As many of you may already know, I/Jaimi am a huge animal lover and have a history of rescuing animals (sometimes even those that really didn’t need to be rescued – oops!). An animal rescue opportunity presented itself once again in Iowa. We had just had lunch at a local favorite, The Irish Shanti, and enjoyed their famous “Gunder Burger”. We ended up chatting with the owner, Kevin, and he took us on tour of his property. On this tour, I heard a kitten crying from under the house porch. I located the poor little kitty and the rescue was ON! I requested a strip of bacon from Kevin and eventually coaxed the grey and white kitten out from under the porch. While the bacon got the kitty out from his hiding spot, he chose being pet and loved over eating the bacon. He was adorable!! With the scared little kitty in my arms I realized that I had no plan on what to do next. We were out in a very, very, very, small town (people joke that the Gunder Burger is bigger than the town itself – ha ha) which is in the middle of nowhere (except corn and soybean fields). Thankfully we keep a medium sized cooler in Smarty most of the time, so Bryan quickly emptied that and with a blanket on the bottom and the lid cracked just a bit – this cooler made for a sufficient travelling “crate” for the kitty (who by this time I had already named: Gunderburg). We stopped by a veterinarian office in the next town and were told that there was a Humane Society in Decatur (almost 30 miles away). Decatur was actually on our lists of places to visit in the area, so it all worked out perfectly. We then made our way quickly to the Humane Society of NE Iowa with a crying kitten in a cooler.
The folks there were so nice and after we explained our extremely odd situation (hi – we live in an RV, we already have 2 cats, we’re only visiting, etc. etc.) they said they could take the kitty as long as he didn’t test positive for FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus). They did a blood test immediately and then we had to wait for 15 minutes for the results. We were told that if he tested positive and we couldn’t keep him that he would have to be put down. GOOD GRIEF! I got to hold the little guy for those stressful 15 minutes and between my bursts of crying – he and I snuggled and he was the cutest little love bug EVER. Thankfully he tested negative. PHEW! It was set, Gunderburg was to go to a foster home until he reaches 4 months or so, get neutered, receive his vaccinations, and be up for adoption in the next few months. This was an incredibly emotional day for me – but I was happy that it ended with this sweet little kitty in a safe place where he’ll be taken care of and hopefully find his forever home soon!! We made a donation and if you’d like to as well – please follow this link.
While I’m certain I understood the value of public libraries before this trip, it’s been on this adventure that we have grown to REALLY, truly appreciate them. For us, they have served many purposes: reliable clean restrooms and drinking fountains, simply a cool and quiet place to sit down, a place to charge our phone and/or laptop, free internet/wi-fi, access to printers and computers, information on the local community, and surprisingly – interesting museums, historic exhibits, art installations, and even in Kansas City – a rooftop garden! And all of this is free (or a few cents to print a few pages). It’s easy to discount libraries as outdated establishments – but they’re really so much more! We have visited a number of them across the US and are always greeted by kind and helpful staff members. Each one we’ve been in has been filled with people young and old. I hope this doesn’t sound too hokey – but when you next visit a new town, I highly suggest you include a visit to the local public library as part of your sightseeing. You might be surprised with what it holds (almost always more than just dusty bookshelves!) and if you haven’t been to the one in your own town for a while – do it! They always have a little donation box somewhere on the counter and we always throw in a buck or two – another suggestion if you feel so inclined.
What we’ve been up to (where we stayed and what we did):
Cabela’s Outfitters — Green Bay, WI
- Stayed just down the street from Lambeau Field where the Green Bay Packer’s play football.
Manitowoc County Expo Center — Manitowoc, WI
This town may sound familiar, this is the area made popular by Steven Avery/Making a Murderer
- Attended a parade in the town of Valders (pop. 934) – they handed out cheese and milk. Only in Wisconsin…
- Enjoyed the local fare (mainly dairy and beer)
- Did a tour at the Kohler factory (really interesting and fantastic tour!) and went swimming in Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, no pics from the Kohler tour as cameras weren’t allowed.
