Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Decorah ~ Dunning Springs Park.

On our Adventure on June 27 to Laura Days in Burr Oak, we thought we would stop in Decorah.  You, know where the famous Bald Eagles are on video.  This city is absolutely breath taking.  It is found in a valley between hills.  Iowa is very hilly.  I am sure it is so pretty in this city during the fall when the leaves are changing colors.

Our mission was Dunning Springs Park one of Todd's employees told him about this, I also read about it in the book but did not imagine the beauty.  I also do not remember the book mentioning the waterfall.  Yes, Iowa has a waterfall.  I was so surprised to find this.  Oh, I have seen spillways which are beautiful here in Iowa but this is a natural waterfall.  It was well worth our stop.  There was so much beauty here.  We went to the Ice Cave first because there was a wedding taking place next to the waterfall.  The Ice Cave is actually that, a cave you can explore and ice can be found on the walls well into Mid-August.  At one time, one could crawl all the way through the cave, but now they have bars to end the exploration and make them turn around and go out another opening.  We did not go to far into the cave.  Well Todd chose not to, I told him to go ahead without me, I would just return to the car.  I could not go any further because in order to get around, one had to crawl on your knees something I cannot do at all due to the intense pain.  
Above: The cave's entrance.
Below: Inside where ice was on the cave's walls.
Below: Our stopping point.  At this point to go further one would need to crawl through it.

I hope we go again with the kids, this way Todd will explore the caves more.

After the caves we headed towards the waterfall.  We stalled a little and took in the view where the stream flowed into the river.

On the road to the waterfall, I came across this little butterfly.
I love butterflies!

There was a stairway one can go up to see the top of the waterfall.  We chose to do this while the wedding was finishing up.  Todd went all the way up to the top.  I was able to get a little more than half up,the steps were a little too steep for my knees.  (I am concerned about our trip to Yellowstone due to all the aches in my knees.) 
By the time Todd came back down the wedding was over and we went to check out the waterfall. Todd climbed the rock while I took pictures below.  Todd took a few pictures with his phone and told me the water came from an opening in the cave.  This would explain why the water was ice cold.  He also said there was a spot at the top it felt like there was an air conditioner blowing from the cave. 

The little valley at the base of the waterfall the temperature was cooler.  I can see why someone would have a summer wedding here.

Below: Todd near the top of the waterfall.
Below: Todd took a picture of me taking a picture of him.  
One of our selfies for the day.
We just loved this place and had a great day.
This is definitely a hidden jewel of Iowa.  If ever you find yourself traveling through Iowa and have time for an hour stop, definitely make sure you stop in Decorah, Iowa and check out Dunning Springs Park.  They have several hiking trails as well.

Decorah is 2 hours and 41 minutes north of Iowa City.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Burr Oak

OH!  I wish my parents took me to Burr Oak, Iowa during Laura Days when I was younger.  I would have loved all the activities they had for children. Laura Days, on Saturday is mainly children activities. 

The little town did have some other things going on such as a parade, comedy, and a couple of bands playing.  Oh, there was a skillet pan toss, I am not sure if that was geared more for women or not.  The children could participate in a tug-of-war, sack race, play hoop and stick game, tic tac toe competition, make a cob doll, dress up in prairie outfits and get your picture taken on a covered wagon.
We did listen to a little band.  It was a very cute show.
 The Visitor Center is where the tour begins.
The origianl use for this building was the town's bank in 1910. 
This bank was the first to be robbed bank in the county in 1931.
 I love how buildings have such great detailing.
The Visit Center is also the gift shop and where you purchase your
tickets for the tour.

