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Iowa! Friendly House and River Walks

June 28, 2013

Iowa – Thursday, June 20

I crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa right at Davenport, which is where I found The Friendly House. The Friendly House has been helping people in the local neighborhoods and towns since 1896, and their mission statement is “To respond to the needs of families and individuals through programs and services that will enrich their lives and strengthen our neighborhoods.” It was originally called The People’s Union Mission, and later it became non-denominational and changed its name to The Friendly House. In addition to providing general assistance, whether it was some food, help with child care, help with finding a job, or whatever else people needed, the Friendly House was also a social center, and they would organize theatre shows for the kids to participate in, and provide outdoor recreational opportunities, and even sponsor Penny Movies back in the days of the Depression. I was happy to find a place that has been around for so long, and has helped countless people for over 100 years. My donation will go toward their food pantry. The lady I gave my donation to said a nice prayer for me, and a couple days later I got a very nice email from their executive director who’s been there for 25 years, and she’s seen and heard some unusual donation stories, and she says mine is now one of her favorites. My intent with all of this was to simply reach out a little and help people in every state, but my story and journey also seem to be having an impact on the people I meet as I make my donations, and I didn’t expect that. I think they’re the ones with big hearts as the help the local people in their communities week in and week out – giving so much of their time. Meeting all these people and hearing from them occasionally has been an unexpected highlight of my journey.

And then it was time for some walking! Tula and I did a mile and a half of walking by the river front right in Davenport, and then another mile and a half just a little farther north in Bettendorf. They had a little display of all the marine logos on the stacks of the ships and boats – I imagine the river pilots can identify all the different companies at quite a distance. And then I made a stop in Le Claire, which is home base for the TV show American Pickers, so I stopped by their warehouse and expected to see a huge space full of all kinds of treasures that the guys have bought on their travels. But the place was actually surprisingly small, and there wasn’t even a whole lot of stuff available for sale – I heard one of the girls say they sell things almost as fast as they come in, so they don’t have a need for a bigger space. One guy came in while I was there saying he collects old gas signs, and he was hoping to get a couple, but they didn’t even have any of those in stock, except for a kind of rusty one outside. The TV show has made this a popular destination, and their inventory seems to turn over really fast. So I looked around at what was there, and saw a few pieces I’d seen on TV, but was definitely surprised that the place wasn’t bigger. It is a fun TV show to watch though 🙂

I did some more walking in the town of Le Claire – Buffalo Bill was born near here, and became America’s first “superstar”. Then I drove up to Clinton where I got another couple miles in along their riverfront. It got up to the mid-90s today, but the riverfront walks have been nice and breezy. Then I went to the little island town of Sabula, and walked another mile there. This was a day of relatively short river walks in a variety of towns along the Mississippi, and I really enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere in all these places. The island of Sabula is clearly in duck-hunting territory. I saw so many duck boats in driveways, some still adorned with grassy camouflage, that I began to wonder if there had just recently been a duck-hunting season, but that’s very unlikely this time of year. They must just be ready to go the moment a season opens!

Then I continued to drive north a bit more, and came to Bellevue State Park, and the sign said they also had a campground. Since it was getting to be that time of day, I thought I would go take a look at the campground, and it was a beautiful, well-maintained place and there were quite a few campers but still plenty of campsites. So I picked out my spot and registered, and got everything set up before the mosquitoes got bad – and they never got really bad anyway. Then Tula and finished off our walking for the day, and did an extra 3/4 mile too. And when I got back to the campsite I fixed myself a very adult dinner of peanut butter and banana sandwiches!

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