Rapid City, South Dakota

Our plans for Thursday were changed when the Jeep would not run. We had it towed and the tow truck driver told us about Rapid City, and the trolley we could ride and view different sights within the city. So after dropping the Jeep off at the repair shop, he took us downtown on his way to the next tow job. We had a great time on the trolley!! For seniors (both of us now qualify) it was $1 each with on and off privileges, best deal we have come across in a long time!!
A few years ago, there was a lot of flooding in Grand Rapids, and a lot of the homes were not allowed to be rebuilt in the same place because they were in a flood plain. A lot of the gardens and parks in Grand Rapids were formed in these areas, and gives the city a unique flavor. Stops we got off to see include the park with Storybook Island, a park for children with storybook characters. Included was the treehouse with the Pooh characters

The Wizard of Oz crew,
Snow White and the seven dwarfs,
and the Three Little Pigs!
How much more fun if we had the grandkids with us!!
Another stop we got off to see was the Stavkirke Chapel. This is an exact replica of famous 850 year-old Borgund Stavkirke church located near Laerdal, Norway. Permission and plans were from the Norwegian Government. It was beautiful!

16,000 shingles were hand cut,the ceiling is constructed like a Viking ship turned upside down

beautiful carvings

leper window, where the lepers were able to participate
Included on the grounds was a museum that depicts Norwegian life.

The ride took us to Dinosaur Park, another child-oriented park. However, because we were hungry and it would be a half hour before another bus came, we did not get out, but did get a picture.
When we got back down into the downtown area, we had lunch at the Firehouse Brewery Company, which is located in the old firehouse. It was a great atmosphere (especially when the electricity went out caused by a direct lightening hit at the powerhouse we found out later)!
After lunch, we walked around the downtown area, which has statues displayed throughout. I was able to get pictures of most of them (25). Currently, there are 39. After they place three more this fall, and when President Obama leaves office and one will be made of him, they will be caught up. In the future, they will be made as presidents leave office. They all picked up a personal feel of the president’s personality. Guess who these statues represent:

If you guessed Reagan, Harding, Jefferson, Harrison, Kennedy, and Lincoln, you are right!

When we found out the Jeep was not going to be repaired the same day, we rented a car to get back to the RV. We were located within just a few miles of Mt. Rushmore, so decided to see the lighting at 9:00. We got there early enough to look around a bit and just enjoy sitting under this awesome mountain. Lots of changes at the site since we saw it over 20 years ago!

The program included a Ranger talk, a short film, the lighting, and then calling up of veterans or current armed forces. The flag was brought down, and folded by boys from a boy scout troop from Oklahoma, and passed to each military person on stage. It was very patriotic! Can you find Paul? He is there…..umpteenth from the left in the back row!

We found Rapid City to be a very friendly, hospitable town, and we spent a great day there. We would welcome the chance to return! Still need to get picture of the rest of the presidents!!

Trials and Tribulations!

Praise the Lord in ALL things. He is in control.
“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”, Romans 8:28

Yesterday is finally over. We started out with the plan to go to Custer State Park, and make a loop drive to Hill City, then end up at Mt. Rushmore. We got the maps, the binoculars and a picnic lunch together and off we started to go. The jeep sputtered, sputtered, died, and sputtered again……..It was just not going to start. So we called GEICO. They have been the greatest insurance company when responding to us, by the way, and the cheapest rates we have found! They sent a tow truck, and in the meantime I got the name of a good mechanic in town. GEICO tows to the closest shop, which happened to be a jeep dealership. When I called, they said they were backed up and would not be able to even check it until mid-week next week. So I called the referred place, and they could at least check it in the afternoon.
That meant us paying part of the tow bill, but at least it would not be a week. Bottom line, the tow man did not charge us extra, PTL! And even dropped us in the middle of Rapid City so we could explore instead of just sitting while waiting. So we took the trolly around town, had lunch, then got the sad news of needing a new engine. Used engine would run at least $1700. Those that have seen the Jeep, with the springs showing through the seats, the holes in the top, the leaks because of bad fit of the top, the 4WD needing repair, and the paint peeling……Decisions…..Paul had been planning to detail it when we got back, fixing it up and just using it around town. But to put that much more $ into it would not be a wise investment. So with sadness, we are letting it go. It was purchased by a jeep lover, which made it a little easier. It has been a very reliable, fun vehicle and we will truly miss it.

