Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Wow! That was the best trip ever! 1400 miles in 4 days! I had a ball, every mile of it.

I don’t want to bore you to death so I’ll just give the highlights and a couple of pics.

After missing a turn off and going about 2 hours out of my way, I wasn’t sure how this trip was going to go. But I calmed down, reminding myself this trip was all about the journey, not about getting somewhere a special way. I finally did make it to southern Iowa, which to begin with wasn’t all that different from Central Illinois – lots of corn, lots of hay (it was hay baling season). I don’t know how many little old ladies there are in southern Iowa but I’m sure I got stuck behind at least half of them! Not that I have anything against little old ladies – in fact, I hope to be one someday. But they weren’t exactly speed demons (not like my Grandma who love to race teenage boys in her little red sports car as the light turned green - but that's a story for another time). But it was lovely countryside.

I made it to Omaha, NE, Thursday evening. I drove around, found a hotel near downtown and then rested up. Friday I started my search for the yarn shops and used book stores that I had dug up on the internet. I did find one of the yarn shops. It was pretty nice but crowded with one of those tables that blocks half the yarns. They told me they were building a new building where they should have more room. I went in search of another of the yarn shops which was in the Benton area. It looks like an old main street, although now it’s a little run down. Unfortunately the yarn shop was closed down (due to the city doubling the property taxes of the building) but there was a wonderful used book store just a few doors down. I met the lovely couple who run the bookstore – she’s retired from the Air Force and he was from Mongolia. He met me as I was wandering the aisles and asked me straight out if I’d ever seen the movie, “The Godfather.” He was HORRIFIED when I said I had never seen any of the films. “Lady, don’t you know this is a great movie? Do you not have a television?” I really had to laugh because he was so adamant about it. I did tell him that I would have to rethink seeing it, since he was so stirred by the movie. That seemed to assuage him a little. The funny thing is that I noticed it was on television the other night. I didn’t watch it but I have to admit, I actually wished I wanted to watch it!!! I drove past Bronco's and thought I just had to experience it. Had a tenderloin burger and crunchy fries - definitely worth the experience! Who could pass that up?

I headed west of Omaha to pick up Highway 77, a backroad north to Sioux City, on Friday afternoon. On the way, I went through a town called Oakland (about 17,000 people) where I noticed they had something going on. Since exploring was the point of the trip, I decided to stop. Around the corner I came on the old main street. It so reminded me of my Mom’s hometown, Rotan, in West Texas, that I had to stop and take a photo for her. It wasn’t totally like Rotan which has a central island between the 2 lanes but it just reminded me of it.

While there, I met 2 sisters selling kettle corn (and I’m all about the kettle corn!!). They told me they were having a 4-H gathering and this festival was part of that. They seemed interested that I was making the trip by myself – they often do the same thing, they said, but together.

From there I continued up through Sioux City on to Sioux Falls. I don’t know why, but I was fascinated with the thought of Sioux Falls and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. I would LOVE to take a week or two and just explore further there. I found a wonderful yarn shop, an interesting little museum and a unique downtown attraction.

Firstly, I stayed at a hotel right on the bank of the Old Sioux River – made a nice walk on Saturday morning. Just over the bridge was the start of the statue walk. Over probably 10 blocks, there were statues from a wide variety of artist. You can stroll through with a little guidebook and admire the artwork. I didn’t have time to do the whole thing but I saw bronze horses and buffalo, a huge wirework dragon fly and more. There were probably 50-60 statues along the way. Oh, yeah, speaking of buffalo, I saw a herd (domesticated and in a field) on my way through the Winnebago Indian Reservation! Unfortunately, there was no place to pull over so I couldn’t get a picture but it was fun anyway.

I also went to an interesting little museum called the Pettigrew House and Museum. Pettigrew was an early leading light for the city, businessman, politician, etc. but also an amateur archaeologist. The museum part had a lot of artifacts and old photos detailing the history of Sioux Falls with lots of hands on exhibits and the house had been restored with period furnishings and wall paper – just beautiful. The guide (I was the only person on a guided tour) told me they had actually tracked down a lady who had been a maid in the house when she was very young and got her memories of how the house had been furnished and run during the final years of Mr. Pettigrew. Kind of quirky but right up my alley!

I also went to Falls Park, which is where the real falls of Sioux Falls is. I never thought about there being really falls but so there are and they’ve got it very nicely laid out. Here are some pics:

The crowning moment, for me, was finding Athena Fibers. The quintessential yarn shop, I think. Here’s what it looks like from the outside.

A large front porch along with a seating area complete with knitter and Chihuahua dog! You can wander through the rooms filled with wool and bamboo and cotton and sock and lace yarn. You know how yarn shop owners are either stand-offish and unhelpful or welcoming and friendly (as Anne of Green Gables would say – Of the race of Joseph)? Well this one was most certainly the latter. I had a lovely chat with her and found out (why didn’t anyone tell me this) that XRX – publishers of Knitting Universe magazine and the people responsible for Stitches – is based in Sioux Falls. If I had known, I could have arranged a tour of their facility. Who knew? I’m definitely going back!

From there I headed home, via Des Moines, IA. I just had a short amount of time to sort of poke around and it was Sunday morning so I didn’t really get to see much but I can still say I was there (should I ever need to pull that out of my pocket!).

Of course, this is just a quick overview but suffice to say, I had a wonderful time, got some wonderful yarn that I’ll talk about when I get to making them up and found a couple of fun books. What more could a girl want?!

I didn’t have much time, obviously, to knit but here’s a photo of my mystery stole. I’m pretty far behind, having signed up late and losing 5 whole days of knitting (my watercolor class was Wednesday evening and I started out early Thursday). I think I’m on row 109 or thereabouts. Here's what it looks like so far:

I do also have about 10 inches done on my pretty man sweater pattern test. It’s much easier to work on since it’s just straight fisherman’s rib at this point.

At the last Fiber Arts Guild two of the ladies brought in a box of old knitting and crochet magazines. I LOVE old magazines! So now I’ve got magazines to entertain myself with. Not that I was looking for another thing to fill my hours, you understand.

Well, that’s way more than enough. Hope you enjoy the photos.