We started June after a 4 day trip to the Black Hills at the very end of May, then to Indiana to bring Wilma’s mom (Lelani) back with us.  We took her up to see family in Ada, then picked her up later in Fargo and then brought her home to Indiana … and finally, we ended June with a slightly different route for us…. instead of the usual Indianapolis/Bloomington/Rockford route, we headed for Iowa and a few of its better known places to visit….

We left at 5 am (EST) in order to get to our goal by noon, but we had to negotiate some pretty nasty fog.  The first fog showed up about 30 miles west of Indy, appearing as a slight mist over the cornfields.  As we continued, it got thicker and heavier – and stayed that way until the Iowa border — over 2 hours of fog.  Good thing it was daytime: I don’t like driving at night, but add fog or other such bad weather and I’m a basket case.

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And let’s get this out of the way — the truck stop on the NW side of the Quad cities on the Iowa/Illinois border is indeed THE LARGEST IN THE WORLD.   We didn’t hang around much – let’s just say it took a good while to get into the building, find the restrooms, and treat ourselves to looking around a huge ‘convenience store’…. well, this was a convenience store on steroids.  Take a truck stop that you might usually stop at.  It may have had a row of cowboy hats, a row of CB Radio equipment, books, CDs, clothing, and other paraphernalia that’s endemic to such an emporium.  Well, at the I-80 Truckstop, baby, instead of a row dedicated to each kind of item, you have entire rooms full.  There are also a few different places to eat …. if you get a chance, swing into this one and see what I mean.

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It took a few detours to get to the Amana Colonies – I wasn’t so sure our GPS was showing us the right thing, so we stopped at an Iowa information center and verified our course… and then once we exited to head into the colonies, we waited for a train…that got slower…. and slower… and s.l.o.w.e.r. and then it stopped.  I turned around in the road, went back to the freeway and took a different exit….

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And there we were — in the Amana Colonies.  We pretty much hung around the East colony – there’s a visitor center, a hall used for weddings and such, a small museum …. and shops, shops, shops.  Book shops, Furniture and clock shops; gift shops, clothing shops, kitchen shops, wineries, breweries, restaurants …. and you know what?  Our expectations were different.  We thought the Amana Colonies would be like a small Williamsburg or an Amish community, where people would be in costume, reenacting the history of the place to some degree.  Well, no.  There was little to tell you about the history of the place – its mission certainly did not center on its roots.  We found the place to be pretty much a village of upscale shopping – and that was pretty much it.  It’s not a place to bring the kids – nothing for them to do or see — It is a very clean place, with all the buildings adhering to a midwest farm architecture – pleasant very much in that way – but it left us feeling like we had walked through a village of shops, and we were hoping for a village of history that happened to have shops as well.

We ate at the Ronneburg Restaurant there — quite good – an all-German menu.  Sue had wienerschitzel (breaded veal) and I had Bavarian Chicken (a chicken breast with a slice of ham and cheese on it) …quite good, actually – and I treated myself to a cream soda from the local brewery.  Pretty nice meal.

We completed our stay in the colonies with a visit to the furniture/clock shop store.  Now, if you want to drop oodles of money on such stuff, this is your place.  The furniture was gorgeous – all kinds of woods, all kinds of styles, and all in the upper atmosphere of affordability.  Amusingly, there were many clocks placed throughout the store – wall clocks, mantle clock, grandfather clocks — highly interesting stuff.  Cute note:  There was a grandfather clock there with the face of the grandfather clock on the old Captain Kangaroo tv show.

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So its time to move on.  WE check the GPS and its about 90 minutes to the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.

Bucket list time for me, that’s for sure… big baseball fan, and I love the movie.  Wilma had no expectations; as far as she was concerned , this stop was just for me.  Well….  little did I know …. I would find myself nostalgic for a place I’ve never been before.

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We drove through the town, then followed the directions: 3rd avenue to Lansing to the farm itself… you pass a farm on the way in that is surrounded by trees – and then, you pass the trees and there it is… the white farmhouse on the hill, the cornfields, the baseball diamond itself … down the dirt driveway, and then park and get out.  No admission, and today, no crowds (who’s gonna be there on a Thursday late afternoon?  There were a few of us… but no crowds at all….)  We parked, got out, I armed myself with the cameras, and we walked ourselves to the field…. and oh, there it was.  A ball park – no, make that a ball FIELD – no stadium here – meant for everybody to play on.  Around the backstop, and I stood at home plate.  I played scenes from the movie in my head — at home plate, I recalled the young Moonlight Graham winking at the pitcher – and Shoeless Joe whacking out his hits … at the bleachers I sat where James Earl Jones gave his speech about ‘people will come, Ray”…. and on the top bleacher where Karen gives her speech, and falls to her accident, where she is saved by Doc Graham … I crossed the baseline where the young Graham becomes the Doc Graham.  Wilma and I both tried so hard to dissolve into the corn …. and then there were pictures to take, and we did.

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We were there no more than maybe 40 minutes, but it was rewarding – it was fun, it was heartwarming – it was a good choice.  I bought myself a souvenir and we left.  Chances are I’ll get back there…  You should go, too.

The only thing missing: I didn’t get to have a catch with my dad.

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