Christmas 2020, part 2 | Iowa
After spending Christmas 2019 completely alone, the past 5 Christmases far from home, and going through all the challenges 2020 presented, all we wanted was to celebrate the holidays with family. Because of the pandemic we weren’t able to see all of our extended family, but we definitely didn’t take getting to spend time with immediate families for granted!
Curtis had about two weeks off from work, and since my family lives inside his liberty radius, we crashed at my parent’s house for the last week and a half of December. My parents were more than accommodating, giving us way too much food and driving us all over for daily outdoor adventures. The days we spent there were so relaxing; I couldn’t think of a better way to end such a crazy year!
If you’ve been reading our posts over the years, you may remember that Curtis and I have only one tradition of doing a puzzle and watching our favorite Christmas movie, Die Hard, on Christmas day. Well, my mom remembered that, so she rented it for us so we could keep the tradition going! Everyone was such a good sport about watching such a violent movie. 😉
Top – Benton County Courthouse; Bottom – Iowa School for the Blind
Besides celebrating the holidays, we went on a lot of day trips with my parents. The day after Christmas, we drove a half hour Northeast to Vinton, the county seat of Benton County. We enjoyed a walk around the courthouse and town square, then over to the Cedar River where we took time to read the informational signs about the flood of 2008. On our way back, we stopped at what was once the Iowa School for the Blind, but is now a place that teaches people to teach blind people. My dad has been painting images of significant buildings around Iowa, so we took some pictures for a future painting.
Over the following days we also went on some hikes in Wickiup Hills and Morgan Creek areas. During the time we were there, a big snowstorm came across the Midwest and we got about 6 inches at my parent’s house. Curtis and I were very excited because we had brought our snowshoes and had been waiting for a snow like this! We took Charlotte to Seminole Valley and went for a long loop hike to the Cedar River and back. There were tracks from one other snowshoer, but we were on our own for the afternoon. Charlotte had a blast dashing through the snow and bouncing between holes left from snowshoes.
After a week full of puzzles, games, and constantly being amused by the dogs, New Year’s Eve arrived. We celebrated with sushi take out from our favorite restaurant, Oyama, and had a chill night in. On January 1, we started off the year with one last day trip together with my parents. This time, we drove to Jones County to see the courthouse in Anamosa. The courthouse was pretty typical for an Art Deco building, but it turns out the penitentiary just behind the courthouse is very ornate and architecturally appealing. After that, we went for a short walk in Wapsipinicon State Park and got lunch from the General Store in Stone City.
On January 2, it was time to return to Omaha. We said our goodbyes right after lunch and began the drive home. This time, we took US-30 to the town of Jefferson, stopping to see courthouses in Tama and Story counties. After another stop in Jefferson for the Greene county courthouse and the 4 o’clock carillon bells, we drove South on IA-4 and West on IA-44 to our last courthouse of the day in Guthrie county just before sunset. From there it was a quick jump on I-80 and we were home in just an hour and a half.