Monday, August 16, 2010

Midwest adventure - Day 3

Another day, another drive... This time it was a round-trip down family history lane in Northern Iowa, just south of the MN state line. Yesterday it was Jen's maternal family, today it was the paternal family that was the reason for the drive.

A quick 3 hr drive (did I mention these Midwest trips require some driving?) south of the Twin Cities we arrived in the bread-basket of the US in between the corn and other crops, John Deere outlets, New Holland tractors and other farm-related industries. Lots of small towns, but most of them seem to be doing pretty well with painted houses, maintained lawns and kids playing in the (smaller) streets. A bit of a throw-back to days gone by that I don't mind seeing restored.

Jen's dad came from a family 10. He was the youngest boy and grew up among the farms here. He talked at lengths about his upbringing (not always easy, but kids still had food, fun and each other) to prepare us for some of the stops were we met a good number of his brothers and sisters. We drove through the places where he grew up and went to school and pointed out a number of locations where he spend a summer, had friends and went to high school.

The last stop on Algona was the most impressive, with 4 of the Abbas boys and 2 of the Abbas girls together with some of their children and grand children. Jen met up with some of her cousins she hasn't seen for over 20 years. She did found one of them on Facebook recently and some of her aunts that have some computer skills found us as well and were surprisingly well aware of our live. For some all this information can be scary but if you have family literally all over the States and on various continents it is pretty much the only way to keep everyone informed without spending every single minute on the phone telling the same story over and over again.

On our way back we drove through the towns were Jen's dad was born and went to church before heading back to the Cities again. We also passed a very impressive wind farm. We've seen a couple of those farms back in March when we took a slight detour through some of rural Iowa (actually, we later found out only about 10 miles from where we were today...). It's nice to see a new, renewable industry appear next to farming that truly fits-in with the pretty self-contained society that still seems to thrive here.

We also made a stop at another Midwest adventure staple; Culvers. If you heard of them you know why, if you haven't, look 'm up and when you get there you take one bite of your butterburger and a sip from your frozen custard and you know what we mean. Love it. It's the only fastfood place we got to and is truly leaps-and-bounds above the rest. Even the book 'Eat This, Not That' came to same conclusion.

At this time it was already closing in on 9pm so we made sure to head straight back to South St. Paul. Another day in the books, another 400 miles. The total stands at 1400 some miles... and it's only day 3. Yaiks... ;-)

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