Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A visit with Gillian!

Gillian and I at Pike's Peak
This past weekend, Gillian visited me from DC for her spring break - and we had a fantastic few days.

On the Mississippi
On Saturday, we were lucky enough to have sunny weather on our visit to the Effigy Mounds. This is a National Park in Iowa that has preserved ceremonial and sacred sites affiliated with 12 American Indian tribes. The mounds are pretty awesome, made in the shape of animals with an excellent view of the Mississippi. To enjoy the Mississippi further, we visited Pike's Peak which overlooks where the Wisconsin River joins the Mississippi. It doesn't have the hiking that the Effigy Mounds do, but the overlook is impressive and we did find an iced over waterfall that Tor and Steffen attempted to dislodge. On our way to Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin, we stopped to hike around one of the islands in the river - which ended up being a fantastic idea because the river was still frozen in parts and I really enjoy the idea of being on ice in large bodies of water. Plus, I found a fresh water clam! It's the little things, really.

In Prairie du Chien, we found a pub that had the best cheese curds I've ever tasted. The batter was effortlessly light and the cheese was excellently cheesy. It's hard to go wrong with cheese curds, but these were really good. And the beer - Wisconsin can do beer. After a delicious meal we decided to adventure by driving onto one of the river islands to see if people really lived on them, and then stopped to swing in a park. I love swings, and I love that my friends indulge me by, without question, stopping at some randomly creepy park to swing. Back in Iowa, we decided to check out a river boat casino that had a gigantic pink elephant outside. Inside the casino it was actually quite depressing - but the elephant was awesome. And we were all impressed by the amount of cars in the parking lot.

Gillian meeting Tor's goats
On Sunday, Gillian and I had a lazy and comfortable day. We visited Seed Savers Exchange and Gillian met Tor's goats. We baked bread, made delicious turnovers and risotto, took Bailey for a walk, and watched a lot of Parks and Recreation. It was fantastic. To enjoy Decorah a little more, on Monday we went to lunch in town, stopped in some of the cute shops downtown, and even saw the Ice Cave north of town. The ice cave is pretty awesome actually - the geology of the bluffs creates ice inside the cave during the summer. On Tuesday, Gillian relaxed while I spent my work day pruning grapes (yes - I get to work with grapes in Iowa too!), and then I had to take her to Rochester so she could head home ... which was rather sad.

It was really awesome to have Gillian visit, and to show off what little I know about Iowa. With friends close by and with plenty more to see, I'm sure Iowa will lure her back. Or rather, Iowasota - the part of Iowa that's basically considered a part of Minnesota. It is in my head, at least.

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