Thursday, May 22, 2008

Across Iowa and Back To Shabbona

Because we were so comfortable with our site at Lewis and Clark State Park, we took our time on Wednesday morning.

The park has an interesting keelboat display that we climbed around on for awhile.

We got back on the road around noon.

We found that it works best to have plenty of sandwich materials and fruit around for traveling days so that we can snack as we go rather than stopping for big meals. I’ve gotten pretty good at making my way around the kitchen while we are moving down the interstate.

We decided to stop in the Amana Colonies for the night. The Amana Colonies RV Park is a Passport America member so once again we were able to get full hookups for $14. The park itself is not much more than a field with gravel sites and hookups but it fit our needs.

After we set up we decides to go in to Amana to try out on of the Amish family style restaurants, the Ox Yoke Inn. I sampled both the local rhubarb and the dandelion wine. The food was good but didn’t seem to be anything special. Perhaps that’s because German family-style cooking is not something out of the ordinary to us.

Besides, Ken had not been feeling all that well since mid-afternoon so, after a short drive around Amana, we headed back to Baby.

Unfortunately during the night, Ken got really sick. . It was pretty obvious he was dealing with a blockage. I was very concerned that I might have to drive him in to Iowa City. He took a dose of prednisone about midnight. It didn’t seem to do the trick to he took another dose between 2 and 3 a.m. Having had Crohn’s for over 30 years now, he can read his condition pretty well, and having lived with him with it for 27 years, I can read pretty well how he’s doing. At about 4am he seemed to be able to start resting a bit more comfortably and finally from about 5 – 7 am was able to actually sleep. Of course, I’m not able to sleep then!

I had worked out in my head that we were quite a bit closer to home at this point than if we continued on to DeKalb. Because of all Trevor’s visits to Iowa for football recruiting I was quite familiar with the roads between Iowa City and Quincy so when Ken woke up again I recommended we divert and head to Quincy instead of DeKalb. He suggested that instead I take the boys back in to Amana for a big breakfast and some sightseeing which would allow him a few more hours sleep. We’d make our decision after that.

Kyle, Trevor and I went to the Brick Haus restaurant for breakfast. It was basically a family style, all you can eat breakfast served at your table, with juice, sausage, bacon, eggs, potatoes, fruit, and some really great pancakes. We obviously took our time there!

After breakfast we visited the local microbrewery, Millstream Brewing Company. They were bottling that day using an old 1957 Coca Cola bottling machine that they have refurbished for the job. We sampled a few beers and to buy a growler of their Schild Brau Amber. What turned out to be the family favorite was the Old Time Cream Soda they make. They use beet juice for sweetening instead of high-fructose corn syrup. We only bought a six-pack but if I’m through there again it will probably be a few cases. We also found an appropriate little button there for Dad that says, ‘You can Tell a German, But you Can’t Tell him Much!’.

Another stop in Amana was the butcher shop and smokehouse. The RV park gives you a token to get a pound of brats there for a dollar. In addition we picked up some great summer sausages, and a jar of horseradish.

Our last stop on the way back was the convenience store to get Ken some seven up and gatoraid to help him get his hydration built back up.

I have to say, Amana was not what I expected. In our part of the country, there are several Amish Mennonite communities, and in my travels in Ohio and Pennsylvania I’ve been through several such communities. In my past travels the stores and restaurants were obviously owned and operated by the Amish and the people, homes, and transport in the area were clearly Amish as well. When we’d travel to Charleston, IL, we’d frequently stop in Sullivan where there are hitching posts along the streets for the Amish shoppers and a nice Amish-owned restaurant in the center of town. In comparison, Amana, to me, was a bunch of old buildings and stores set up for tourist trade. I didn’t see a single person dressed in traditional Amish attire, no horse ‘n buggies, and Kyle was the only man I even saw sporting a beard. I guess what I’m saying is that Amana felt much less like a genuine Amish community than places like Colony, Mo. (Mennonite I believe) which no one talks about visiting.

Besides Ken being sick, the other downside to this section of the trip was that I forgot to take the camera into town, so we didn’t have any pictures.

When the boys and I got back to the RV we were surprised to see Ken outside packing up sewer hoses in preparation for leaving. He still wasn’t sure if the blockage was cleared and wasn’t going to risk eating anything but really wanted to continue on to DeKalb if the boys could finish the jeep hookup and I was game for doing the driving.

Ok, so maybe Homer doesn’t look so comfortable with me behind the wheel but we made out fine!

When we arrived at Shabbona State Park our destination for the final 4 nights of our trip, it was obvious that Memorial Day weekend was starting to gear up. Although only Thursday afternoon, the office phone wouldn’t stop ringing with people checking site availability. The park was totally full already including all non-reservable sites. Thankfully because we had a site reserved for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, that sight was already available for us.

Ken was feeling much better and was able to expertly back us into the perfect position on site 79 on the very first try.

The boys headed in to town to work out. The plan is that they will sleep and Kyle's place the through the weekend so suddenly the RV feels a lot bigger!

Hugs, C

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