Welcome to Brighton, Iowa Shirt

Welcome to Brighton, Iowa

Brighton, Iowa is the small town my dad’s family is from – my grandparents owned a family farm there for over 80 years and many of my extended family members still live there.

Until a few years ago, there was a painted sign when you entered town that said “Welcome to Brighton, Home of Lake Darling State Park” with a drawing of the lake on it – it was charming and I remember it from when I was a kid visiting grandma’s house; we’d look for the sign when we drove into town. A couple years ago the town replaced the worn and peeling sign with a new stone monument that says “Brighton, Iowa” on it – perfectly understandable because the sign was really showing its age. But I do miss seeing the old sign, so I took an old photo I had and recreated it to put on a t-shirt, which I’ve put up on my Redbubble Account for purchase.

Brighton Iowa Sign
Continue ReadingWelcome to Brighton, Iowa Shirt

Destination: Iowa

Iowa City

After getting back from Boston, we’re out the door again heading to Iowa for a family wedding. As always, we have a house sitter when we’re out, so stalkers and burglars beware. It will be nice to visit Iowa in spring weather; nice lighting for photos.

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Taking a quick trip to Iowa

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I’m headed to Iowa after work today, with my mom. We’re going to visit my Grandma Groenwoldt, who is in the hospital and not feeling well. I haven’t seen her since my road trip in 2001, when I stopped to see her at her little retirement village apartment. It’s sort of a rush trip so I’m feeling somewhat frazzled; like I’ve forgotten lots of things. I’ll also be missing Jennifer and Patrick’s wedding, which I feel really bad about. Stephanie will be going, though, so hopefully she’s take lots of photos.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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We’re getting ready to head out to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving day. Our trip yesterday was pretty uneventful. We drove Stephanie’s Beetle (named Phoebe, for those of you who are just joining us) because it’s a fun roadtrip car and somewhat more comfortable than my truck. So I had the opportunity to take pictures out the car window and mess with the manual settings on me camera, which was enlightening. I learned all about the different color settings for my camera. A round barn in sepia tones:

Round Barn

It’s a six-hour drive to Brighton, Iowa from Indianapolis. Brighton’s population is about 700 people, and my extended family numbers around 50 people, so we drastically increase the town population when we show up. We’re staying in Washington about 11 miles away, because there aren’t really any motels in Brighton, although there is a bed and breakfast.

Washington has about 7,000 people and is the county seat, so they have a community center with theater performances, and they’re expanding their public library. They also have an evening Thanksgiving Day parade around the square. We sometimes catch the tail end of that if we go to the single-screen, retro movie theater in the evening to see whatever children’s movie is out over the holiday.

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Dutch letters from the Jaarsma Bakery

When I was a kid, we used to drive from Ankeny, Iowa (where we lived) to Brighton, Iowa, where my Grandma lived. On the drive, we usually went through Pella, Iowa, and if we were lucky, we’d stop at the Jaarsma Bakery and get my favorite dessert of all time… Dutch Letters. Jaarsma Bakery has been open since 1899, when it was founded by Herman Jaarsma who used recipes he brought over as an immigrant from Holland.

Dutch Letters from the Jaarsma Bakery
Originally, the Dutch Letters were made only as a special treat for Sinterklaas Day (the Dutch Santa Claus Day), December 6th. They are typically shaped into an “S” for “Sinterklaas” according to the website.

Now Jaarsma has a website and does online ordering, which quite simply kicks ass.

Jaarsma Bakery

Continue ReadingDutch letters from the Jaarsma Bakery