However, my true desire that day was to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.   I was so surprised to find a museum here in Iowa.  Did you know her first book was published in 1932 and is still in circulation?  Laura was 65 years old when her first book was published.  Burr Oak is a small little town along the banks of Silver Creek in the far northwest corner of Iowa.  In 1876 the town would have over 200 covered wagons passing through it daily.  After the horrible grasshopper plagues in Minnesota, the Ingalls family moved to Burr Oak, Iowa to help their friend William Steadman manage the hotel.  Laura was nine years old at this time, the family at this time consisted of Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and Carrie.  Ma did all of the cooking herself for the hotel because Mrs. Steadman was ill.  The Ingalls were here in Burr Oak for only one and a half years and then moved back to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, but before they moved, Grace was born. They actually stayed in the Masters Hotel only for a few months, then moved across the street next to a saloon.  Pa did not like the girls so close to the saloon and a wicked fire in the saloon, sent Pa finding another home in the town where Grace was born.  Pa found out how the Steadman's were cheating them and paying the family way too little for all the work they were doing. 
The Masters Hotel is a National Historic Site which remains on its original site.  July 1976, 100 years after the Ingalls lived there, the hotel became a museum and guided tours began of the three levels and eleven rooms in the hotel.

The hotel parlor was a place where guest would sit and entertain or visit. The room was to the right of the lobby.  Inside the parlor was a Crown Organ.
 Inside the parlor there was a replica of Pa's fiddle.
... Pictures of the Ingalls...
 Above: Top Picture is of Carrie,Mary, and Laura
Below is a picture of Carrie and her husband.
Below: A wedding picture of Grace and her husband

The Dinning area is in the lowest level.  As stated above while the Ingalls worked there, Ma cooked for the Steadmans, Mr. and Mrs. and their five sons, her family, as well as the hotel guest and she was pregnant with Grace.  It is estimated she cooked for 20-30 people for every meal every day.
 Inside the dining room there was a spinning wheel
and sewing machines the women would use back in Laura's childhood days.
 This dinning room is where the guest would eat.
This also doubled as a little restaurant.
 Above: Slates the children would work on homework.
Below:  A butter mold.
 Above: Wood Oven Stove
Below: The restaurant was served family style.
 Above: A close up of the sewing machine
Below:  A picture of a chair from Laura's younger years.
 Above: A list of chores Laura and other children her day would have.
Below: A work room where Pa's Tools were located.  
Todd called it the "Man's Cave" back in the pioneer days.

From the dinning area, one would go up some steps and next you would be in the kitchen where all the meals would be cooked.
 Above: In the kitchen hanging from a ladder are herbs drying.
Below: A table where the Ingalls and the Steadmans would have ate their meals.
The pantry in the house is the original pantry.  It held the dishes Laura and Mary helped wash.  The girls also made the beds and helped Mrs. Steadman care for her youngest son.
 Above:  The pantry off the kitchen.
Below: Wash tubs and wash boards
Above: Kitchen items found in the hotel at that time era.
Below: The type of stove Ma cooked all the meals on at the hotel/restaurant.

Upstairs, and very steep stairs were the sleeping quarters.  The Steadmans would charge only $0.25 per person, but they would sleep three to a bed and sideways to fit everyone on the bed.
 Below: A picture of the Ingalls Family 1890.  
Carrie,Laura, and Grace standing.  Pa and Ma sitting.

 Inside this room were replicas of clothing worn during this era.
Below: A picture of children's actual shoes during this time.
 Another room had children's toys during Laura's era.
Below is a picture of what Laura's corn cob doll would have looked like.
She talks about her first doll in the "Little House in the Big Woods".
 In a different room upstairs was furnished with things found in the school 
house during Laura's time here in Burr Oak.
 Below is a check board.  The checker pieces were painted corn cobs.
 Above: A desk with the actual superintendents meeting notes
when Laura attended.
Below:  In every room there were Laura's Virtues.

 Above: A close up of the beds they slept on.  
The ropes had to be tight and the mattresses were stuffed with hay.

I loved the fact, Todd was not entirely bored with our adventure.  He thought it was interesting and loves history.  I am so lucky to have him in my life.  This was well worth an adventure trip to and now I have another item to cross off my 50 x 50 list.  I would love to go to all of Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.  (Fact: When Mary became blind, she went to the blind school in Vinton, Iowa.)
 (I am so in love with this man and his humor!)

Burr Oak is 2 hours and 50 minutes north to north east of Iowa City.


He Loves Me