstock, Illinois. I used to come here as a small child when my mom felt like getting out of town. I am guessing we used to walk around the square (famous from its use as the setting for Groundhog Day), but all I remember is drinking Green River Phosphates. I asked if they were still available, but apparently they aren’t. Sad. I want my kids to try them! But we did have a nice picnic lunch on the town square. The boy mostly had juice and carrots, but the girl and I shared some herbed gouda and Herbes de Provence-encrusted dry salami along with our juice. Yum.

Another Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house.

We then enjoyed some more rural roads and braved more traffic on the way to Oak Park, Illinois, to see houses that Frank Lloyd Wright designed. We decided against the official tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, due to lack of time, and I didn’t want to overtax the kids. But I had printed out a walking tour of most of the local houses he designed, very early in his career. The weather in the shade was really nice, and the neighborhood was beautiful.

There were houses that were obviously FLW, and also houses that were from so early in his career that they were just nice houses. I’m not sure how much the kids will remember of our walking tour, but I want to learn more about architecture, and I’d like to know some as well. I enjoyed seeing the houses very much. Definitely worth the hassle. And the free street parking and available bathroom in the Home & Studio made it easy. Afterward, I tried to drive to the Unity Church that FLW designed, but I couldn’t find it. ? Not sure where it was hiding. I had a map.

The Sears Tower. It's fantabulous. Photo: Jenny Williams

After the walking tour, we drove the rest of the way to Chesterton, Indiana, which is just east of Gary, Indiana. We have 5-ish hours to drive tomorrow to get to a location south of Cleveland, to see the magnificent John Booth and family! We also switch to Eastern Daylight Time, for the rest of our trip (minus the last few days). It’s a weird feeling being on a later time again.

Drove: About 225 miles. On way too many toll roads. What is it with the east? We don’t pay tolls where we live.

States: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana.

Weather: Still fantastic! What’s going on here? Where is the uncomfortable humidity? The never-ending heat?

Kids: Very patient and cooperative! I have fantastic kids.

Best Parts of the Day: The incredibly tasty picnic lunch, seeing the Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Oak Park.

Worst Parts of the Day: The tolls. The traffic around Chicago. We were often going in the opposite direction from the worst of it, but it was still bad.

What I Learned Today: I really like walking around expensive, old neighborhoods with big trees. This was reinforced from my walk through my old neighborhood from a few days ago.

Quote of the Day (the boy): “The Sears Tower has robot-y hair.” (talking about the antennae on top)

Total GeekDads Visited: 4.


About Jenny Bristol

Jenny Bristol is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, playing board games, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.
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