I love the “bright light” caught on the picture! LOL! Maybe good Jeeps really do go to heaven!

While we were having lunch, a storm hit, the full on thunder, lightening, hail and rain as well as loss of electricity. Well, the area we were campted at was particularly hit hard, and we were told about 50 cars were damaged. The car rental place told us one of their cars lost a windshield due to hail damage, and the camper next to us told us of other damage they had heard about in the campground, including the RV on the other side of us. So Paul checked out the top of the RV this morning. Damage to vent lid, AC cover, three of our small awnings, and the plastic sewer line. PTL, It could have been worse!!

SO, we moved to our next site, north of Rapid City, and have a week before we move on to our next work site, which starts August 6. However, there are a lot of little things around the RV that need to be taken care of, including a slide-out that is half out, crooked and STUCK!! I think we will be kept busy just catching up on maintenance, repair and cleaning of the motorhome.

And I will blog later about the fun day God had planned for us yesterday.

From Iowa to South Dakota

On the road again, yes, we are on the road again!
After two days of rest (we both needed to not do a thing!) we continued to head west. I know, we live east of here, but right now, we live where we park it! We are headed for Nisland, just north of Mt. Rushmore for our next assignment. Last Saturday we saw a lot of cars, vans and even several buses, carrying bicycles west. Found out there is an annual bike ride, where the participants dip the back wheel of their bike in the Missouri River, ride across Iowa, and finish with a dip of the front tire in the Mississippi River. Check out the route at http://ragbrai.com/index.php/routemaps/2010-daily-maps/. It is really pretty awesome!

On our way out of Iowa, we visited Orange City, a Dutch town in NW Iowa. We were very disappointed that the ONLY bakery in town was closed for the week. And every one knew it, from the lady at the postoffice and the butcher, to the lady at the Bible book store!! They all missed morning coffee!! We did find a wooden shoe factory that now has a coffee shop and were able to get coffee, chai tea latte, and a pastry.

and a meat and cheese place where we got some Woudstra Brats, famous for being noted in the Des Moines Register as “one of 100 things to eat in Iowa before you die”. We would have to agree… they are great!
We enjoyed the walk around town, finding interesting buildings,

and even a phone booth in the shape of a windmill!

And especially enjoyed the park, with examples of several types of windmills!

Although there were beautiful flowers in bloom, I think the best time to go back is May, for the Tulip Festival!

After leaving Orange City, we took a detour north into the SW corner of Minnesota to see Pipestone.
The town is known for the quarry at Pipestone National Park. It is the only place the red stone used to carve indian pipes is found.

There were displays, and demonstrations at the visitor center.

According to the treaty when the Indians gave up the land, only Indians are allowed to quarry, and can as long as they want in the future. They usually do in the Fall when water level is down and it is cooler.

We took the 3/4 mile trail through the site and, in spite of the heat and humidity, was worth the effort.

Buildings in the town are built with the purplish stone found above the red pipestone.

We have seen a LOT of road construction during this entire trip! Obama’s stimulus at work! Leaving Pipestone, heading west, we saw a sign – road closed 1000 feet ahead, then another 500 feet ahead. We had missed any previous warning. Right at the border of Minnesota and South Dakota, sure enough, the road was closed!
Here, the motor home is straddling the Minnesota/ South Dakota state line, with the right wheels in Minnesota and the left ones in South Dakota! The sign in front of the RV says Welcome to Minnesota!!

Of course corn fields on both sides…. where do you go with forty feet of metal: You don’t make a U-turn! BUT, we were able to disconnect the Jeep and Paul was able to do a three pointer!

And on to South Dakota via a different route!

Our next stop was at the world’s only Corn Palace, that is difficult to “Cornceptulalize”, where the local high school “Kernels” play basketball, where there is “bushels” of fun, and where we saw “A-Maizing Ear-chitecture” to quote a few corny sayings. It was quit amazing, and interesting to learn about.
The theme added in 2009 was transportation.

