Today we go to Iowa. I really hate leaving our quiet little park but it’s time to move on if we expect to get to OH, NY, PA and NJ before the snow flies.
Left a little later this morning (around 11:00) for the 134 mile trip to Creston, Iowa. A nice easy drive through miles and miles of corn, soy beans, and what we think were milo fields…as far as you could see. Just absolutely awe-inspiring. The corn is being cut and the soy beans are browning so I imagine that as soon as the farmer is done cutting his corn, he’ll get to turn around and go out again to cut the soy beans. Something we noticed as we drove through Creston is the paved bike/walking trail that runs parallel to the road with a grass strip about 10' wide separating them. The Creston Park to Park Trail is approximately a five-mile walking/biking trail located between McKinley Park in town and the south edge of Green Valley State Park.
We’re staying at the Green Valley State Park for the weekend. A little crowded but still quiet. After getting set up, we went into town to check out the Hy-Vee grocery store since they’ve been advertising some good sales. On the way back to the campground, we saw a man and woman sitting on lawn chairs in the back of their truck parked off the side of the highway. The high school was just over the hill so we figured they were watching the game from a distance….or something. Stopped at the park office and the guy there told us there were going to be hot air balloons flying over the football game at the school this evening. He said this weekend was the hot air balloon festival with a flight this evening then a parade, flea market, etc. in town on Saturday with a balloon glow that evening and then a final flight on Sunday morning. Wow, neat! For once we are somewhere where something’s happening. Usually we’re either too late or too soon.
So we unloaded the groceries and took off again to the high school and there they were, about 15 balloons flying over the field. How neat that was. Met the Dean of Students of the local college, and his family, and had a nice half hour chat with them. They were just sitting down to a dinner on their deck when they saw a couple of balloons fly over so they packed up the dinner and the kids and drove to the school parking lot. They said one of the balloons had landed right there about 10 minutes before we got there. We saw them packing up.9/15/12
Didn’t get up and moving in time to see the parade in town but we did go downtown to the fair/flea market held on the main street. Bob got some pictures of the Amtrak trains that go right through town and I spent an enjoyable 20 minutes just watching the model train display they had in the one building. Enjoyed a sausage sandwich and then Bob and I shared a funnel cake, something we’ve not had in a long time.
After moseying around town a bit, we drove out to the airport to see if there was any balloon activity going on out there but it was empty except for a couple of people setting up the parking for this evening.
After that, it was about a 40-mile drive to the north to the Freedom Rock
. I had first read about this on the internet and I figured we weren’t going to get any closer than we were so off we went. It is beautiful!! I’m glad we took the drive. The scene is changed every year but he never paints over the Huey helicopter because that's where the servicemen's ashes are. Among other things featured on this year's rock, is a tribute to the Sullivan Brothers
. I know I have posted a LOT of pictures of the Freedom Rock but please take some time and look through them. They're so very good.
After dinner this evening, we drove back out to the airport to see the balloon glow. There weren’t any balloons around when we got there but there were plenty of very friendly people. We bought some postcards and an absolutely delicious pulled-pork sandwich which we shared and just enjoyed ourselves “people watching” until the balloons started coming in. I don’t know where they took off from but they were supposed to land at the airport. Well, because they primarily depend on the winds to float them along, and because those winds were blowing the wrong way, many of them landed on the other side of the trees lining the airport proper. One guy missed the airport completely and the last he was seen, he was far in the distance going who-knows-where!
After everyone was on the ground, they started reinflating the balloons for the glow. Wow, those things are very tall…and these weren’t even the really big ones like you see at the Albuquerque fest. Most of them were right in front of the bleachers while about 4 others were in the field behind all the cars. And it was neat when they lit the burners and the whole balloon lit up. So pretty. They put on a nice show for about 45 minutes. Afterwards, Bob and I went over to the ones in the parking field and got to talk to a couple of the pilots. The one young pilot, Cory Bloom, just won 7th place in the world championship a couple of weeks ago. He flies his balloon, the Duality, in competitions and just to have fun. We also met the Stone Family ... pilot Randy and crew Lisa, Jessica and Sophia. Their balloon is called Heart's Desire. We really had a good time and it was really enjoyable talking with the pilots and crew. They appreciated that we took the time to come thank them for a good show and we told them we truly appreciated the show they all put on.
For once we were in the right place (Creston) at the right time (balloon fest). Usually we get somewhere too early or too late for whatever recent festivities were there.
There's a billboard in town that I think is cute but we didn't get a picture of it. It is advertising some pesticide for farmers and it says "We bring 14 corn pests to their tiny little knees". That just struck me as funny.