The Blizzard of 2011

When I lived in California I remember watching the news and seeing the snow storms in the middle of the country. I thought at the time how could anyone survive that cold. Well now I live in Durango, Iowa and I have survived the big blizzard of 2011. I have learned many new things. First and formost is that I appreciate my friend Jeff who plows my driveway at Quiet Walker Lodge B & B (www.QuietWalkerLodge.com) so I can get my car down the hill. It is amazing to watch him spin the tires on his pick up truck and slide the vehicle only to catch some traction and move the snow over the bank. The men and women who clear the roads so that people can get to work and the store are heroes in my book.
I also learned the best thing to do when the wind is causing eight foot snow drifts is to stay home in front of the fire and enjoy the falling snow from inside the house. I have learnjed to respect mother nature and not try to drive in weather that is deangerous.
Yes it is a pain to shovel pathways to get into and out of the house. And I must be more aware of things like making sure the exhaust pipes are not plugged with snow so that carbon monoxide does not come into the house. However there is still nothing as beautiful as a forest blanketed with virgin snow and a herd of deer meandering through the drifts. Spring is around the corner!

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Ice Dams

Dubuque Iowa B&BI have learned something new living here where ice can be a person’s worst enemy. This past week, we had a lot of snow and freezing weather. My home has two dorms where there are valleys between them. When I started having leaks on the ceiling of the enclosed porch, I learned about the dreaded ice dams.

An ice dam is an accumulation of ice that forms at the end of a roof. It prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. The water then backs up behind the dam and causes leaks. I researched ice dams to learn how they form. Apparently the way it works is the higher parts of the roof that are above 32 degrees melt the snow and the water travels to the lower surfaces that are still below 32 degrees. In my case, the valley formed by the dorm does not get much sun and so the snow does not melt like the roof above it. When this water reaches this lower portion of the roof, it freezes and, as the water backs up, an ice dam is formed! As the melting snow above continues to run down to the lower portion of the roof that does not get the sun rays, the water backs up behind the ice dam and remains a liquid. The water then has no where to go and finds cracks and openings to relieve the pressure forming leaks.

Since I can not climb up on the roof every time it snowed heavily, I began looking for information about how to prevent ice dams. I learned about heat tape. These are electric heating cables that reduce ice formation along roof edges, in gutters, drains and downspouts to provide a path for meltwater, allowing it to flow off the structure. Apparently you put the cables in the area where the ice dam forms and then plug the cables into an outlet to provide enough heat to keep the ice dam from forming.

Another lesson learned about living in snow country!

 

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Winter is Here!

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Yesterday we had the big blizzard that dumped heavy snow throughout the region. I like snow as long as I do not have to drive in it. It was beautiful to watch snowflakes drift down and attach to the trees. In the late afternoon it looked like a winter fairyland. The trees were blanketed with snow and, on the ground, I could only see the hoof prints of deer who were traveling through looking for food.
In the winter I make bird food out of leftover fruit, vegetables, bread and gravy that I store in my freezer during the summer months. I blend it all together and make a bird loaf to put on my bird feeder. The birds really appreciate the extra fat and nutrients during the harsh cold. I also spread corn out for the deer to give them an extra boost during the winter. I am surprised at how many birds travel through the area and come to the bird feeder.
I am learning how to fix internet and the tv on my own. I have a large pole with a brush attached to it so, during the heavy snow fall, I can sweep the snow off the satellite dishes. This works extremely well and so far I have been successful. I also bought some children’s ski poles at our local goodwill store and I use those to walk up and down the driveway to get the mail.
I am so glad I spilt as many logs last fall as I did. I heat the house, as much as I can, using the wood burning fireplace. When it gets down to minus 1, I turn on the heater. But when it is in the thirties, the fireplacer does a good job of heating the house and saving me energy.
I am also fortunate that one of the sheriff officer’s for the county does snowplowing on the side and he makes sure my driveway is plowed and any trees that have fallen are moved out of the way. He is a great guy.
I know most people hate the winter, but I find it very relaxing. It is a time for me to hiberate and reflex on the past year, looking forward to the challenges of the new year. There is beauty to be found in the peacefulness of the land.

