Between Hot Springs National Park and Isle Royale National
Park, time was spent surrounded by the love of family and it was a wonderful
way to start off a two month road trip!
After 10.5 hours of driving on day 1, we found ourselves in Des Moines, Iowa, and in the company of 10 cousins. They showered us with Baked Ziti, molasses cookies, rhubarb strawberry pie (garden grown!), and a comfortable bed (provided by a selfless cousin who kept appointments and moving plans a secret from us because she didn’t want us not to visit! Ahh family.).
The next day, we drove to Dyersville, Iowa, and met two cousins who proceeded to take us on a tour of Dubuque, Iowa. We visited two breweries, a winery, walked along the Mississippi promenade, drove over the Mississippi River into Wisconsin, took a right to drive into Illinois, then crossed a different bridge back over the Mississippi River (total drive time: 10 minutes, 3 states!). We then rode the shortest AND steepest elevator (originally built by a wealthy local who needed a way to get down the hill for work). This was quite the experience for the one afraid of heights!
After Dubuque, we drove back to Dyersville to take a quick trip to the Field of Dreams Movie Set (because, duh, when in Dyersville…), then drove towards Guttenberg, Iowa. Here I experienced farm life by using a pitchfork to pull down hay bales from a tall stack and then feeding the cows, bull, and calves (oh so cute!). Afterwards, we ate dinner outside by the fire and enjoyed the peace (which was only occasionally interrupted by the howl of >nearby< coyotes…yikes).
The next morning, I fed the cows apples from my hand! Then we drove to Pike’s Peak (the original PP!) and Effigy Mounds which was an Indian burial area where they built mounds over the buried, in the shape of birds, animals, and cones. It was beautiful to see. View the picture below for Big Bear!
We continued our travels to Decorah, Iowa, where we were spoiled by 11 more cousins! They came over for dinner or just to say hi. We ate homegrown potatoes and beets (first time eating beets; it was delicious!) for dinner, along with juicy ranch chicken. The next morning, after a brief visit to the garden to pick cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, beets, and potatoes to take with us, we feasted on a Norwegian breakfast (lefsa, romegrot, fruit, and vegetables!). Google also helped us discover the artist’s name of a painting my Great Uncle had commissioned in 1948, when he was stationed in Europe. The painting was of my great grandparents. We are currently researching the stamps to discover more information!
Leaving Iowa found us in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and allowed us time for laundry (and the watching of Grey’s!). After spending time with my Aunt, we had 18 family members gather for another camp fire and more delicious food. Everyone announced their favorite parks to visit and where to stop for the best (and most unique) local foods. We discovered apps to view the constellations, discussed the best audio books, and viewed various park maps.
I realize that this post centered (mostly) on food, but that’s how families show the love, right? Gathering around the kitchen table (or a camp fire), everyone bringing a dish, sharing the deliciousness with each other…love, love, love. :)
Currently staying with another cousin in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Tacos, nachos, and quesadillas are on the menu for tonight as we watch the Twins beat the Yankees (sorry Amanda!).
Park experiences coming soon!
Tata for now!
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