Railway links are not in English
5. - 17. July.

Seat reservations were well under control in the California Zephyr, former the ’most talked about train’. We have just left Chicago Union Station, in fact in company of a team of Amish people on their way to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

We left the train just one station before the Amish group. In Burlington, Iowa, right after the bridge across the Mississippi river. We are the only ones to leave the train here, and the station and its surroundings are deserted and abandoned.

Burlington is in fact THAT Burlington, known from the freight train company BNSF, one of the three biggest operators in the US (the others are Union Pacific and CSX). Staff is replaced on this huge freight train in Burlington. The trains are still here since two lines intersect here, but the workplaces are no longer.

We got incredible kind assistance to find a Bed & Breakfast place that evening. While waiting for the hosts (later it showed up they were seated at the one of the two good restaurants in town), we were shown around at the farmers marked by the kind gentleman who we had met on the street, who volunteered to assist us strangers.

This is the view from Mosquito Point, located in a nice old neighbourhood with houses from the 1800’s, when the town was developed.
Maybe you can observe a couple of barges loaded with grain, waiting for a ride south along the river. The ride when 8 are loaded.

Snake Alley in Burlington is constructed exactly like Lombard Street in San Francisco. So steep that a carriage can brake its way downhill.

The daughter is enjoying the space in the master’s bed in The Schramm House. This, our Bed & Breakfast was situated in an old house from the 1850s, 616 Colombia Street. Nina was in fact not so happy, because she did actually not sleep in that bed but on a sofa next to it.

The 2004-presidential election was already very present in the environment. This is the Democratic Party’s headquarter in downtown Burlington. However downtown was worn down and abandoned, but there was a raising optimism in town, so maybe new businesses will develop here. But not grocery shops or other daily shops, that ones are rare in downtown locations except on Manhattan, New York and somehow in San Francisco.

In a rented car across the mighty Mississippi River at Fort Madison. Annegrete is the driver.

And now in Illinois, in Nauvoo. A relative is taking a picture of a newly married couple in front of the newly re-erected Mormon Temple. It was from here the Mormon Trail started to Utah. The settlement of Nauvoo is rebuild and the Temple too, and now this place is a pilgrimage to the Mormons. We were not allowed to enter the Temple.

Entrance was permitted to this old steamboat docked at Kiokuk, Iowa. It was drawn to the bank but left exactly as it left service transporting goods and (a few) passengers. Southbound it pushed grain barges, northbound commodities for sale in the rural areas.

In the southern Iowa we could really experience the corn- and soybean fields, and the straight country roads. In such a place the farms are scattered and the whole thing is known as the Heartland of America. Notice the dust from a car approaching.

Roads were intersecting each others in straight angels and are breaking the boring picture of the vast fields. Signs show numbers of streets and avenues, and with a map it should be hard to get lost, even on roads not on the map.

We spend a night in Mount Pleasant and enjoyed the Spiderman 2 movie at the local cinema, a very nice experience. Next morning we continue north, and take a brake in Swedesburg, one out of a number of small Swedish villages. Here we are on a guided tour at the local immigrant museum. This is the interior of an old country store.

And now we are invited into the reconstruction of a typical Swedish apartment with stove and dining table.

We went to Kalona. It is the central town in a rural area inhabited by a lot of Amish and Mennonite people. The Amish are well known for their old fashioned and isolated livelihood: they are the ones in the black horse drown carriages, which we actually saw around. Here we a footing our way to the local outdoor museum.

The museum had a lot of collections, old stuff and fine memories. What about this collection of locks. Who did they protect against?

Also the old Kalona Railroad station was moved a little to the museum. Here it is among a church, a school, a post office, a senior cottage and a lot of other interesting buildings. We had a guided tour and learned a lot about Amish lifestyle, and the most of the artefacts were Amish.

It appeared we had a puncture. The small spare wheel was withdrawn and assembled. With that small tire we could only drive 40 miles an hour, enough to bring us back to Burlington that afternoon. Better drive slow but steady than figure out how to have the puncture mended Sunday afternoon and settle the spending with Enterprise Car Rental.

Scattered Amish farms northeast of Kalona. We learned that the Amish population in Iowa is growing. They get a lot of children, and many of them decide to stay on their own will after their 8 years of internal schooling. They are trained as craftsmen or farmers.

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