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Originally, we hoped to return to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for our last stop on this trip. But the forecast for that area was very wet and very grey. The L for the low-pressure area was drawn right where we wanted to be, and it stayed right there on the prog charts for a few days' worth of forecast.

No worries, we have an airplane. We did a little research and decided to head south instead of east. Here we're passing St. Cloud, Minnesota, which is about to get some of the rain clouds we're flying away from.

45 minutes down the line, the clouds are fewer and farther between. But here's a young cumulus building some trouble over Waseca.

Our last stop on this year's tour will be the Amana Colonies in southeastern Iowa. Amana has a good airstrip, which we used when we visited here a few years ago. But this time we wanted a car so we could tour all seven towns, and we landed at Iowa City. Iowa City is a great place to stop or stay. They have an F-86 (but they won't let you fly it); the FBO loves its customers and shows it; and they have the Alexis Park Inn right there.

The Alexis Park Inn is a pilot's hotel that the whole family can love. Each room has a kitchen with appliances, table and chairs; one side's balconies have an airshow judge's view of runway 25; they have laundry facilities for guests, swimming pool, spa, an aviation library, ... you might want to spend some time at the hotel, regardless of your destination.
Each room's decoration is a theme for one particular aircraft. As we're based at the former home of Chance-Vought Aircraft, it was only natural for us to stay in the Corsair Suite.

Continental breakfast was delivered to our door, first thing each morning.

We stumbled on their busiest weekend of the year. Since Jay and Mary Honeck took over this hotel in 2002, they have sponsored a small formation flight to EAA's annual extravaganza at Oshkosh. This is a loose formation, but it's still a big step beyond the usual weekend-warrior "same way, same day" gaggle flying. It starts with a proper briefing. Actually, it started with a pool party the day before. Because of that party, it's very hard to get a room here on the Saturday night just before the Oshkosh fly-in.

This year's group had seven airplanes. They briefed, did their pre-flight things, and headed off to Oshkosh.

We headed off to the Amana Colonies.

No existing religious order satisfied them, so the Pietists Eberhard Gruber and Johann Rock founded the Community of True Inspiration in 1714. They travelled through the southern German states and Switzerland, spreading their version of the Word.

This kind of splinter religion was not welcome in most of Europe at the time, but it was tolerated in Büdingen, where Count Ysenburg welcomed the Inspirationists to the Ronneburg Castle. After Gruber and Rock died (1749), the Inspirationists had no real leadership for a few years, until Barbara Heinemann and Christian Metz became Inspired and gradually rebuilt the core of their group. This happened at a time when European attitudes toward these people were becoming less tolerant. In 1842, Metz had a vision instructing him to take his people and resettle in the New World.

The Inspirationists bought 5000 acres near Buffalo, N.Y., naming their community Ebenezer. They did well there for a while, but proximity to the city was not an advantage. There were disputes over county taxes, and young people were sorely tempted by the worldly lives of other Germans in Buffalo.

In 1854, Christian Metz delivered inspired testimony telling his people to look for new land in the West. They looked in Kansas with no luck, but soon found and bought 26,000 acres in the Iowa River Valley. They organized the new land as they had done before: collective farms with small towns located about an hour's ox-cart journey from one another.

The name Metz's people chose for their new home, Amana, is mentioned exactly once in the Bible. It's the name of a mountain between Israel and Lebanon.

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
With me from Lebanon!
Come down from the top of Amana;
From the top of Senir and Hermon,
From the dens of lions,
From the heights of leopards.

Song of Songs 4:8

Their communal life thrived for almost 90 years before a disastrous explosion (no insurance) and the Great Depression combined to force the Inspirationists to the decision that it was time to join the free enterprise system in 1932. Two reminders of the old order survive today: the Amana Church Society, and the Amana Society, Inc., which oversees business and farming operations. The Amana Society still runs many businesses in the colonies, but others are independently owned and operated.