Website: Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast

My favorite season

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Coco

I like all of the seasons here in Iowa, but Fall is my favorite. It is not too hot or too cold and the leaves are just beginning the color change before they curl up and fall off the trees. This is the season for harvest festivals, pumpkin bread and hot apple cider. A time to begin preparing for the winter that is coming. The time when my little dog puts on his sweater.

The farmer in the valley below has been harvesting the corn. I find it interesting to watch the method of taking the corn out of the fields and the wagons filled to the rim chugging along the country roads. Corn must be at the greatest ripeness possible. If the corn is not ripe enough, the product will be of high quality. Farmers must determine the ripeness in testing the kernel moisture content. The farmer hand picks several ears of corn, shells them and tests the mositure content. Harvesting of corn should take place at 15 to 18 percent moisture content. When it is ready, the farmer uses a combine that harvests the grain. The corn is threshed by the combine, and the corn husks are discarded onto the ground. Then the grain is temporarily stored in a chamber inside the combine. Once the chamber is full, the grain is dumped into a truck bed or silo until it’s sold. When ready to sell the corn. the farmer takes it to an elevator, where grain is communally stored. At the elevator, the truck is weighed prior to and following dumping the grain into the silo in order to determine the weight of the grain. From the elevator, the corn is sold to feed companies, corn syrup manufacturers and others. This year many fields were damaged because of the rain during the summer causing some fields to be destroyed.

Last weekend I was invited to a sawmill party on Mudd Lake road. Behind the farmhouse was a old sawmill mill where my friend’s husband sawed wood the old fashion way. The engine of the massive saw was an old engine from the Dubuque airport. With 200 horsepower it sawed the wood from the tree trunks as if it was butter. It was interesting to watch how Mark moved the heavy log into position so that the saw would cut it with perfection. As we all sat drinking hot apple cider and watching the wood planks cut I thought it doesn’t get much better than this!

Next week a willow convention will be held here at the lodge. Those registered for the weekend will learn how to collect wild willow, sort and store it. Of course we will also be making rims and learning some new basket techniques. It will be a lot of fun. I have already taken a class using pine needles and this will be my second willow class. In all I have made four baskets for Christmas presents.

Website: Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast

Why Iowa?

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A year ago, my husband and I decided to move to Dubuque, Iowa from the San Francisco Bay Area. All of our friends and most of our family thought we had lost a few screws in our brains! We were constantly asked “Why Iowa?”. People move out of Iowa and come to sunny California. Nobody moves from the land of milk and honey to Iowa! Even our governor put down Iowa in an ad campaign for California.

All I heard from my well intentioned friends and neighbors was that it was humid in the summer and freezing in the winter. They continued to remind me about the Bay Area weather, restaurants, culture and beauty of my native land. Why would you trade this in for corn and tornadoes? You don’t even have family in the midwest!

Even when I arrived in Iowa, Iowans asked me why did you leave California for here? Are you aware of the weather? Have you been through a winter here?

Well I am happy to report now that yes I have been through a winter in Iowa and I survived. So let me tell you why I chose Dubuque, Iowa.

We love the ocean, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, the Napa Valley, Muir Woods and the beauty of the Bay Area. But we do not like visiting these places with 2 million other people. We do not like the cost to park the car, the fees, the crowds, the litter, or the noise of so many people caged together in a limited space.

We do not like the lines at banks, stores, and doctor’s offices. When you finally get to be the first in line the customer service person has been yelled at by so many people that they are unfriendly and robotic.

We do not like the commute traffic day in and day where we are paying more at the gas pump to sit idle on the freeway.

We do not like the shoving and pushing in the malls and the total lack of respect shown by shoppers to sales staff and other shoppers.

In the past 5 years we had to have alarms placed on our vehicles. Crime became a common household word as more home invasions, gang related crimes and muggings occured in the neighborhood. The elderly never came out of their homes. I would not walk at night . We basically became prisoners in our own living room.

The pace of life was becoming more chaotic. Utility fees, housing permits, gas and taxes ate up most of the paycheck. We would come home exhausted from work only to turn on the news and hear more about killings and drugs. We began to question what is quality of life.

Now I am not saying that Iowa does not also have its share of problems. But on scale with California they are no where near as high.