Inside murals are permanent displays.

This one at the front of the auditorium depicts the differences of the White man and the Indian, with the shaking hands the unifying center.

We were able to watch them replace some of the grasses on the side of the building,

but the murals will be replaced in August, followed by their festival. There are 13 different colors of corn they choose from when creating the murals.
And of course, we met Cornelius!

Next along Highway 90 heading west is Wall’s Drug Store, which really is a frontier town in itself!!

Getting into the spirit, Paul insisted we trade in the motorhome for the horse and wagon.

Of course, can’t miss the hungry dino!

It really is more than a drug store these days! But they still offer free ice water and plenty of free entertainment and a variety of stores!

They even included a travelers chapel.

Along the way at the rest stops we have also seen little church buildings for individual worship. Glad to see in these United States!

Looking Back to Iowa

Someone told me the best view of Iowa is through the rear view mirror. So as we leave Iowa, we have to look in the rear view mirror and share some of the other sites I did not include in earlier blogs!

Throughout our travels through Iowa on our weekend trips, we stopped to document some of the many beautiful barn quilts along the highways.

Although we had too many hot, humid days here, it has been a great place to watch nature in action!
We had an upclose look at a firefly in our bedroom, we watched the corn grow a foot a week.

It was just green stalks when we arrived, and now there are tassels on top and corn forming!

We watched baby birds learn to fly,

and watched the grasshoppers hatch! You know when you have been at a place too long, the spiders and bugs think the RV is theirs! Seriously, we watched a grasshopper leave these eggs on our window. They were yellow when she laid them. During the week that followed, they turned pinkish, then were orange before turning white. When they turned white, out came 64 tiny orangish colored bugs… looking more like baby lady bugs than green grasshoppers! Within two days, they had traveled to the bottom of the coach and then were gone!

We enjoyed all of the “weeds” along the highways and found out they really are flowers once you get to know them.

So, we leave Iowa after a very colorful and pleasant time!

MMAP Third week Walker, IA

Our job at Cono Christian School ended this week….with a bang! On Friday night there was thunder, and lightening, and more thunder and lightening with LOTS of pouring rain. I was glad we were not in a tent!! Work-wise, the last week was slow for the ladies: We only worked two days. But we got two more rooms painted! Paul did what he likes to do best, demolition! There was a corridor between two buildings and one of the buildings was being moved. (The opposite of Lampe job, where he was adding the corridor!! ) Then siding needed to be installed on the exposed wall. So he kept busy this past week.

One afternoon, a couple of the ladies and I toured a close by Amish community. Anita had visited the previous week and had purchased a rug from a lady, who she wanted to revisit. She was a fascinating lady and it was a joy to visit her in her shop,

and she invited us into her home as well.

She was very informative of the way of life she led, telling us how they have an insulated building for a refrigerator. They get ice out of the creek during the winter, and it usually lasts until the fall. They do not need it in the winter, then they restock the ice for the following spring and summer. She also told us about her two husbands, both of whom have died. We also stopped at a produce auction as well as a couple of stores in the area.
On the way back, surrounded by cornfields, we found this little park, Fort Pentecost, open to anyone, complete with play houses set up for children to play make believe they were in an old western town!

It had a Bunk House (including bunk beads),

a general store, with stocked shelves

and a schoolhouse,

and of course, a jail!

Before leaving the Grand Rapids area, we visited Amana, a town that had been part of a former communal society. Although there are still seven villages within a few miles of each other, we only visited the main town of Amana. It was a very impressive village, and we really enjoyed seeing it.

and enjoyed the drive in the countryside through the corn fields to get there!

Saturday morning, we left for our next assignment. We were really slow getting started, but left around noon, our destination being Spirit Lake, in the Northwest corner of Iowa. On the way we went through interesting small towns, and saw more soybeans and corn. One town we stopped in was West Bend, home of the world’s largest Grotto, the Grotto of the Redemption.
The statute at the base of the cross is similar to Michelangelo’s Pieta, located in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It shows Mary holding the body of Christ after it was taken down from the cross. Beneath the cross is a 36 inch cross section of petrified wood from Arizona.

