Baby, I’m a Travelin’ Gran

(I guess you could call this The Tuesday Prude Plus One. Because—Wednesday and all that)

As of last Friday we’re married 32 years. I thought dinner at a nice restaurant on a lake would be nice. My husband thought he would continue the tradition he began in 1986— coming up with something totally unexpected.


“Let’s go to Amana Colonies and stay overnight at a bed and breakfast.”

He won.

We stayed here:


Die (pronounced “die,” according to the lady at the woolen mill. My 3 years of high school German begs to differ) Heimet Inn. That is a maypole in front. THAT IS A MAYPOLE!!!!!!


We slept here


We ate breakfast here. Was it good? I had to stop my husband licking the plate. Or was it the other way around?


Yay us!







Do you know about Amana Colonies? I tried to explain it to my son.
It is one part tourist attraction.
One part “Save our History.”
Two parts of getting on with the practical business of living.


Weaving wool. A most fascinating and beautiful piece of machinery.


Made right in the colonies. Spalted maple. Not spelted, Prude. Remember. Not spelted.

It was settled mid-19th century by German pietists seeking religious freedom. They found what they wanted in lush, quiet, uncrowded northeast Iowa.


450 buildings from those early days still stand in the seven settlements that are known collectively as Amana Colonies.

See? Like these.


The Minneapolis Moline tractor wasn’t around in 1855. But in my opinion, any era of world history could be improved by the addition of a Minneapolis Moline.


Most houses were brick, but these stone ones are fascinating. Those Germans knew how to build!


The Ox Yoke restaurant. Wiener Schnitzel, anyone?


Confession: I took this photo and the previous one last November when we dashed through the colonies on our way back from California.

The colonies functioned as a commune for decades, which sounds really cool. Unless you have to live in one. By 1932 the good folks still wanted to worship as they felt led but were ready to live more independently.


Philosophy of Christian Metz, founder of Amana Colonies. A man after my own heart.

No, for those who wonder. They aren’t like the Amish.

Well, except that they are (were?) pacifists who value hard work and fine craftsmanship and simplicity and piety. And food. Oh, and they went to church 11 times a week.
Now, don’t you feel like an impious slug?


Who knew the Germans liked things so cozy?

Maybe at the height of tourist season you can’t walk from the German restaurant to the German beer hall to the toy store to the woolen mill to the German brewery to the locally handcrafted furniture store without side-stepping two hundred walkers and vaulting dozens of children in the throes of tantrums. (There isn’t a water slide or arcade to be had for love or a Deutsche mark.)


You should go to Amana Colonies some day. It’s an oddly satisfying place—fully twenty-first century with a semi-transparent overlay on 1855. A totally unexpected place.

Kind of like my husband.




12 thoughts on “Baby, I’m a Travelin’ Gran

    • Oh, good eye, GW! I think this particular maypole is merely decorative (and probably kept short to keep the more simple-minded tourists from choking themselves). I think in the main town of Amana there is actually a Maypole celebration. Die Heimet is in the town of Homestead.

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