Posted by: marymarthatours | September 8, 2011

Trip to the Midwest for Hot Fun

In July, my husband, Collie, and I left the cool Northwest summer and headed to the Midwest for a memorable two weeks.  We spent time in Minnesota with Mary and her husband Jess to celebrate a special birthday and relax in the heat!  The piper at Jess’ party was great fun and enjoyed by all.


Piper Craig Mann

For a trip-within-a-trip, Collie and I drove south to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for one night and then to Galena, Illinois, for three nights.  We traveled on state and county roads to view the back road scenery.  In Iowa, we saw many barns with large boards painted with brightly colored quilt blocks.  Amid the challenges of the road’s gravel shoulders and traffic, we did manage to stop and take photos of a couple of barn quilts.  Check out this video for more great barn quilts in Iowa.

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Iowa barn quilts, 2011

In Cedar Rapids, we checked on the progress of the moving of the 1400 ton Czech & Slovak Museum which had been badly damaged in the flooding of 2008.  Their website gives information on the museum and the progress of its relocation.  We have been to the museum several times and will need to return again when the resurrection is completed.

The next day on our way to Illinois, we stopped to marvel at the state penitentiary in Anamosa, Iowa.  Some very ornate architecture for a prison that was built in the late 1800’s.  And the flower garden in front is charming.  Well worth the stop and so unusual.  It did manage to get us out of the cool car into the hot, humid summer swelter to feel the true Midwest summer weather.


Alamosa, Iowa, State Penitentiary

We stayed three nights in Galena, Illinois, a town steeped in history and 19th century buildings and homes.  I recommend our lodging, The Steamboat House B&B, a very fussy style Victorian with a lovely front garden, yummy breakfasts and perfect hosts.  We took in a couple of historic sites: the Ulysses S. Grant Home and a museum about the local history, the lead mining and Grant’s Civil War campaign.

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Steamboat House B&B                                                 U.S. Grant House

Now, people say that it “rains all the time in the Pacific Northwest.”  It drips in the NW; it rains in Illinois. In fact, get out your ark, because, it deluges in Galena.  One evening, in six hours, there was constant thunder and lightening with 13.5 inches of rain.  The flood gates that protect the lowest street on Galina were closed and the levy that separates the Fever River from the town exhibited its effectiveness.  It might rain in the NW, but it floods in Cedar Rapids and Galena!!  Here are some scenes from the Galena flood.


National Mississippi River Museum, Dubuque, Iowa

We visited The National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque, Iowa, one day. If you are ever near the area, do make the effort to visit this fabulous museum.  It tells the complete story of the Mississippi River as it transverses a vast section of our nation and history.  The exhibits and videos take you south along the entire course of the river.

As we criss-crossed the roads in the adjoining counties of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, we stopped at numerous antique stores and a couple of quilt shops. Collie looks for Czech-Slovak pottery, and I watch for vintage fabric and buttons.  We both managed to find some treasures and to see items more associated with the Midwest and rare in the NW.

Views along the back roads were filled with rolling hills, small towns, barns and corn fields.  Everything was very green. Hum, must be the rain.  We even passed by the highest elevation in Illinois, a 2,145 foot “hill”.  Our Mt. Rainier stands at over 14,000 feet. But the Washington farm lands cannot match the Midwest for their “typical US farm” image.  And on our return home, we told everyone not to complain about the “cold” summer weather that western Washington has experienced this year.  For us, “cold” sure beats heat, humidity and deluge.

(by Martha)


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