Sunday, September 8, 2019

Labor Day Weekend Camping Trip in Iowa

 Last weekend we had fun meeting up with Mara and Thomas (who we hadn't seen since just after their wedding in May when they headed down to Kansas) for some camping in Iowa. It was a really fun weekend. It was fun to be together, we saw some beautiful creation that God made and we had fun seeing the character of some of the little towns we were in.

A statue in Waukon that made us think it was trying to copy "our" Paul and Babe. Hence the funny photo.
   We camped in Waukon, Iowa (North Eastern Iowa) in a campground we had used very quickly on our trip to Texas last year. Aaron and Megan really wanted to go back to that campground again and all of us thought it would be fun to visit that area (Pike's Peak State park and small towns on the Mississippi) again as it looked like a neat area. Last year we had been on a tight schedule and we just didn't spend the time there that we wanted to.

    We got there Friday night after dark as Ken had needed to work until noon. But we found our campsites without much trouble and got set up. Mara and Thomas pulled in around a half hour after we arrived.

  The next morning after making and eating a good breakfast we headed down to Pike's Peak. When we got to McGregor, Iowa (just down the hill from Pike's Peak) we had to stop because the road was currently being used by a parade. So we were wanting to explore that town a little anyway so we found a place to park and got out. By the time we parked the parade was over but we got to the little central park and found a group of bagpipers and they played for a while and we had fun listening to that.
You never know what cool things you will come across when you are out exploring. I do really love listening to bagpipes and good Scottish music.
 Then we walked downtown. We went to "By the Spoonful" a coffee/ ice cream and specialty food shop. I had hoped to get some extra things that we needed for our picnic lunch there but it was a little pricey and didn't have much of what I needed. Ken and Jonathan did get some coffee however. We ended going to an Aldi across the river in Wisconsin a little later to get lunch stuff.
 We also went to "The Paper Moon" a book store with character.
 You could buy a blind date with a book there. I think that is a cute idea.

 After going to Aldi we headed up to the State park. I am not sure if this is true of all state parks in Iowa but this one anyway doesn't have an entrance fee. This is the fun view from the Pike's Peak overlook.
 We really enjoyed hiking on the trails there. We went to Bridal Veil falls but my camera had died by that time.
 Aaron loved all the different cliffs available to get on the edge of.

We found a bunch of old grape vines in the woods that we could swing on. It was quite a bit of fun. It brought back fun memories of college days in Iowa and the vines we found then.

  Aaron had brought his mountain bike along and there was a bike trail from Pike's Peak down to McGregor so he went off on that. The rest of us hiked a little more and then drove down to meet him in McGregor. Then Ken took him up for another run down (he thought it was a lot of fun) and the rest of us checked out some more little shops.
 At one antique shop Megan tried out this ensemble.
  We found out that the Ringling Brother Circus had been inspired and started while the Ringling family lived in McGregor. That was pretty cool. Actually we found out about many cool characters from McGregor. It is now just a small town of around 800 but in the 1800's there were 5,500 people there and it was a booming town. There was a free (donations excepted) historical/dramatic tour that was going on this particular weekend either on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon and Mara and I wanted to go. So we went back on Sunday afternoon and learned about a Pirate and his wife, a millionaire that was into silver mines, boats and trains, a trick pilot and his pilot wife (Tuffy and Esther -they were fascinating!) , Andrew Clemens a deaf child/man who made incredible sand art from local sand of natural colors (We saw some of them and they were simply amazing) and several more.
 Mara in front of a cute cabin that was downtown.

We did try out an icecream shop while in town too. Mara can't have dairy but they had pie made with lard (not butter) in the crust and she enjoyed that.

