Best of 2019

We love to share our favorite places and food finds with others!  Here are our favorites from 2019!

Best Bike Trail:  Along the Cedar River.  You can cycle along Ellis Boulevard, downtown, or on the Southwest side of town.

Best Park for Hanging Out:  Ellis Park.  It is centrally located in town.  Ride your bike along the river, swim in the pool, have a picnic in Shakespeare’s Garden, or look out over the bluffs.

Best Event or Fair:  What Cheer Flea Market.  This event is now held 3 times a year!  May, July/August, and October.

Flea Market Find
One of our finds at the What Cheer Flea Market.  We planted strawberries in here to keep them from taking over our small garden.

Best Pizza:  Roscoe’s on Edgewood Rd NW.  Our favorites are the Mambo Combo and the Linda Lou!  Gluten-free pizzas are available.

Best Burgers:  The Map Room

The Map Room

Best Sandwich:  Voodoo Chicken at Zepplin’s

Best Wings:  Quinton’s

Check out last year’s favorites for more ideas! https://funinthecorridor.com/2019/01/19/best-of-2018/

Best Mexican:  El Paraiso

Best Chili Verde:  El Paraiso.  So spicy!

Best Wine Bar:  Della Viti–have you been to their new location in New Bo?

Best Beer and Ciders:  Parlor City

Best Margaritas:  Caucho

Best Martini:  White Star Ale House

Best Steakhouse:  Rube’s in Montour.  They now have a burger night as well!

Best Coffee House:  Dash.  I love their selection of organic teas and my kids love their Unicorn Hot Chocolate!  Dash is 1 of 2 coffee shops in town that we have found with soy-free hot chocolate for those of you with food allergies.  And their Avocado Toast is simply awesome!

Avocado Toast
Avocado Toast on Gluten-Free bread from Dash

Best New Restaurant We Tried This Year:  Bo Mac’s

Best Indoor Place for Kids to Play:  Speedez–have you been to their new location on the SW side of town?

Speedezz

Best Outdoor Place for Kids to Play:  Cherry Hill Park

Best Free Activity for Kids:  Coder Dojo in New Bo

What are your favorites?  Let us know!

 

Fall Scapes 2019

This year we spent most of our fall hiking at Palisades-Kepler State Park in Cedar Rapids.  Palisades is located on Highway 30, between Cedar Rapids and Mt. Vernon.  The first time we went was a cold, blustery Iowa fall day, so only a few pictures turned out.  Plus my hands were freezing so it was hard to hold the camera!  The second time we went, we took “the littles”, our two youngest kids.  But they are no so little anymore!  This day was a beautiful, sunny day which makes you fall in love with the season.

Shelter

This limestone lodge was built in the 1930s.

Trail Opening

The trail behind the limestone lodge.

Jagged Tree

The “jagged” tree down by the Cedar River.

House in Rock

Look closely….there is a house across the Cedar River.  What a beautiful view they have!

Cliff

Looking across the Cedar River.

Across the Bank

I love this view from one of the trails.

The Gazebo at the top of one of the hiking trails.  Notice the 4 wheel truck to the left of the first picture.  It is very common to see hobbyists running their 4 wheelers up the trails here!

Colorful Trees

The view looking out by the Gazebo.

Catepillar

A fuzzy-wuzzy caterpillar hiking along the trail besides us.

JR Skipping Rocks

JR skipping rocks on the beach.

 

Sportshow 2019

We finally had a break from this crazy cold winter and thawed out enough to attend the 41st Annual Sportshow at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids.  The annual winter sports show is being held Feb. 8-10, 2019.  My husband and his family are avid fisherman, so this is always a fun event to check out local and regional spots!   Several fishing seminars are planned throughout the event as well.

This year our main interest was a place in Missouri called Mark Twain Lake.  We have relatives that just moved there.  We were excited they had a booth at the show, and what’s this?  A huge waterpark for the kids at Mark Twain Landing in Monroe City.  It’s only about a 3 hour drive from us, so it will be added to our bucket list for sure.  The complex has RV hookups, a motel, cabins, condos, and tent camping.

Check out all the fishing equipment at the show!

Fish Eqip

Kayaks

Kayaks

Hobie Pedal Kayaks

There was a great selection of RVs here.  I hope next year the show can get an Airstream trailer in!

RVs

Plenty of boats to look at as well!  We spent quite a bit of time here as my husband and father-in-law are ready to start looking for a new fishing boat to trade up into.

Boats

This was a nice surprise!  An African Safari trip!  We will definitely be checking into this further!

Safari

Golf, anyone?

Golf Cart

Local outfitter Palo Outdoors had a great display, including this hunting equipment.

Palo

Another surprise was these electric bikes at the Kelly’s Auto Center booth.  I would like to ride around town in one of these!

Ebikes

If you go:

Cost of tickets is $6.00 for Adults; Kids 12 and under are free.  Look for a $1 off admission coupon at your local Casey’s store.  Hawkeye Downs is located at 4400 6th St SW in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

https://cedarrapidssportshow.com/

 

Best of 2018

We love to share our favorite places and food finds with other people!  Here are our favorites from 2018!

Best Bike Trail:  Along the Cedar River, whether you are on Ellis Road, going downtown, or on the southwest side of town

Cedar River 2
The Cedar River as seen from the southwest side bike trails

Best Park for hanging out:  Ellis Park.  You have the river, the pool, the basketball court, the playgrounds, the golf course, Shakespeare’s Garden, and all the little off-set areas to explore in as you drive around the park grounds.

Best Event or Fair:  We loved the Bohemian Betty Flea Market held in September.  It was a bit unusual and had really unique items.

Best Pizza:  Mellow Mushroom in Coralville (they have a great gluten/dairy/soy free selection!)

Best Burgers: The Map Room

Saigon
Saigon Burger from the Map Room

Best Non-Burger Sandwich:  Voodoo Chicken at Zepplin’s

Best Wings:  Quinton’s in Cedar Rapids

Best Mexican Restaurant:  El Paraiso  The staff is wonderful!  We have been coming here for so long they remember us not only in the restaurant, but also out in the community when we see them!

Best Chile Verde:  El Pariso  (It is spicy!)

Best Wine Bar:  Tie between Winestyles and Della Viti.  Della Viti is more trendy and you can have partial glasses of wine; Winestyles is more cozy.

Best Beer and Ciders:  Parlor City

Best Margaritas:  El Paraiso (we love this place!)

Best Martini:  White Star Ale House

Best Steakhouse:  Rube’s in Montour.  Worth.The.Drive.

Best Indoor Place for Kids to Play:  Skyzone

Best Outdoor Place for Kids to Play:  Cherry Hill and Ellis Parks and Pools

Best Free Activity for Kids:  Coder Dojo at the Geonetric Building

bigfoot
Bigfoot spotted along Ellis Road

What are your favorite places?  Tell me about them in the comments!

What Cheer Flea Market Fall 2018

The What Cheer Flea Market is one of the top 11 Can’t Miss Flea Markets in the Midwest!  It is located at the Keokuk County Fairgrounds in What Cheer, Iowa.  The Flea Market is held 3 times annually (Spring, Summer, and Fall).  There is truly something for everyone here, and our kids love coming along with us to find treasures.

The Fall Market for 2018 runs from October 5-7.  There is an Early Bird Market on Thursday, which has a $5 admission fee.  Friday and Saturday admission is $2, and Sunday is FREE!  There is a full concession stand and several smaller food/snack vendors.

This weekend was a muddy, rainy, mess of a weekend!  Follow our escapades at the Saturday market, and check out our scores from wet, soggy dealers really to wheel and deal!  Because of the rain, admission this Saturday was free.

 

WCFleaMarket
The Flea Market as seen from the corner of Highway 21.

We were lucky enough to be able to park on a side street this year.  Usually these spots fill up, and people pay to park in the neighborhood yards (most homeowners charge $5 for parking).  A quick drive around the neighborhood was filled with obstacles as people were stuck in mud in the yards—no thank you!  We didn’t have our 4-wheel drive with us today so we didn’t want to risk it.  We found a free spot on a side road close by.  Note:  Never park right on Highway 21!  It is a tow-away zone and we have seen a whole crew of tow trucks called in to tow dozens of vehicles away in the past!

Fairgrounds
Entrance to the fairgrounds.

Plenty of indoor vendors filled the fairground buildings as long as you could navigate your way through the muddy walkways.  Stained glass, coin dealers, jewelry, books, Pyrex, video games, dolls, and more filled every available space.

Track
Dealers outside on the race track.

Outside some dealers were still on the race track with bigger items like reclaimed wood, doors, sheet metal, and all kinds of implements.

