“Big Things” Midwest Road Trip, part 2

Viroqua, Wisconsin

On the road again, I saw a big Cow outside Viroqua and in town I caught photos of a wire man, and "ghosts" in the window of a house I photographed accidentally while trying to take a picture of something else.

FAST Company in Sparta, Wisconsin

This is the factory where they make many of the "Big Things" I’m so fond of. They’re a fiberglass moulding company specializing in large-scale advertising art. The people were very friendly and nice, and they get a lot of visitors who stop by. Most of their stuff is outdoors, where they store the molds used to make stuff and where they keep their most recent projects on display. I bought a catalog, in case I ever get enough $ to buy my own big thing. They also created the Giant Bicyclist in Sparta’s park.
>> See the FAST Company Website

Rushford, Minnesota

Rushford "Hollywood" style sign.

Giant Fish in Preston, Minnesota

Apparently they use this guy in city parades and such as a mascot, because he’s up on wheels and can roll around.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Burr Oak, Iowa

True, Laura Ingalls only lived in this Inn a year or so during her childhood (along with Mary, Ma and Pa Ingalls) but this is the only building she ever lived in that’s still standing in the original spot. It’s also the place where her little sister Grace was born. The “Little House” book about Burr Oak is coming out next year. Plus the lady who ran the place was very nice. Apparently, the Ingalls lived in a little room in the basement.
>> See the Museum’s website

Giant Steer & Cowboy in Wakegon, Iowa

Pinky The Elephant and the Flooded Mississippi River

The mighty Mississippi is overflowing its banks, and I got to cross it twice; once at La Crosse, Minnesota, and again at Marquette, Iowa. On the first cross, I-90 was almost covered by a tributary (Black River) but I didn’t get great photos, because I would have had a wreck. The second crossing at Marquette was dangerous; the river WAS covering the highway I was on, which I got great photos of. I didn’t get a good close-up of Pinky the Elephant at Marquette, because he was too close to the river, and the road was closed, but you can still see him in the distance.

Giant Strawberry at Strawberry Point, Iowa

Giant Strawberry above the town hall at Strawberry Point.

The Bridges of Madison County, Iowa

I’ve never read the book or seen the movie, but Mom wanted a t-shirt and I had time to kill before going to see my Grandma Groenwoldt, so I drove out to Winterset. And I couldn’t very well buy a t-shirt in town without driving out to see a bridge, so I went at about 7 a.m. I drove out on gravel roads (ouch, my car!) that are pretty wind-y (slow down!) for way seems like ever before I got to the Roseman Covered Bridge . I hopped out of the car, and walked out to the bridge… the sun was shining, the stream bubbled under the bridge, the birds sang. It was amazing and beautiful and incredibly romantic. Of course I was there alone! But no wonder they made a movie. I would’ve.
>> See the Official website

My First Home

My parents were living in this apartment in West Des Moines, Iowa when I was born, so I grabbed photos of it for my “All the Places I’ve Ever Lived” photo gallery when I got to Des Moines, Iowa, where I stayed the night.

My hometown, Ankeny, Iowa

This is the town of Ankeny, Iowa, where I grew up. Highlights are my childhood homes, the elementary and junior high schools I attended, my favorite library, the park I used to play in, and the Catholic church I went to.

One of the elementary schools I went to as a kid

The town hall that used to be my favorite library

The very first memory I have is of my dad carrying me up to this house when I was three.

The first house I lived in. 810 SE Belmont.

My backyard.

This is the house that was hit by a tornado.

The patio my Dad poured. Somewhere my handprints are in the cement.

Kay Kaufmann’s house.

We used to ride our big wheels here.

This used to be the HyVee store.

I went to Elementary school here, too. My brother designed that logo on the sign.

The second house I lived in. 917 SE Fourth.

Volkamer’s house.

Kloberdanz’s House.

Sunrise Park where I used to play as a kid.

Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Church, where we used to attend.

It looks very different, but the statues are the same.

My Junior High School.

Giant Cow on a Pole Outside Perry, Iowa

Pella, Iowa

Home of the annual Tulip Festival and the Jaarsma Bakery that makes Dutch Letters. When I was a kid, we used to drive through this town on the way to Grandma’s house every year, and it was always one of our favorite stops. I’ve always wanted to live in a windmill because of this town.

Brighton, Iowa

Brighton, Iowa, where my grandparents live, and where my Dad grew up. We used to love coming here when I was a kid, so this town still has a Shangri-La quality to it. The watertower, until recently had a weathervane my grandfather made. The bridge is over the Skunk River.

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