I live in the country on a bluff surrounded by a forest reserve. I drive along the Little Maqoketa eight miles into the city of Dubuque. The birds sing, the bald eagles soar, the river meanders through the limestone and I feel relaxed and well. There are no lines here. I am seen within 10 minutes at the medical clinic. We have some of the best doctors and hospitals around. There are five higher institutions of learning here. People smile and say hello even if they do not know you. Your name is remembered by your banker, store clerks, and business people. It takes less then five minutes to change a license from California to Iowa and you get the license right there! There are not countless housing permits, inspections and fees to build a house in Iowa like in California. Gas prices are lower here. Housing prices are extremely reasonable. Schools are good. There is very little litter or graffiti. We have name brand restaraunts. We have excellent music and arts activities many of which are free. And the crowds of people who go to the large events is very manageable. We are always able to find a parking space.

But what we like the most is the beauty of the northeast Iowan landscape. The beautiful Mississippi River is awesome and not crowded with people or boats. The animals, birds, butterflies and lizard are abundant. Orioles, cardinals, finches, bluebirds, woodpeckers and many more birds flock to our feeders each morning. Red fox, deer, wild turkeys, quail visit me early in the morning and at sundown. I can see the stars at night and hear the crickets outside my window. It is peaceful and serene.

So yes I have to deal with ice for a few weeks. And maybe I might not have the variety of shops or selection that is offered in the Bay Area. But I have online shopping and Chicago is only three hours away. What I do have is a beautiful country setting where I can re-energize each day, a community that takes pride in its town, people who have not forgotten what it means to be respectful, friendly and honest. And a countryside filled with beauty. I am happy and proud to be an Iowan!

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Willow Weaving

Quiet Walker Lodge | Dubuque Bed Breakfast | Dubuque hotelsThere is a book out that talks about the 100 things you want to accomplish before you die. I always have had trouble with that book because I love to learn new things and I can’t seem to narrow it down to 100. I enjoy experiencing life and new things.

This week I explored the art of willow weaving. I love baskets and have always wanted to learn how to do natural baskets. In Dubuque I met some wonderful people and joined the Basket Weaving Guild. There was a teaching seminar being held at Jo Campbell’s place in Monticello and I joined up with Regina and Sandy to spend two days learning willow weaving.

I was a little nervous because I am a green horn and all the other ladies have been making baskets for many years. Jo was the best teacher and the other ladies encouraged me on. My first willow basket turned out ugly and I was not pleased with it. I am realizing how very important it is to get the ribs equal distance and secure. I also learned that I need to get the willow very warm and bendable.

My second basket is the one pictured. I am still working on it, but I am happy with it so far. I am making some of these baskets for Christmas gifts for my children.

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I am also going to grow my own little willow patch so I have my materials right here. I am learning from Jo how to harvest willow and trying to absorb as much as I can. I find it so fascinating that after you cut the willow, you place it in the freezer so it does not dry out. Otherwise you need to soak it and can only do that two times before the willow is not at its best for weaving.

I have made some new friends and have learned much this week. I even appreciate my bought baskets  more and realize the work and art that has gone into them.

Fish flies

Fish flies cling to a riverfront fence Tuesday in Dubuque.Last June when I arrived in Dubuque, I took a walk along the riverfront. It was there I had my first encounter with fish flies. They were clumped together around the lamps and the sides of the building. I asked my new friend what they were and she said flies that come for about a week and make a mess of the riverfront. It was at that point that I decided to learn a little about these interesting flies.

Today they are back again. What I have learned about them is fascinating. They live for only 24 hours. Their technical name is mayflies and they emerge out of the water during the hot summer months. Mayfly nymphs live in water for anywhere from three to four weeks to two-and-a-half years, depending on the species. While in the water, they live on plant material and attempt to avoid hungry fish, salamanders and even dragonflies. After they hatch, they fly around for about 6 hours. They have no mouths so they do not eat.

After flying around for 6 hours, the males form swarms to excite the females and breeding occurs.

Most females fly upstream before laying their eggs. The eggs, as many as 8,000 from each female, drop to the river bottom. This occurs within about 5 minutes after they have mated. They then fly around for another 6 hours usually close to light like a lamp post. They cling to the post and then die.

I wondered about the purpose of the Mayflies and thought maybe it is to feed the fish. If each female fly deposits 8,000 eggs, I would hope the fish eat most of them because if they all hatched we would have invasion of the Mayflies!

