Wow. I’m writing with a beautiful view of the Mississippi River, and it's just a softball toss away. Admittedly, my underhand pitch is still pretty good, thanks to my grade school baseball coach and now current mayor of my Ohio hometown. But that river is close. And it’s big. And beautiful. And a little scary to someone whose lived in the desert for 37 years. Again: Wow.
We’re just outside of Muscatine, Iowa. Jim and I drove here from Stuart, Iowa, where we spent a night for free at Dale Valley Winery thanks to an organization called “Harvest Hosts.” That was our second stay at a Harvest Host place: I’ll do a separate post on them later.
Near Stuart, we did our first search for “biggest ball of twine” types of things. We saw the “Friendly Gas Station Man,”, a huge, waving gas station attendant commissioned in 1934 by the Kalbach Oil Company, and a bank Bonnie and Clyde robbed of $2000 on April 16, 1934, just one month before they were shot in Louisiana.
We also saw “Freedom Rock,” a 56-ton boulder and canvas for a local artist who has painted the entire rock in a patriotic theme around Memorial Day for the last dozen years. At the request of friends and relatives, he’s incorporated the ashes of 16 veterans in his paint.
We’ve stayed off of I-80 for most of our trip so far, but took the interstate from Lincoln to Stuart to Muscatine. Jim said Iowa reminded him of the Willamette Valley in Oregon where he’s spent much of his life, as it’s rolling, green, and has lots of trees. The section of I-80 about 75 miles before Des Moines also has a lot of wind turbines. And, as we got closer to Des Moines, the traffic really picked up, in part to the Iowa State Fair, which gets over 100,000 visitors each year and is celebrating the 100th year of the Butter Cow.
|View of the Mississippi River from the back window of our rig.|
|The Dale Valley Winery in Stuart, Iowa let us stay overnight for free as part of a program called "Harvest Hosts." You can barely see our rig through the trees at the far left.|
|Freedom Rock is repainted in a different patriotic theme every May and finished on Memorial Day. The artist is Iowa native Ray "Bubba" Sorensen.|
|Wind turbines and farms in Iowa.|