I fall in love with Iowa more each time I am there. I have been through it more than I have stayed in it, but the times I have stayed in it were awesome! Did you know that Iowa has some amazing bike trails? 2 years ago we did a work thing for Iowa and we were there for a week. I found something called the High Trestle Trail Bridge. A bike trail. A railway that they turned into a bike trail that has tons of tall trestle bridges. But this time, THIS time, I had no idea we would end up right next to a 17+mile bike path for 3 nights.
Here is the story of why we spent a week in Iowa. We bought Miss Riggy at a dealership in Forest City, Iowa. Their claim to fame is that they are just 1 mile from the Winnegabo factory. We picked up Miss Riggy new at the end of December 2020. We returned in July, 2021 to get some warranty work done, to install another solar panel and to have a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) installed. Since I knew we would be in Iowa I decided to google what outdoor events might be going on while we are there. Score! I found the Red Rock Lake Hot Air Balloon Festival! I booked a campsite for 3 nights at an Army Corps or Engineers campground (they are the best!). It had electric hookups and availability. I booked it, right after I did a little you tube research about the campground. I do this to see if there are any fairly recent videos of the campground or site numbers and hopefully to just get a general feel for the campground.
The week is planned like this. It is a 14 hour drive without stopping from State College to Forest City, IA. That takes us 2 days. We drive half or more the first day, then overnight at a rest stop, and then do the rest of the driving the second day. So 2 days there and 2 days back, doing the same thing, 3 days in Iowas to work and play, plus 1 day is spent at the dealership. The dealership, Lichtsinn RV, has electric hookups and space for at least a dozen RVs. We stayed overnight there the night before our 8am appointment. We were planning to hang out at the dealership inside in there dog friendly lounge but then I read on their website that I could get a loaner vehicle. I'm so glad we did that! They had one available and I drove while Joel worked from the passenger’s seat. There is an app called Open Signal that you can use to check cell coverage in whatever area you want to in US. I gave it a quick search and found that all the major roads in Iowa have connectivity. I’ve got this! I’ll keep him in coverage and find something we’ve never done before that’s near by.
Some of my favorite memories of things are ones that we didn't plan. The day that Miss Riggy was in the shop we had a fantastic time driving around southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa. I had no idea I’d be lIrving a childhood dream this day by going to see the Jolly Green Giant! Now, I didn't exactly realize that it was a childhood dream until I was having the chance to actually see him. I sure do remember those 70s and 80s commercials of him. Man is he spectacular (pictures below)! He is almost 60' tall and has been there since 1978! It is a cute place in a lovely small town called Blue Earth, Minnesota! I just love the name of that town! The day was drizzly and overcast. That part of the country is in a drought so they are all very happy for the rain. The night before actually, while we were parked at the dealership, it rained an inch in a couple of hours. That's just like home, amiright?
After we snapped some pictures and let the dogs out, we were back on the road. I had spotted on my Roadtrippers app a grotto that wasn't that far away. I didn't really read much about it but had it in the back of my mind as an optional place to see. Joel worked the whole time, I just chauffeured him. This grotto, wait, what is a grotto again anyway? Google says a small picturesque cave, especially an artificial one in a park or garden. This one was pretty amazing! I didn't get the pictures I would have liked because I had both doggies and Joel was on a work call, but I did get a few. So, this grotto is called The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption. It's amazing! It is the largest man-made grotto IN THE WORLD! It portrays scenes from Christ's life. It's made of all sorts of things. I took a video. I will link it below. Now, I want to make a grotto! The Shrine of the Grotto McCamley! Bahahaha. Anyway. That was amazing.
The last surprise of this trip was the campground I had booked At Red Lake. Remember that 17+ bike trail I mentioned earlier? It was only steps away from our campsite! We could literally see it, easily, from where we were camped. There were enough breaks in the weather that we got to enjoy that bike trail quite a few times. It was lovely. There were not very many people on the trail each time we rode it. We did always see at least 2 people though. Iowa and it’s bike trials continue to impress! We had an enjoyable week and