I am glad I do not have to clean up the mess of millions of dead fish flies. They are only found close to the river and never migrate this far into the interior. I have even heard of cars sliding around when there are so many of them on the road. People tell me it is like black ice without the cold. Only in the Midwest!

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The Wakatanka House

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Wakatanka House

It has been a year and a half that I have been building the Wakatanka House and the work has been challenging, but well worth it. Wakatanka is Great Spirit in the native tongue. As part of Quiet Walker Lodge B&B, we have designed four suites with a Native American theme. On the third floor are the Sedona and Manitou suites. I am partial to the Manitou suite because I love the Pacific Northwest Native arts. This room even has a totem pole!

The other room is designed in the Southwest tradition and has a flavor of the Sedona red rocks. It, like Manitou, has a kitchenette and massive bathroom with a whirlpool tub overlooking the forest. The loft has a gift shop and overlooks the expansive cathedral windows of the great room.

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Koi Pond

The second floor includes a solarium with an indoor koi pond. The koi are from Nagata, Japan and love to play under the waterfall. Guests will like the Japanese flair and the lovely orchids. Also the massive deck that faces the forest.

The first floor includes a wine tasting/conference area and two suites; the Santa Fe and Lakota suites. The Lakota suite is ADA accessible and includes a roll in shower for people in wheelchairs.

We hope to open the Wakatanka House up to guests in mid-August. I have learned so much with the building of this home. I appreciate the work done to put it all together. There is so much more to building a house than just putting up walls and a roof. I must have made over a thousand decisions with the construction of it. At times I grew exhausted at the amount of details I needed to balance, but in the end the final project came out as I had hoped. And now we can enjoy the happiness it will bring our guests as they come to unwind and enjoy nature in a unique way.

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Planting a garden in Iowa

Iowa Accommodations | IA Bed BreakfastMay has arrived here in Eastern Iowa and this is my first experience planting a garden in Iowa. One of my greenhouses is finished and I have my roses from California growing in the enclosed room. I found that the Japanese beetle loves roses and so this will protect them from those pesky varmints!

In my sun room I am growing my orchids and plumeria from Hawaii. The orchids are thriving with the humidity in this room thanks to the  indoor Koi pond. This is my favorite room in my house. I like to sit and listen to the waterfall while enjoying homemade ice tea.

To plant outdoors, I read several mid-western garden books. But I found that the best help was talking with the locals and looking to see what other people plant. Living in the forest, I have a lot of deer, racoons and birds. I am not sure how many berries from my berry garden I will actually enjoy, but if the deer and the birds eat all of the blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries, then I will plant some inside the greenhouse for myself.

The songbird garden has a variety of plants. I chose only those that can survive up to minus 30. I planted some apple trees and Norway spruce along with a beautiful red maple at the end of the garden. On the other side where the septic system is located, I planted wildflower seeds as I am trying to create a wildflower meadow. I have placed a variety of songbird houses throughout the garden and of course bird food containers. The finches have already found the thistle and like to hang from the netting.

My herb garden is in pots on the upper deck. I figure this way I might have better control with the racoons and also it is easy access to my kitchen. This year I planted orange mint. I have chocolate mint and I enjoy orange mint tea. I plan to dry the leaves and make my own tea.

Another great plant I have this year is the Stevie plant. As a diabetic, this will provide a natural sweetener for my cooking.

It will be interesting to see what survives and what is destroyed by the elements. Many of the plants here are foreign to me. In California I never heard of hostas, but here they are a staple in any garden. The Dubuque arboretum has a phenomenal hosta garden. I would encourage any gardener in the area who has not had the pleasure of touring the gardens of the arboretum to take the time to visit. It gave me many ideas and helped me learn the types of plants that work well in this climate and some of the challenges like working with the clay in the soil here.

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Red Fox of the Little Maquoketa

Last week, as I was driving to school, a red fox sprung out of the ravine next to the Little Maquoketa and crossed the road. I slowed down and pulled off the road to watch this majestic animal. As he got to the other side he turned and looked at me. His face reminded me of my Pomeranian at home.
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I thought about him and wondered about his habitat and how he lives here in Iowa. The red fox is versatile and intelligent. He is a skillful, solitary hunter who preys on mice, rabbits, birds, and insects. But he will also eat fruit, vegetables, frogs and worms and even dog food! I am sure our forest area and meandering streams is a great habitat.

