Exploring Byways and Trails

Exploring Byways and Trails

In this podcast, we chat about exploring byways and trails. If you’re a regular Midwest Wanderer reader, you know we do a lot of road trips. Some of our favorite trips are along scenic or historic byways. And then there are trails. What’s the difference? You’ll find out in this podcast. Read more

Watson Steam Train: Miniature Railroad Rides

Watson Steam Train: Miniature Railroad Rides

The Watson Steam Train in Missouri Valley, Iowa, is one of only a few remaining 1948 Ottaway steam-powered miniature trains left in the United States. While the 12-gauge coal-fueled steam train is fired up only for special occasions, another train—a diesel-fueled Union Pacific replica—takes kids of all ages on rides around the 1,700 foot track. Read more

Podcast: Great River Road Days 9-13

Podcast: Great River Road Days 9-13

In this podcast, we wrap up our Great River Road adventure. We start in Dubuque, Iowa, and travel south through Fulton, Illinois, and Clinton, Iowa. Then we move on to our last stop, the Quad Cities. Read more

Podcast: Great River Road Days 1-4

Podcast: Great River Road Days 1-4

Welcome to the inaugural Midwest Wanderer podcast! As we traveled the Great River Road from the Mississippi River headwaters in northern Minnesota to the Quad Cities, we summed up our daily activities each night in a podcast. We turned the first two recordings into videos while we traveled and posted them on Facebook. But that required late nights, and after two nights of five or fewer hours of sleep, we decided to record and wait until we got home to publish them. So here we are, with the first four days of our Quad Cities adventures. Rather than videos, we’re presenting them in podcast format.   Read more

Pierogi Fest: Whiting , Indiana, Celebrates and Pokes a Little Fun at Their Heritage

Pierogi Fest: Whiting , Indiana, Celebrates and Pokes a Little Fun at Their Heritage

I grew up in Illinois just over the border from Northwest Indiana. Although I no longer live in that immediate area, I have lots of friends and family who do. Over the years I’ve heard talk about Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana. I assumed it was just a small-town festival, no big deal—until I finally went to Pierogi Fest. What a hoot! Read more

Hitchcock Nature Center: Preserving Loess Hills

Hitchcock Nature Center: Preserving Loess Hills

Western Iowa is one of only two places worldwide with a Loess Hills landform, and the only place that still possesses some of its natural characteristics. Hitchcock Nature Center near Council Bluffs was formed to protect the Loess Hills and to provide low-impact recreation for visitors. Read more

River City Tour Highlights Peoria Fun Facts, History

River City Tour Highlights Peoria Fun Facts, History

In 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Grandview Drive to be the “world’s most beautiful drive.” That was just one of the Peoria fun facts we learned about the city’s history on the narrated River City Tour conducted by the Peoria Historical Society. Read more

Blue Gate Amish Tours: Up Close and Personal

Blue Gate Amish Tours: Up Close and Personal

When I think of Amish craftspeople, I think of quilters and blacksmiths. I would never think of a leather worker who creates belts and purses from alligator or ostrich. But that is what one Amish craftsman does in a shop we visited during the Blue Gate Amish Tours Up Close and Personal Tour in Shipshewana, Indiana. As part of that tour, we also visited a Mennonite family that creates a special kind of basket, and an Amish bishop’s home. Read more

Sculpture Walk Peoria Enhances Warehouse District

Sculpture Walk Peoria Enhances Warehouse District

Bring new life to a blighted neighborhood with trendy condos or apartments. Add craft breweries and restaurants. To complete the effort, install public art. We love the revitalization efforts we’re seeing throughout Midwest cities, including the Warehouse District in Peoria, Illinois. Once a deteriorating neighborhood, today developers can’t convert old warehouses to apartment buildings quickly enough. In the evenings, crowds gather at craft breweries. And Sculpture Walk Peoria adds an artistic touch to the once-again bustling Warehouse District just southwest of downtown Peoria. Read more

Blue Gate Amish Tours: Evening in an Amish Home

Blue Gate Amish Tours: Evening in an Amish Home

Our Blue Gate Amish Tours guide, Allen, encouraged us to ask questions of the Amish bishop we were about to meet in Shipshewana, Indiana. “Nothing’s off limits,” he told us. So the twelve guests on the Evening in an Amish Home tour spent the time asking Bishop Monroe Yoder questions. We came away realizing that although the Amish culture is different in many respects from mainstream America, we have more in common with them than we knew. Read more