Strike One! Strike Two! & Almost Strike Three!
30 Jul 2008
|From On-Ur-Wa RV Park – Onawa, Iowa
Blue is used to describe many things; blue suede shoes, beautiful blue eyes, blue sky, blueberries and even “blues” music, but to have 2 of the top 3 ice cream companies in the U.S. to have BLUE in their name, who would have “thunk it”.
Today our first stop was the home of Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Le Mars, Iowa known as the “Ice Cream Capital of the World”. More ice cream is made in Le Mars by a single company in one location than anywhere else in the world! Here they produce over 100 million gallons per year. That would be over 250,000 gallons per day!
The beginning of this ice cream empire was the purchase of a horse, delivery wagon, a few milk cans and jars and the goodwill of the milk business by a local dairy farmer all for $250.00 by Fred H. Wells, Jr. in 1913. Today Blue Bunny produces more than 500 branded fresh and frozen dairy products such as ice cream, novelties and yogurt.
Some Blue Bunny fun facts – There are 70 flavors with Vanilla the most popular, followed by Chocolate and Bunny Tracks. They make 5 flavors of vanilla including French, Homemade, All Natural and New York. Their products can be found in ALL 50 states and more than a dozen foreign countries.
The annual tonnage of chocolate ice cream bar coating would cover 47 football fields an inch thick, that’s over 8 million pounds! Takes over 1.5 billion, with a “B”, sticks a year to make their ice cream novelties. 1,127,600 pounds of pecans are used annually which equals the combined weight of 16 adult Humpback Whales.
Lastly, the storage freezer for the company is 12 stories high, a city-block long, holds 53,000 pallets of ice cream and maintains a 20 degree below zero temperature, making it one of the largest and coldest freezers in the world!
After our tour of their visitor center, waffle cones with our favorite ice cream flavor and a float were enjoyed in the Vintage 1920s Ice Cream Parlor. Yummy, Yummy!
Plymouth County Museum also located in Le Mars was to be our next stop of the day. However, we arrived at 11:30 AM and signage said hours of operation were 1 to 5 PM. We still had 4 more stops planned for the day so we elected to catch this museum if we pass this way again. STRIKE ONE for the day! The remaining points of interest on the agenda were all back in Sioux City so we pointed Big Red in that direction.
Trinity Heights Garden is a 53-acre beautiful devotional garden in a natural woodsy setting. There are statue areas, Way of the Saints, Garden of the Beatitudes and a number of prayer stations placed throughout. The 33 ft. statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a 30 ft statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Queen of Peace are the focal points in the garden.
Found in the Saint Joseph Center at Trinity Heights is Jerry Traufler’s life sized hand-carved “Last Supper” sculpture which was seven years in the making. It is one of only 3 in-the-round design sculptures in the world. Carved of basswood and pine it includes 13 characters with James and Andrew sculpted as one unit.
Each figure weighs 200-300 pounds with the entire sculpture measuring 22 ft x 7 ft. The basis of the sculpture format was Leonardo da Vinci’s painting but the disciples’ faces on this piece are modeled after Le Mars, Iowa residents who were friends of Mr. Traufler.
Bartholomew was the first piece carved and his brother was used as a model. The disciple John had Mr. Traufler’s wife as a model for the face. It is truly a beautiful piece of art and one that you must see in person to truly appreciate.
The Cathedral of the Epiphany built in 1891 was our next place to enjoy. It is a beautiful example of Gothic Revival architecture and contains numerous beautiful stained glass windows. According to a tourist pamphlet, tours were given by trained docents of the cathedral for individuals and groups.
However this was STRIKE TWO on the day as we found the doors of the church locked and could not find anyone we could ask about the tours. So outside pictures of this beautifully built cathedral is all we could manage. Again, if in this area in the future, we will try to tour this landmark in Sioux City.
We then arrived at our next destination, War Eagle Park, which is the burial site of the Yankton Sioux Chief War Eagle. He was known as the “Friend of White Man” and lived his life as a peacemaker. He showed by his actions that people of different backgrounds could live together and respect each others dignity.
But wait! Could this be STRIKE THREE? As we turned down the dirt road that led to the top of the bluff where his monument sat, we encountered a downed tree blocking the road! Since we did not want to be down and “OUT” with strike three, we parked “Big Red” and forged over the obstacle on foot.
The ladies in the group had a little bit of difficulty but were determined to reach the other side! However, the other side had a very steep grade hill to climb before reaching the monument. Huffing and puffing, we made our way to the top and viewed the War Eagle Monument. Thank goodness downhill is always much easier!
To end our day, we drove through Stone State Park also located in Sioux City. It will not be a place for future RV camping as it had very small sites, shared water spigot in camping area and extremely narrow roads with lots of curves throughout the park. Over all, it was a pretty wooded park but “Day Use” only for these fulltimers.
A very long but interesting and fun day. Sure no one will have trouble sleeping tonight.