Saturday, October 8, 2011

Apples in Iowa

We have been having a GORGEOUS fall here in Iowa. Bruce and I decided to take advantage of the weather, the fall colors, and the fact that the boys would be gone all afternoon and evening and into the night at a marching band contest--and we headed out for an apple/leaf-peeping tour.

As we drove across the countryside, we saw a number of farmers harvesting the corn. I'm glad some of it was still standing--it looks so handsome in the fields now, all light gold. The rape (canola) fields are a different color--darker gold, and kind of fuzzy looking. In between are green pastures and occasional oak and ash trees clustered around streams.

Our first stop was Sutliff Cider. They have converted an old barn into a cider-fermenting house and cider-tasting bar. We had a taste of their hard cider, which was good--not too sweet, and slightly redolent of the cider I liked to drink in England.

Some people sat and drank cider in the bar area or out on the patio. Bruce and I bought a bottle and headed on.

The next stop was Wilson's orchard, outside Iowa City. I used to stop there on my way home from grad school. They had samples of the apples, and the owner would pare off slices that you could try before buying. You could pick your own from the labelled trees in the orchard, or just grab some from the bins. It was a cute, quiet little out-of-the way place.

I was amazed when we visited this time. There were probably 40 cars parked all up and down the driveway. The tiny outbuilding had expanded, and inside, you could not only buy apples, but also t-shirts, apple butter, popcorn, soap, and various wonderful-smelling baked goods. There were two long lines of people buying stuff.

Luckily, they still had a nice variety of apples (despite a not-so-good year, we heard), so I bought some that looked good--and an apple-cider donut, too.

It's nice to have a fruit bin full of locally-grown apples. Was also great to get out and enjoy the beautiful day.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bike Swag

Yesterday I got a box in the mail filled with bike swag!

I got the swag from participating in Iowa Goes by Bicycle, a program that encourages bike riders in Iowa to record their rides and miles. I'm not sure of the exact purpose of the program--probably to get people to ride bikes plus get some statistics on when and where people are riding.

I have to admit I became lax about logging my rides . . . but I still rode enough to qualify for these nifty prizes:

Bike bag--fits under the seat. I have a basket, so I offered this to the boys.
Two lights. I have a flashing rear light (birthday gift from Paul Salamon who also put the fenders on my bike), so one of the boys can have that. Eli has already called dibs on the super-bright, super tiny headlight that can attach to a helmet or bike. "Good for exploring," he says . . .
My favorite: this handsome "extra pocket" that straps onto your ankle. I will use it instead of my usual nerdy rubber band to keep my pants cuffs from getting caught in the chain.
It's certainly been great biking weather here in Iowa. We're having a beautiful, dry, cool, and clear fall, with gorgeous fall color! All you sodden easterners--come on out to Iowa for your fall vacation!