Under the peaceful crackling of the electric fireplace and the soft glow of the Christmas lights, I slept the sleep of the peaceful and exhausted. I awoke the next morning to a winter wonderland. Belmond got a bit of the severe weather plaguing the southeastern part of Iowa. It was only a few inches, but it certainly put me in the Christmas mood.
I spent the early morning hours organizing some photos on Facebook and then it was time for a hot, filling breakfast on this fine and frosty morning. Along with my OJ and milk, Connie started my meal with a lemon roll. I perused the morning paper as I savored each tasty mouthful. A small dish of banana followed shortly thereafter and culminated in a plate of French Toast with a side of sausage links. As usual, the breakfast was too much for my appetite, so I wrapped up some of the toast and returned to my room where I wrote yesterday’s article.
Soon it was time to head to church so I brushed the powdery snow off of my car, loaded my things, settled my bill, and headed over to St Francis Xavier Catholic Church. I really enjoyed this church. I was warmly welcomed inside and it had an older quality to it that reminded me of my old parish of Holy Rosary when I lived in Fort Dodge, IA.
After the service, it was time to make the journey home. Since the weather wasn’t bad on my way home, I took an alternate route through Storm Lake, IA. My grandparents lived in the little town of Storm Lake from before I was born until about 2000 when they moved to Papillion, NE. Both have passed away and are buried in Storm Lake and I wanted to stop and pay my respects and wander around the place.
It was bitingly cold outside, but I walked around my grandparents’ old neighborhood and took some photos of their old parish of St Mary’s and their old home. I meandered past a couple of old playgrounds that I often played at in my childhood. The equipment had changed, but I still remembered the days when one of the playgrounds had a great jungle gym and pole where I often pretended to be Bruce Wayne getting the call from Commissioner Gordon about the latest villain infesting Gotham City. To the Batpole!! I would slide down the pole to my waiting Batcycle (OK, my grandfather’s old bicycle) and zoom off into the streets as Batman, the Caped Crusader!!
When I felt good and frozen, I hurried back to my car and drove up the city’s namesake, Storm Lake. I wandered out onto the jetty and looked at solid sheet of ice that was the lake. I walked down the halls of memory once more as I remembered all of the times I had been kicked off that jetty by my family members in my childhood. I come from a family of fishermen on my mom’s side and I was a very energetic child who lacked the patience for fishing. I often amused myself by tossing rocks into the lake, marveling at the splish and splash they made. That’s when I’d get the boot because I was scaring the fish. I always thought it was unfair because Grandpa always sneezed with the subtlety of a nuclear explosion and undoubtedly scared off every fish within a 10 mile radius.
After returning from my mental perambulations, I continued my drive home. It was nearly 2pm and I was tired and hungry so I hoped to stop in Early, IA and have a late lunch at the Crossroads Restaurant. I was in for a mild disappointment as the restaurant had closed at 1:30 that day to begin the Christmas holiday. I drove for another hour and stopped in Denison, IA at Cronk’s Restaurant where a patty melt and a side of fries restored enough strength for me to finish my long drive home.
I’d like to take my moment to wish all of my readers a Merry Christmas. I’ll be starting a new series of articles in a little over two weeks when I journey to the wilds of Arizona.