the hyphens that define my life

Road Trip February 26, 2014

Lawrence Kansas to Ames Iowa
287 miles
approximately 4 hours

I didn’t think I’d have anything to share tonight but America the Beautiful provides excellent fodder.

Goodbye Kansas. Hello Missouri.

I stopped only once in Missouri at a stray Starbucks to work and catch up on emails and calls. Other than a faded freeway sign announcing the birthplace of Jesse James and crossing a fantastic suspension bridge, the Christopher S. Bond Bridge, over the Missouri River, Missouri was uneventful.

bond bridge

(Photo from Google Images.)

Then BAM!  I crossed into Iowa.  Who knew Iowa was where the action happened?

Four miles into the state is the Iowa Welcome Center in Lamoni AND Amish Country Store.  Growing up in Ohio, my family would go to Amish towns for the country drive, the good food and excellent craftsmanship.  As kids, with our limited luxuries of a color TV and Pong, we were shocked at the thought of Amish children having to do without.   I had to stop. I took exit 4 to Lamoni Iowa and pulled into the gravel parking lot of the Amish Country Store, noticing there were no buggies or horses tied up at the designated hitching posts.  Inside the store, stacks and stacks and a huge variety of handmade baskets were for sale, shelved according to Amish maker.  Handmade quilts, candies, aprons and jam also lined the shelves.  If I had a bigger suitcase and didn’t have another leg of my journey, I would have purchased a few things.  I did find and buy a book (big surprise), The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book by Lovina Eicher.

The Amish Cook began as a column by Lovina’s mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, in 1990.  Lovina Eicher, took over the column in 2003. Cultural insight, daily living, and Amish recipes are detailed in this syndicated column that appears in over 130 newspapers.  How have I not heard of this column?  There are several books, The Amish Cook, The Amish Cook at Home, and The Amish Cook’s Baking Book.

I wanted to buy a loaf of homemade bread and jam and spend my afternoon chowing down, but thought of my waistline and refrained.  I started reading The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book tonight and was pleased with my decision to forego bread and jam when I read Elizaabeth Coblentz’s account of a quilting bee she attended in November 1991 where she was served coffee and a large doughnut.  She commented “Ugh.  Hard on the waistline.”  Elizabeth and I have bonded.

I’m only through 1992, but if you think you cook a lot or think I cook a lot, ooohweee, nobody cooks like the Amish.  I need to bake more bread and pies and meat and do a whole heck of a lot more cleaning before 6 AM to hone my Amish-ness.  Probably not.  Though I am inspired to start a quilt.

Back in the car, proud of my purchase, I drive out of the parking lot and notice the neighboring gas station.


Really Iowa?  That’s the best name for a gas station you could kum up with?  Oy!  I’ve seen this posted on Facebook by others but it is a shock to witness it in person.  I stopped and went in to get a t-shirt but, can you believe it, they don’t sell t-shirts.   A money-maker waiting to happen.

Once I recovered from the Amish Store and the Kum & Go (not to mention the irony of being neighbors), back on the road to Ames.

I still had over a hundred miles to go, but after the past ho-hum Missouri miles, my expectations were low for Iowa.  Then BAM!  Take Exit 52 for the Covered Bridges of Madison County.  Oh I loved this book!  As tempted as I was to venture off the highway, snow and cold kept me on my path.  Just before this same exit, another sign – John Wayne’s birthplace in Winterset Iowa.  Huh, who knew?  Not me.

Des Moines then appeared in giant mass, as if all Iowans live here.  Though I drove through a hundred miles of Iowa farmland to get to Des Moines, it is in the near middle of Des Moines that the National Silo and Smokestack Heritage Area exists.  Why here? I wondered.  I didn’t pull off the highway to check it out.

I safely arrived in Ames and head to Iowa State tomorrow.  Iowa has a lot to check out from Amish to Covered Bridges to smokestacks and silos to a rumor that I heard that Iowa offers skiing!  Iowa is also in the middle of the polar vortex and tomorrow offers a high of 1 degree.  One.  At 8 AM, the forecast says -8.  The high nor the low include windchill.  Ugh.  Cold weather can’t be good for the waistline either.


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