It was fascinating!! It was started in 1912, by a Catholic priest, Fr. Paul Dobberstein, who worked on it for 42 years, until his death. Great care was taken in selecting colors and types of rock, stones and gems, which have come from all over!
For example, the grotto of the stable was made of 65 tons of petrified wood from Montana and the Dakotas

while the empty tomb has white calcite and purple flourite depicting the coldness of death, and the bright colored ceiling symbolizes his victory over sin and death.

The entombment of Jesus includes three figures that have been sculpted out of a single block of white Italian marble.

On the right hand side of this picture is the beatitudes, written in gold mosaic, inlaid in green copper. The stone on top is a stalagmite from Carlsbad Caverns, in New Mexico prior to them becoming a National Park!

It is now comprised of nine separate grottos with music, in a city block, surrounded by a park, a very serene place.

Pictures just do not do it justice. There are approximately $2.5 million worth of stones and gems, all sparkling in the sun, but in the pictures, you cannot see the true brightness and colors. To experience the sight of it, and consider the magnificance and magnitude of the creation of this was awesome.
This morning, Sunday morning, we attended church at the campsite. It was a wonderful praise service led by a group named Blue Water, starting with “Holy, Holy”, and ending with “I’ll Fly Away”! And lots of songs with the gospel message in between.
The rest of the day is dedicating to sitting and doing nothing!!

MMAP End of Week 2, Walker, IA

It does not seem possible, but we are more than half way through this project. By the end of the second week, the ladies finished painting the downstairs of the house we were working on. It really looked good, and the color that was chosen made it cheerful and bright!
The guys worked on some more plumbing and electrical as well as some more interior painting in another building.

Friday, we needed to do the necessary things in life, like Paul’s blood work and getting fitted for the attire for Nate’s wedding, shopping at Home Depot (even though it is not Sunday!) and shopping for a new camera. Most of you know my 10-year old Canon bit the dust, literally, after a fall. I am told you replace them before they are 10 years old, but the Scotch that I am and the Dutch that Paul is….. well, we keep things a lot longer than normal folks do! After searching the internet prior to looking at them, I had an idea of what I wanted the camera to do. I found the replacement, a Sony HX5. So far I have not been disappointed. It has been a fun camera to use. Paul decided to go ahead and get the DROID X phone, so we got it as well as a replacement for our low tech phone. Not as much decision making as with the camera, since he knew what he wanted. It was just a matter of timing!

So Saturday, we had some fun rubbernecking! We headed northeast from where we are, to take in some scenic roads (meaning, more corn fields on rolling hills instead of flat land, interspersed with some clumps of trees!). Dyersville, IA, was our first stop. The famous Field of Dreams is there, and we stopped to take a look.

It does not seem like over 20 years since the movie came out! Filming lasted 14 weeks durig the middle of a drought in the summer of 1988. It is interesting that they do not let it be used for commercial or organized games. Anybody can come and play on the field, and several were!

The owner was out raking the gravel, talking with people. There was no charge, they do have a stand where you can buy souvenirs. We heard the property is for sale, if anyone wants to own their own Field of Dreams.

After we left, we drove through the town to see the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier. We did not go inside, as people were coming for a service, so did not want to interrupt.

Funny thing, since driving through the town, I have not had to remind Paul to fasten his seat belt once…….I guess after the little chat the policeman had with him after following us around the block and turning his blue lights on, Paul just automatically started remembering. The officer realized Paul had had a senior moment, and was gracious enough not to give him a ticket. 🙂
We continued on following a scenic route east to Ballpoint, known for the first bar and restaurant in Iowa, founded in 1852! Breitbach’s other claim to fame is that it is “The world’s only restaurant visited by both outlaw Jesse James and Brooke Shields”

It has burned down twice, but has been rebuilt and is continuing to serve good food. The views of the valley were great and the buffet meal we had was even better!!

Along the Mississippi River, we took the Great River Road. We were surprised not to see the river along most of the road we drove along, but as it winds around, it was fun to see the small towns.

One of them was Guttenberg, a German town with locks on the Mississippi River.

