Just when I thought the cornfields could not possibly get anymore numerous, we entered the state of Iowa… 95% farmland!!! Mainly corn and soy. Driving down the road without another car in sight and rows of cornfields stretched out for miles on either side really brings out my deep American Pride.. Staring out the window today, my own inner conscience seemed to take on a southern accent as I pictured myself defending these cornfields in battle (I don’t really know why… we’re not even in the south!). But then I remembered that we slaughtered Native Americans and stole their land and then I got a little depressed. You know what else is fun?? Standing in the middle of cross-shaped intersections with perfect right angles and streets that extend to cut straight through fields. I’ve seen so many of these in movies, but I didn’t think they existed in real life!
There’s not too much to see in Iowa.. But tucked away in West Bend (population 834) is a magnificent conglomeration of minerals, fossils, shells, and semi-precious stones called “Grotto of the Redemption”. It was built by Father Paul Dobberstein who came down with pneumonia in 1897 (a fatal illness in those times) and prayed to the Holy Mother to spare his life. He vowed that if she were to answer his prayers he would build a shrine in her honor. He spent 42 years collecting rocks, shells, and minerals from all over the country. The end result is absolutely breath-taking, with EACH stone carefully placed by hand. Others have picked up where Father Paul left off, and expansion of the grotto continues today.
As we exited the grotto, a sign read “Go Now In Peace”. So we did. We peacefully stopped at Casey’s General store and picked up a quick lunch. The very sweet cashier rang up a few slices of pizza and some other snacks and then kindly asked us “would you like a sack?”.. um. no thank you. On the way to our KOA we battled a few road closures at those cross-shaped intersections and had to make our way down some dirt roads that looked like they were headed nowhere. So pretty! To our surprise, we had one more site to see today- a mack truck carrying a triple Decker load of live pigs!!! You could see their little snouts poking through the holes!! Poor little guys. We’re snug as a bug in our campsite now.. went for a run and had a refreshing shower- now for some sleep. Gnight!
Next stop: Omaha, NE