Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tulip Time in Pella, Iowa

Thur - April 22nd
If you don't like tulips, stop now. This blog is all about tulips. The Tulip Festival in Pella is always the second weekend in May. We were there 16 days early and the tulips were in full, glorious bloom. Some years they are early and they end up having a "Stem Festival".

It looks like this will be one of those years. Pella doors and windows are manufactured here.
These are in the back yard of the historical village that is part of the museum.

When Pella got too large, some of the people moved to Orange City. We have been to the tulip festival there and it is wonderful. It is the third weekend in May. Both cities have a terrific Dutch parade and lots of charming little shops and beautiful old homes.

These are in one of the parks.

Pella is having their 75th festival and they are looking for volunteers to help them set a record with 1,000 dancers in wooden shoes. To join in the fun go to

Beats the heck out of driving truck!

The boulevards are like this all over town.

There are several windmills all around town.

This is a park across the street from the city square.

A couple of close-ups.

At the center of the city square.

Another close-up.

The Klokkenspel is down a side street from the square a half block. It chimes every 15 minutes, and on the hour the figurines come out one at a time.

No happy hour. In this Dutch Reformed community, you won't find any bars in the main, downtown part of town. Sorry B.L.

This is the park behind the klokkenspel.

Close-up of the apple blossoms.

On the way to Pella, we drove through Knoxville where they have a very large 3M plant. It is the "Sprint Car Capital of the World" with weekly races and the Hall of Fame and Museum. There is also a very large VA hospital and complex that we heard is going to be changed over to a women's facility. We didn't stop in Knoxville.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Winterset. Iowa

Sun - April 18th

If you have ever read the book "Bridges of Madison County" or seen the movie with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, you know where we are now.

This is about 20 miles east of John's hometown and the last turn before you get to Roseman Bridge of book and movie fame.

Roseman Bridge was built in 1883 and is one of five of the original 19 bridges remaining. The sixth one, Cedar Covered Bridge, was destroyed by fire in 2002, but it has been rebuilt. They were built to preserve the large flooring timbers which were more expensive to replace than the lumber covering the sides and roof. They were usually named for the nearest resident. There has been a Covered Bridge Festival every year since 1970 with guided tours, arts & crafts in the park, food, etc.

One of the covered bridges is in the city park of 76 acres. It is a beautiful park with two stone bridges on a winding road through the woods up to this tower. There are picnic shelters, playgrounds, a hedge maze and a very nice campground. The view below is taken from the tower.

They also have an Art Center in an 1854 brick home that was a stop on the Underground Railroad and a Museum and Historical Complex. It features an 1800s log school and post office, 1871 train depot, country church, stone barn and an 1856 mansion.

Marion Robert Morrison was born here 1907. He is better known as John Wayne and they feature the largest public collection of memorablia about him here in Winterset.

The Bob Feller Hall of Fame in Van Meter, Iowa. I guess he was some famous baseball player or something. More trivia from John's endless store.

Hot air balloon we spotted on the way home. I hope we're not late for happy hour again. I hate to see B.L. get a head start on us again.

We were listening to Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion the other night. He was telling this long, drawn-out story about this pathetic, old couple whose children had all grown up and left home. The husband finally joined some civic groups just to have something to do, but the wife just stayed at home and drank Brandy Alexanders. We both busted out laughing. When we were in Mexico, I bought a bottle of Brandy Alexander. About two weeks before I had opened it and I had been fixing myself a drink with ice cream for dessert almost every night since. Not to worry though, it's almost gone now.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Greenfield , Iowa

Sun - April 11th
Imagine our surprize and delight when we discovered that the world premier of the movie "Peacock", which was made recently in John's hometown, would be showing at the old Opera House while we were in town!

