Iowa is My Friend – 7.3.14 – Shelby, IA

Five weeks pass. Fourth of July weekend. Midwest… Again. Except this time to another tiny town in Iowa about 100 miles west of Des Moines. A quaint, quiet little town by the name of Shelby. Surrounded by the never ending rolling hills of corn. Literally, it was corn as far as the eye could see. It was another morning flight for me. 6AM. So early, but so excited to see my babe again. I was to get into Omaha around 12:30, pick up my rental car and make the hour trek on over to Shelby. Besides the ridiculously long (and slow) line at Hertz, the trip had gotten off to a good start. I was ready to explore a new area of the state, take more pictures and make new memories. This drive over to Shelby was different than the one up to Sloan. It was rolling hills of corn instead of flat fields of corn and soybeans. I arrived at the hotel, a little po-dunk 14 room motel next to a major gas station stop. George was beyond excited to see me, he must’ve been tired of being in the motel all alone every day while Matt was at work. So I took him out for a little walk and exercise. To the right of the motel, rolling hills of corn. He wanted to chase every rabbit that disappeared off into the corn.

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It was a lazy day for me, I was tired from traveling and just waited for Matt to get home from work. We spent the evening in the room with a taco pizza and some Animal Planet.

The next day while Matt had to work, I decided to try to explore the tiny towns surrounding Shelby. I googled things to do in the area. Not much. Alright, let’s check out this park. Down the back county roads we went, endless rolling hills of corn and gorgeous farm houses.

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Finally, Botna Bend County Park. I had no idea what they had at this park. I drove around looking at what they had. Plenty of camping, ball parks and a large fenced in area. Along the way, I took some photos of wildflowers growing by the river.

I drove all the way around the fenced area wondering what was in it. I pulled up and they had a whole herd of elk! A mother had just had a baby and the rangers didn’t want anyone bothering it, so they suggested we move further down the fence to attract the main herd. There was a grandmother there with her 4 grandkids, each with a carrot in their hand trying to feed the elk. They even offered me some to feed, which is when I made friends with a bull elk.

Next, we were off to Walmart for groceries and fireworks for the July 4th evening! I was bummed because I couldn’t actually get any fireworks, but I did manage to pick up about 250+ sparklers, which if you’re from Northern Nevada, buying any type of firework is exciting because they’re not legal. Back to the hotel we went. And boredom hit again. I know, take George for another little walk on a nature trail in Shelby.

After our walk, I decided to check out the little town of Harlan, about 15 miles north of Shelby. I always find myself taking the back country roads, partially because I like landscapes, but I think the homes that go along with the farms are absolutely darling, along with the quilt designs on the barns that are all unique to each barn.

Harlan. Small, quaint town with plenty of greenery and old, vintage homes. This town was slightly busy on the main roads, but once you got into the middle of town, it was absolutely dead. I honestly have no idea where all these people go on major holidays, but they get out of their towns like lickity split! I meandered through the streets and ended up finding the Historic Downtown square. Directly in the middle was the Shelby County Courthouse, surrounded by gorgeous, historic buildings from the 1890s to early 1900s. The architecture is breathtaking and takes you back in time.

After leaving Harlan and heading down the main highway, I saw a sign for Nishna Bend Recreation Area. Oh! Let’s check it out! Down a dirt road to a small watering hole, it was packed with campers and fishermen alike. However, it was nothing too special. I was more interested in the rundown home and barn down the road.

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That evening after Matt got home from work, we cooked up some pulled pork sandwiches with potato salad. We waited until sunset and drove over to Avoca to check out the fireworks show they had at the golf course. Of course while trying to find the course, we found a bunch of houses setting off fireworks and enjoyed them from a distance. After the show was over, we went back to the motel to burn through my hundreds of sparklers. I was like a little kid on Christmas, so excited to play with them!

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That night was a rough night’s sleep. All I could hear throughout the night was the whipping winds and torrential downpour being slung at the front of the room. That morning around 6am, the parking lot was flooded and Matt did not go to work because he knew they wouldn’t be working any longer than 2 hours. So we got to sleep in for a few more hours. We decided we wanted to check out Omaha since it was only 45 minutes away. First stop, Cracker Barrel and Bass Pro Shops in Council Bluffs, IA. After too much food and too much shopping, we made our way across the Missouri River into Omaha, NE.

Playing tourist, we decided to stop at the Lewis and Clark Landing down by the river. The water was murky brown and flowing fast, carrying debris and tree branches and logs down its course from the rainstorm the night before. On the plaza, there was a monument in honor of the laborers union. On the statue, they had two lines representing the height that the river reached in the two major floods of the area.

We then walked on down by the river towards the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. It was a total engineering masterpiece with suspension cables and the floating walkway. The scariest part for me was that you could feel the bridge moving from the wind and all the people on it. A really cool part was that they put a line across the walkway establishing the state line.

After the pedestrian bridge, we walked over to the Heartland of America Park and around Old Market, and area of town with big, old brick buildings and cobblestone roads. It’s the hotspot for bars and unique restaurants. We were both so hot and sweaty from the humidity in that town, that I didn’t take any pictures while there and I’m mad at myself for it! We walked the mile back to the car and were off again! I had seen a church on a map of the town and I wanted to check it out. It was called St. Cecilia Cathedral and it was gorgeous on the outside. It was our last stop in Omaha before heading back.

Back to Shelby we went. That evening was a quiet, relaxing one seeing as how I had to be up at 3:30am to leave by 4am to get back to Omaha in time to catch my 5:50am flight. Here we go again, having to leave Matt is always the hardest thing for me. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him until Labor Day weekend, 2 months away. But I had to get back home to my life and my job and my pup. I prayed it would go by fast…

I just didn’t know that he would be the one actually coming home to me for a while…

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