On the way back, we went through Strawberry Point. Although it claims to have the biggest Strawberry, we did not see much else.

Sunday, we could not resist visiting the Little Brown Church in the Vale. in Nashua. It took about an hour and a half to get there, but well worth it. Services started at 10:30, but at 10:15, there was an old fashioned hymn sing! It was a great worship service.

The song was written as a poem first, by a visitor to the area, Dr. Pitts. He could picture a church there, but at the time there was no church. About 9 years later, he returned to the area and found the church had been built. He was music teacher at the school, and wrote the music. The first time the song was sung publicly, was by him in the church. The people were really friendly. At least five people invited us to the potluck lunch after church, so we stayed and had a great time.
Later in the afternoon, we toured the Bradford Pioneer Village, next to the church.

It was a great weekend of site-seeing, experiencing and learning about Iowa.

More of Iowa

On Saturday, we decided to head north to Spillville to see the Bily Clock Museum. The buddy couple, Al and Carol, joined us. On the way, in Festina, we visited what is claimed to be the world’s smallest church.

The mother of Johann Gaertner, who was 16 when he was drafted into the French army under Napolean, promised that if he returned safely, she would build a chapel. She did not live to fulfill the promise, but years later, in 1885, his daughter and son-in-law organized the building of it, and when it was completed, it was dedicated in 1886.

At the Bily Clock Museum, I did not know what to expect! It was fabulous! Two brothers, starting in 1913, carved some fantastic clocks, the last one completed in 1958. It was a hobby they enjoyed, with Frank doing the carving and Joseph designing and drawing up the plans. Since no picture taking was allowed, we purchased the booklet with information and pictures in it. In 1928, Henry Ford offered them a million dollars for one of the clocks! It stands over eight feet tall, and is considered to be their masterpiece. It took them four years to complete. The design is a series of 57 panels representing historical events in American history.

Also in the same building was a tribute to Antonin Dvorak. Spillvillle was settled by Czech immigrants, maintaining customs and language, and while living in New York, Antonin Dvorak, world-famous musician and composer, (wrote “New World Symphony”) missed the Czech lifestyle. He heard about Spillville, and came to visit during the summer of 1893. He stayed in the building that currently houses the clocks. During the time he was here, he played the 1876 Pfeffer pipe organ at St. Wenceslaus Church.

The same organ has been restored and is still being played at the church, which will be celebrating 150 years In September, 2010.

At the center of the town, there is a public square, complete with a bandstand. Built at the close of World War I, it was originally in honor of those American soldiers and sailors. It has been updated to include all through the present.

Going North, we visited the town of Decorah, touring the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.

There was a lot of history depicted, stories told; including this 25′ ship that two brothers sailed to America in 1933, taking four months. A miracle they made it!!

Poor Paul! Says we did too much in one day….. I guess I wore him out again!!

Sunday was another day of touristing! After church, we of course had to make a Home Depot run!! Then we had a great steak dinner to celebrate the house in Julian selling!
I had read about The Cedar Falls Historical Society Garden Tour and thought it might be fun. Cedar Falls is known as the Garden City of Iowa. There were five different homes to visit. A picture from each:

Yes, there is a house behind this front yard!



and last but not least,

Such wonderful gardens….. don’t they just grow and take care of themselves? I am so motivated after seeing… but I am one of those fair weather gardeners, so we will see how my garden grows next spring!!

So that was our overloaded weekend….. back to work Monday!!!

Cono Christian Camp, Walker, Iowa

We have just finished the first week of work here at Cono Christian School in Walker, Iowa.

It seemed to be a slow start, since Monday was a holiday for the staff who were to direct us; but fortunately, our crew leader was here last month and knew what work was not completed, and knew it would most likely be the first assignment, so we were able to begin the work. The ladies have been painting in one of the dorm houses.

Upstairs there is a living area for the dorm parent family, with the downstairs having bedrooms, bathroom, and a family room.

We got two coats of paint on one bedroom, one coat of paint on another bedroom, and started on the first coat of a fairly long hallway.
The guys also painted, replaced door knobs in classrooms,

and Paul and another MMAPer, Larry, installed a water heater.

