Monday, July 4, 2016

Thirty-third Wedding Anniversary -

Off to the hidden valleys that make up the Driftless Areas of northeastern Iowa and southeastern Minnesota.

We grabbed our bikes and took off a week to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  The theme for the trip was biking around scenic river trails and staying in downtown historic hotels.  The first stop on our journey was one of our favorite small towns, Elkader, Iowa nestled along the Turkey River.  The town has Algerian roots and there is a great restaurant for Mediterranean cuisine known as Schera's.   It was a beautiful early summer day for eating outside and enjoy the river.  We had halva for dessert after our luncheon.  Very tasty confections made from sesame paste, nut butter, and sugar.

 Then it was off to Decorah, Iowa.  We stayed at Hotel Winneshiek.  The hotel is situated along Main Street in Decorah that also parallels the Upper Iowa River.  The Upper Iowa River is one of the most scenic rives in Iowa.  Hotel Winneshiek started out as the Archer House River Inn in about 1877.  The hotel architecture blended in nicely with the down architecture surrounded by many historic homes and places around town.  The County Seat is very majestic and came complete with turkey vultures overlooking the city from the very top.

Back of hotel

 Front of hotel

We went by an ornate cemetery gate on the way out of town from Elkander.  We collect photographs of old cemetery gates.  We also went through Postville, Iowa on the way to Decorah.  Visited a junk stop which was a little scary in more than one way.

The bike trail through and around the county known as Trout Run was a good ride - gentle rolling slopes.  We followed the Upper Iowa River much of the way.  We all the way out to a fish hatchery.  We also really enjoyed the food (and the coffee shops) in Decorah.

The Rubyaiyat is across the street from the hotel and was a great more formal evening meal.  We especially liked the food and low key atmosphere at the Old Armory BBQ Chop House.  Excellent pulled pork sandwich and coleslaw.     

Lots of cool shops downtown.  Picked up some new art work for the house.  We tried a couple of the coffee shops and also ate at the food co-op all along the main drag called Water Street.  This is one of our favorite food co-ops.

One of the reasons why we wanted to spend a couple days in Decorah was to visit the Seed Savers Exchange again.  A must stop for any gardeners.  This place preserves seeds from heirloom fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  They have hiking trails that wind through stands of old growth oaks and white pine on steep slopes and a herd of cattle of a breed known as Ancient White Park in the valley pasture.  This breed dates back to the pre-Christian era in Britain.