When devastation strikes, it’s difficult to imagine good coming from it, but that’s what happened in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, New Bohemia neighborhood, referred to as NewBo, following the great Cedar River flood of 2008. Most buildings in the already declining New Bohemia neighborhood filled eight feet or more with floodwaters. Sadly, some historic buildings were torn down rather than repaired. However, with federal and state funds, as well as insurance money, a building resurgence occurred. Today NewBo is booming with new shops, restaurants, and pubs.
How many community colleges do you know of that run their own hotel? Not many, I’ll bet, especially a full-service hotel. There are only six in the entire United States, and I had the privilege of staying in one last month during a press trip to Cedar Rapids hosted by Iowa Tourism. The Hotel at Kirkwood Center is part of Kirkwood Community College’s hospitality arts program, which also includes The Class Act restaurant. Read more
It was considered the “Walmart” of its time. Fort Madison, the first U.S. settlement on the upper Mississippi River, was set up as a trading post, also known as a factory. It was the third highest revenue grossing factory in the country. But by 1813 the post was abandoned and burned. A replica of the post, known as Old Fort Madison, tells the story of the rough life soldiers faced at Fort Madison. Read more
It began with Cows on Parade, first in Zurich in 1998 and a follow-up in Chicago in 1999. Since then, cities all over the world have done a similar public art project. Moose in Toronto, Pigs in Cincinnati, the Superlambanana in London, and ponies in Santa Fe all followed suit. The projects involve local artists painting the same subject, each putting his or her own spin on it, and placing them around the city. The most fun of these exhibits, Overalls All Over, is going on right now in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, during Grant Wood’s 125th birthday celebration. Read more
Seed Savers Exchange co-founder Diane Ott Whealy fondly remembers passing summer days sitting on the porch of her grandparents’ farmhouse, the porch surrounded by morning glories. So when Diane and her ex-husband, Kent, married and started their first garden in 1975, she wanted morning glories. She asked her grandfather about the ones that he grew. He went into the back bedroom and came out with a little white pillbox filled with tiny black seeds. He explained that the seeds came over with his parents when they emigrated from Bavaria around the turn of the century. Her grandfather also gave them seeds to a German Pink tomato that his parents had also brought with them from Europe. Those two seed varieties were the beginning of the Seed Savers Exchange. Read more
Anyone who grew up in the 1960s, or earlier, was required to use a fountain pen in school. I remember how excited I was when I got to the fourth grade and was allowed to use a pen instead of a pencil, sort of a right of passage. In the 1960s we used Sheaffer cartridge fountain pens, never a ballpoint pen. The nuns insisted that the nib on a fountain pen taught you proper, flowing penmanship. I hadn’t seen a Sheaffer cartridge pen in years until my visit to the Sheaffer Pen Museum in Fort Madison, Iowa. Read more
One fun part of travel is learning interesting facts about the places you visit. Following are bits of trivia I’ve picked up about each of the Midwest states: Read more
2015 has been another great year of firsts for us. We’ve visited new destinations, enjoyed new experiences, and had several “who knew?” moments.
Here are some of our favorite 2015 experiences: Read more
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
–Katharine Lee Bates
During our twenty-day road trip from Chicago to Monterey, California, down to Santa Monica and back across Route 66, my favorite patriotic song, America the Beautiful, came to mind. The topography constantly changed. From mountains, some still with snow, to lush valleys, to the hot, dry desert and ocean views, the landscape painted a beautiful backdrop for our trip. We’re sharing some of the scenic areas that we drove through in this video.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in U.S. Long Cuts. We are merging U.S. Long Cuts with Midwest Wanderer, adding a “Beyond the Midwest” menu option. Read more
You don’t have to spend a fortune to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Here are 12 events throughout the Midwest that won’t break the budget before the New Year even begins: Read more