His thick tail helps him balance. He also uses its tail to cover him in cold weather and to communicate with other foxes. Foxes also communicate with each other by making scent posts using trees or rocks to let other foxes know they are around.

In winter, foxes meet to mate. The vixen (female) usually gives birth to a litter of 2 to 12 pups. Red foxes are brown or gray when they are born. After the first month, they grow in a new red coat. Both
parents care for their young through the summer and then the children go out on their own.

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Here comes the sun!

Log Cabin | Country Inn |IA skiingThere is something special about seeing the change of seasons. When I was in California the weather changed a little from sunny to rainy. However, the temperature remained fairly mild and the trees rarely lost their leaves. But here in Iowa, I have been awe struck with the seasonal cycle. I have now been here for 9 months and have experienced the beautiful fall months when the trees display an array of yellows, reds and oranges. Just walking down the driveway from the lodge I felt like I was in a magical land. It gave me a sense of connection with the land and an inner peace that transcended my understanding.

As fall turned into winter, I watched mother nature spread a fluffy blanket of white snow over the rolling hills. It was as if she was bedding down for the winter and teaching me to slow down a little and enjoy a hot cup of tea. I saw the land in a new way as the winter months unfolded.

Now it is March in Dubuque and I really appreciate the sun. Yesterday I stood outside and simply allowed the sun to cast a warm glow over my face. I have never anticipated spring with such enthusiasm before this year. I am watching as the buds begin to emerge on the trees and the daffodils pop up out of the dirt.

Being able to experience the change of seasons has given me more appreciation of the cycle of nature that is so evident here in Iowa. I know I am thankful for the lesson. I don’t take it for grant so much anymore because it is no longer out of sight- out of mind, but present in each day in my small town.

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Ice Fishing on the Mississippi

Ice fishing | Dubuque IA

Ice fishing on the Mississippi

This past weekend I decided to take a short trip to the Mississippi River to see what it looked like in the winter. I was amazed at how frozen the river had become. There were actually men standing out in the middle of the river and ice fishing.

I find ice fishing fascinating. The men were bundled up from their head to their toes. I am sure one must wear protective gear to avoid frostbite. They used an ice saw to cut a circular hole in the ice and then had a spear of some sort to spear the fish.

I have heard that some people build ice shanties when they plan to fish for long periods. I am sure this is to protect them from the wind and cold. I don’t know if I would ever attempt ice fishing, but it did look interesting.

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Mother Nature’s frosting

IA Bed Breakfast | Dubuque IA HotelsOur place looks like an enchanted magical forest. A thick coat of ice crystals covers the branches of the trees and tree stumps. This is known as hoarfrost. The frost makes objects appear hoary, or white with age. It forms when there is too much moisture in the air and the water vapor changes from a gas to a solid. It then cools on the surfaces of the trees, leaves and even down the sides of poles. The dew point needs to be below 32 degrees for hoarfrost to form. It is spectacular to see the crystal gaze.

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Bald Eagle Watching Special at Quiet Walker Lodge B & B

Bird Watching | Quiet Walker LodgeIt is that time of year for bald eagle watching in Dubuque! At one time, bald eagles nested all over the United states until lead posioning diminished their numbers. Federal and state agencies have been working to protect the bald eagle from extinction. Now there are more than 10,000 nesting pairs and you can see some of them right here in Dubuque.

The American Bald Eagle visits the Upper Mississippi River each year from mid-December through February. Dubuque is a popular wintering area for these birds because of the abundant food and open water. Our Lock and Dam #11 keeps the river from freezing thus allowing the eagles to hunt for fish.

Dubuque Audubon Society is celebrating the American Bald Eagle with the Dubuque Eagle Watch on Saturday, January 23rd at the Grand River Center. Free Trolley Rides from the Grand River Center to the Lock and Dam #11 will be given from 9AM to 3PM. Exhibitors and vendors will be at the center providing educational information and nature items for sale.

In recognition of the American Bald Eagle, Quiet Walker Lodge will be offering a 10% discount on the weekend of  January 23rd (Friday thru Sunday night). Just mention the Bald Eagle Watch Special. So grab your binoculars and come on out to Dubuque to enjoy the majesty of our American Bald Eagles.

