This year, we broke our longest-standing Thanksgiving tradition of eating Thanksgiving dinner on a submarine. Yes, it only happened 2 years in a row, but we’ve done something completely different every other year so it only took 2 years to make it a tradition! Not only that, but for the first time in 5 years we were close enough to spend the weekend with family. Since my family is within Curtis’ 250 mile liberty radius, we were able to go without taking leave. Because of COVID-19, we only went to my immediate family’s home. We felt comfortable doing this because we had essentially been quarantined together for over two weeks at this point, as Curtis hadn’t been to his office since the first week of November and all we ever do is go for walks or hikes and take pictures of buildings.
For our Thanksgiving drive, we…you guessed it… stopped a couple times for short walks and to take pictures of buildings. We traveled almost the entire East-West distance across Iowa along US-34. Most of the counties in the second row of Iowa have their county seats located along US-34. We didn’t make any stops though until we reached Osceola in the middle of the state, figuring that anything West of there was in reasonable day trip territory for us from Omaha. In Osceola, we stopped for an (unsuccessful) letterbox and our first courthouse for the day in Clarke County.
From here we stopped for five more counties. In order: Chariton – Lucas, County; Albia – Monroe County; Ottumwa – Wapello County; Fairfield – Jefferson County; Mt. Pleasant – Henry County. Three of these (Monroe, Ottumwa, and Jefferson) were new counties for us, and now we only have 2 remaining unvisited counties in SE Iowa.
What’s really great about living so close to home and making these trips is that someday if we move further away, we won’t have to worry about going out of our way for these Iowa counties and will be able to take direct routes. Unless, of course, we create new goals and start all over…
We made it home in time for dinner, and got to meet my family’s new dog Archie for the first time. He’s a four-month-old Treeing Walker Coonhound pup that they adopted this fall. He was very excited to have another dog to play with, but Charlotte decided very quickly that he had too much energy for her and refused to engage in playtime. He has that sweet hound dog face which is so similar to Charlotte’s and I can’t help but love him, even when all he wants to do is chew on my fingers.
My mom made an amazing Thanksgiving meal, as well as plenty of desserts, and we ate way too much over the course of the weekend. We sort of made up for that by going for walks around the neighborhood and hikes at nearby parks. We all missed being able to spend the holiday with grandparents — hopefully next year will be safer to do so!
Also while there, my parents agreed to a quick trip downtown so we could get our official courthouse picture for Linn County. Linn county is unique in that its government buildings are located on an island in the middle of the Cedar River. The only other cities to have government buildings on an island are Paris, France and Osaka, Japan. Also, we realized while visiting that the building we thought was the courthouse was actually a memorial building. We both grew up thinking that the tall building we would see while driving on I-380 was the courthouse, when in fact the actual courthouse was behind that one. At least it wasn’t just an office building!
On Sunday afternoon, we said our goodbyes and began our drive back to Omaha. This time, we only stopped for courthouses in two counties: Iowa and Jasper, in Marengo and Newton. We really enjoyed driving the quiet rolling hills and farmland of Highway 6 in contrast to I-80. My Nanna recommended seeing the Jasper county courthouse this trip as it was all decorated for Christmas, and it certainly didn’t disappoint!