We took a little mini-trip to SE Minnesota and NE Iowa last week and had the nicest time!
We went to Mystery Cave, a cave run by Minnesota State Parks…
And Niagara Cave, a privately run cave. Only Victoria wanted to go to this one and I went with her. Unfortunately, Niagara Cave is NOT a cave to explore when you’re 8 months pregnant. The masses of stairs (along with low oxygen levels) brought on strong contractions and an alarming inability to breathe, and I had to make my way (with considerable effort!) back up to the top and send for Daryl.
Daryl bought some bags of rocks/seeded gems for the kids to slew (sp?) and they had a great time “mining.” He also bought the boys some miners’ hats that they absolutely love. The hats even came in handy later in the trip!
This was followed on day 3 by yet another cave — this one the Ice Cave in Decorah, Iowa. It’s a public cave where you’re welcome to just wander in and explore, and we all had fun going into it.
We were near the town of Lanesboro and had fun exploring it on one of our days down there, too. It’s a lovely town that’s filled with little sustainable shops and Amish roadside stands and so on. We bought some heirloom cherry tomatoes at a little store for snacking as the kids and I explored.
(This collage deleted because a certain 13 year-old does not care for one of the images of herself in it. Teenagers are such fun!)
(And can I just point out what a fantastic mother I am? I got out of the bath soaking wet to fulfill this request!)
Another town we visited was Burr Oak, one of the homes of the Ingalls Family. We went to their little museum and park, caught (and kissed!) some toads (even Alex caught one!) and otherwise enjoyed ourselves in that tiny, tiny town.
We visited a sheep farm where everything was purple and the kids got to feed sheep, pet sheep and goats, learn about the entire process of turning wool into yarn, indulge in goat milk fudge and so on.
We also visited Seed Savers’ Farm in Decorah for their tomato festival, where we took part in a tomato tasting, helped judge a salsa contest, played, tossed rotten tomatoes, helped make ketchup, met heirloom chickens, enjoyed a tasty meal, explored the site and more.
There were other adventures too — some really interesting restaurants (one was fancy with local food and oh-so-gourmet but very reasonable prices!), a visit to another Laura Ingalls Wilder museum (in the town where Almanzo grew up), swimming, learning about the Amish (and buying lots of their goodies!) and more.
On the way back, we headed up to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and spent the night. While there, we helped harvest their grapes and took home boxes of grapes that I made into some awfully good grape jelly, if I do say so myself!
All of the kids really enjoyed the trip (despite the fact that they were less than enthusiastic about Iowa as a vacation destination ahead of time!) and Daryl and I really had fun, too.
Just the same, it’s good to be home! I tire out easily these days and there’s only so many hikes, caves and adventures I can take.
… Although we are going to another part of Iowa next week… We found the neatest little grotto with so much history and we’re planning on getting married there this year (we have a family tradition of getting married again every year around our anniversary in a different way). It just looks so interesting…