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!

Elementary Students Send Veterans on Honor Flight

The compassionate students at Madison Elementary School carried out an amazing feat last week….raising money for our Veterans!  It all began with an idea inspired by one of the 5th grade teachers’ father.  She talked with her students, and a plan began to take shape.  They were going to donate money to send Veterans on the Honor Flight!

Veterans from several wars visited the school and shared their stories.  Alan Stekl, President of the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight, spoke to them about what the Honor Flight was, and where the recipients visit when they arrive in Washington, D.C.  The students brought in all their spare change to school for several weeks and placed it in a big bowl.

The students brought in pictures and stories of the Veterans in their families to build a Hall Of Fame.  They also created 200 cards for Mail Call, which Veterans will read on their way home from their visit to Washington, D.C.

Mail Call
Mail Call!
Mail Call 2.jpg
Presenting mail to the Honor Flight Committee.

The 5th graders applied for a grant and won $250 to provide groceries and toiletries to homeless Veterans.  They secured some matching funds for the Honor Flight from MH Equipment and the Madison PTA.  When all was said and done, they had raised over $2000 to send 4 Veterans on the next Honor Flight!

Honor Flight.jpg
Providing the funds to the Honor Flight Committee and the Veterans in attendance.

These students have a big heart, and we are so proud they used their time and resources to say, “Thank you, Veterans, for your service”!

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

SaPaDaPaSo Sign

The SaPaDaPaSo Parade is an annual event by the Cedar Rapids Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Society.  Each year, the downtown streets are a sea filled with green, no matter the weather.

Skater Wearing Kilt
An Irish Skater in his flashy green kilt

The Irish Colleen is selected each year from a local girl of Irish descent.  This year’s Colleen is Jayden Faille.

Colleen

Some of our favorite parade entries:

Green Car
A classic green car.  “Old Guys Gone Wild” won 2nd Place for best vehicle entry.
Bar Camper
A bar on wheels…….
Hawkeye Tailgate
Hawkeye Tailgating with an Irish twist
Fire Truck
We love our firemen!  Thank you for your service!

Our absolute favorite entry, which won an honorable mention for the best Walking Entry, was “The Irish Strike Back”.

May The Irish Force Be With You
“May the Irish Force Be With You”

Irish Star Wars

The Irish Strike Back Gang

A Very Cherry Holiday and Old World Market

Cherry Building

The Cherry Building is a hidden gem in our community.  It is right next to the New Bo Market, yet so many people overlook it.  The building was built in the early 1900’s as a dairy equipment manufacturing plant.  Today it is home to many small businesses, art studios, and retail shops.  The first weekend in December is known as “A Very Cherry Holiday”, when the building is buzzing with fun, food, music, and laughter.

We toured the shops in the building during the event, spending several hours enjoying our time and speaking with various artists and business owners.  Enjoy some of the highlights of our visit!

Pottery

The Ceramics Center and Glass Studio was open for demos and for children to play with the clay.  I knew we had a great ceramics center there—I had no idea the glass studio was there as well!

5 Seasons Orch.jpg

The Five Seasons Jazz Trio entertained us with beautiful music as we meandered through the building.

Elevator

A surprise awaited us as we rode the freight elevator!

Trolley2.jpg
The Trolley between New Bo and Czech Village.

The Czech and New Bo Districts provided a free trolley for transportation between the two areas.  We rode the trolley to the Czech Village for the Old World Market experience.  Hay rack rides were available outside the Czech and Slovak Museum.  Inside the museum, a vendor market featured lovely Czech handiwork, Christmas wreaths, chocolate truffles, beer tastings from the Lion Bridge, and so much more.  Face painting was available free of charge for children.  We were delighted to see children in traditional Czech clothing performing and dancing!  There are so many more treasures that await when you visit the museum and library inside (more to come in a later post!).

Horse Rides.jpg
Horse rides outside the National Czech and Slovak Museum.
Czech Dancers.jpg
Traditional Czech costume and dancing.

The Cherry Building is located at 329 10th Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids.  The National Czech and Slovak Museum is located at 1400 Inspiration Pl. SW.  Current admission prices (as of 2017) are $10 General Admission; $9 Seniors; $5 Active Military; $5 Students; $3 Youth Ages 6-13; Children 5 and Under are Free.