{2020} Wiping the Dust Off

“Walks around dusting of the blog……. wipes her hands on her jeans. Ahhh there we go!” Now we can work with this! I admit, this blog of mine has been collecting dust as I busily live life out loud. I am in the process of learning to live in the here and now, without the sudden urges to document everything that’s going on in m my life.

Yet, my soul knows how much my fingers love to touch the keys and with each stroke my words translate into a hope that I can’t even begin to understand. This blog of mine is a source of comfort, triumph, laughter, and lastly a source of hope for those on their way to parenthood. This is a safe place where I can share and where my sharing resonates with you and in turn you said “damn, me too.” This place will always exist for us and I promise to be better about sharing with all of you.

The journey is forever changing. When I think I am on the right path it switches on me and I end up on foreign ground. The path to parenthood isn’t always a straight line. For some of us it’s a switchback up a mountain with more lows than highs. This summer we were certain foster to adopt would be our path to parenthood. But my heart she wasn’t ready to let go of what her soul yearned for. Deep down my soul knows I am meant to carry a child into this world. To prove that against all odds science and God will triumph.

Somewhere in Iowa a couple went through IVF and they decided that their family is complete. That couple decided that they wanted to pay their blessing forward. Instead of letting their embryos sit in a cryobank for eternity they chose to donate life. The embryos are donated to the University of Iowa’s donor embryo program and we are on list one. List one gets served first (couples with no living children and/or pregnancy) and we are waiting for the day we get the call telling us it’s our turn. With a little luck their leftover embryo will become our take home baby.

If our IVF story would have turned out differently, we had planned on giving our leftover embryos to a donor embryo bank. We wanted to pay it forward and let someone else have a chance at holding a baby in their arms. Being on the receiving end of Embryo Donation is a path I never thought I’d go down. Yet here we are, putting one foot in front of the other moving closer to parenthood. Our turn, is just a phone call away and my heart cannot wait to finally grasp that rainbow.

{Road Trip} Madison County Iowa 

This post is a little late. Life always gets in the way. I have been busy moving and enjoying life. 

Anyways, my Mama absolutely loves the movie Bridges of Madison County. Clint Eastwood gets her all steamy – she is totally a huge fan, she’s seen like every Clint Eastwood movie known to man. So I as her daughter was like “hey mom want to go on a trip.” She of course said yes and I set off to planning. My north shore idea fell through so I talked to my dad and he said “why not take her to the bridges.” Bridges? What bridges? Umm the covered ones in Iowa, ya know that movie, he said. Oh yes right the ones in the movie. So with that idea in mind I found us a hotel in Stewart Iowa and started planning our trip.
Madison county Iowa is about a five hour drive from Minneapolis. Wintersett is the county seat and it is also the town featured in the movie. I will admit the town is so stinking cute! We ate lunch at the north side cafe, which again is featured in the movie. There menu was full of Iowa comfort food and home town charm. I had a ham sandwich and deep fried cheese balls. After our bellies were full we walked around the town square and did a little shopping. I bought wine at a pharmacy and kept searching for a signal. Wintersett is a dead zone for cell phones. The nice pharmacist gave us a paper map to all of the bridges. 

There are a total of six remaining covered bridges. All except for two of the six sit on their original sites. Getting to the bridges is an adventure in itself, your drive on winding gravel roads and follow these little tiny brown bridge signs. It was kind of like bingo! My mom and I were actually trailing behind the cutest little old couple. Though the weather was misty a lot of folks were out looking for the bridges and it was fun watching people’s faces light up when they walked through them. 

Only a few of the bridges were featured in the movie the bridges of Madison county. The most important bridge is the Roseman Bridge. That is the bridge Francesca drives up to and leaves a note inviting Robert to dinner. At this bridge there is a cute little gift shop where you can buy copies of the book and local goods. The bridge, well all of the inside walls of the bridges actually, are covered in signatures, poems, and art work left by visitors. My mom and I thought about adding our names, but we decided not to. 

I thought it would take an entire weekend to see all of the bridges. They are actually really close together and it took us about two hours to visit all of them. In wintersett there is a cute city park where the Cutler-Danahue Bridge sits and if you drive back into the park you will come along the stone bridge (it was in the movie) and way back into the woods is clarks tower. I decided to climb to the top of the tower and the view was amazing.

Since we had one more day to spend on our trip I thought it would be fun to head on down to Omaha Nebraska. My mama seconded the idea and off we went. I always thought Nebraska would be boring, it’s not boring, it’s actually beautiful. We went to the Durham Museum, tooled around the farmers market, did some shopping, visited the La Familia Shrine, and an apple orchard. It was a jam packed Saturday. 

Oh bonus while in Omaha we had lunch at the Golden Corral. When I was little my mama would take me to the one in Red Wing and I loved the Texas toast and ice cream. Which she always told me was not a meal. On Tuesdays your child at for the price of their weight, 20 cents per pound. They had this big scale, you’d stand on it and they would write your weight on a sticker and slap it on you. I was a cheap date for my parents. Anyways back to present day! People! OMG! They have cotton candy on there dessert bar! I smuggled some out! I know I am such a criminal. 

Sunday arrived sooner than we liked and it was time to journey back home. The fog was pea soup that morning so we took it slow and by the time we got home it lifted. Driving in fog is not fun. If you are looking for a fun weekend getaway I highly recommend visiting the Bridges of Madison County and the city of Omaha. There is so much to do and see, everyone will be happy that they went. Now I am going to go refresh my memory and rewatch the movie! 

{22 Trips in 2014} Ice Cave? In Iowa?