FleaMarketFlood
Flood in the pit area of the race track.  People actually had kayaks out in this pond earlier in the day!

It did not actually rain in the afternoon while we were there, but it was windy and slightly cold.  Many dealers were offering specials of 20-50% off.

RVStuck
RV stuck in the mud…..John Deere to the rescue!

Many of the dealers in the grassy area of the pit ended up stuck, like this RV that had to be pulled out by a tractor.

OurHaul
Our Haul!

Here are the great deals we got, minus a couple of items that will be gifts for family members later this year.  We got excellent deals on Pyrex, Ball canning jars, cigar boxes (for making cigar box guitars), an old gas can, and hedge apples to keep the spiders away.  The sprinkler knobs will be re-purposed into towel hooks in our bathroom.

We enjoyed our day at the Flea Market just as much as if it had been a sunny, beautiful day, since we got to actually talk with dealers more and get some really good deals.  The What Cheer Market is still open on Sunday, and plan to attend next year!

Do you have a favorite flea market?  Tell me about it in the comments!

 

 

City Bike Trails

Now that the chilly, gray winter is over, our family FINALLY! got out to ride our bikes on the south side trails in Cedar Rapids.  This day was extra special because all four of our kids were able to join us!  You see, our oldest boy turns 21 in a few weeks and will be moving on in the world.

Local Pour

Our first stop of the day was at the new restaurant at 302 3rd Ave SW called Local Pour Street Food. The poutine here is delicious! The corn dogs are literally a foot long, the gyros are fantastic, and everything is exactly what you would expect to find from a food truck. Ask them about their secret menu….

Next we rode over to Czech Village and caught the trail over to the Cedar River.

ConstructionConstruction is in progress to expand the Cedar Lake area.

Bridge

We were excited to see signs posted announcing a new pedestrian bridge that will be built in the near future to allow access across the river.  Check out Project Connect CR here to learn more about the “Sleeping Giant” that will be a magnificent addition to the riverfront.

Mt Trashmore

Mt. Trashmore rises in the distance…..

Critter

Critters on the trail going out to Tait Cummins Sports Complex.

kickstand-e1527820483348.jpg
Photo Credit:  JR Lauritsen

All this riding made us thirsty.  Gotta stop at Kickstand for a Smith and Forge Cider at 203 14th Ave SE for the adults.  (Water and pop for the kiddos!)

After a quick stop at Quentin’s Bar and Grill at 450 1st St SW for some of the best wings in town, we ended our day at Blue 42 (629 Ellis Blvd NW) for burgers and pizza.  Seven hours later, we arrived home.  Tired, sore, and already planning our next outing.  Where should we go next?  Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Spring Reads 2018

The Living Clearly Method by Hilaria Baldwin

I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  Hilaria tackles tough issues of active moms:  there just is not enough time in the day to do what we need to do!  Squeeze in some mini-yoga workouts when you can (she even does them while walking her kids…..with the stroller for balance!), make subtle changes to your diet, and make time for your family (she is married to super-busy actor Alec Baldwin, so their schedule is constantly changing).  Hilaria has great food tips in her book.  While she is vegan, and we are Paleo, I found I could easily adapt many of her recipes for our needs.  I have also noticed that since I started to pull out my yoga mat at home for a few stretches, or to listen to a few minutes of guided meditation, my kids are doing the same.  They pull out my yoga mat, and they listen to the apps on my phone, especially when they think I am not watching!

Little House Living:  The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life by Merissa Alink

I first picked up this book because Merissa had some allergy-friendly recipes that we could use in our house.  I was pleasantly surprised to find some great recipes to make our own body butter and body scrubs, avoiding some of the harsh ingredients in commercial brands that irritate our skin.  While we won’t be as frugal and self-sufficient as Merissa, we will definitely use several of her suggestions in our own home.

Camino Island by John Grisham

A great beachy read as you get ready for summer!  A group of thieves pull off one of the greatest heists in history as they steal priceless F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from Princeton University.  A former college professor turned author is presented with an opportunity to infiltrate a curious local bookstore scene on Camino Island in Florida, where her grandmother once lived.  Her adventures take us into an underground world of book trading, and smuggling of the manuscripts into Europe.  My favorite scene was the unveiling of how the manuscript got smuggled out of the country.  This is a suspenseful book, taking many twists and turns you don’t see coming.

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