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Quiet Walker Lodge Receives 2009 Best of Durango Award

WASHINGTON D.C., June 8, 2009 — Quiet Walker Lodge has been selected for the 2009 Best of Durango Award in the Bed & Breakfasts category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2009 USCA Award Program focused on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

About U.S. Commerce Association (USCA)

U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a Washington D.C. based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.

The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.

SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Association

CONTACT:
U.S. Commerce Association
Email: PublicRelations@us-ca.org
URL: http://www.us-ca.org

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Reflections in the Park

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Last night I decided to treat myself. I drove over to Murphy Park in Dubuque to enjoy the Reflections in the Park. This lovely display of lights is a part of Dubuque tradition every year. The $8.00 per car donation helps Hillcrest Family Services provide opportunities for our struggling families in Dubuque.

Reflections in the Park does get a lot of people coming through to see the fantastic light displays. Each year, approximately 10,000 cars pass through the park, with somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 people viewing the lights. Since the program first began in 1995, more than 650,000 visitors have viewed the brilliant display, raising over one-million dollars for the programs and facilities of Hillcrest Family Services.

Reflections in the Park opened Thanksgiving night at Louis Murphy Park and continues daily from 5 to 10 p.m. through January 1, 2010.

One of my favorite displays was the John Deere holiday tractors and construction equipment. These animated vehicles even moved with the Christmas music provided by radio 95.5. The snow on the ground and the clear evening made it even more dazzling as we drove through the park. If you have a chance to see this display, it is worth the time and it helps our community!

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Iowa Blizzard

Winter at Quiet Walker Lodge
Being from California I never have experienced a true blizzard. Oh I had been to the snow in Tahoe and enjoyed a few days at Yosemite, but nothing had prepared me for minus 27 in Iowa!

Our school let us out two hours early on Tuesday and I raced home before the storm hit. I had already put cat litter in the trunk, placed a scrapper and brush on the floor in the back seat, included a blanket, flashlight and granola bar and added a lightweight shovel. So I figured I was prepared.

When the wind and snow started I just watched in amazement! Here in Iowa one really gets to see mother nature up and personal. The trees were bending and the snow was piling up. We ended up with about a foot on the ground.

Thursday morning looked like a Burl and Ives Christmas Card. The trees were outlined in snow and the ground sparkled as the sun bounced off the surface. I learned that I needed to be careful outside with a minus 27 wind chill. After ten minutes outside I raced back into the warmth of our home. I was sure glad school was canceled so I would not be required to drive in to town.

Mike plowed the driveway and Friday I drove back to school. I survived my first Iowa blizzard and was able to enjoy some of the prettiest snow I have ever seen.

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History of Durango

Miner's cabin | Dubuque IowaI enjoy exploring. I find it always interesting to learn about the place I live. Well here in Durango, population 24, I found it more than a challenge to find out about the history of this little place. I wondered why it was even designated a town when it has no post office and no school.

I searched the internet, but found nothing about the history of Durango. Even the abstracts on the QWL property had no tantalizing tidbits about the area. So I went to the library in Dubuque and looked in the local Iowa history section. There was one small book on Durango.

Durango became a settlement sometime around 1833, when the land west of the Mississippi was opened for settlement. People called it Timber Diggings at that time probably because of the lead miners who settled in the area. The largest mine in the area was owned by Ralph Mollart and was right here on Paradise Valley Road. I am curious to explore this large cave on the property that only can be seen in the winter months. It is at the base of a huge bluff where I walk to enjoy the view at the end. I have not gotten brave enough to check out the cave, but maybe one day I will walk down that bluff to check it out.

At the end of the bluff on the side of the roadway is an old miner’s cabin. It is slowly dissolving into the side of the bluff, but it is a good example of the type of cabins built by the miner’s. The red coloring on the cabin was made from ocher that was dug out of the hill tops. It is a powdery substance that is mixed with linseed oil to make the red paint.

The downfall of the town of Durango came with the failure of the area mines. In 1835 discoveries of minerals, like lead, attracted miners. Large numbers flocked to the area and cabins were erected. Goods and groceries were sold and Durango was thriving. But when the mineral was exhausted, the miners left the place.

Although many miners left the Durango digs, some stayed and began farming. The town became known as Durango and a post office was established in 1837. Preseley Samuel was the first postmaster. He was the brother of Rueben Samuels who was married to Jesse and Frank James mother Zeralda. Jesse James visited Durango in 1863 and stayed at the home of Preseley Samuel. Who knows he might even have been down Paradise Valley Road!