Ice cave signYes, yes there is an Ice Cave in Iowa. I know the concept of a cave in Iowa blew my mind too! When I think of Iowa I think of never ending corn fields and turkey farms. Never caves or rolling hills. It turns out that northeastern Iowa is filled with rolling hills and is known to have a cave or two.

Originally we wanted to tour the Laura Ingles Wilder Museum in Bur Oak Iowa. Well we got there a little too late and the museum employee turned us down. Well actually she turned 10 people down for the tour. Since that plan was foiled my Dad asked me “get on that Google machine of yours and see what there is to do. I want to see something.” Google machine? Ha! That man cracks me up. Google told me that Decorah was home to Iowa’s only Ice Cave and it was just a few miles down the road. The Ice Cave does not have a physical address, so when you go just punch “Ice Cave Road, Decorah IA” into your GPS and it will get you there in one piece.

The Decorah Ice Cave is one of the largest caverns containing ice in the Midwest, and is famed due to the rare ice deposits that can be seen and felt during the late summer months. The cave itself was formed in 450-million-year-limestone and dolomite. The ice formation is created when the chilly air of winter enters the cave and lowers the rock wall temperature. When spring thaw occurs, surface water seeps into the cave and freezes upon contact with the still-cold walls, and reaches maximum thickness in June. The Ice Cave is not a commercialized tourist attraction and you explore the cave at your own risk.

PeteIt was very easy to find. As in we drove right by the sign and had to make an illegal U turn. Hey it happens and at least I did not get caught or cause an accident. There is a very small parking lot and a picnic area at the base of the hill. A steep set of stone steps leads you to the cave entrance. As you climb the stairs you will notice a drop in air temperature, it was much colder near the cave than it was in the parking lot.

Ice Cave I was the brave one in my party and I wanted to go inside the cave. I went about 25 feet in and boy was it refreshingly cold. My mom and I did not spot any ice at the entrance, oh well it was still cool. My Dad did not go into the cave proclaiming “that’s shale, that is unstable! It could cave in on you!” Armed with my iphone flash light app I was trying to see further into the cave when my dad broke the silence and yelled. “If you go in there, throw me the keys I want to be able to get home.” To his surprise the car keys came flying at his feet. Seeing that I was in flip flops and not prepared to climb around on my knees I bid adue to the cave and trucked out of there.

{22 Trips In 2014} Spillville Iowa – Bily Clock Museum

Bily Clock Museum, Spillvie Iowa

Bily Clock Museum, Spillvie Iowa

My Dad loves to watch Jason Davis’s “On The Road” segments and has been asking me to take him to the Bily Clock Museum for years. Iowa was not on my list of places to see and well it has corn fields, I don’t do corn fields. However I promised my Dad earlier in the summer that I would take him to Spillville Iowa to see the clocks. A promise is a promise and well I am a girl of my word so off to Iowa we went.

Iowa is a short two hour drive south of Red Wing and I will admit the drive was very pretty. The leaves are just starting to turn, the fields are a golden hue, and there is just something magical about passing an Amish buggy. Spillville is a tiny town of 400 people strong. My dad kept on saying “I am in Mayberry! Where is Andy and Opie!” Yes it did have the small town charm and the bar we had lunch at has definitely seen better days. With food in our bellies we headed on down the road to the museum. Well my Mom and I drove, my Dad he tried to walk there. We foiled his plans and made him get back in the Prius.

No cameras are allowed in the Bily Clock Museum, which means I have no photos to share with you. The museum occupies an old storefront on the main street in Spillville. In addition to the storefront there is an old log house, an outbuilding with stalls that contain an old jail, voting both, and antique fire truck. The last stall in the outbuilding was occupied by an antique horse drawn hearse from the 1800’s, it was pretty cool.

You enter the museum at the side door and are greeted by the cheerful staff who kindly tell you that the tour is $6.00. We plopped down our $6.00 and walked right into the large space where the clocks lined the walls. She told us to hurry so we could catch the current tour that was going on. Tour? I was confused, all of the clocks were in one large room…. so why the tour. Well tour is not the right word, demonstration is more like it. Our lovely “tour guide” walked around to each clock, told us a short story and then pulled the string. That, that is when the magic happened, the clocks came to life and the room was filled with music.

The clocks’ creators, long-dead bachelor brothers Frank and Joseph Bily carved clocks every winter. Over the course of their lifetimes, using only hand tools and a scroll saw made from a sewing machine, the brothers designed, carved and assembled over twenty wooden clocks. The size of the Bily’s clocks is staggering and the intricacy is breathtaking. The largest clock, which is carved from walnut, rosewood, hard maple and cherry is called the Apostles’ Parade. It stands at 9 feet 10inches tall.

Our guide told us that Henry Ford offered the Bily brothers one million dollars for one of the clocks. They politely turned Mr. Ford down solely on the basis that they didn’t think anyone had that kind of money. The Brothers never sold their work and frequently turned down offers for commissioned projects. All the clocks they crafted were kept on the family farm. Their sister Anna would show visitors the clock collection for ten cents per person.

My favorite clock was of a small church, simple in design, yet eloquently crafted. When our guide pulled the string the room was filled with the sound of “Come All Ye Faithful.” Which just happens to be one of my favorite hymns. Truth, I thought the clocks were going to be boring. My was I surprised and I am glad I kept my word. Each clock was crafted with such precision, the figures are so life like, and the animatronics they created were pretty darn sweet. No two clocks were a like in size, movement, or song.

Watching my Dad’s face light up was worth the two hour drive, he has been talking about the clocks nonstop and wants to go back. Spillville is truly a Midwestern gem and its worth the drive. An heck it only costs $6.00 to see the clocks. To learn more about the Bily Clock Museum and Spillville Iowa, please visit http://www.bilyclocks.org

****Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this report.*****