This map, borrowed from the Amana Colonies' web site, shows the general layout. Each town is only a few miles from its nearest neighbor. In each town, the Amana Society has preserved at least one piece of history from the communal days.

We had already visited Main Amana, so we started our tour in Middle Amana, where the old communal kitchen is now a museum.

Each kitchen fed between 20 and 40 workers at tables like this, five times every day. There were three cooks: one cooked, one washed dishes, and one rinsed the dishes and put them away. Every week they rotated jobs. The work was hot and monotonous; but many enjoyed it anyway, because of the company.

Because of the grand scale of the meals, there were some special tools, like this bread slicer. When the baker rang his bell, the kitchen girls got their daily bread from his wagon; usually ten or twelve loaves, about four pounds each. The bread was first cut in half with this slicer, then into smaller slices. The slicer was also used to cut noodles and croutons.

Of course, the dining room had central heating.

"Time is short; save each other from heartache."
If a family had small children or elderly members, the kitchen crew carried food in containers to the family's home, where they ate it in their living/dining room.

Rose's B&B is next to the communal kitchen. Between the two buildings, you can see some of the vegetables that the people grew for those five daily meals. Each kitchen was allotted a large plot where the women grew and cared for produce. They also managed flocks of laying hens, kept for a fresh egg supply. The fat hens were baked and stewed, and the younger chickens were fried.

At Rose's, you're always welcome to sit on the porch.

The cooper's shop is across the street from the kitchen, with a display of the special tools needed to practice the art of making barrels.

This Middle Amana house has a substantial garden of its own. Wonder how many meals they serve here every day?

Like on most Amana houses, there are trellises for grapevines. In addition to providing fruit and wine, the vines helped to keep the houses a bit cooler in the summer with their shade.

There's a very old stroller decorating Middle Amana's general store.

In High Amana, the general store is also one of the Amana Society museums. It's been well preserved for 150 years, including the counters and fixtures, plank floors, and tin ceilings.

You can buy old things or new, or just pass the time of day.

These locally designed door latches are everywhere in Amana. They're designed so they can be operated with a forearm only, so a person with her arms full doesn't need help to get through a door.

High Amana has a few fine old stone houses, and at least one mailbox to match.

This simple wood frame house belonged to a tycoon. It was the home of George Foerstner, who founded Amana Refrigeration in 1934 to manufacture commercial walk-in coolers. A few acquisitions later, the company is now part of Whirlpool and it's still in Middle Amana. This company produced the first practical microwave oven for the home, the Amana Radarange.

A couple of retired tractors in West Amana. The first one is mirrored by the image on the garage doors. This is part of Opa's Tractor Barn Museum, next to Schanz's wood shop.

They use non-standard symbols here, but the meaning is clear.

The Schanz shop makes some unusual toys, including one or two that would make Rube Goldberg blush. This one runs on golf balls that are fed onto the top tier.

This shop made the world's largest rocker of good walnut. This rocker has been used by Lily Tomlin and a few friends. Schanz also makes rockers for normal-sized folks, and there is a Lilliputian model as well.

The Schnitzelbank, or shave horse, has many uses. The carpenter uses his feet to clamp the workpiece securely under the "dumb head," where he can use a draw knife or other tool to shape it.

Window Willow
Joanna Schanz
The first photo shows a little girl with the slough grass that's used to make baskets like this.

The broom maker's art is also represented in West Amana. One of the broom makers was blind, and the machines were designed to accommodate his disability.

South Amana is home to the Communal Agriculture Museum. Like any barn should, this one has barn swallows.

The museum is a large, open barn. Inside, there are several exhibits of old-fashioned farm tools with explanations of how they were used.

This exhibit is all about potatoes. The tool with the conveyor belt is a potato digger. A potato plow is next to it.

A bundle fork (#3) stands in front of the corn wagon. It was used to pitch bundles of grain onto wagons for transport to the thresher. #2 is a seed corn grader, which sorts the kernels by size.

