The happy pigs in the woods who ran to visit us each time we left the cottage.
This week my sweetheart and I took a little trip. It was absolutely required because we were both a bit…frazzled, grumpy, sleepy, and in need of a new scene. If you’ve read any of my road trip posts you’ll know I believe road trips are essential to good soul health. Plus they’re fun and illuminating. I generally learn something good – even if it’s only the best place to get barbecued ribs.
This trip was our fourth Airbnb destination. Have you used Airbnb? It’s fabulous! When I realized we were going to become very miserable and virtually ineffective if we didn’t have a break (and soon) we made a list of our needs. It’s always good to have at least a basic idea of what you need/want from a road trip – makes it easier to get it! We wanted something quiet, private, near a wood, and not too far away. I began looking at the usual places I think of for wooded, private stays – state parks. There are beautiful parks in Iowa and some have charming cabins, but they wanted at least a 7 day stay and that wasn’t possible just now. Then I remembered Airbnb and almost immediately found a sweet little cottage on a hobby farm near miles of groomed trails. It was also near a few towns I’d missed checking out in my many Iowa road trips, just in case I wanted someone to cook for me! And perhaps a bit of browsing therapy.
One of the best things about using Airbnb is the people you get to connect with. Right after booking online I got a message from Penny that we were welcome at Honeybee Cottage at Star’s Hollow…delicious, yes? We arrived a bit, um, well I was a bit lit, because we had stopped in Waverly, IA at The Fainting Goat for an amazing craft beer (Dragons’ Milk – amazing and lethal!) and their delicious chorizo-laden queso fundido dip with naan bread. Penny and her family met us upon arrival and then she took us for a golf cart tour of her beautiful little farm.
Our cottage was very sweet and perfect for lounging and napping – which was just what I wanted to do! It was also a great place to unplug because there was absolutely no internet connection (no, not even 1X on my phone). It was lovely not checking the weather or looking up the myriad things you think you need to look up, but really, you don’t. My sweetheart, Rich, hiked and came back with a small souvenir of poison ivy. I napped, and read, and drew, and lazed about in a completely fabulous way.
We did go to Cedar Falls one day for an early lunch and there Rich discovered some of the best ribs he’s ever had at The Noble Oak. Naturally, I found a couple of vintage shops to peruse. At the delightfully (and so aptly) named Little Prairie Girl I found a fantastic 1940’s Dorothy Morgan tablecloth to add to my collection. I’ve been collecting vintage table cloths and aprons since the 80’s, before anyone cared about “vintage” much. I have old suitcases filled with them and I use them every day – so much fun!
Every road trip I take brings some insight about life, or work. This one was full of learning (again) that surrender is a truly blissful state. The weather stinks? Oh well, I can enjoy my mini vacation regardless. No phone signal? Well, yay!! Simple food is the best – no need to cook at all. I don’t need to “accomplish” anything, I can just be lazy. (Don’t tell me you don’t go on vacation thinking you’ll finally learn how to use all of the features on your camera, or read that book about how to earn money on eBay. OK it could just be me…) I really relaxed, and now I’m on fire, back in my little office and doing what I love with verve and delight. That is what road trips are for…refreshment.
And so I wish for you a delightful trip out of the everyday – even if it’s just to a new place around the corner, a favorite park, or the nearest country road. Get out and love life!
PS I can highly recommend any place I’ve mentioned here, and if you visit Penny be sure to tell her Cheryl says “HI!”
Road trip to Star’s Hollow
Iowa Early Spring Landscape
Note: This post was written for a road trip I took a few weeks ago. It’s interesting how that trip turned out, and though I don’t have a lot of fabulous photos or suggestions for great places to eat to share, I felt what happened and what I learned might be of interest to someone. I believe in the restorative power of road trips, but they can also help us learn a lesson, or two.
I’d planned to take this road trip for a while. There was a special store I really had an itch to go visit, and the drive through the Iowa countryside on a beautiful spring day would give me time alone to really enjoy that delight. But then something happened, and I had to make a choice. Did I need to be there for someone else all day today, or could I find time for me? Would people think badly of me if I wasn’t there? Was I shallow, selfish, uncaring? Not long ago there would have been no contest. Do what everyone else needs was my imperative (as if I even know what they really need). Do what makes others think – “oh, she’s good, reliable, unselfish” – would have felt like my only choice. (Though, actually, who knows what they thought?)
But I’m (slowly) learning a new way. A way to be there for those I love, and to also let them be there for themselves. A way to be there for myself. I’ve been wanting to take this little trip for a long time, just waiting for a lovely day…and it’s here. And, wow, I really DO need to get away for a bit! Being there for everyone can mean not letting myself get out at all. I’m the one who seems to hold it together. But today I’ll go on my own to explore, and feel, and enjoy and create my new way of being. I’ll make Self space. I’ll breathe. I’ll let someone else hold things for a while. I’ll go with love, and I’ll let my sweetheart be with his family. But I will be here for him, in full, in the end because I’ll be full in myself. His pain doesn’t need to be mine, yet I can still help.
I took off for my long-planned road trip about noon, after some angst about going at all. My goal was to take the scenic route to Sisters Garden & Bloom near Kalona, but first, I was hungry. I decided to visit a place I’d been meaning to try, The Cottage Bakery & Deli in Iowa City. They offer takeout only, so I chose some yummy treats and headed to a nearby lake to enjoy a picnic. Such a beautiful day! I enjoyed watching the ducks and the leaping fish. The strawberry almond scone was absolutely delicious. And I can also recommend the tomato cheese bread – yum!
After lunch I took off for Kalona via the back roads, always the best route! I forget how much just driving around the countryside cheers me up and restores me. Iowa is beautiful in a way that comforts and delights. Along the road were farmers in the fields, the Amish in their buggies with such beautiful horses, flowers beginning to bloom, and green, green grass. I recorded a love letter to Iowa in Spring on my phone as I drove. When I figure out how I’ll share that here, but for now think burgeoning, succulent, intense color, feeling the sap rising, and the joy of becoming.
I arrived at my destination to find it all locked up. Yes, that WAS a buzz kill. I’d checked the hours at their Facebook page before I left. And they should have been open based on the hours on their gate too. But best laid plans often go astray, don’t they? Just for fun I like to see if I can figure out why, not in any logical way, but in a “what can I learn from this” way. (And mostly because it beats being pissed off!) I was pretty frustrated. I’d waited for weeks and drove myself crazy this morning debating this outing, and now my proposed reason for coming wasn’t even open! But it came to me that a road trip is never about the destination. If you think that, you’ll often be frustrated. It’s about the trip itself, how it makes you feel to be out in the world. It’s about exploration, not knowing what will happen or what you’ll find. It’s about finding out more about yourself along the way. In that sense this was a spectacularly successful trip! For me it was also about making a choice to follow my intuition about what I needed to do today, and to not follow the old programming I hadn’t even bothered to question for so long.
On the way home I stopped at a store I hadn’t been to before, The Rug Cottage and Barntiques. It’s a cute little country sort of store with some quite beautiful rugs. They have new, vintage, and antique items. I found a treasure or two to bring home, and a gift for my sweetie. Below you can see the few photos I took, but this trip was mostly about just enjoying the ride!
A good road trip is vital for my sanity, and maybe for yours too. I love to engage with the world, meet new people, gain greater perspective, and sometimes I learn a thing or two, as well! This is a new Road Trip series (see the first post here), so I’ll be writing and sharing my travels regularly. Let me know about your road trips below, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rug Cottage, near Iowa City
Inside The Rug Cottage
Treasures at The Rug Cottage