Saturday, November 10, 2012

An Out of town weekend

USA Weekend magazine sponsors an annual "Make a difference day." I wanted to participate, but we were going to be out of town on the designated day (October 27).

Thus, my day before make a difference day was my day of volunteering. I spent 4 1/2 hours at the local animal shelter, and walked 18 dogs. While I am at the shelter quite often, I don't usually have the opportunity to make a difference to 18 furbabies. I'm so glad I did it, and so are they.

Now on to our weekend out of town.

The first day we travelled to Dubuque, Iowa.

 We stayed at the Mandolin Inn, an Edwardian Bed and Breakfast.

 The sitting room and parlor of this glorious mansion, above and below

 The dining room, where we had a delicious breakfast on Sunday morning

 Stained glass in the stairwell - notice the mandolin? That is what inspired the name of the inn.

 Our room, the Solarium

 We stopped at an antique store in Cable Car Square. Note the vine with berries on the side of the brick building.

 Fenelon Place Elevator, which has been described as "the world's steepest, shortest scenic railway, 296 feet in length, elevating passengers 189 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place. Magnificent view of the business district, the Mississippi River and three states."

 The second day, we headed toward Decorah. On the way, we spotted this island in the middle of the Mississippi River.

Also along the way, we stopped at the Bily Clocks Museum. Joseph and Frank Bily hand-carved many clocks, beginning in 1913. The clocks are amazing displays of craftsmanship. In fact, Henry Ford offered the brothers $1,000,000 for one of their clocks; however, the brothers turned him down. In fact, they never sold any of their clocks although it is rumored they built and gave one to an individual from the town (Spillville) who became the town's first ever four-star general. Photographs are not allowed inside the museum; to see a few pictures, you can go to their website.

 Our next stop was Seed Savers Exchange. SSE is an organization dedicated to the preservation and sharing of heirloom seeds and education of people about the value of genetic and cultural diversity. Their website can be found here.

 Here is the barn and Diane's Garden. Diane is the co-founder of SSE. This garden is an edible landscape mixing flowers, herbs, vegetables, and prairie plants - many of which came from members of SSE.

 The Children's Garden

 The Ancient Park Cattle - also being preserved

 Another of the gardens. There are trial gardens, where the seeds are tested; preservation gardens, where varieties are grown to refresh the seed supply; the seed saving garden, which teaches about concepts for maintaing varietal purity; and the exchange garden, where SSE members share their seeds with others. There is also a historic apple orchard which features 550 varieties of apples. Did you know that just 11 varieties of apples total 90% of all apples sold in chain grocery stores?

 You can learn more about Seed Savers or purchase seed by going to their website.

All information I've shared about SSE above comes from their brochure "Heritage Farm Gardens and Maps ... Passing on our garden heritage since 1975."

 This is our Bed and Breakfast in Decorah, B and B on Broadway. It's a Queen Anne home which has been beautifully decorated.

 The owner has quite a knack for decorating; Autumn was evident everywhere.

 The dining room

Our room, The Queen's chambers

We had a nice weeknd out of town. Thanks for coming to visit along with us.


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