The campus buildings are really nice, well-kept facilities. In addition to several staff homes and student dorm homes, there is the school and administration building,

a gym,

combo dining hall and church.

We have enjoyed the devotional time each morning,

and several days we had rain, with clouds that resulted in beautiful sunsets over the cornfield.

Friday, our day off, we toured a Frank Lloyd Wright home located at Cedar Park State Park, just 7 miles north of us. It was a great tour.
The walkway to the front door,

Living room,

Bathroom with its portable sink which covered the toilet.

French doors off the bedrooms.

It is the only one of his creations in Iowa that he has put his seal on.

View of house from the river,


He wanted his homes to be for the middle class, and by not having attics or basements, he felt he could cut the cost down. In the 50’s, he wanted his homes to be between $5,000 and $7,000. This particular home, built in 1950, went over budget and ended up costing $150,000!! I would say WAY over!!! Even considering the added boat house and total furnishings!
There are so many little details, it was just mindboggling!! Some made little sense, other than he wanted to be nontraditional in his design. A beautiful home, nontheless.
Afterward, we had lunch at the Homestead Restaurant. What a way to start our weekend tourist travels!

Fourth of July Parade

Over the weekend, we got settled in and cleaned the RV… inside anyway. The rain is taking care of the outside!! On Saturday we attended the 150th Fourth of July parade in INDEPENDENCE, IOWA!

It was perfect weather and we had a great time. Candy was tossed from the parade participants …but we restrained ourselves, and only put out our hands (and got) the McDonald cookies and the backscratcher!! There was even one trailer complete with barbq set up, serving hotdogs as they went along…(pic did not turn out)

Here in the heart of the country, besides the familiar entries of local high school band, boy scouts, clowns, fire trucks and veterans, the parade also consisted of entries from both WalMart

and McDonalds,

Heavy Equipment,

Big Trucks (the first one actually drove crooked like this…who knows why?)

Green John Deere Tractors (this one hauling chickens),

Pink John Deere Tractor,

Red Tractors,

Old people,

Young people,

Political statements,


and at the very end,
the pooper scooper!!

The parade lasted about an hour and a half and we thoroughly enjoyed it. A fun parade!

Trekking East

In the previous blog, I forgot to include our visit to Lamb’s Players in Coronado early in the week to see the play, Harvey! To double date with Susan and Dan was a treat! As usual, the Lamb’s Players did not disappoint us. It was a great play, and reminded us of what is really important in life! And that sometimes you need to be a little crazy to survive!

This has been a crazy and tiring travel week!
We left California on Sunday morning, spending the night in Las Vegas….with temperatures at 120 outside and 110 in the coach, we decided we would have dinner in a cool casino! Our AC ran all night and it still did not cool down below 90!
The week held a variety of scenery, from desert, to mountain ranges, to cornfields!!

Monday, we drove through Utah, enjoying the beautiful desert scenery,

then Tuesday through Colorado, with scenic White River Canyon,

and the majestic Rockies (note how small the buildings look!),

viewing the Continental Divide from Vail Pass, at 10581 foot elevation.

Wednesday on to Nebraska, seeing an original pony express stop in Guthenburg,

the Great Platte River Road Archway over I-80.

Did you know that Kool-Aid is the official soft drink of Nebraska? Hastings is the birthplace of Kool-Aid!
Along with its collection of stuffed animals, vehicles, and other cultural displays, the Hastings Museum has a great Kool-Aid display,

And at the campsite, we were surrounded by cornfields,

Thursday we arrived in Iowa! Were we slowed down a bit so we could enjoy the small towns, like Elk Horn with its authentic windmill from Denmark,
which was taken apart, numbered, shipped and rebuilt here,
with the help of a scale model.

On display was a windmill built with legos,

and a vikinghjem,

and at Winterset, the toured the birthplace of Marion Morrison……..WHO??

That’s right……
John Wayne!

In the evening we were treated to dinner at Iowa Machine Shed with a childhood friend of mine, Brenda, and husband Michael, in Des Moines, before continuing on to Cono Christian School in Walker, on Friday.

It seems like a long time since our last MMAP assignment in April, and we look forward to serving the school and the fellowship of our co-workers.