  I had looked for a church to go to on Sunday but the ones I had checked into didn't work out so we ended up having our own little church service. We found a quiet place in the park and Aaron played the guitar and we sang, Thomas shared some scripture and thoughts that he had prepared and we discussed them and then had communion together. It would have been fun to visit some church but it was neat to have our little church together too.
 The campground provided free wood which was nice and we enjoyed having several campfires. Other neat things about the campground/Waukon City park was all the cool playgrounds, a volleyball court (that we had fun using), some pretty paths and a swimming pool with a water slide and diving board. That swimming pool had been a big attraction but unfortunately they had already emptied it for the year. That was a big disappointment for some. I guess I should have checked on that ahead of time. The playgrounds were really cool even though we didn't have little kids. We explored them several evenings in the dark and had fun going on an old, cool merry-go-round. Then we had an exciting game of tag at dusk in a castle style one. There were around 5 or more totally different playgrounds in that park.
 I had fun making this basket as a gift for Mara while on our trip. She has been doing a lot of wild food foraging and I thought maybe she could use it for that. Speaking of that we found and got to pick and enjoy quite a few blackberries at the park. That was a fun surprise.
 Across from the entrance to the park was this dairy place that sold their own homemade ice cream, cheese and cheese curds. We figured we should go and check it out. I had found out about it ahead of time when I was seeing if I could find a good deal on 40 pound cheese chunks somewhere. The place that I used to get them from closed so I have been on the look out for a new supplier of economical cheese. I was so excited when I found out that they had them and then I asked the price. Even with it being a 40 pound block the cheese was still over $5 a pound. I can buy it a lot cheaper than that in small chunks in our grocery stores so I didn't get any.

 As we were leaving on Monday both carloads had to drive through Decorah, Iowa on our way home. I had read about a cave there so we went to check it out. It is called the Ice Cave as is tends to be quite cold and have ice in it a lot of the year. There wasn't any there right now but we had fun exploring the caves.
 This cave was down a closed road so we had  to walk a little ways but it wasn't that far. Once there you can go in without any entrance fee. It is owned by the city and you enter at your own risk. The main cave wasn't huge (though I think if we would have slithered on our bellies we could have gone on to another section) but it was fun to explore anyway.
 Then we proceeded to explore the area a little more, do some hiking and climbing on the rocks and we found that there were more caves.
 It was a really pretty area and just full of interesting rock areas.

 We found another cave that went back in a little ways and then just had this short tunnel farther. Thomas decided to slip through horizontally and Mara, Jonathan and I ended up following him. Aaron and Megan were exploring elsewhere at the time and Ken didn't want to try going through that little spot and was left outside to call for help if needed. :-) We were quite obviously not the first people every to go back there as there was some old bedding back in there and some painting on the walls.
 I haven't gotten to do very much cave exploring before (we just don't have them up here) so it was really fun for me.

 After that we parted ways with Mara and Thomas. We probably won't see them again until Christmas time. It was so nice to get to spend that weekend together.

We headed north of Decorah. Not to far away was the town of Burr Oak, Iowa. This was a place that Laura Ingalls and family lived in but she didn't write about it. It was where they went after the grasshoppers wrecked their crops at Plum Creek. Their only boy died just before living here (while staying with some family on their way) and Grace was born here. I wanted to stop here as I have seen most of the other places she lived (I really the little house books as a child and I still do) and I wanted to add this to the list.

   We didn't take the time or money to take a tour but we had fun looking around outside quickly and went into the gift shop.
 The Ingalls family lived (for a while anyway) and worked at the Master's Hotel which is still there today.

Our trip home went well and as always it is good to be home again! :-)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Jonathan, My Adult Son

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   We recently celebrated a birthday here. Jonathan turned 18. It is kind of crazy that now half of our children are adults. But we could see it coming. Jonathan has grown and matured in so many ways in the past couple of years that it isn't hard to consider him an adult - in most ways he totally acts like one.

  I won't say that teen years have been super easy, Both Jonathan and I have had to work together to figure out how it works to have a son grow up. There is an interesting learning time of a child (and I think maybe especially a son with his mother) becoming more independent and making their own choices and the parent still guiding, still deserving respect and obedience too but yet really allowing the child to step out on their own. I have felt the learning curve of this most with Jonathan but I think it has truly caused us both to grow a lot spiritually and I am so thankful for the man he is today.

  Jonathan has always been my serious guy, the lover of rules (and really loving getting to make them) , the child that always likes things neat and orderly. He is very much like his Dad. When he is passionate about something he can be rather intense and work super hard at it. If he is not passionate about something he can be challenging to inspire. He likes to focus intensely on the task at hand and doesn't much appreciate getting interrupted when he is in "the zone". He tends to be incredibly responsible. At his places of employment his employers tend to give him a lot of responsibility and have wished he was older at times so that they could give him more (he doesn't work at Burger King any more but when he was there at 17 they told him he could be a manager as soon as he turned 18).

   In this last year of school at home Jonathan is working to start a business doing something he is passionate about - Videoagraphy. He would like to do wedding, real estate, business and music videos for others. If any of you live in this area and need any of those services he would be happy to give you a good deal as he gets his business going.

Jonathan is a dreamer, a hard worker, a serious student of God's word and he loves Jesus Christ. I can't wait to see how God uses him.


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