Out of the Corn and Into the Stars

The next leg of our journey saw us taking literal steps in the cultural past and into its future. Leaving Wisconsin, Jane followed us to Dyersville, Iowa, to visit the farm where the movie “Field of Dreams” was shot. The baseball diamond is still there, and it was the perfect season because the corn was tall, so we could emerge from the corn like the movie’s ghost ballplayers do (Is that the plot? I dunno — I’ve never seen the … Continue reading

Dropping Those Eaves Pays Off

On our loop of the upper Midwest — through Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin — we paid visit to friends in Elk River, Minn., and Mount Horeb, Wis. In Elk River, Tim stayed at our hosts’ house working while Gage went gadding about with his fellow seminarian, LuAnn. In Mount Horeb, Tim set up his workstation in a coffee shop while Gage went sightseeing with our friend and former colleague, Jane. (See a pattern there?) In a providential case of eavesdropping, … Continue reading

On Laura’s Trail, Part 2

The next stops on the Laura Ingalls Wilder trail were Walnut Grove, Minn.; Pepin, Wis.; and Burr Oak, Iowa. The first town celebrated the “Little House on the Prairie” TV show more than the books; the second town was the setting for the first book, “Little House in the Big Woods”; and the third town was not part of the original books at all. Walnut Grove, Minnesota The Ingalls lived a mile or two north of Walnut Grove, first in … Continue reading

On Tim’s Trail, Part 1

Both of us are going to have opportunities to visit ancestral stomping grounds. Our journey back in time technically began in Pella, Iowa, where Gage’s mother’s maternal grandparents were born in 1867. Their parents came from Holland and joined that Dutch community in south-central Iowa. But, we didn’t really do any family-searching in Pella; we were more interested in getting Dutch letters and other tasty treats at Jaarsma Bakery. However, on our way north out of Des Moines, we detoured … Continue reading

THE Great State Fair

In our wanderings across the country, there are only a handful of places we can only visit at a certain time. One of those is the Iowa State Fair, which runs for 10 days in the middle of August. When we lived in Des Moines, we sometimes went to the fair every day. Some of that was due to our jobs, reporting and editing stories and web features for the Des Moines Register. But a lot of our attendance was … Continue reading

On Laura’s Trail, Part 1

While planning Le Voyage Extraordinaire and researching possible waypoints along our indefinite odyssey across the country, we discovered that the path kept intersecting with places that had a connection with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her “Little House” series. Pepin, Wisconsin — “Little House in the Big Woods” Independence, Kansas — “Little House on the Prairie” Maple Grove, Minnesota — “On the Banks of Plum Creek” De Smet, South Dakota — “By the Shores of Silver Lake,” “The Long Winter,” “Little Town … Continue reading

Badlands Gallery

Badlands National Park comprises 244,000 acres of striking geologic deposits that contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park protects an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. [Show slideshow]

Sacred Ground

It’s hard for me to put into words how I feel about the Little Bighorn National Battlefield. On the one hand, it is hallowed ground; hundreds of veterans from all of the nation’s wars are buried in the national cemetery here. And 250 soldiers gave their lives here in service of their country. But it’s the reason they gave their lives that gives me pause. The Battle of the Little Bighorn — “Custer’s Last Stand” — was a pivotal point … Continue reading

Top o’the World, Ma!

On Aug. 10, leaving Yellowstone National Park through the Northeast Gate, we headed in that direction on U.S. 212, the Beartooth Highway. About 15 miles out, we began to see smoke on the horizon. As we neared, the air was thick with gray smoke. We later found out that lightning had struck, and more than 3,000 acres were burning at Hunter Peak in the Shoshone National Forest. As of Aug. 15, it was still burning. Structures have been evacuated; trails … Continue reading