- Explored Downtown Manitowoc
Green Valley Campground — Baraboo, WI
- Visited the Mustard Museum in Middleton, WI
- Explored downtown Madison: Capitol building, The Terrace waterfront at the University, and scenic park/drive. *Bonus – super 80’s looking courthouse, wtf?!
- Went hiking at Devils’ Lake and tubing down the Wisconsin River with our friend Trina (not pictured because we’re terrible at getting pictures w/ the people we visit – ugh!)
Gateway Park Campground — Monona Iowa
- Walked through Monona’s Butterfly Garden & Trails
- Visited Driftless Area Education And Visitors Center, Effigy Mounds National Monument, and Pikes Peak State Park
- Wolfed down the famous Gunder Burger at The Irish Shanti in Gunder, IA and also rescued a cat. Celebrated the rescue with beers at Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. in Decatur, IA
Stayed with family at Candle River Farm — Fairbank, Iowa
- Visited and explored the area with: Susi, Wayne, Amy, Bill, Molly, and Clint. We got to visit Bryan’s grandpa’s family farm/hometown and visit Amish country
- Experienced the towns of Elkader, Strawberry Point, and Arlington (for Bachelor Nation fans – this is where former Bachelor Chris Soules proposed to Whitney!!), and drove through Backbone State Park
Winnebago Visitor Center — Forest City, Iowa
- Did the Winnebago Factory Tour
- Experienced what we could of the eclipse. We weren’t in the path of totality and it was very cloudy all day. We noticed it got darker, lights came on, and we heard crickets. Thankfully, we had internet and watched NASA’s coverage.
- We were stranded for a few days waiting on a Merlin part and doing our own bedroom slide motor replacement. NOTE: This Winnebago bedroom slide motor replacement was a little tricky to get out and expensive to buy the replacement. But putting it back in was pretty easy. This would have easily cost $500 if not more in labor and we would have waited weeks if not months to get on Winnebago’s service schedule. With the most basic of tools almost anyone can do this job on their own with another set of hands. We plan on writing up a “how to” on this job – but in the meantime, write us if you want any information on what we did.
Dallas County Fairgrounds Campground — Adel, IA
A lightning storm passed through while camping in Adel, IA – Bryan caught it on video:
- Visited with Bryan’s cousins: Anna, Abby, and Nick in downtown Des Moines. Again, epic fail in not getting a single picture of us and the cousins (when will we learn?)
- Did a beautiful ride on Iowa’s Raccoon River Valley Trail into the town of Redfield
- Explored downtown Des Moines more: Walked almost 2 miles through its Skywalk (Essentially hamster tunnels that weave through many of the downtown buildings – so you never have to be outside or on a sidewalk. Mostly intended for the winters, we assume, but quite nice on a hot and humid day in the summer! Plus it was cool and a bit creepy to do it on a Sunday when the place was EMPTY!)
Longview Campground – Lee’s Summit, MO
Day visit to Kansas City:
- Scenic drive above the city
- Arabia Steamboat Museum. This boat, full of merchandise destined for general stores throughout Iowa and yonder, sunk in the 1860s. The goods were well preserved in the mud until unearthed in the 1990s. They still have tons of goods to go through and clean – these are currently frozen in blocks of ice to stay preserved. One of the best museums I’ve ever visited!
- Beers and tacos at The Blue Line – Kansas City’s Hockey Bar
- Took in the views on the 30th floor of KC’s City Hall
- Enjoyed artwork, old bank vaults, and a rooftop garden at the KC Public Library
- Happy houred on John’s Big Deck in downtown KC
- Took in awesome views of the Missouri River at the river observation tower and heritage trail
Uncle Ronnie’s front yard — Pineville, MO
- Visited with Jaimi’s Uncle Ronnie and his cat Miss Kitty and dog Freckles
- Kayaked the Elk River
- Explored downtown Bentonville, AR
- Visited the Walton 5 & Dime (Walmart founder’s museum) and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
- Did a brief tour of Jaimi’s grandparents’ hometowns (Garrison and Nichols family tour)
And, as always, meow-ello from Schnabbies and Gemma: