We stayed in a large corner room with a king size bed. After a day of handmade ramen, a hike in the beautiful state park, and dinner of Wisconsin beef and cheese, I was ready for sleep. But first I had to take a shower.
I neglected to bring the little bottle of shampoo and conditioner, and the hand soap, to the shared bathroom down the hall. Inside the bathroom, I saw the personal effects of fellow travelers. Though I recognized I was stepping into what was, at best, an ethically grey area, I decided it wouldn’t be so bad to use a little bit of these guests’ shampoo.
Later on I lay back in the comfortable king size bed, relaxing in the old bones of the historic inn. There was a loud knocking on the door. Shit, I thought, the other guests figured out I used their shampoo, and their pissed. A male voice called out loudly, “Tornado! You have 1 minute to come downstairs!”
In a blind panic, I took only my camera. My girlfriend and I followed the innkeeper, Dan, down multiple flights of stairs, through the dining room, and down into the very old basement of the Walker House. There we were lead into a man-made cave, where the other guests were already seated.
I wondered if they could smell my fear, or maybe their own shampoo in my hair. Kathy, Dan’s wife, was seated in the cave, wearing a yellow teeshirt with the handwritten phrase, “I survived the tsunami,” in red. She asked if I heard the tornado. I listened, and in the cave’s echo I did hear the tornado. “Yes I hear it”, I told her. She said that was just the town of Mineral Point’s emergency siren.
While we spoke, a five hundred foot wide tornado tore through neighboring Dodgeville, and ripped up a huge grain combine. I had never before been so close to the destructive power of nature, and it was Kathy and Dan that kept me safe.
Kathy also gave me homemade M&M cookies, and loaf of strawberry bread for the ride home. They were also very understanding when we saw a derecho (line of thunderstorms, accompanied by the possibility of tornados) approaching the next day and decided to get the heck out of Dodgeville.
We will be back in Mineral Point at some point in the near future, for the mellow artist vibe, the handmade ramen, to float in Cox Hollow Lake in a tube, and see that waterfall, and when we come back, we would love to return to the Walker House.
It’s got great history, clean, comfortable, affordable rooms, two of the best innkeepers of all time (both of whom are Maineiacs) and really delicious homemade baked goods. Did I mention the tornado-proof 200 year old caves?