Iowa, part three

After a delicious breakfast of oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, and apple cideron Sunday, September 17, Perry-O, David, and I got into the car for our trip to Gays Mills, Wisconsin. We were going to the Driftless Area Friends Intervisitation Meeting. We took the scenic route through Iowa and Wisconsin that included such places as Lansing, Iowa, where we stopped for gas and where I took a picture of the street that leads to the Mississippi River. Another interesting landmark was the “hippie highrise.” This is a house in the woods that some “hippies” built. It started off as a very small house. Later on, additions were made to the house, always to the top, making it taller and taller until it earned the name “hippie highrise.” We then drove on a bridge over the Mississippi River. I could see all of the green islands in this part of the river, which is commonly referred to as the “Upper Mississippi River.” Not far away, just north of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, the Mississipi River breaks up into three rivers: the Mississippi River, the Black River, and the LaCrosse River.
After passing some interesting tourist magnets, including the Crawford County Art Festival and a goat cheese store, we arrived in Gays Mills. Gays Mills is called the “apple capital of Wisconsin.” It sits in the Kickapoo Valley. The Kickapoo River winds through the area and surrounded by the bluffs and valleys of the driftless region. According to the 2000 census, Gays Mills has a population of 625.
After parking the car, we walked to the back door of the town’s co-op. As we went in, we could hear singing. We sat down and immediately began to sing. The seats were arranged in a circle and we sang for quite some time. It was relaxing and fun, especially when we sang the song about Noah’s Ark (“Rise and Shine”). The animals went into the ark by “twosies” and came out by “threesies,” having learned about the “birds and beesies.” I laughed uproariously. This was the first time that I had actually sung (or even heard the birds and beesies verse).
After the song-fest (called a “singing circle”), the adults went to the library, and the kids stayed in the co-op for an activity (making apple streudel). In the library, we had silent meditation. It was very peaceful. After silent meditation, I was introduced and was asked to tell my story and talk about SOA/WHINSEC, which I did.
We then returned to the co-op for a potluck lunch. There was plenty of food, all of it delicious… salads, brown rice, cheese, soup, fruit, apple cider, coffee, tea… and, of course, apple struedel. Everyone was very friendly, and the meal was a pleasant event.
The group then cleaned the co-op and put the furniture away. We then left. We drove to the goat cheese store. I had my picture taken with horses, which were standing near the big sign advertising the store. In fact, they seemed to be part of the advertisement. Inside, there were many varieties of goat cheese. It was quite tiny inside but the space was well used.
We got back into the car and drove to the Crawford County Art Festival. It was held in Ferryville, a small town with a population of 174, according to the 2000 census. The town, located on the edge of the Mississippi River, has, as its slogan, “A Sportsman’s Paradise.”
On September 17, it was not the sportsmen, but the artists who were enjoying the paradise. According to information handed out about Crawford County, the festival celebrates “the artists and artisans of the driftless area; featuring painters, potters, woodworkers, weavers, sculptors, jewelry makers, textimes, children’s art, and more.” The artwork ranged from realistic views of the Mississippi River to colorful quilts to vivid kaleidescopes to more abstract subjects. It was awash in color and form and shape. People walked around, visiting booths, talking to artists, and enjoying the variety of artwork.
After spending a while at the art festival, we got back in the car and returned to the farm. We arrived shortly after five o’clock in the afternoon. I enjoyed some more berry picking activity. Then it was time for dinner. David and Jeannie Rice prepared the meal, which included strip steaks, potatoes, a vegetable salad, and mushrooms. During dinner, David and Jeannie regaled us with stories about their lives and adventures. Jeannie talked about how her cooking style changed after she developed arthritis. She used to make pies but, once she had arthritis, making the crust was no longer an option. So she adapted. She now makes something that calls a “dump.” It comes out sort of like a “crisp.”
After dinner, I took a walk with Kinga. We walked to the top of the incline and then came back. It was relaxing and I got a nice view of the green space that surrounds the farm.
For dessert, we had carrot cake and we sang happy birthday to David S., whose birthday was on September 12. We also sang happy birthday to me in anticipation of the big event on September 27.
After David and Jeannie went back to their trailer, I showed David and Perry-O the book that I had put together. It has articles that I had written about SOA/WHINSEC, articles about me, segments from my prison journal, some of my artwork, and information about HR 1217 (a copy of the proposed bill and a list of representatives who voted for or against the bill or who failed to vote, organized by state and political party). I also gave David and Perry-O a tour of my sketch book.
By then, it was bedtime, so I went upstairs and my last full day in Iowa came to an end.

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