Friday, February 20, 2009

Iowa February 2009

I know what you're thinking - why on earth would you go to Iowa in February?  I love visiting Iowa at any time of year because that's where my Dad, Grandma & Sister (OK, MN, but close!) and some other family are.  I knew February would be a bit of a gamble weather-wise, but I totally lucked out and missed the really crappy cold snowy stuff by a week!

By the time I got there more than half the snow was already gone and we had pretty danged nice conditions the whole six days I was there, with little wind and only a couple of days of grey overcast.  OK, the temperatures were still far too cold for my liking - from -10C to about 4C mostly - but I comforted myself with thoughts about how bad it *could* be!  We even had a couple of days with brilliant blue skies.

The lakes were totally frozen when I first arrived so Dad and I headed out to check out the activities. The Queen was all surrounded...a little flashback to my cruise!

West Lake is hugely popular for ice fishing, snowmobiling, ice-skating and other crazy pastimes. I still don't see the appeal of drilling a hole in the ice and sitting there waiting for a fish but it's insanely popular. Some do it with creature comforts including on-site barbeque grill & comfy couch

Others take it way beyond where it needs to go by completely decking out a semi-truck cab:

No need for a fridge to keep the beers cold, of course, just lean the carton against the tire

Inside you've got your twin ice holes and even a rod holder that will jiggle your rig while you're away (getting another beer...)

You can see the bottom down these holes thanks to the super clear water. Don't you wish I would have focused on the bottom to illustrate instead of on the bobber LOL

All that beer getting and watching an electric jiggler work is just plain exhausting, so of course you have to have a bed (it's folded up here), a fireplace and a kick ass stereo inside, too. You know, so you can relax.

Not everyone is crazy this way. Some are crazy a different way - they do it old school. A bucket, a hand auger and no ice house of any kind.

Aw, they're just kids, you say. Well, let me tell you, there are plenty of moderately insane adults out there, too

How fun does that look?!?!!! I dunno, but these guys look like they're having far more fun to me, even though they won't be bringing home any dinner

The last two are kite skiing for those who haven't seen it before.

Driving out on to the lake is pretty cool. You can see how high the snow is now, just imagine it last week when it was fresh and twice as high!

It's amazing how different things look from this angle. Here's our shoreline

And our house...I didn't even recognize it at first as it didn't seem like we had driven nearly far enough up the Lake from where we started!

A tradition at the Lakes Area is to place bets on when the car will fall through the ice. Winters are long here.

Thanks to a 48F day the top layer melted and turned the ice into a platform for a new lake. This is why ice houses have to be off the ice so early (mid Februaryish), so they don't freeze down when thaws refreeze. Not sure you can see, but there's so much water on the ice here that there are little wavelets!

It didn't last long and the top was solid again that night. I love sunsets at my Dad's and the fading light on the ice is pretty cool

As is usual when I spend time with Dad, we spend a lot of our time in the truck driving around while he works and checks out the local happenings. It's awesome as not only do we get to spend a ton of time together, we often find the coolest stuff. Wind towers are going up all over the area at a crazy clip - one per day in some places! These things are enormous and I should have taken more photos of their parts (each blade comes in on a separate, huge flatbed trailer) and the wind tower fields. To raise these things requires some seriously large equipment and we were lucky enough to watch many trucks bring many crane parts in to build a ginormous crane.

You will not believe what I did, or rather didn't do. My Dad has a replica of this exact crane (well, the next model up, but close enough) in his living room and I failed to take a photo of it! What a gumby I am.

It's not all big stuff that catches the eye as we drive along. How about some peacocks? I had no idea that these birds would do well in an Iowa winter, but these guys are thriving on this farm

There are also some interesting signs

No visit home is complete without checking out the latest cars in the shop. This one is my step-mom's very very cool oldie Plymouth. This paint colour is one she created herself and it's Rootbeer. It is HOT. This is going to be one of the best looking rods out there just because of this colour. I wish photos could do it justice, but they just can't.

Here's the instrument cool is this?

But it got better. Dad took me to his own shop to show me the newest acquisition. It's a '54 Oldsmobile. I looked and thought "Hmm, that looks familiar" but didn't say anything about it. Dad let a few beats pass before asking "Do you recognize it?" I said "It looks like the one we used to for pizza in every Tuesday night when I was a kid."

A huge grin spread over his face "It's the same car! It was Grandpa's" (his) Turns out some lady rang him to see what it would be worth - without knowing it had been in our family, just that Dad knew a lot about old cars - and as things developed he learned it was THIS car. At first the lady told him that her son was going to fix the car up, but when her mom heard that the car was Dad's Grandpa's (still with me?), she insisted that the car go back to the original family! When he went to see it things weren't as expected and the car was missing all its chrome, the hubcaps, the backseat, the emblem, and a whole host of things. Dad thought maybe he wouldn't buy it back as it wasn't in a condition to match what he had originally suggested as a price...but then he started thinking again. When something comes back to you, it's just meant to be. So he called back and said he'd take it after all.

Well, my Dad has the touch. While picking it up, the other family started finding random bits scattered throughout the old chicken coop where things had been stored. The backseat was wrapped up, the chrome was found, all the hubcaps and then some, the emblem...awesome! Dad's started to polish her up and put her back together and it will be so cool to flash back to childhood when I visit next!

Check out the plates

While back I also zoomed up to see my sister and her husband for a night. She has a lot on her plate right now so we kind of had to squeeze the visit in, but it was great. I met her at work and from there we went to the local arts centre where she was presenting a Valentine's Day card workshop.

I am not crafty, as many of you know, so I answered emails and played on my computer while they worked. later we headed back to her house for dinner and photo viewing from both of our recent trips - hers to Cancun and mine to South America & Antarctica.

Mr Jones, their kitty, is a nut...zooms all over the house and jumps at shadows. He's very sweet and soft & cuddly as well as great entertainment.

He's got a great perch in the dining nook window where he can watch the pheasants stroll by

I couldn't go home without taking some shots for my here are the squirrels outside of the window at Dad's

They always commandeer the duck houses

It goes without saying that my time with family was far too short on this journey and I can't wait to get back to them on my next trip!

No comments: