Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Field of Dreams

This past weekend DH and I went off to Iowa ("Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa.") for a family reunion. Why Iowa? Well, it's kinda in the middle for most of the people making the journey. An hour for some, eight hours for others. I have to say, I'm glad my sister takes the time to organize these things so that we don't have to wait for funerals to get together. The great part about family reunions is you have a chance to catch up with family that you haven't seen for a while. The bad part is that sometimes even a weekend isn't long enough. There are still people you don't quite make the rounds to, some who can only stay for the day, some for only a couple of hours. But on to the activities portion of this post . . .

So what do you do in Iowa? (no offense to the natives - keep in mind that many of us come from larger metropolitan areas, like Chicago or Minneapolis, or even Madison). Well who doesn't like the movie, Field of Dreams? (That's my husband raising his hand.) For those of you who haven't seen the movie or don't like baseball, the Field of Dreams is a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield down an unpaved road (well, you could take the paved road). That's what my husband saw. To those of us who were touched by the movie or have {ahem} overactive imaginations, it's poignant and a place where dreams become reality and family rises above adversity. Yes, I took a picture of the cornfield (that would be my sister playing the part of a ghost). The man who owns the farm was telling us that while they were filming, they were in drought, a lot like they are this year, and they were worried that James Earl Jones wouldn't disappear into the corn (it wouldn't grow tall enough) - he's a big man, after all! If you've seen the movie, you know that they did manage to make it grow.

We also took a ride on a Mississippi riverboat, complete with two paddlewheels. When in Rome . . . and the views are beautiful. There's a Mississippi river museum, and we also rode the Fenelon Street Elevator (a gondola that transports you up a steep bluff between two streets). And we saw an eagle flying over the lock and dam on the river while we walked through Eagle Point Park.

This would also be a good place to give a shout out to Amy at the Mandolin Inn. I interviewed Amy while I was writing Living Canvas for tips on running a B&B. The Mandolin Inn is located in Dubuque and is one of the loveliest B&B's I've ever visited. Castle Valley Inn (which is the inn in the book) takes some of its features from this inn, along with The Hillcrest Inn in Burlington, Wisconsin (shout out to Gayle and Mike), which was the original inspiration. Neither of these places have a secret room, to my knowledge, so please don't go looking for . . . NO, I'm not going to spoil the ending! Suffice it to say I've taken a considerable amount of artistic license in creating Castle Valley Inn, but I would highly recommend both of these real-life inns if you're looking for a fabulous place to stay.

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