Some large vehicles are displayed in the space beneath the barn. This pump wagon, made in Germany in 1847, was used by the West Amana Fire Department.

A funeral carriage was also needed from time to time. If you want to find a grave in Amana, you only need to know when the person died. There are no family plots; the burial plots are used consecutively.

It's not part of the Amana Society, but the visitor should definitely make time to visit South Amana's Mini-Americana Barn Museum. This display features the collected works of Henry Moore (not to be confused with the English sculptor of the same name), who lived in northwest Iowa, 1911-83.

Henry Moore's farmstead near Depew, Iowa, is the first set of buildings that he made. In June 1968, while living in Sioux Falls, S.D., he asked his grandsons if they would like a miniature barn. They responded enthusiastically, and his project was off and running. All of the siding came from melon crates. The family house was built in 1992 by Henry's son John, who was living in California at the time. John now lives in Iowa and adds to the collection by building in his father's museum workshop.

Mr. Moore's first attempt at miniature work was as a ten-year-old farm boy. He tried to build a barn. The smallest nail available was a shingle nail. The wood split, and the barn fell in a heap. Both his materials and methods improved since that failure. In 1947, he built a mini-farm for his three children when they were small. Then 25 years ago he started miniature work in earnest. ...
When it was possible, he and his wife Charlotte took pictures of the original, and measured the buildings he wanted to reproduce in miniature. Then he would draw blueprints for his projects and begin to build.
Mr. Moore used ordinary wood shop tools to build Mini-Americana. All the buildings have a plywood inner shell to ensure stability and durability.
At first, Mr. Moore used scrap wood like melon crates. He fashioned shingles from real cedar with each piece of siding worked to exact proportions. The window-panes are made of real glass. The barns have pens, mangers and even movable stanchions and the houses are finished with curtains. In the backyard of the 1880 farm, clothes are drying on the line.
Roads, driveways, trees, flowers and shrubbery add to the authenticity. No little detail is overlooked. Even the animals are hand painted. Eight to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week marked his determination to create from wood, the shape of things of the past for the enjoyment of generations to come.

"A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands, his brain and his heart is an Artist."

These are the tools Henry Moore used to make this barn-full of miniatures. The sign says,

At the age of 10 Henry had a dream and his dream is fulfilled in the miniatures displayed in this Barn Museum.
Henry was a happy man who loved his work and believed that every person has a God-given talent which should be activated and not wasted. As you view this museum, you see Henry's talent. The buildings displayed here were built by him between 1968 and 1983.
As a retired farmer Henry built his first barn in 1968, scaled one inch to one foot.
Henry has recaptured the history of rural American Architecture and the charm of farms, small towns and homes. In his miniatures, preserving the flavor of rural America was his most important goal as a craftsman. Through the building of these miniatures he endeavors to light a candle to make as many people as possible aware of the beauty and charm of the past and to preserve some of the rural American heritage for all times.

New Salem, Illinois (1972-75)
Boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln
There were about 25 families living in New Salem when Lincoln moved here to work as a storekeeper, postmaster, and surveyor before his election to the Illinois State Assembly.
This was one of Henry Moore's favorite projects, carving each log ¾ inch thick. The shingles are red oak, chiselled with a household butcher knife.
This reproduction was built at Sioux Falls and Marengo.

Lyon County (Iowa) House (1971)
The original two-room house, believed to be over 130 years old, is in a clearing amid giant cottonwood and other trees near the South Dakota border, in Granite, Iowa. Some of the interior walls are covered with siding made from cottonwood trees. The house has never been painted.

Cylinder, Iowa, as it appeared in 1920.
Scenes include the telephone company, fire house, and livery stable.

"Midwest Rural Hamlet"
Note the round woodpile. This unusual pattern was used in Amana because it was believed to keep the wood drier than simply stacking it in cords. The Schanz family in west Amana maintains an example of this kind of woodpile for today's visitors.

