Wednesday, July 15, 2015



We crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa on June 30th. This end of the river isn't as wide as the southern end, but it is beautiful. We crossed it at Prairie Du Chien, WI, Les calls it Prairie Du Chicken, into Marquette, IA There is an island in the middle of the river. As we entered Iowa we were struck by the rolling hills, not what we were expecting. It didn't take long though to get to flat land and lots and lots of corn, and then more corn! We are finally in a state that Nancy hasn't been in yet.

We are staying at the Lakeshore RV Resort in Oelwein. It is a small campground, about 50 or so sites, on Lake Oelwein and next to a city park on one side and a city golf course on the other. It is owned by Joyce and Craig, who have recently bought it, but have camped there for
over 20 years.There are a number of permanent trailers, but plenty of open sites. The sites are average size, we were fortunate that we had an end spot, so a little extra room and we are under a large shade tree. There is a putt-putt golf course, a beach with a floating dock with a slide on it and a canoe that you can take out on the lake at no cost. A nice playground and a pavilion. They have planned activities for young and old, and a bible study is held every Sunday morning for those who wish to join in. The bathrooms are very clean and the laundry room was also.

We ventured south to Iowa City so we could get Nancy's camera cleaned at the University Camera Shop. They did a great job by the way. While they were working on her camera we visited the Herbert Hover Library and Museum in West Branch. The display is very nice, it focuses more on his humanitarian efforts after the war than his presidency. Along with his wife they fed millions of
people all over the world after the war ended. The grounds are beautiful, with large pavilions and a river running through the center of it and a 2 mile hiking trail. There is a small village set up that includes his boyhood home, his fathers blacksmith shop and the Friends Meeting Hall from his youth. There is also a statue that was given to him from the people of Belgium as a thank you for his efforts after the war.
It is the creepiest thing ever. When the library and museum was built he insisted that the statue be placed on the grounds facing his boyhood home. The statue is called Isis - Godess of Life.

We found a few Roadside oddities. 

This A&W Family is on a putt-putt golf course inside a campgrounds. The campground is located on the service drive of I-80 and it was so incredibly loud we were glad we weren't staying there. 

The Black Angel is in the Oakdale Cemetery in Iowa City. She is 9' tall and sits on a 4' pedestal. It was commissioned by Theresa Dolezal Feldwert, a Czech-Bohemian immigrant. It droops its head because it's looking at the grave of Theresa's son, Eddie, who is buried at the foot of it, under a monument that resembles the lower half of a tree. It is black because it is made out of bronze and it has oxidized over the years. Nancy found her to be quite beautiful, but for anyone who is a Whovian, you might not want to blink. There are of course many urban legends surrounding her.

On our way back to the campground we came across the Flying Weenie. It sits on top of a hot dog place. Made Nancy think of her friend Jeannie who she affectionately nicknamed Weenie.

Downtown Iowa City, which is a college town, had lots of shops, restaurants and coffee places.

The old capitol building was at the end of the street where we parked, the dome is 24 kt gold.

The sidewalks are filled with metal plaques with quotes from books and plays.

 There are a number of murals around town and statues.This statue is of Irving B Webber (1900-1997) an All American Swimmer, Businessman and Gentleman. Nancy loved the smiley face alley. It was a fun little town. 

We visited Amish Country, still no fresh butter, but we did get some delicious baked goods and breads. We got a loaf of onion-cheese bread that made the most delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. No cows on the side of the road like we saw in Wisconsin. This time is was horses and donkeys, tied up randomly to fences, not close to stores or houses just in the middle of fields.

Fontana Park borders the area that is Amish Country so we stopped there for some hiking.

There is a dam and spillway at the entrance to the park. Mielikki of course loved playing in the river.

They have a Nature Center and Animal Preserve where they care for wild animals that have been injured, they had an eagle and a turkey vulture that both were missing a wing. The turkey vulture wasn't feeling photogenic.
While in the Nature Center we wished Cora was with us to see the butterfly and turtle. 

They have a hiking trail that runs along side the lake and then wraps around wetlands, a farmers field, through a cemetery and past the bison.

We saw some beautiful flowers, and some nice views of the lake and bridge.

The bison were not at all interested in having their picture taken.

Edgar (1858-1928) and Ada (1860-1907) Miller must have been important people, this is quite the headstone.

Memorial to the Citizen Soldiers and Sailors of the Grand Army of the Rebelion 1861-1865
Our nephew Jim Bryson would like this old bug.

This corn was knee high by the 4th of July - a true Midwest saying!

They have a chapel in the woods with benches and a pulpit.

There is a campground and two sustainable cabins that can be rented.The cabins are powered with solar electricity and are energy efficient. They sleep five, with two private bedrooms and a bathroom with a shower.

We spent 4th of July in Dubuque. What a cool town, another one that would be awesome to live in if it wasn't for the winters! They have a beautiful river walkway with art sculptures along it. The art changes every summer, ten new artists are picked each year.
Victoria by Chris Wubbena - Jackson, MO

Willow Dust by Stephanie Sailer - Swisher, IA

Prairie Vane by Dan Perry - Waterloo, IA

Onward and Upward by Jeremy Rudd - Dyersville, IA

Winter Moon by Ray Katz - Pontiac, MI

Mines of Spain by Tim Adams - Webster City, IA

Coalesce by Kevin Casey - Cedar Falls, IA

Green Piece by Nathan S. Pierce - Cape Girardeau, MO
Always the Horrors of War by Margaret Mear, BVM - Dubuque, IA

Metmorphosis by Jacob McGinn - Waterloo, IA

There are stairways that lead down to the river for docking your boat or just dangling your feet in the water. The walkway is lined with hotels, restaurants and shops.
The walkway ends at the railroad bridge, and where you will find the old Star Brewery building. It currently houses offices, a wine bar and a banquet room. Star Brewing was established by Joseph Rohomberg in 1898, and was one of 138 breweries in the state before prohibition, and was the only small brewery left after it ended. In 1965 the Mississippi River flooded so badly it ruined all of the equipment. From 1971 till around 1996 several breweries were started but never made it. In the early 2000's the city acquired the building and in 2006 Stone Cliff Winery leased a large portion of the building.

The shot tower is right next to the railroad tracks. The tower was built in 1856 to provide lead shot for the military. The invention enabled economical production of many nearly perfect lead spheres of the right size to fit in a musket. Molten lead was poured through a grate at the top of the tower. The droplets that fell were of relatively uniform size, and the fall provided enough time for the liquid-metal droplet to form into a sphere before landing in the water below. The water cooled the lead and it retained its spherical shape.

The day we were there the walkway was covered in fish flies. This was a little surprising as it was 4th of July. They covered everything. Every now and then you could hear shreiking as people walked across the grass and stirred up thousands of them.

Found a few roadside oddities on our way to Dubuque.

Roadside Jesus is at a gas station, the owner put him up in gratitude for his successful business. Loved that the billboard above him has Mary on it.
The soldier is in front of a National Guard post.

Finished off the day at the Stock Car Races in Independence, a fitting town to be in on the 4th. This was a dirt track and a 1/2 mile, which is longer than the one we went to in Michigan. It was a really fun evening. It is also a great place for people watching. During one of the final races of the V6 super modified cars, there were 25 cars on the track and they couldn't get past the first turn without a crash, so the officials put the remaining 18 in "time-out". They all had to pull on to the infield and sit while two other races ran. While the 22 V8 super modified cars ran it was so loud and so dusty it actually felt like you were suspended in time and space.

While in Independence we came across another train at the Independence Historical Museum.

Our last day in Iowa was spent at Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor. There are two large wooden decks that overlook the Mississippi River. Both are just a short distance from the parking lot and both are handicap accessible. The view is very pretty.

It would have been better if it was a little clearer out. For days we have been wondering why Iowa is so hazy and why they don't have a bright blue sky. Thanks to Google we discovered it is not normal and it is due to 40 wildfires in Canada.

The smoke was so bad in some parts of northern Minnesota that they were calling for extreme caution when you went outside. Detroit Lakes, MN, our next stop was one of those places.

We hiked to Bridal Veil Falls, nothing like the ones in North Carolina, except the 196 stairs we climbed made us think we were back there. The falls were in a beautiful spot, just a trickle of water coming over them, but still very pretty.
We followed a remote path, which took us to a good viewing spot of the river and then through the forest. We were the only ones on the path, so Mielikki got to go off lead for a bit, which makes her a very happy dog.

When we got back to the park area, Nancy went to use the restroom and while Les was waiting, Mielikki made a new friend. When Nancy came back a little girl, about 3 years of age, informed her that Mielikki was her dog.The conversation went something like this:
Little Girl: This is my dog.
Nancy: It is?
Little Girl: No no it's not my dog but it is a very nice dog.
She kept petting her and gave a running commentary of what a nice dog she was, so soft, and so pretty.
Little Girl: She really really likes me.
Nancy: Yes she does.
Little Girl: She is a very good dog and very gentle.
Nancy: You are being very gentle too.
Little Girl: I know I am and that's good.
Her parents kept trying to get her to leave and she kept saying she couldn't because the dog would be sad. Mielikki laid down at this point and the little girl sat down and snuggled in between her legs. It was just so adorable.
Nancy: I think your mom and dad want to go.
Little Girl: I know but she will be sad.
Nancy: I think it will be okay, I will pet her for you when you go.
Little Girl: no response just a look like I was crazy.
When they finally got her to leave she got about 5 feet away, turned around and held both hands up and said "don't worry doggie I am just going to look at the river you don't need to be sad". Cuteness overload.
On a side note, her dad had on a Green Lantern shirt and when Nancy commented on it he was surprised that she knew what it was. She pulled Captain America out of her pocket and told him about the hashtag and he was super impressed. Said we were the coolest people he had met in a long time. We translated that to the coolest "old" people he had met in a long time!

After hiking, we went into McGregor and stopped at the Old Man River Brewery for a little refreshment. It is in an old historical building, in fact the first building in McGregor to be recognized as a National Historical Building. Nancy had a flight of beer and was pleasantly surprised when the glasses were the same ones she painted for the centerpieces for Katrina and Steve's wedding. The beer was good and the fried cheese curds were delicious. While driving back to the main road to head home we came across a pink elephant in front of the Lady Luck Casino.

The warranty company finally found a technician to come and fix our washer. Hallelujah!

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to you

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
- When your home and your belongings are always on the move it is important that things not only secure but done so in a way that is as quiet as possible. We have found two ways to help with that.

One, is we store our drinking glasses in a large plastic shoe box, with a piece of paper towel in between each one to stop rattling noises that could drive you crazy. We just pull the box out of the cupboard when we need a glass and then slide it back in.

Second, we wanted to hang some of Nancy's artwork but didn't want to put holes in the walls. We used the 3M hooks which work great, except the pictures don't lay flat against the wall and rattle. To fix this annoying problem we put a small dab of poster tacky on the bottom corners of the canvas's and frames. That simple - no more rattle.

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