Visits in the Cornbelt

(Sunday’s recap)

It was a wonderful morning waking up to rooster crows, cool weather and beautiful sunshine!

In yesterday’s post I shared that we boondocked at Pfanny’s Farm just outside of Randolph, NE. When we arrived they were celebrating a baby reveal party for their daughter and son-in-law. Our timing was impeccable as we pulled in just in time to see the dust fly revealing the baby’s gender…how exciting! They invited us to join them for dinner which was completely unexpected and so welcoming!

We chatted with Julie’s parents over dinner and learned that he spent his career as a John Deere mechanic. (I knew they were going to be great people when he started talking John Deere!) Julie and her mom taught me about Cream Can dinners. It’s a lot like something we would fix in the Dutch oven – meat and vegetables tossed in a cream can with beer or wine then cooked over a fire. It was delicious!

Before we left this morning, Julie and Gene met us to share vegetables and see us off. We picked potatoes, onions and tomatoes from their selection. Although we have a garden waiting for us at home, we didn’t grow any potatoes or many onions this year so I can’t wait to enjoy these. They were such wonderful hosts and I truly hope our paths cross again in the future!

Back on the road through the eastern part of Nebraska and into the heart of the cornbelt, Iowa. Leaving Randolph, NE we had two main options to cross the state of Iowa – I-80 or Hwy 20. We chose to take Hwy 20 which would lead us past Janesville, IA where my great uncle, Norm, resides. It was a last minute plan to stop by since we weren’t 100% sure where our trip would take us exactly so I’m glad it worked out.

We were able to visit with Norm for about 2 1/2 hours which was a nice afternoon break! Jeryl, my first cousin once-removed or something like that (haha), and his wife, Rhonda, live nearby and were able to stop by as well. We really enjoyed the visit and catching up on the family updates. The boys enjoyed giving a tour of our camper and their most recent LEGO creations. While the guys talked engines, Rhonda and I shared stories of traveling with boys. (Jeryl and Rhonda have two grown boys. #anotherboymom)

It may be summer and school may be out for just a little longer, but we didn’t miss the opportunity to learn. To pass the time on our drives, we have been reading state books that we checked out from the library before we left. We have all, including mom and dad, learned so many new things about the states’ history and geography. For example, did you know that about one in every five pieces of corn comes from Iowa? Or that South Dakota is divided into four land regions? Or that Nebraska has enough ground water to cover the state with approximately 40 feet of water?

Today’s drive was also full of flat lands, farm houses and windmills which made for a pretty drive.

We even saw several semis along the way with the blades for windmills. They are so long it wouldn’t fit in the picture!

Tonight marks our last night in the camper for this trip. We chose to boondock again using The Harvest Host app and found Oak Tree Homes in Wilton, IA. Dan, Michelle and their children greeted us right away when we arrived. They were so fantastic, directed us to a great spot and even let us fill our water tank which seemed to leak out while we drove.

You can’t see the chickens very well in the picture but they had several! So fun!

Dan and Michelle have a residential construction business and live on a true Iowa homestead with chickens, ducks, dogs, a beautiful garden, gorgeous sunsets and a bonus homemade ninja warrior course. The kids loved hanging with the dog and checking out the ninja warrior course before dinner. Emmitt even asked if we could stay here another night!

While dinner was in the oven, I snuck out of the camper for a picture of the glowing sun over the horizon. Tonight’s dinner was another family favorite – baked spaghetti – but this time with a twist. I needed to use up some of the items in our fridge from the trip so I whipped up a homemade sauce with tomato paste, onion, pizza sauce, leftover sausage, a few spices and fresh tomatoes from Pfanny’s Farm.

After dinner, the boys chose a movie while I scrolled through Michelle’s blog Simplify, Live, Love. Talk about a small world – I’ve read her blog before and didn’t make the connection until skimming through it again tonight! We are so blessed to have experienced such wonderful hosts on this trip.

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