Middle Amana dairy barn. This barn is the largest replica in the collection, 5'6" wide by 12'4" long, not counting the hillside. The original building has been demolished.
The scene also includes a threshing operation.

This Middle Amana heifer barn is built with 9897 nails, set into holes that were drilled to keep the wood from splitting. The original building has been demolished. The faithfulness of the model extends to the building's interior.

1880 farm
The original house on this farm burned in 1930, but Henry has recaptured its charm from boyhood memories. In those days, back porches were always screened in, and the outhouse usually had wooden planks leading from the back door of the house. Grandma is busy in the yard, her wash hanging on the line. Grandpa is resting on the front porch.
The woodshed was a must to keep the home fires burning, and Grandma spent many hours making soap in the back yard kettle.
The cook house was constructed right between the hog house and feed storage shed to enable ease in preparing slop for the pigs. This was done by heating water, and mixing it with feed.

Stove Wood House (1976)
The original stove-wood house, built in Decorah, Iowa, in 1855, was discovered in July 1976, when the building was about to be razed. It was moved to the Vesterheim Museum at Decorah. Each piece of wood was meticulously cut and placed in the model, as in the original house. This is the only known stove-wood house in Iowa.
The round woodpile has 4664 pieces of wood, individually cut to scale. It took Henry 18 hours to assemble and glue the reproduction.

High Amana communal kitchen
This is a model of the High Amana kitchen; we've already visited a real one in Middle Amana. These kitchens were named after the boss; this model is of the Welch Kitchen.

Plains Indian Village (1980)
The tents are made to scale of animal skin by Gerald Colagan, of Hot Springs, S.D., and his family.

There are dozens of famous people on display, also to the same 1:12 scale. Since we flew here, this example will have to do.

Back to full scale, ...

We didn't spend much time in Main Amana, but we did pass half an hour at the microbrewery there. The Millstream Brewing Company is Iowa's oldest microbrewery. Sadly, we were there a day early.

There's a story about the Millstream Brewery.

On Saturday, February 8, 1992 at about 2 PM, two fellows came into the brewery, complete with camcorder. A bet on the Cotton Bowl had been made. The winner got a six-pack of any beer he wanted. The winner was a University of Iowa graduate.
Guess what he wanted? Of course – a six-pack of Schild Brau! These two fellows had left San Antonio, Texas, after work on Thursday, arrived here at 2:00, and were turning around to get back to Texas for work on Monday morning.
The six-pack of Schild Brau grew to four cases, plus coasters and other sundry items.

The brewery is across the street from the woolen mill, one of the businesses from the communal era that is still in operation.
This larger picture will give you a better look at the works of the loom.

Back at the brewery, there's a sign with a Benjamin Franklin quote: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." The woolen mill has an answer to that.

Each of the colonies had its own meetinghouse, all of the same plain design. The Amana Society has preserved the meetinghouse in Homestead, and occasionally the Amana Church Society holds services there. Homestead is the only colony without Amana in its name because it was there before the Inspirationists settled here. As the communities prospered and grew, they needed a bit more room, and bought land in Homestead.

Our docent at the Homestead meetinghouse is a descendant of the original settlers and grew up here, so she knew her material well. She explained the structure and content of a typical Inspirationist meeting, and handed around prayer books, hymnals, and other liturgical materials.

The meetinghouse has a door at either side; men and women entered and sat separately. The benches at the front of the room are for elders. All of the benches were built 170 years ago in the Ebenezer communities of western New York, well before the congregants knew they would be emigrating to Iowa. They were made without hardware, which allowed them to be taken down and reassembled without doing any damage. They have been in continuous use since they were first made.

Detail of the attachment of the benches' legs. Two cuts in the end of each leg are spread by splines, and the bench sits securely. No other support is needed.

If you've been keeping track, you'll notice that only six of the seven Amana Colonies are accounted for here. The visitors' guide has no entries for East Amana; this barn was the only old building we found there. Most of the buildings are modern residences.

