We are on YouTube

February 13th, 2011

Our beautiful rooms here at Quiet Walker Lodge B&B are now posted on youtube and facebook. Come and experience the difference here at the lodge. We offer whirlpool tubs, an indoor Koi pond and solarium and a full breakfast. If you are looking for the perfect getaway, we have the place. Check us out!

Website: Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast

Linda Rodrigues

Videos compiled by Jim Rodrigues

The Blizzard of 2011

February 4th, 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!

Website: Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast

Ice Dams

January 6th, 2011

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!

December 12th, 2010

Quiet Walker Lodge B&B
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

October 24th, 2010

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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?

August 27th, 2010

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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

July 21st, 2010

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

June 16th, 2010

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

June 16th, 2010

Dubuque hotels | Country InnIt 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.

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

May 24th, 2010

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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