Sunday, October 11, 2009

Amana and Winterset, Iowa

One of our pleasures on the return trip to Oregon is a leisurely pace. Or at least more so than our trip east. We have been able to see some sights not in our original plan and to drive less each day and to be " in the moment". We are reminded that this is one of the great benefits of retirement...

One stop not in our plan was the Amana Colonies in Iowa, just north of US 80. Along the way to Amana, we noticed a small sign at one rural intersection which pointed the way to a quilt shop just 8 miles away. We decided to check it out. We found the most delightful small shop in a separate building behind a farm house in the middle of corn fields. Barb, the owner, was having a familiar discussion with her 16 year old daughter about whether or not she could go with a friend to a town nearby. There was a black lab to meet us, and probably a million cats and kittens. Zander went nuts! We enjoyed this chance meeting and the opportunity to observe this vignette of rural life. Barb invited us to hook up to her electricity and stay on their property for the night. So generous. We did not accept as we hoped to see some of Amana before ending the day and it was still about 20 miles away. Rae and I have remarked that seeing this part of the country and its people, seeing many, many churches, American Flags, and community spirit, that we have renewed hope for the future. Values are alive here and lived each day.

The small towns that comprise the Amana Colonies are charming and picturesque, with an old world feel of the German settlers who originally lived here. They have tried to preserve this atmosphere while keeping their economy based on crafts and handmade items. There is still an operating woolen mill, handmade brooms and baskets, lots of crafted furniture and woodworking, antiques, baked goods, etc. Of course, we visited the quilt shop which was featured in the 2009 Spring/Summer APQ Quilt Sampler Magazine. It was wonderful!

The sky when we arrived was blue and there were beautiful fall colors, flowers and pumpkins to remind us of the season. We parked for the night at the Amana RV Park. We had the heater on all night for the first time. Imagine our surprise when we awoke next morning to find it was snowing!

We began to wonder if our time for a leisurely pace was running out. But thankfully, it did warm up as the day went on and the day ended with blue skies and sunshine again.

We took a brief trip south of Des Moines to the little town of Winterset. Winterset is in the middle of Madison County, Iowa, where the book and movie "Bridges of Madison County" takes place. They were celebrating a festival of "The Bridges" which are scattered around the county.
It was so nice of them to provide so much entertainment for our visit. We went to the Fons and Porter Quilt Shop right across from City Hall. This is also the site of their publishing offices. We drove into town on John Wayne Road. John Wayne grew up in Winterset, Iowa.

We are about to leave this morning for Lincoln, Nebraska, and the International Quilt Study Center located on the University of Nebraska, Lincoln campus. From there, we will begin to drive more each day so we can eventually arrive in Oregon. We are having a great time.


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