Looking back at this month I can kind of see why I’m so tired. It’s not really travel burnout, as my weekend trips seem to be the main thing that wakes me up for the rest of the week. But I have been terribly unmotivated and ti’s resulted in a lot less writing and focus on my hobbies.
I’m trying to be kind to myself and realize that I’m in the process of moving to a new state, a new city. I’m working a full time job I love, but that’s still a stressor. Anyways. I have absolutely loved my trips, it’s just the home life that’s been a bit difficult, especially with the continuation of the hell scape that is America’s crumbling morals.
So let’s start out with the Fourth of July!
Loess Hills, Nebraska, Kansas City
One three day weekend and four different states! In one of my favorite and most action packed trips this month I took a roadtrip down the western border of Iowa, dipping into Nebraska, and ending in Kansas City.
The Loess Hills are one of the coolest natural sites to see in Iowa. These soft and powdery looking hills are everywhere on the border. Iowa has the largest amount of these Loess Hills outside of China. I spent two days lying in my adorable Horse Creek Cabin watching the clouds drift by.
Nebraska was not terribly exciting – I’ll have to get out to the west side of the state some time to see some hopefully more interesting. Indian Caves State Park was revealed to be an indent in the rock, with no signs to point out where the supposed petroglyphs were. Oh well!
Kansas City was wonderful. Kansas City is, in my opinion, the only redeeming quality of either Kansas or Missouri. The entire city has a fantastic vintage vibe. Fantastic museums, gorgeous architecture, and amazing food and drinking locals. In fact, Lydia’s is the only place in the US I trust for good pasta at this point! While I couldn’t live there because…Kansas…I hope I get the chance to visit again some day.
Elk Farms and Wildcat Den State Park
Kind of a quick weekend, but one in which I got a lot of relaxation done. The main point of interest was the Elk Farm! Elk meat is surprisingly popular in the Plains states and it was fun to actually meet some of the animals and pick up some snacks.
I also got to see some endangered Trumpeter swans which are raised in this area. The conservation effort is seeing fantastic success. I stayed in Wildcat Den State Park but didn’t get to see too much of it since I spent my time reading books and playing with my dog. The park is nice and has some interesting geological and historical features that are worth checking out.
My first moving trip! Maybe this is the real reason I’m so tired. I loaded up my car with as much as I could fit to begin my moving process to my new city.
There’s not too much to say here. It was very hot, but when I stopped for lunch at the Hmong Union Kitchen, I got a glimpse of my future. I’m going to be one of those many denizens of Minneapolis in just one more month….isn’t that terrifying but elating?!
I can already tell it will be quite a bit different from my time living in Changwon, South Korea (the only other city I have lived in) but I think I’ll absolutely love it. And I can’t wait to take this blog on more journeys around the state of Minnesota.
The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption
The longest name for a very cool place. A shrine, completely covered in semi-precious gems and minerals and petrified wood. All for a bizarre yet uniquely beautiful place.
I could have spent hours here exploring every nook and cranny of this art masterpiece. Unfortunately, it was absolutely boiling outside and I had my dog with me.
So, we enjoyed an hour wandering around. Catholics really knew what they were doing – the art is awe-inspiring. If McDonald’s hadn’t come along with a whole new set of holy arches they might have be in decline like they are!
99 Bottles Winery and McIntosh State Park
Already proudly holding a spot on my Top 10 Things to Do in Iowa list, I could not have had a more perfect birthday weekend here. The people who run 99 Bottles Winery not only make some of the best wine I’ve ever had, they are also some of the nicest.
When I mentioned I was camping in their vineyard (which you can do via Hipcamp) they immediately noticed that I had not chosen the best spot to stay in. I had been a little disappointed myself, but I was so impressed with everything else I didn’t let it get to me. Well – they apparently were in the process of making a new camping spot!
Not only did they help me set up in a new spot, he actually started up the tractor and moved the picnic table up to my new spot nestled among the vines.
I’m thrilled this spot is only around 2 hours from Minneapolis as I’m going to need to purchase more bottles of this wine in the near future!
What’s Next in August?
August is a slightly more relaxed month in terms of travel. I say slightly because I will be in the middle of moving so I’ll be seeing a lot of Minneapolis this month. I’m trying to take it easy and not over-stretch but…I am who I am.
Boone Valley Scenic Railway
I originally didn’t think I was going to be able to see this. It’s the last thing on my Iowa list that I have left to do and I’m so excited that I will be able to squeeze in a visit.
I love trains and I haven’t taken a single one in Iowa. There aren’t many options here which consistently blows my mind since there are so many cargo tracks in scenic places (there are tracks that go right by the Mississippi!). The Boone Valley train takes you through some scenic Iowa countryside with a stop at an old mining village.
Mississippi River Cruise
Ending my time in Iowa with a bang, I have splurged on a 1-Day river cruise down the Mississippi. It’s on a replica steamboat and I can’t wait to while away my time drifting down the river. I’m praying it will be relaxing!
My final Iowa hurrah! I’ve wanted to attend a powwow for years, and I always seem to just miss them. This year, I’m determined and the Tama powwow is not too far away. The only tribal event I’ve been able to find in Iowa that welcomes outsiders, I can’t wait to learn and experience the Tama culture.
Pigging Out in Minneapolis
It’s no secret amongst my friends that one of my main excitements for moving to Minneapolis is the food. After carefully expanding my taste buds over the last few years, having them stuck on this boring palette in Iowa has been a disappointment.
My best friend is coming home from Korea on vacation and we’re going to be spending an entire weekend stuffing ourselves.