Friday, September 28, 2012

Quad Cities Iowa Farm Crawl 2012

Melody and Mike made the rounds during the 2012 North Scott County, Iowa Farm crawl.  It was a chance to see some of the local producers and organic growers farmsteads.  What a great day.  Please check out our photographs from the day's stops.




Happy trails and buy local,   ...Mike & Melody

Iowa City, Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa is a fun town.  We visited in September of 1012 and stopped along the way at a couple of prairie sites.  The Iowa River is one of Iowa's larger eastern rivers that runs through Iowa City before joining up with the Cedar River and flowing into the Mississippi River.

Rochester Cemetery is located between the Quad Cities (Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa and Rock Island and Moline, Illinois).  Its an historic cemetery with relict prairie savannah habitat.  Well worth stop to see the prairie plants and large old oak trees.  Well in Iowa City, take the bike trail and hiking path within the University of Iowa campus to see the Finkbine Prairie remnants.  These patches of native grasses and forbs are long an old railroad right away. 

We went shopping at the New Pioneer Coop grocery store.  Always lots of organic and locally grown goods.  We had supper at Devotay.  Plenty of vegetarian entrees as tapas plus they have paella.  We liked the tortilla espnaola. 

Happy trails and good eats on your own day trip to Iowa City home of the Hawkeyes, ...Mike & Melody

Peoria, Illinois

You gotta hit the Rhythm Kitchen Music Cafe near the river in Peoria, Illinois.  Mike loves the Louisiana Gulf cuisine and this is the next best thing to being along the coast.  Check it out.

Peoria is an old town too with lots of older brick homes and industrial buildings.  Drive south of downtown to see more.  There is a lot of history here so additional research is needed.  

We ate lunch at the deli of the grocery store, The Fresh Market.  There were lots to choose from the various selections of food items. 

We burned off our delicious meals by walking around the Luthy Botanical Garden in Peoria.  The greenhouse and other infrastructure is quite historic.  Peoria's park system was the first for Illinois established in 1894. 

We were just her in August of 2012.  Happy Trails and good eats on your own day trip to Peoria in Illinois,  ...Mike & Melody

Dubuque, Iowa

We visit Dubuque, Iowa often and got back there again in the summer of 2012.  There are lots of great places to eat, shop, and see.  Dubuque contains many brick residential and commercial buildings with interesting architecture showing off its long history. 

The country side north of Dubuque is the hilly part of Iowa known as the Driftless Area with lots to see, do, and eat.  The Mississippi River seperates East Dubuque, Illinois from Dubuque, Iowa.  Don't forget to drive over and check out East Dubuque.

In keeping with tradition, Melody and I visited the local botanical gardens known as Dubuque Arboretum Association.  We caught many flowers in bloom and their was a wedding going on for one of the Country's Marines.  Check out the tree area while you are there to pick out the species you would like to plant in your yard.


We liked all of the antique stores and restaurants that we stopped at while in Dubuque.  We had a great pasta meal at Little Italy in the downtown area.  We enjoyed the food, decor, and staff.  We also ate at the Shot Tower which is in an old brewery.  They once made cannon balls by dropping molten lead off of a very tall tower to form a ball before it solidified and hit the ground.  The Driftless Area contains many historic small lead mines. 

Happy trails and good eats on your own day trip to the Dubuque region of Iowa,  ...Mike & Melody

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cedar River Valley, Iowa

There are three cities along the middle reach of the Cedar River in eastern Iowa including Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Cedar Falls.  We visited these cities in July of 2011 and again in June of 2012.  We'll have to consider these first trips as reconnaissance since more research is needed on the settlement and history for these older towns along a major river of the Midwest.  There must be a lot of river prehistory and history here given the older buildings and Native American information in the museums.  This looks like a great place to do some day trips with our kayaks to see the cities from the river side.  Cedar Rapids  Cedar Falls Tourism and Water Trail  Waterloo  Iowa's Early Transportation Routes  Cedar River

Our day trips circled around good places for walk abouts and for food.  There appears to be many great places to have lunch or supper and lots of parks or trails.  Here are few places that we found during our two day trips.  We're going back to the Cedar Valley Region. 

