Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Festival Weekend in Van Buren County & Final Comments

Ugh, not good for Festival organizers and goers - just talked to the Park Rangers about the weather forecast. His first comment was “Cold”. Dah. Suppose to snow Sat and maybe Sunday, night temps below freezing and both nights. Glad I drained my water holding tank and water heater. I do have some RV “pink stuff” and put it down at least the shower drain, the holding tanks have water in them; will keep the cabinet doors open during the nights. Called Chamber and they checked the Internet weather and sun was suppose to come out this afternoon (Friday) (it did) and get a high of 50 (it did), be cold with some frost in the morning, with some sun in the morning.

Saturday, the Festival started all over the County. I have included a link to the Festival this year, so maybe you could make plans to come next year. I started out by having breakfast in Lebanon at the Amish School Fundraiser, then went to Cantril to browse through the Dutchman Store, buy some baked goods at the Mennonite bake sale and go thru the art ‘n craft show at the Township Hall. The Dutchman’s Store is very interesting and here is a description from the Cantril, Iowa web site:

“Dutchman's Store is the centerpiece of the business district. A bulk grocery, dry goods and fabric store, it is operated by a local Mennonite family. Be prepared for a step back in time to an old-fashioned general store with merchandise for the modern shopper. You must stop and shop the candy aisle, filled with bulk candy of every variety. Open Monday-Saturday.”

I did buy some “bulk” items, my favorite being the dried cantaloupe slices. I was told that the family started out as a dairy business, business was slow, so they added baked goods and these started selling pretty good. They then added some bulk items, like flours and beans, breaking the bulk down into smaller sizes. This took off and before long, the family purchased three buildings and added other dry goods. For quilters, the supply of fabrics is endless. It is a step back in time. All that is needed is the barrel of crackers and the old wood burning stove.

Here is some info on Cantril: “The Cantril area is home to Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities. Several of the businesses in town are owned by Mennonite families. Amish families have businesses at their homes. These can be found along Highway 2 and on V64 and J40 near Lebanon. Watch for homemade signs along the roadway. They are very friendly and will be glad to visit with you on week days and Saturdays. You will find buggies sharing the roadways, and horse drawn equipment in the fields.”

After Cantril, I headed to Keosauqua, walked thru the art ‘n craft fair and food booths, looked at the downtown buildings. I tried to find the SE Iowa Cattle Dog trials, but apparently didn’t drive far enough out of town. I did buy a few Christmas presents, but the food items I bought from the local dog food bakery will be given shortly after getting home to my 4-legged friend Buster.

The cold starting taking its toll on me, so went back to the trailer to get warm. I had bought a new heater with a better thermostat then the old ceramic heater and works a bit better. Just wish it had a couple of temperature settings between the 40 pre-freeze and 70 degrees.

Saturday afternoon, I ventured down to the pre-1840’s Buckskinners Rendezvous Camp held at a day area in the State Park. It was fun walking around seeing the demonstrations and crafts available. They all had nice hot fires going because the temperature was in the mid-30’s. I bought an Indian Taco and some kind of sweet bread item to take back to the trailer for supper. On the way to the where the truck was parked, I saw a few white flakes. I had wanted to go to Farmington to see the Pow Wow, but it was getting dark and cold.

I love The Villages of Van Bureau County and it is an area I could visit again. I have eastern Iowa on my little list of places to see and could include The Villages again.

Sunday was travel day and I headed southward to Missouri. Over the night there was a hard freeze and that was quite evident on the soybean fields that weren’t ready for harvesting yet. They are pretty much gone. It was hard to understand why the fields weren’t ready for harvesting when that’s what was being done when I was in Sac County. A local farmer did say to me, as we were filling our gas tanks at a gas station on the State line, that maybe the farmers will plant earlier and use a variety that matures faster. I selected an RV park in Kirksville MO for a couple of nights and will head out Tuesday morning southward to US-36 and then westward to my next night in Hiawatha KS and continue on US-36 the next day and home on Wednesday.

This has been a wonderful trip and I am glad I made it. I got to see Lisa in Fort Yates ND, see the beautiful hills of South Dakota, stay at a working cattle ranch in Nebraska, have the Missouri River just amaze and overwhelm me, the beautiful Sand Hills and Smith Fall in northern Nebraska, along with the Niobraba River area, into Iowa and the sights all around and so much to chose from, the gorgeous fall colors taking place; to the people I met: Mary at the RV Park in Oakley, Louise at the working cattle ranch I stayed at, Vivian from Newport OR over Labor Day weekend, to Sharon and Gus, fellow Casita owners, at the Sioux County Campground, to the Watson’s - Ann and Ross & Bizzy - at Sac City, another Casita owner. My little “Making Memories” yard flag, that my friend Sherry gave me for Christmas last year, is definitely working overtime.

The views weren’t the spectacular ones one finds in the southwestern states or the red rocks of Utah or the spectacular Rockies, but this is a different part of the country and the beauty, to me, is just as good as the “eye candy” of the western states, the customs and cultures are just as interesting, the history is deep-rooted in all of us and is a part of where we are today, the people are warm and interesting. I love’d all the suggestions locals would give me of what to see, where to get a good meal, or something about the area’s history, culture, or customs. That’s what is so much fun about this kind of traveling - meeting the locals who can share their experiences and knowledge with a stranger.

No plans for the next trip yet, I want to see my brother and meet him in the deserts of California, along with seeing a friend in Palm Springs. My cousin in Bremerton WA wants me to come visit and go through some family items. There are family members on the East coast I would like to see and friends in Idaho that I would like to see. And, my 50th high school reunion is coming up next October in southern California. I’ll come up with plans after I get through the holidays. And, I hope all the readers have a good and happy Holiday Season.

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