Day 10 saw me dragging my carcass up a flight of stairs into the daylight in the smack dab middle of Iowa.
But first I saw a woman folding sheets sitting on the downstairs sofa.....a woman I had no clue who she was, that I had never seen before.
And then a black dog, again, one I hadn't seen the night before, wandered by me while I exchanged pleasantries with the mystery woman in McVal's basement.
Forget Roswell NM and Area 51! I was in a REAL mystery zone.
Minutes later the mystery was solved.
The woman was McVal's sister in-law and the dog belonged to her.
The SIL and Robb's brother had arrived the night before after I had entered the dungeon to go to bed.
I can call Meri's room the dungeon because that is how McVal referred to it. Close the door and turn off the light and it's pitch dark at night. Perfect for sleeping by the way.
McVal had gotten bagels from Panera(using a gift card, so very frugal!)for breakfast while I was still slumbering.
Does the woman EVER sleep?!? lolz
After wolfing down a bagel it was time to hit the road to begin the day's adventures.
The thing about Iowa, well, this part of Iowa is that everything is quite a distance away. Being a fancy pants Easterner does have it's drawbacks sometimes, doesn't it?
First up, we were headed south for a little town where Robb's pipe band was marching in their town parade.
That meant I got to be a bagpipe Groupie for a Day!
Polk City 4 Season Festival Schedule of Events.
We only stayed for 1 Event.
What was the point of hanging around longer since the Lobster Bake tickets were sold out......dang it!
I wandered around the town square where vendors were set up selling various wares and foods.
This guy looked very warm, dressed in black on a hot July day, standing over an open flame cooking kettle corn.
Obviously he was NOT smiling but McVal and crew were appreciative of his efforts and bought some bags of his confection.
Unknown fact about McVal #1--She LOVES Kettle Corn!
I also found a local Youth organization running a Ring Toss booth. Ring the 2 liter soda bottle and win a 2 liter soda.
I spotted McVal's kids the cash to try their hand at this game but the only one who actually won was Leon!!! lolz
He did get to stand right next to the bottles though because of his age bracket.
I'll not mention that the guy running the game also let me stand almost next to the bottles and I STILL couldn't ring one. 8-(
We set our chairs back under the trees and not along the parade route road in the sun like these folks.
But once the parade started Leon and one of the girls ran up to the road in hopes of catching some thrown candy.
The parade is starting! The parade is starting!
Look! a fire engine
Leon bringing back a frozen ice he got to get it opened.
Hey! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!
The local high school band and cheerleaders opened the parade......
A local Boy Scout troop passing by.....
This got Leon's attention--a big TRACTOR!!!
Soon it was time for Robb's band. Being a bagpipe and drum band, you heard them well before you saw them......hehehe
And then, pretty quickly after that, the parade was over.
Then a guy resembling Santa Claus but instead of a herd of reindeer he was driving a flock of geese passed behind where we were sitting.....
And he drove them into a gated enclosure.
Then he invited the very young children to come into the fence to sit and pet the geese.
Leon jumped right on this invitation!
He vacillated between bravery and timidity being surrounded by all those critters. I don't know how those geese felt about the situation.
Mostly Leon was a bit scared of them but he was gentle when patting them.
I don't think anyone was worse for the wear and it will probably an experience Leon will remember for a very long time.
While we were on Geese Watch, classic car owners set up where the parade route had been.
I also got to meet McVal's niece....I think?.....and her baby.
That baby was all smiles until I showed up. Then no one could get a smile outta her!
I have that affect on very young children it seems.
Soon it was time to go so I wandered off across the street to make my way back to the car.
There was an art studio which had it's doors open so parade/festival goers could have a look around(and maybe buy something).
They had this interesting oil painting of Des Moines at night for sale, as well as prints of the scene for a lower price point.
No, I didn't say I am a giant nut.......so stop thinking that!
This shot Meri took is entitled "2 Giant Nuts & Leon". 8-)
After that we were off across Iowa. It was about 11:30 am but our day was just getting started.
Next up was the County Fair.
I've been around hogs enough to know not to wander in there if I valued my olfactory senses. hehehe
Living near PA Amish country I am well familiar with Hex Signs but this Barn Quilt thing is new to me.
Anyway, we parked by the 4-H exhibition hall(thanks to my handy dandy handicap tag)and wandered around in there to find Meri's work(photography)and then to view some of the other fine submissions by other 4-H'ers.
I still don't understand this dot system and what color gets your entry into consideration for the State Fair....or maybe that's not the way this works.
I am hopeless.
Then it was off to find something to EAT for lunch!
We ended up at the group/stand selling Lamb Burgers so we had that.
We then wandered around some more.
Watched a cow get washed and then into the Cattle Barn to look at mostly sleeping steers and cows, trying to keep cool in the warm midday.
Then it was over to watch a Club of local Woodworkers....
You could stand right next to them, up close and personal and watch them turn wood on a lathe.
I thought this great fun.
I would be freaked out if I was doing an activity like this, with strangers watching me, where I could seriously injure myself if I got distracted, or at least ruin whatever project I was working on.
But these guys have nerves of steel obviously!
Me? I would have lost a limb that day.....
One guy was making these cute little wooden flowers and let McVal and I each take one. 8-)
I love this action shot of a guy turning a bowl.
I don't think McVal was as "into" this stuff as I was so we wandered off into the Poultry Barn.
Here are some gratuitous poultry shots for Linda.....lolz
Hey! Who let that duck in here!?!
We also saw rabbits and turkeys and probably a few more types of animals I can't quite recall at the moment.