Jesse James was not the only desperado that stayed in Durango. Kaintuk Anderson came to Durango in 1834. He was notorious for his hard drinking and total disrespect for the law. He died on the streets of Durango after threatening one of the Sherrill boys and publicly proclaiming that he would shoot Adam Sherrill on sight. One day when Adam saw Anderson, he shot him dead. He was acquitted by the Justice of the Peace.

When the railroad decided to build tracks from Dubuque to Farley, Durango citizens were ready. A one story depot was built in Durango in 1892. Within a short time, the railroad also built a siding on which farmers could load their animals for market and loggers could load flat cars for shipment throughout the midwest.

Many men were employed in the operation of the railroad and soon stores and other establishments opened for business in Durango. A building on Hwy 52 near the west end of Durango once housed a tavern and a dance hall. It was owned by Jacob and Minne Breitbach. The tavern was on the first floor and the dance hall was on the second. The building is the present home of the Wold’s and has 826 as its address. At the rear of the tavern the Richardsville baseball team cleared the land and built a baseball diamond.

In 1947 the tavern building was bought by Cletus Jameson and he expanded it to include a first floor dance hall. It was known as the Durango Dells. Old timers still talk about the prohibition years when people from Dubuque would come and hide their cars in the local caves to avoid detection from law enforcement as they partied at the local taverns.

Jameson later closed the dance hall and it became a boat dealership and chainsaw business. It later became known as Vacationland.  A cafe was located at Burtons Furnance Road and later changed to a tavern. The Handle Bar is still in existence and is located at the Heritage Trail entrance in Durango.

After a flood wiped out the railroad depot in 1896,  a second depot was built.  But in 1968 the Durango line was no longer needed. The railroad removed the tracks in 1981 and a bike trail was erected which is now called Heritage Trail and is a favorite among our guests. The trail is 26 miles long and goes from Sageville to Dyersville.

Today, few people reside in Durango. But the rich history of this small town can still be seen in the structures left behind. So when you come and visit QWL, stop at the bottom of the hill and look at the old miner’s cabin.

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EATS!

We are always looking for great places to enjoy a good meal. One of our favorite places is the Fireside Grill at the Diamond Jo in Dubuque. The atmosphere is very romantic and the food is great. Carol enjoyed her birthday this Friday at the grill. She had prime rib. It was so tender it melted in your mouth. She especially liked the asparagus and the variety of breads. It is a little pricey, but well worth it for that special occasion.

Another great place is Breitbach’s Country Dining. This is a causal dining restaurant in the town of Balltown. It is the oldest restaurant in Iowa and has been open since 1852. The Breitbach family has run the place since 1855. They serve Midwestern dishes and German ethnic food. The pies are awesome and were shown on Food Network. Portions are ample and the atmosphere is friendly and casual. Balltown is not far from QWL. So if you are looking for an experience, we suggest stopping by Breitbach Country Dining. It is a favorite of our guests.

If you are looking for a good hamburger, we suggest Champs in Dubuque. The portions are good and the price is reasonable. My favorite is the fish sandwich.

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Festival of Trees

Dubuque Bed Breakfasts | Iowa Bed Breakfasts The Mercy Festival of Trees is in full swing at the Hotel Julien. This is the 26th year that this beautiful community event has been held in Dubuque. From Friday, November 20th to Saturday, November 28th you can view the sparkling trees for no charge. There are many events held during this time to raise money to support the building of a new Intensive Care Unit at Mercy Hospital. Besides the silent auction, they are holding a Festival of Trees Cookie Walk on the 21st. This is a real favorite around here. For $10 you get to fill a bucket of some of the most delicious cookies around. I like to freeze the cookies and then have them for Christmas treats for my family. On Tuesday, November 24th the Tri-State Surgery Center and US Bank are hosting a wine tasting, cake auction and jewelry show at the festival. You get to taste the wines and also purchase bottles of wine at the event. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. There is a viewing of the cakes from 5:30-6:15. This is a very popular event.

So come on up to our neck of the woods and stay at QWL while you visit the Festival of Trees in downtown Dubuque. It is a great way to get into the holiday spirit and help support the building of the Intensive Care Unit at Mercy!

Visit our website: Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast