Sunday, July 19, 2009

Found In Iowa: New Friends and a Great Uncle!

Pictures L to R: Lincoln Highway Bridge in Tama, IA; Marvin and Carol Manske of Kelly, IA; Old Coca-Cola sign and Baby; Peggy and her Great-Uncle Don and cousin Jackie; Henry relaxing after a long drive at Blue Lake near Onawa, IA.

18 July 2009 Swisher, IA (Coralville Lake Campground) to Kelly, IA 151 miles

We had a quiet driving day and meandered our way through eastern Iowa. We made our way into Cedar Rapids…another big city…where we discovered a farmer’s market in process so we stopped and wandered around for a bit until the crowds got to us…it was almost a carnival-like atomsphere...and after all, we couldn’t buy any produce to cook since we don’t have any cooking implements except for a coffee pot. After the farmer’s market, we headed toward Marion and an Antique Mall where Dave found a Big Ben Clock…in nickel…something that he has been looking for a long time! It was nearing noon, and our tummies were grumbling so we stopped for what turned out to be a great Chicago style pizza at Zoey’s. With our appetites sated, we headed toward Ames taking various smaller farm roads in an effort to skirt Cedar Rapids.

I can’t imagine ever tiring of watching the scenery pass by. Yes, it is a lot of corn fields, but they are at differing stages of maturity so you see the varying shades of green and gold, and the colors of the wildflowers—periwinkle, white, golden yellow, and red--along the side of the roadways are just beautiful. We are passing by so many dirt roads that we finally asked someone about them. We learned that these dirt roads are called “farm to market roads,” and they are the shortcuts for the big trucks and farm equipment during planting and harvest time.

We eventually made it back down to the Lincoln Highway, and as we followed the signs into Tama, we happened to drive across one of the few remaining Lincoln Highway bridges where the guardrail spells out “Lincoln Highway.” Obviously, we had to stop for a photo op!

We made some new friends today...Marvin and Carol Manske of Kelly, Iowa. Marvin has been following our blog for quite a while, and had contacted us a month or so ago offering us a break from camping when we reached Iowa. We met them in Ames for dinner, and then we followed them through town as he pointed out parts of Iowa State University, and then continued on into Kelly and their farm. This farm has been in Carol’s family for, if I remember correctly, over 150 years. In fact, Carol has lived her entire life in this small community. Carol and Marvin are newlyweds, having only married a couple of years ago, and are both musicians—they both play in bands—she plays the piano, guitar, harp, and trombone; he plays the French horn. They graciously opened their home to us, and we had a nice visit with them before heading off to bed.

19 July 2009 Kelly, IA to Onawa, IA (near the Missouri River) 166 Miles

We woke early this morning so Dave would have time to service the car before heading out. After a nice breakfast, we loaded up the car and said of good-byes to Marvin and Carol as they were heading off to church and we headed back toward Ames. We took the smaller side roads today that veer off the Highway 30, because the original LH went through small towns that are now one to two miles north or south of the 30. We traveled through Boone, IA, the birthplace of Maime Eisenhower... and Dave was excited to find an old Coca-Cola advertisement on the side of a building.

From Boone we were suddenly transported from farm land to forest as we crossed the Des Moines River and the wilderness area there. Once again, Hollywood has given me the wrong impression of Iowa—it is not all flat—in fact today we’ve been driving through quite a bit of rolling hills. If you could take out all the corn and soybean fields and replace them with grape vineyards, it would look an awful lot like the Napa Valley in California. I guess it is the climate that dictates the crops…anyway, it was just beautiful.

We stopped in Carroll, IA, to have lunch with Peggy’s Great Uncle, Don Neil, and cousin Jackie and her husband, Mike. Don is Peggy’s grandfather’s younger brother. At lunch, we decided that the last time Peggy had seen them was when she was about 8 or 9 years old, since they had moved to Iowa in 1970.

After lunch we continue west until we nearly hit the Missouri River. We’re stopped for the night at Blue Lake KOA near Onawa. It is relaxing here—we have a lake side campsite and with the boats and jet skis on the lake, we are mentally transported to our all time favorite place, Lake Havasu, Arizona. We actually got here early enough that I can update our journal, blog, and pictures, and I’ll still have time to relax…

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