Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day Trippin': Three States in One Day- Part 2

After leaving Lanesboro, Dionne and I headed toward Decorah, Iowa. It was an incredibly gorgeous day, despite the humidity, so it wasn't long before we stopped to admire the view.

Southeast Minnesota Corn Field

Southeast Minnesota

Southeast Minnesota Corn Field
A little homage to Children of the Corn


We weren't on the road again long before we were distracted by yet another glorious site. A big sign that simply said "Honey," with an arrow pointing up a driveway. I'm never one to turn down a roadside honey stand. It once led me to my first taste of orange blossom honey on a back road in Florida.

Amish Honey

The honey was sold by an Amish family, and a polite young man pointed us in the right direction. It was also self serve. I'm so glad that the honor system is alive and well in some parts of the world.

Minnesota Iowa State Line
And finally, the people of Iowa welcomed us to their fields of opportunities.


We arrived in Decorah and didn't really have a plan. I'd only visited once, when I worked at the Commonweal in Lanesboro and wanted to do my grocery shopping somewhere other than La Crosse or Rochester. It's a college town of under 10,000 with a strong Norwegian heritage and is home of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum as well as Luther College. We found the main street and decided to have a look around.
Almost immediately we stumbled upon Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Company.

Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Decorah, Iowa

Ice cream parlors that try to exactly replicate 1950s soda fountains are a dime a dozen. Sugar Bowl is definitely not of that ilk. The building itself is new construction, and the best way I could describe the interior is Scandinavian minimalism meets classic Americana. I spoke a little with the owner, and he said that he'd worked on the shop for about eight years. His diligence certainly paid off.

Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Decorah, Iowa

Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Decorah, Iowa

A great touch is that all of the signage and memorabilia has been completely restored, adding to the clean and simple feel of the shop.

Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Decorah, Iowa

Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Decorah, Iowa

I know you're probably thinking, "Yeah yeah yeah but what about the ice cream?"

Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Decorah, Iowa
The ice cream was delicious. I had a root beer float, which I tend to get obsessed with in the summer, and Dionne had blueberry cheesecake.

After our snack, we looked around a bit more. If I were a location scout, I would jump to shoot in Decorah if I needed a pre-1960 street. Water Street is beautifully preserved. They even had something I've heard about from the old days, but never seen before.

Water Street Decorah, Iowa
Before the advent of Wal-mart and shopping malls, free standing, downtown department stores were the norm. If you live in a smaller town or city, just ask any older person if they remember where the JCPenney or Sears used to be. They'll probably point out a building that now houses a bank or office suites. Hopefully they won't point out a parking lot.

Water Street Decorah, Iowa

Water Street Decorah, Iowa

Decorah, Iowa

Decorah, Iowa
On the door of a tattoo shop. I think it's safe to venture that it's best to make an appointment.

After a quick stop at the post office, we said goodbye and headed back toward La Crosse.

Northeast Iowa
Northeast Iowa

We did make a quick stop to admire the sunset. The trip home was uneventful. More lovely scenery, sparse traffic and Amos Lee on the stereo. Then, leaving Lansing, Iowa, we came upon the scariest bridge I have ever encountered.

Lansing, Iowa Bridge
I took this photo from the Wisconsin side. I'm not afraid of heights or bridges, but this thing seriously had me on edge. It's very narrow and instead of an asphalt bed, the roadway is just metal grate. It's incredibly loud to drive on, making you feel like you're going faster than you really are. Plus, there's no real warning that it's coming up. Just a sign that says to turn right and then you're facing a steep incline that makes it impossible to see what's coming.

Iowa Wisconsin Border
That smile? It's a smile of absolute relief.

I can't wait to see Dionne's updated tattoo. I think she's going to get state flowers for Minnesota and Iowa.

We're taking it easy this weekend with no day trips, but I'm looking for fun, inexpensive places to explore in the coming weeks.

Day Trip Three States One Day


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