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Long way home: Jackson Mississippi, Graceland & Devonian Fossil Gorge by Ann Treacy
April 2, 2013, 4:08 am
Filed under: Iowa, Mississippi, Tennessee

I’m 62 minutes away from home according to the GPS. It’s been a long day but a fun vacation. We had an amazing time in New Orleans and managed a few fun stops on the way home.

It started last night in Jackson Mississippi. We had a quick (but really good!) dinner at Babalu. The dinner was so quick I decided we could take some quick pictures at the Jackson State Capitol. It’s pretty. Actually we were quite impressed with Jackson. On the way to New Orleans we stopped at the car wash – this time we were in the high brow neighborhood. Very nice houses.

Then we plowed through to Memphis with one plan in mind. We checked out Graceland Memorial Gardens because well, first Graceland is cool. But more importantly given the posse with which I roll, it is free to visit the gardens if you come between 7:30-8:30 am. How cool! We got to check out the grounds and see Elvis’ grave. It was more than enough for the girls. It got them out of bed early and helped us get on the road. I’ve visited Graceland before and would easily visit again – but again given our crowd the quick, cheerful and cheap tour was best.

Then we drove forever. We had a nice dinner in Iowa City. (I know, who knew?) We stopped at a place on the campus called Graze – nice small plates. Then I learned about Devonian Fossil Gorge. It apparently an inland sea that has dried up a few times (in the last 15 years) resulting in tons of fossils. It’s probably a lot better when it’s warm outside. Although it was very close to the city, very easy to get to, a good break for folks who have been in the car – just if it were a little warmer.

Now we’re just waiting to dock at home!


Road to Cedar Rapids, Hannibal, St Louis and Cape Girardeau by Ann Treacy
March 31, 2013, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Iowa, Missouri

OK I’ve been *terrible* about the blog and maybe I’ll go back and fill in the last few months – but today I’ll at least pick up to talk about our 2013 Spring Break. We drove down the New Orleans with Grandpa and back with Patrick.

The trip seemed a little ill fated at the onset. Poor Aine was sick – begging to stay home, which is very unlike Aine. I forgot my charger, so we had to go back. Grandpa forgot his sunglasses, so we had to go back. But after a series of false starts we were on the road. First stop – Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We had a fancy French lunch – well not really fancy, but pretty French.

Then we made a pit stop in Hannibal Missouri, boyhood home to Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens). We took some pictures at the commemorative lighthouse – which is kind of strange in that it way up on top of a hill. Kind of bad placing it seems for warding off ships on a stormy night. Seems like it might be more useful to low flying planes. It was fun to see the town. Most of us got an ice cream treat and Grandpa showed Aine how to play some brain teaser game at the ice cream parlor.

Three facts about Mark Twain:

  1. He was born in 1835 and the lighthouse was built 100 years later
  2. Twain was born and died during a visit from Halley’s comet.
  3. The name Mark Twain comes from his river boat days, it is the cry for a measured river depth of two fathoms

Next stop was St Louis. We had an old school Italian dinner on Italian Hill. We felt almost like interlopers when we were the only ones that the host didn’t know by name! Then we caught the big Arch as night was falling. It was cool – much more silvery than I expected.

Three facts about St Louis’ Gateway Arch:

  1. It is 630 feet tall
  2. It is 630 feet wide
  3. It was built from 1963-65

We spent the night in Cape Girardeau – a new town for us. Actually I think Missouri was a new state for the girls. So that’s always fun!

Iowa by Ann Treacy
October 17, 2008, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Iowa

Guess what? None of us had ever been to Iowa, until today. So we decided to have lunch in Iowa today – Decorah, Iowa. So Iowa isn’t significantly different from Minnesota – although the area around Decorah is very hilly and the colors were great.

Decorah is the home of Luther College. We took pictures at the Porter House Museum. We didn’t actually go in – but we couldn’t resist a picture of the wall around the house; it’s a hodgepodge of super cool rocks. I hope the picture comes out.

After lunch we went to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum. Laura and the Ingalls lived in Butt Oaks when she 9 years old. They worked in the hotel and we toured the hotel.

The going rate in the day was $.25 per night – but there were 3 people to a bed and you didn’t necessarily know your bed buddies. We saw a replica of Laura’s first doll – a corn cob husk with a face painted on it. We also learned that you can make checkers by slicing up a corn cob and coloring half the pieces black and half red.

The hotel had chamber pots, which is also a big hit with kids. We learned how they churned butter and put it in a mold with an imprint. We even learned that butter is usually white but that Laura’s Ma used boiled carrot juice to give her butter a yellowish color.

We also learned about the 7 months of 7 blizzards. The town ran out of food and coal – because the trains were not able to come into town to deliver it. So they create “hay sticks” to burn in the oven and ground the wheat seed they had been saving for spring to make bread. When the winter finally ended the people complained to the government and their complete lack of support. Many people died needlessly that winter. As Patrick pointed out – it sounds familiar.

Last interesting fact – Laura Ingalls Wilder was only 4 foot 2 inches tall. Almanzo was only 5 foot 2. He seemed much bigger on TV.

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