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The little family Pyke » Archive of 'Aug, 2009'

The great Midwest 3 comments

(I just want to say that Adam is asleep and I could be taking an afternoon nap, but I then I would never get these photos posted and I think the guilt might just wipe out the pleasure of that nap…)

We’re just back from our trip to Iowa and Chicago. If you’re not much into reading the explanations of other people’s holiday slides you can read the short version and skip to the pics. If you’re in the mood for a longer re-telling read on…

Short version: Iowa is beautiful, Chicago is very cool, Adam is fun on the ground but not in museums and NOT FUN in an plane.

Director’s cut: Getting to Iowa was not the most travelling fun we’ve ever had. Due to long security delays we almost missed out flight from Austin to Houston (I sprinted to the gate, barefoot – post security – and made it as they were closing the gate, convincing them to keep it open for Werner who followed with Adam a few minutes later). Those airline people are tough, but no match for a desperate pregnant lady.

Then we missed our connection in Houston and had to wait 4 hours for the next available flight. When we finally tracked down our bags in Chicago and got our rental car, we still had a 6-hour drive to Iowa ahead of us, and after a few disagreements with our GPS, lost detours and some good Indian food in a depressed little town near the Mississippi, we finally made it to Eldon just before midnight. This is after getting up at 4:30 am.

With all of the stress out the way, we had a few really restful days in Eldon and Ottumwa (Wendi’s home town). We stayed in a house in Eldon owned by Wendi’s sister, who’s husband appears to be singlehandedly trying to save the tiny town from sliding into disrepair (he owns several properties and the old bank building). Eldon’s claim to fame is that it is the location of the Gothic House featured in Grant Wood’s famous painting, American Gothic.

(The house now has a little museum attached, but when Wendi was young it had people living in it.)

The area where we were is famous for its corn – and that’s pretty much all you see on the long drive out of Chicago. It’s really green and pastoral, with lots of wooded areas, water and picturesque wooden barns, some still painted red.

The wedding was great too. When Wendi said they were having it in her grandfather’s back yard I was expecting something a little more casual, but they had tables with white tablecloths set up under trees and lanterns, and some local high-school kids singing Johnny Cash and country covers. And for Adam there were plenty of kids to play with and cupcakes to steal from the table – and golf cart to drive around. Needless to say he loved it.

I didn’t take any pics of the town because it was raining when we were out, but both towns are really quaint and quiet well preserved, despite being in decline since the end of the railway boom.

On the Monday we drove back to Chicago, finally making it to our hotel just before dinner.

We had a really busy but fun time, taking in some of the big tourist sites (Hancock tower, boat rides and art museums), but really spent the most time just hanging out. Chicago has some really great parks and public art, and even a few beaches, and Adam was always happy to get out of his stroller and just run wild for a while.

He was, in general, a very accommodating traveller, as long as he got regular snacks and naps he was pretty happy to go along with whatever we were doing – although he didn’t have much patience for the art museums. We also found that we could stretch bed-time to about 9:00 which meant we could go out for dinner, which was much nicer than being stuck in the hotel. Werner and I did cough up for a babysitter one night so that we could go out for dinner in one of the little neighbourhoods and leave a restaurant without feeling embarrassed about the explosion of food we leave behind. (I’m not naming names, but I’m looking at you Adam…)

We did realise though that our days of cosmopolitan city holidays are probably behind us for a while (a loong while) because there is no way we could do this with two kids. We’ll be happy with road trips and beach holidays from January onwards…

(Herewith follow about a million pics, click to see full size)

Roughing it No comments yet

It’s Thursday night and we’re busy packing for our trip to Iowa and Chicago (we leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow – in fact, we need to be at the airport at the crack of dawn tomorrow…)

So here are a few pics from our quick getaway last weekend. Werner had to work all weekend the week before and really just wanted to get out of town, and I managed to find us a cabin at a state park about 45 min drive from Austin. The park is very small, just a small lake with surrounding woodland, and is set up for camping (there are only 3 cabins). The cabins are very basic, with bunkbeds and a kitchen counter and a deck outside where you can braai and make your food. Of course, this being the states, they do come equipped with aircon, fridge and microwave, even though you don’t get a bathroom or running water.


We’d get up early in the morning and basically just spend the whole day outside. Adam is getting easier and easier to travel with. He can sit with us and eat and all we have to do is clean up after him.


We let him just run around and get as dirty as he wanted (which he took full advantage of)…


… and then just let him rise off under the tap.


… which was also where we did our dishes.


On Saturday we swung by Smithville, the closest town. It’s a really cute little town that boomed in the 1920’s and has not seen much action since. There are some attempts at little antique shops, but generally there is nothing going on.



It was a good break :)



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