This weekend my family explored some of Northeast Iowa’s treasures including Spook Cave and Pike’s Peak state park.
If you’re looking for something different to do this weekend, I encourage you to travel two hours north of the Corridor and do some exploring at one of Northeast Iowa’s hidden treasures. Spook Cave, located outside McGregor, IA , is unlike any other cave tour you’ll experience.
I had been to Spook Cave as a child, although I don’t remember much more than the sweatshirt someone bought for me with a Casper-like ghost on it. As we waited for our tour to start, I read up on some Spook Cave history.
An overcast day in the low 70s doesn’t exactly scream water activity weather, but none-the-less three carfuls of my girlfriends and our kids made our way the The Lost Island water park in Waterloo today. Of course, when we planned the excursion last month, we expected a Friday in late July to be hot and humid. We debated going for a moment, till I admitted I’d already bought my tickets in advance to save a couple bucks. So, with grey skies and the threat of rain, we put on our ‘make the best of it’ mom faces and still had a pretty good time.
The 36th RAGBRAI will run through Missouri Valley, Harlan, Jefferson, Ames, Tama-Toledo, North Liberty, Tipton and Le Clare. Lance Armstrong will be here for the 3rd time.
RAGBRAI – Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.
It’s a household word in Iowa, one synomous with the last full week in July.
This will be my tenth year on RAGBRAI and even though I’m not able to do the entire week every year, I wouldn’t miss riding a couple days each year.
I started riding RAGBRAI in 1999 and hadn’t really ridden a bike much since I was a kid. The first year I went, I rode only two days, but a very hot and hilly two days. The heat index the first day was at least 110 the first day and 115 the second day I rode. The first day was from Waverly to Decorah, the second day from Decorah to Manchester. If anyone has driven in northeast Iowa, it’s even hillier when you’re on a bike!
However, after that year with a sore butt and being hot and tired, I fell in love with it.
The Corridor is ideally located for quick weekend getaways. Recently, we each packed a bag and headed just two hours west to Des Moines.
We stayed at Adventureland Inn in Altoona because our 4-year old loves waterparks and the hotel has two pool areas with play features. If we had never left the hotel and just played in the water, he would have been satisfied.
One of our first stops was Graziano Bros., a family-run Italian grocery store just south of downtown. I remember visiting the store as a child and being smacked by the delicious aromas of oregano, garlic and olive oil as you open the door. I definitely wasn’t let down! Here, you can purchase olive oil in gallon containers. Delish!
We’re not Napa Valley, but that doesn’t mean Eastern Iowa isn’t home to a number of amazing wineries. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling a few and The Gazette recently unveiled a special section “A Toast to Eastern Iowa’s Wineries” which has helped me update my ever-growing list of new wineries I’d like to try.
Daly Creek Winery and Bistro – 106 N. Ford St. Anamosa, IA
I was originally enamored by this winery when I heard stories of their fabled “Penitentiary Red” – their best selling wine which is named after the prison that also makes Anamosa its home. After a taste test and a wonderful New Years Eve meal, I’ve decided my favorite is the Winemaker’s Reserve – (Cabernet Sauvignon) and I recommend buying a bottle to take home with you.