Sunday, April 30, 2023

The towels were so fluffy at our B & B (Chris's house) we could hardly get the suitcase closed!

Friday was a beautiful night for dinner with Chris on the patio at Big Grove Brewery in Solon. Temperatures went down from there. Sundays high expected to be 49°.🥶

Pat and I finished our doctor visits in Lee's Summit, MO last week. 15 doctor visits in two weeks = old age! Pat had one more appointment in Ottumwa and I have to go back to Lee's Summit in May for a test, but in the meantime we have moved on to Iowa.

This is our down time of the year, kind of. Pat's sister and brother-in-law, Sally and Mike, are letting us park by their house. Another sister offered us a spot too. I'm just happy to avoid Goose Poop Park, lol. We will be in Iowa until the latter part of May.  During this time we have a trip to our youngest son's, a canoe trip, a high school graduation and, of course, time with Pat's  Mom, Mary, and other family.

Then we head out west and hopefully, barring floods and forest fires, finish up our last 3 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) and National Parks. Have I mentioned we have ended year 4 of our 5 year "mission?" 

Finished is better than perfect, or so quilters say!  Well, it's not perfect but it is done, pieced, and quilted. This was a table runner project from the MSQC retreat I went to a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday we went to see the Mehaffey bridge near Solon and on to Coralville for lunch at 30 Hop. 

French toast with a blueberry sauce. I skipped the mascarpone stuffing, but if you could handle dairy I bet it was as good as the French toast.

Heading from Coralville towards Solon, IA we came across this bridge crossing the Iowa River in Johnson County. My first thought was a cable-stayed bridge, but of course there were no cables. So what was the purpose of the concrete pieces? Functionality, design? The first Mehaffey bridge was built in 1896. It was replaced by another in 1965, and then by this one in 2016. They wanted a unique design that also allowed boats to easily travel under. It turns out it actually is a cable-stayed design with only 4 pillars, allowing for an open channel. This rare "extradosed bridge" has cables that are encased in the concrete spars for low maintenance and flood resistance. 
Mehaffey Bridge 

Saturday night we were treated to a delicious dinner courtesy of Chef Amber and her assitant Tyler, and homemade ice cream by Chris (good thing we always bring the ice cream maker when we come 😆). Braxton also shared the hand pies and puff pastry he made at a cooking class. The class teacher is also the maker of the best macaroons, sold all over the area. I was so stuffed! Always fun seeing them, and Braxton and Carter. Two GREAT kids! The boys headed to Chris' video game room after dinner. 

In 1847 immigrants from the Netherlands settled in Iowa. In Dutch "Pella" means city of refuge, and so this small town became for these people as they sought refuge from religious persecution.

How many years did we live in Iowa? A lot, but I had never been to the Tulip Festival in Pella nor, to my recollection (which isn't very good), seen the Tulips in full bloom. We took a detour on our way to see Chris in Ely to see the Tulips. The festival is May 4-6 this year. Tulips bloom from early April through the middle of May and you can enjoy over 300,000 Tulips throughout the town. The festival itself is enjoyed by over 200,000 people with lots of Dutch food, costumes, town history, entertainment, and it is always hoped, beautiful Tulips. With Iowa weather, however, you can't always count on prime tulip viewing right on the festival weekend. 

One year we passed through Pella on RAGBRAI (end of July) and the town basically had a Tulip Festival, minus the tulips of course, for me and my 20,000+ friends. Great Dutch food.

There is so much to see in this Dutch town but today we focused on the square area tulips. There were a lot of other visitors today, either trying to catch the Tulips at their prime or avoiding the upcoming festival crowds. Lots to go back and see, sunken garden park with it's shoe-shaped pond, Schulte House Museum, the Klokkenspel (not sure how I missed this), the Pella Opera House, Molengracht Canaland probably more.

Pella's sundial is more accurate than a watch. 

One of two Dutch bakeries on the square. 

The line at the Jaarsma bakery was fairly long inside but we waited in it to get a traditional Dutch Letter, an 'S' shaped letter filled with an almond paste. Pat chose an apple fritter. Honestly, there was just too much to choose from!

We might have had a long line inside but later the line was down the sidewalk.

Built in the Netherlands the Vermeer Windmill was disassembled, shipped to Pella, and reassembled there in 2002. Resembling an 1850's-style grain mill, it is the tallest working Dutch grain mill in America. Local restaurants use the flour it produces.

Where are the Piepers now? Ottumwa, IA


  1. Beautiful tulip displays! I wonder if this is also the home of Pella Windows?

    1. Yes it is the home of Pella Windows. Pat's two elder sisters retired from there and Chris worked they for a summer in college.

  2. The tulips are gorgeous! I love Dutch letters form the Jarrasma in Pella!

    1. Someone else who loves the Dutch Letters, but you left no clue as to who you are!