The old cars lined up in front of the Opera House were all used in the movie. The brown one in the middle belongs to our best man's sister and her husband. It was a very strange movie, but how often do you get to attend a world premier? Some of the stars in this movie were Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Josh Lucas, Susan Sarandan, Keith Carradine and Bill Pullman.
There was another movie, "Cold Turkey", starring Dick Van Dyke made here in 1969. John was in a crowd scene, but all the times I have watched it, I have never been able to pick him out. As usual he is patiently waiting for me to finish taking pictures. He is sitting in front of the Courthouse across the street.

Some of you have probably seen this on the internet before. This rock is a few miles north of Greenfield and is painted by a local artist.

He has a photography and painting studio in town.

Oops, we're late for happy hour and B.L. couldn't wait. He started without us. We are camping in his yard and we aren't very good hosts.

We went for a walk around Greenfield Lake in the city park at the edge of town. The dandelions were thick right along the edges of the sidewalk most of the way around.

Since we had just recently visited the Land of Oz, it reminded me of the Yellow Brick Road. It's a very pretty park. There is also a very nice Historical Museum in town with several old buildings and lots of antiques.

Another day we visited Henry Wallace's birthplace which is just a few miles from town. He was born in 1888 and was Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce and Vice President from 1941 to 1945.

We had been here many years ago when all they had was the house. Now they have this Gathering Barn where they serve lunch two days a week and cater all kinds of functions.

The picture of the Iowa Prairie, Pond and Walking Path was taken from the Verle Armstrong Observation Deck. Verle was our best man's father.

There is a 3/4 mile walking path with several unusual sculptures along the way. It's a very peaceful and serene setting.

This one is dedicated to a long time gardener and care taker who passed away. They have themed flower gardens, vegetable gardens and orchards. They use all their produce in their restaurant and they have a farmer's market.

This one is called "Scarecrows and War". The cannon issues forth seeds and plants indicative of the corn stalk. Integrated are two scarecrows, a traditional image over a more angelic guardian figure. They represent stewardship of the land and spiritual shelter to humanity. Wallace envisioned a world reborn from destruction after the depression and war.

More Iowa tomorrow.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Abilene, KS. Eisenhower Home/Homestead Monument

Fri & Sat - April 9 & 10
President Eisenhower's childhood home in Abilene near the original downtown area.

The graves of Dwight, Mamie and one young son are inside this quiet chapel.

This is the inside of the chapel.

Statue of Eisenhower in the center of the complex of buildings, museum, library, home, visitors center and chapel. This is an excellent museum and you could easily spend the whole day here, as we did.

Quote on one of the plaques behind the statue.
There are several museums in Abilene including the Grey Hound Museum, Telephone Museum, Carousel & Carnival Museum, Old Town Abilene & Train Rides and two old mansions you can tour thru on the walking tour of many beautiful, old historic homes. It is referred to as the Little Town of Mansions.

On Saturday we stopped at Beatrice, Nebraska to see the Homestead National Monument of America. It is the only monument established to honor a Legislative Act. Lincoln signed it in 1862 allowing anyone over 21 to claim 160 acres if they would grow crops, build a home and live there for five years. It made 270,000 acres in 30 states available and 40% (1.6 million) of those who attempted to homestead succeeded. Homestead Act was in effect until 1976, and 1986 in Alaska. It was incredibly difficult, but probably the single most important stimulus package ever passed. In the 1870s a typical Nebraska farmer produced enough food to feed four people. 100 years later he produced enough for 60. The wall shows the 30 states involved and the cutouts represent the amount of area available in each state.

If you are ever looking for something free to do with young children, don't forget about the very cool animal exhibits at Cabellas and Bass Pro Shops. This is Cabellas in Omaha.
At Lincoln we stopped for a nice visit with John's cousin, Becky. Then on to John's hometown of Greenfield, Iowa. We will be spending the next week or two visiting friends and relatives in the area. We will be camped at B.L.'s house. Feel free to stop in and see us, if you're in the area. B.L. recommends the Blazing Saddles gay bar in Des Moines for a good time. He says they have $1.50 beers and Friday afternoons are especially fun.