In Cedar Rapids, we had lunch at the Flying Wienie.  You can't miss it, because there is a large yellow airplane on the roof.  Mike always likes a great gyro.  There is also a street in Cedar Rapids known as the Czech Village that has some shops including a bakery that is worth the stop.  We always load up on our way through this town.  Sykora Bakery has lots of ethnic pasteries.  Its been around since 1903!  Mike found a authentic civil war bullet apparently from Gettysburg for only $7.00 from the collectible store, Czech Village Antiques, across the street from the bakery.  Lots of stuff to see and buy here.  Czech Village 

Waterloo and Cedar Falls are sister cities.  Waterloo has a very interesting looking dinner, Newton's Cafe, in the downtown area on the north side of the river.  It looks like something from the 1950's.  We haven't eaten here yet, but hope to soon. 

The downtown area of Cedar Falls has been restored with the home town feeling.  There are lots of shops and restraunts including a cup cake factory.  We had a fantastic pizza (yea - thin crust) and salad from Tony's LaPizzeria for a lunch.  The Bourbon Street and Vodoo Lounge gave us a taste of New Orleans, we always like a great etoufee.  There was this little barbecue joint that has since closed last time we were there much to our dismay.  Please come back. about Zippys  Oh yea, don't forget to add to your stash of bakery items some cupcakes from Scratch Cupcakery in downtown Cedar Falls.  Lastly, make a pit stop at the Roots Market for your cold or hot drinks for on the road. 

No trip would not be complete according to Melody without checking out the local bontanical gardens.  On the south side of town is the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens.  This parkland is a sprawling landscape full of flowers, shrubs, and trees.  We like water gardens.   
The Natural History Museum at the University of Northern Iowa is a compact place with lots to see and learn.  We liked the Native American prehistory exhibits.  There is also a full size exhibit of an algific slope.  Algific slopes are cold air producing hillsides sometimes with ice caves in northeastern Iowa. 
Low water in 2012 afforded the opportunity to go beach combing along the Cedar River at some of the riverside parks and pull overs near riffle structures.  Riffles are shallow rocky areas along rivers.  Look for aquatic life and all kinds of interesting discarded items.

Happy trails and good eats on your own day trip to Cedar Valley Region in Iowa,  ...Mike & Melody

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Clinton, Iowa

Clinton, Iowa is located along the Upper Mississippi River.  The city was first settled in the mid 1800's as the town of Lyons and later merged with Clinton.  Many businesses and industries were established in Clinton including major lumber mills.  The downtown covers a relatively large area with many buildings containing distinctive architectural features.  The forests along the river offered timber for the western expansion during the 1800s and the river was used to transport the logs.  Look for the older brick buildings for these industries as you drive around town.  History of Clinton, Iowa   Architecture in Clinton

We visited Clinton in October of 2011.  We started our day trip with lunch at Rastrelli's in the old Lyons shopping district.  Rastrelli's was established in 1939.  We enjoyed the buffet with all kinds of dishes including desert.  Rastrelli's 


Don't miss some snacks for later or to take home from the Sweetheart Bakery across the street from Rastrelli's.  Lots of great breads, cookies, and other pastries.  We like a great bakery that has history.  Sweetheart Bakery 
A great way to burn off a big Italian lunch is to take a walk around the BickelHaupt Arboretum in Clinton.  A compact botanical park with lots of trees and a cat escort.  Bickelhaupt Arb 

Lastly, as you head out of town you don't want to miss a walk through the Clinton Hardware General Store.  Its been around forever.  There are warped wooden floors and stuff hanging everywhere.  Lots of old school toys for the kids.  We remember taking our kids here nearly 20 years ago.     
Happy trails and good eats on your own day trip to Clinton in Iowa,
...Mike & Melody