The Iowa River was useful for transportation and irrigation, but it is also a source of power. From 1865-69, the settlers built a seven mile long raceway to turn the wheels of their mills and factories. This stretch of still water was also used for recreational boating, but its purpose was work, not play.

Between Amana and Middle Amana, there was a low-lying bog that flooded when the raceway was built, creating the 172-acre Lily Lake. The lake and the raceway are a dependent system; the raceway supplies the lake with its water, and the lake buffers the level of the raceway against fast changes in the level of the river.

When we visited a few years ago, we missed the season by a few weeks. The Lily Lake is named for the thousands of plants that grow here, and which bloom in late July. This time around, we were here in late July, so the blossoms were in prime condition.

We weren't the only ones impressed. There were plenty of redwings enjoying the show, too.

The lake is too shallow for boating, but its shore is a favorite place for walking. Many birds stop off here during their spring and fall migration – maybe that means we'll have to visit again.

Or we could just hang around and wait for the sun to go down.

One bright morning when my work is over,
Man will fly away home.

Our last day was filled with flying away home. So here are some aerial shots, a couple of them with corresponding scans from sectional charts. Visual navigation isn't hard, you just have to be sure the right features show up. It's important that they show up at the right time. If everything else has been showing up on time and one town is ten minutes early, it's probably not the town you think it is.

Here, we're about to cross the Mississippi River, just north of Davenport, Iowa. Here's the same scene, side-by-side with the sectional chart The chart is oriented to match the scene, and the yellow outline is approximately the same area shown in the photograph. In the photo, Cordova is on the far side of the river, at the right edge of the shot.

East of the Mississippi, there were more clouds. They were scattered to broken from there to Connecticut, but we were mostly able to fly above the tops of all of them. This complicates navigation a bit, but doesn't really get in the way if the pilot is paying attention.

For example, this is Earlville, Ill. It showed up at the right time, and all the roads and train tracks match the sectional chart.

Airports are good checkpoints, but if you're looking for one through a hole in the clouds, you need to look at the right time because they go by in a flash. The first one is Morris-Washburn, Ill. No problem here.
The second photo shows Starke County airport (Knox, Ind.). The entire airport is visible here, right in the center of the scene.

Cities are good checkpoints, too, and they're usually easier to spot than airports. The Auglaize joins the Maumee River at Defiance, Ohio. This is plain to see on the chart, but it helps a lot it you study it on the ground first.

Traffic 12:00, one mile! This is why we don't fly too close to clouds when we're VFR.

When we stopped for fuel at Kent, we met a pilot in a well-restored T-6 (they're not all on pedestals). He was on his way to the show at Oshkosh, but he made time to take an elderly man flying. Who was he? We never found out. Probably a relative, maybe someone who had flown a T-6 when they were new.

As we expected, the weather got a little worse as we got closer to home. There were rain showers here and there, and one phenomenon we didn't have time to photograph properly. A minute before I took this shot, that rainbow covered 360° of arc. On the ground, we only get to see the top 180° because the ground gets in the way. This rainbow was above and below us, something you can only see in the air. Something we never saw before, and probably will never see again.

There was one thunderstorm brewing about 30 miles from home base. It added about 15 minutes to our trip to fly around the storm. We had plenty of alternate airports in New York and Connecticut, but didn't need them.

We landed in almost calm conditions, tied the airplane down and unpacked it, and stopped at the usual spot to toast this year's adventure.

Twenty minutes later, the storm arrived, and it rained so hard we could barely see across the parking lot.

We've waited a long time to visit Canada's Rocky Mountains. Because of this year's flying convention we finally got there. To those pilots who thought it was too much work, too far away or too expensive, we can only say that you and your families missed a magnificent adventure. Try to get there someday.

Trip Stats:
4188 nautical miles (about 4800 statute miles)
13 states and five Canadian provinces
36:24 hours block-to-block
34:16 hours in the air
384.8 gallons of fuel