Exploring the Amana Colonies
We said goodbye to family and friends and hit the road west to Iowa on a cold and rainy Sunday morning. The Amana Colonies would be our first stop on our meandering trip south to Texas where we will spend several months exploring all of what Texas has to offer. 7 1/2 months to be exact! Hopefully we will get a really good feel for the state in that time.
Most of our travel to the Amana Colonies was in rain and once we arrived at the Amana RV Park, the rain had finally stopped but the humidity was in force. We could tell they got a good bit of rain as there were big puddles everywhere and some soupy looking sites. We were fortunate to get one that wasn't as soggy, but still had puddles and mud. We were only staying two nights so we really didn't mind. The rv park is quite large and hosts several rallies every year. We had a FHU site that we booked for two nights, and with our PassportAmerica discount, it was only $39 total. Really loving these 50% off discounts we get with Passport America. We stayed in the first night and just chilled and planned for our next day of exploring the Amana Colonies.
The next day was going to be a hot, humid day so we planned to do our walk thru of the main Amana colony shops and museum in the morning and save driving around to the 6 other villages for the hot afternoon. The majority of the shops and restaurants are in the main Amana village that is close to the the RV Park. There is something for everyone, especially those that enjoy wineries and antiques.
We first visited the museum, that was an $8 admission but included a very well done 20 minute movie that detailed the history of the colonies and the people that lived there. We also toured one of the original colony buildings that had alot of historical information and artifacts. If you enjoy reading, this is the place for you!!! It was a bit overwhelming with all of the documents that were available to read. To sum it up for you, the Amana Colonies is a utopian-like community, made up of 7 villages. The people of the colonies are of German descent and came over from Germany in the mid-1800's looking for a new home where they could practice their beliefs and avoid religious persecution. All residents were supplied necessities, including clothing and housing in exchange for their work in the community. Communal kitchens supplied meals to all village residents and church services occurred several times throughout the week. Many think the people of the Amana colonies are Amish, however, they are very different in that they embrace technology and were very forward thinking in that respect.
After leaving the museum, we walked thru downtown, visiting several shops and wineries. It is a good thing we no longer own a house because the Christmas shop would have made alot of money off of me that day! We only purchased consumables, like wine, chocolates and several different meats from the Meat Shop. Alot of the stores had samples, which contributed greatly to our purchases! They know how to get you!
All of that shopping and walking made us hungry so we stopped by the Millstream Brewery Brau Haus and Rick had a flight of their beers, I had a glass of yummy riesling and we munched on their german pretzel and beer cheese soup. Everything was delicious and the restaurant resembled a bavarian beer hall.
After lunch we set out on our driving tour of the other villages. It was still very humid and with temps in the low 90's, we were more than happy to just drive through the villages. Most of the shops we saw were either antiques or art, and since we do not have room for either, we didn't stop. We did however stop at the High Amana General Store and glad we did. The store was a glimpse back into what a general store would have looked like back in the day, but it also had handmade items from local artisans. One thing that caught my eye was a handmade miniature size nativity scene. It was beautifully carved wood figures with differing stains and the artist listed on the bottom all of the beautiful woods he used to craft this beauty. We had a large nativity scene in our old sticks and bricks, which was too big for the RV. This one was the perfect size and will have a special place in our new home at Christmas!
Later that evening we had a german dinner at the Ronneburg Restaurant. It is located in one of the original communal kitchens and each dining room has a unique german theme. We are suckers for a good german dinner and this one did not disappoint. We went home happy and full!
The next day we packed up and headed south to Jefferson City, MO. Our friends live there and we found a Harvest Host winery near town to spend the night, and bonus, it had a restaurant. Dinner at Canterbury Hill Winery was delicious, the views were beautiful, the wine was wonderful and the company even better! Even though we get to stay for free as part of the Harvest Host program, we try to spend some money there or utilize their establishment. We certainly did this time, but hey, we would have been drinking wine and eating dinner somewhere, so why not there. See, I can reason that one! We were the only ones staying the night, so we had the place to ourselves. It was a hot day again so we cooled the RV down with the generator running and then turned it off for the night. We ended up turning it back on again for awhile during the night as the temps were still around 80 and humid. By morning it was finally in the mid 70's and we were packed up and on our way by 8:30.
We are now headed to Hot Springs, Arkansas to our first of two rallies with fellow Grand Design owners. We went to the national rally last year in Elkhart, IN and are looking forward to our first regional rally...and then another in TX. Stay tuned for all the rally shenanigans and antics!
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