Catching Up through Iowa

Even Banjo is impressed with how the Airstream looks now that we’ve washed it!

Since Alaska, I’d despaired it would never come clean, but our favorite campground (because our friend Dave runs it) came through for us. We were able to wash it with clean water (no toting buckets of river water one by one and throwing them on the parts that had sealed shut with dried mud); Tracy was able to get on top with the ladder to clean the solar panels and skylights; I did a pre-wash of the below-the-belt region, as Tracy calls it, to get the thickest layer of dirt and tar off—all so Tracy could do a thorough wash and be ready to wax.

Of course, it rained significantly afterwards, so we haven’t been able to wax it, nor have we been able to clean the outside storage compartments or the hitch or under the frame, but good grief this is a needed step forward.

What have we been up to as we’ve been high-tailing it to the Midwest and tackling our post-Alaska to-do lists?

Corn Palace

Visiting the world’s only Corn Palace, of course.

We caught this grand building dedicated to corn mid-transition, from last year’s theme of the circus to this year’s theme of South Dakota notable people, but that gave us the opportunity to see how the many murals around the outside of the building and inside are made. Yes, from corn! This building has been sporting handmade murals made from various colored corn for more than 100 years.

Locals work all summer to replace each cob and husk using a paint-by-numbers system.

We had only a few minutes to walk around the place, which I regret because it was much more rich in history than I expected. (I wish we’d spent more time there than at Wall Drug.) We did buy a giant bag of popcorn to eat during our long travel day, and, soon after, Tracy slammed on the brakes and slid into Dimock Creamery where we grabbed the squeakiest, freshest cheese curds we’ve had in months.

Add in pretty good beer in Sioux Center, and the transition from South Dakota to Iowa has officially been about gaining weight.

The Green Door

That travel day with stops at the Corn Palace and the creamery was an extra long one, plus we had the sad letter Z as our music inspiration. (The Zolas and The Zutons. Yeah, I never heard of them, either). To distract myself in the passenger seat as the hours rolled by, I looked ahead on our route and noticed “The Green Door” as the next scheduled stop. Huh. Tracy said it was a surprise.

As soon as we got near the small Iowa town of Clermont, a proverbial bell rang. The Green Door!

When we drove through Iowa this past spring, our friends Tanya and Mike had told us they were thinking about buying a small business and running it as a gift shop/craft beer store/bar, and damned if they hadn’t succeeded. Tracy surprised them with our visit; they surprised me with their seriously cool accomplishment; our mutual friend Chuck pulled in right behind us to surprise us all. Again, we had too little time to visit, but an hour is better than driving on by. You stop by, too, if you’re near Clermont!

That catches me up to where we are now, the Elkader city park, where we’re retrieving the kayaks from Dave (who graciously stored them for us after the almost-disastrous rack malfunction in the high winds this spring) and catching up with everyone we can grab for a few minutes to yak at them about Alaska.

Tracy’s relatives Mary and Gary here are going to Alaska next summer, so they were the perfect victims of our Alaska story-telling. If we’re coming your way soon (Doug and Patti and Guy, I’m looking at you), brace yourself! Apparently, blogging about Alaska is not enough; I have to pull out the digital photo albums and tell stories in all the wrong order with all the wrong details, and generally flush it from my system enough to move on.

6 thoughts to “Catching Up through Iowa”

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the Corn Palace! I’m also a huge fan of Wall Drug (I got to interview the 4th-generation owner as part of their 90th anniversary in 2021 and learned some really cool things about the business, and I got to see parts of it that are off-limits to the public, so I may be jaded).

    1. That is fabulous about the Wall Drug insider info! Somehow I had on my mind I had to buy a perfect t-shirt, and I’m terrible at paying attention to anything else when I have to shop. If we get to share beers together, I’ll have to hear the scoop.

  2. I knew the corn palace was made from corn but until I saw your close up photo of the installation never gave much thought to the amount of work involved. Damn.