I watched a lady putting a horse through it's paces.
Of course I'd get a shot with the horse, the lady's and that kid bending over's backsides in the picture.
Then we found the "bad food" vendor.
You know.....The people selling deep fried candy bars and cookies.
My deep fried Snickers bars with about a half a box of powdered sugar on them.
These were those miniature snack size candy bars so just a taste of badness....or is that bad goodness?
McVal got the Milky Ways and we shared one of ours with the other.
The concensus is that Snickers bars are better deep fried and swimming in powdered sugar than Milky Ways.
Then it was time for an old fashioned SNOW CONE.
Man, I haven't had one of these since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, or something like that.
Yes, a woman of my age has quite a few trite and old sayings in her wordsmith arsenal.
I have to say that the ice component of my snow cone was very refreshing in the heat, but the root beer flavoring was not very sweet.
But then again, I had just eaten 2 little deep fried candy bars coated with sugar so in comparison this would have had to have been sweet enough to send a skinny vegan into a diabetic coma to actually have tasted sweet. lolz
And I learned on this trip that you can't get good service here in Central Iowa.
Heck, even the garbage service is chitty......hehehehe
While we sat on a bench recovering from our sugar coma, these young dudes walked by.
I can't recall the last time I saw teenagers walking a steer down the road back in northeastern PA.....
Then I hobbled back to the car in the parking lot.
Along the way I saw this "Little Free Library" in front of the Iowa State Extension building.
This is the first one I've ever seen in person.
McVal and I left Maddy, Meri and Leon at the fair(they had another car to get home in)since some grocery shopping needed to be done before dinner could be made that evening.
That's the thing about working all week, and doing it from home.
Your only time to get out and do some shopping in the daylight hours is on weekends.
We ended up going to 4 stores.....
* Sam's Club for some usual basics
* Aldi's for other things that are cheaper
* The grocery store with the best steaks(since tonight was SSSN aka Super Secret Steak Night)
* Walmart for corn and soda
I know McVal planned things this way, as a way to show me the sights around Ames, Iowa.
I could probably find my way around that town now if I went back. 8-)
Well that was the plan but after we finished at Sam's Club McVal got a call from Robb & the Brother in-law that their car broke down and they were waiting for a tow to the car dealer.
So after Aldi's we headed over somewhere else in Ames to pick them up.
This was quite convenient actually since we were tired of driving, parking, going into the store to shop and back to unload bags into the car and driving to the next store after the first 2 stops.
So we sent Robb and BIL into the last 2 stores.
Hey! There is a price to be paid when your wife gives you a ride home. You become the "Errand
Back to the house and Meri and Maddy were already home with Leon and working on dinner.
Maddy chopping red cabbage for coleslaw that evening.
There was time for a quick game of some RPG board game Ryan had bought recently. I was never a gamer so I had a really hard time picking up the gist of the game but I tried. McVal had sense enough to find
After an hour or so of getting my brain scrambled trying to keep up with the yougins playing this game I lost(of course!)and one of them won.
Then it was time for dinner.
Yes, my friends......the steak flowed freely that night along with coleslaw, fresh Iowa corn and other things my pea brain can't remember at this point.
Then it was time.......time to venture into McVal's office since she promised to show me her Fabric Stash.
It is there that I got to see first hand the reknowned Fabri-tainment Center!
McVal posing a la Carol Merrill before the Fabritainment Center.
Of course the top of the Fabritainment Center doubled as a "Board Gametainment Center".
Now you know that every board game known to man is in McVal's house.
She has quite the collection of them!
Even ones I have never heard of before.
Of course some are missing components but hey!....that just makes the game more challenged, right?!?
McVal has quite the stash of fabric.
You may not think so from this shot but........
on the other side of her office is even more fabric.
A mountain of fabric I'd call it!
But I was under penalty of death NOT to take a picture of that side of the room.
Let's just say that if anyone is wondering where FIBBER McGEE's CLOSET got to after that radio show was cancelled, it's in McVal's office.
And if you understand this old obscure reference I just made you are older than dirt. ;-)
Young folks should ask their grandparents what this means.......
I also got to do a Project Runway Judges "up close inspection" of a few of the gowns McVal has made for her kids over the years.
Now I can't tell you exactly when in that day I did this but I did.
When you are not use to jamming 108 hours into a mere 24, things run together in your head.
After some more after dinner conversation I made my way back to Meri's room and I do believe I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
The next morning after a very restful sleep I was up and dressed and ready to go to church.
Yes, you heard that correctly.
Sluggy went to church.
And here is the proof....
The church I went to service in.
And amazingly, my head did NOT burst into flames! ;-)
After services McVal took me and the kids out for Sunday lunch at Kroger.
Yes, HyVee is a grocery store chain but this one had a café and a Chinese food buffet on Sunday.
Meri basking in the MSG coma after our meal. 8-)
I got a great fortune in my cookie here too.....
Yes I do draw all kinds of wonderful and interesting people to me, don't I? lolz
Then it was time for me to leave Iowa and my friend and her great family and head out again for more adventures.
But first a proper picture of us two friends.....but with Leon of course!
And then I was gone.
Back on the road and headed toward Missouri.
Thanks to McVal and her family, and especially Meri for giving up her bed for this old lady!
I don't know how McVal does it.....working all week and jamming everything else into the weekend and surrounded by so much family.
AND she remains sane!
She is a calming force of nature within a swirling sea of friendly mayhem and family chaos.
And I am lucky to call her my friend. 8-)