Frumpfighter

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Ernie's Pub owner Alex Anderson enjoys the crowd at Czech Village's Houby Days on May 16. The pub reopened in November after being destroyed by the Flood of 2008 last June.

Ernie's Avenue Tavern owner Alex Anderson enjoys the crowd at Czech Village's Houby Days on May 16. The pub reopened in November after being destroyed by the Flood of 2008 last June.

Staycation adventure of the week: Beer Fest at Benz and Houby Days in Czech Village.

In my attempt to keep my vacation dollars in Eastern Iowa, especially places recovering from the Flood of 2008, I stopped in at Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot, 501 Seventh Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, and Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids on Saturday.

Both of these areas were ravaged by last June’s flood and have made tremendous strides in the past year. Seventh Street was blocked off in front 0f the refurbished Benz Beverage Depot for the benefit for the Cedar Rapids Downtown District featuring samples of more than 75 beers.

Czech Village along 16th Avenue SW has come to life over the past few months and featured vendors, food, a carnival, polka dancing and a vibrant nightlife.

Here are some photos to best describe the recovery of these areas:

The area around Benz Beverage Depot, 501 Seventh Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids SE, came to life during the Fifth Annual Beer Fest benefitting the Downtown District on May 16.

The area around Benz Beverage Depot, 501 Seventh Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids SE, came to life during the Fifth Annual Beer Fest on May 16.

 

Millstream Brewing of Amana was one of the vendors at Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot in southeast Cedar Rapids.

Millstream Brewing of Amana was one of the vendors at Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot in southeast Cedar Rapids. Beer is poured at Benz' annual Beer Fest.

Microbrewed beer was flowing during Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot on May 16.

Microbrewed beer was flowing during Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot on May 16.

Vendors lined the streets of Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids during Houby Days this weekend.
Vendors lined the streets of Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids during Houby Days this weekend.
Dancers enjoys the live Czech music during Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids on May 16.

Dancers enjoys the live Czech music during Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids on May 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mikey Murphy pours a beer at Ernie's Pub in Czech Village during Houby Days on May 16.

Mikey Murphy pours a beer at Ernie's Avenue Tavern in Czech Village during Houby Days on May 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Kemmerling talks to a patron at Ernie's Pub in Czech Village on May 16.

Lisa Kemmerling talks to a patron at Ernie's Avenue Tavern in Czech Village on May 16.

The mighty morel mushroom was on display durind Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids this weekend.

The mighty morel mushroom was king at Ron Takes' display during Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids this weekend. Houby is the Czech word for mushroom.

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During these tough economic times, people are cutting back on entertainment expenses, including travel. Instead of jetsetting across the country, people are opting for staycations closer to home.

But is that really so bad?  Sometimes we are so focused on getting away that we take for granted what’s available in our own backyard.

Next Sunday, the annual Explore section will be distributed with The Gazette. I have been this section’s editor for the past four years. This year’s edition will feature six daytrips: Amana Colonies, Decorah, McGregor-Marquette, AnamosaMonticello, MaquoketaDubuque and Galena, Ill.  As an Eastern Iowa native, I have been to most of these places, but look forward to visiting all of them this summer.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette. Bluesmore is just one of the popular annual events at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette Bluesmore is just one of the popular annual events at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids.

For Mother’s Day, I met my parents Saturday at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids. The historic site was holding its annual spring plant sale. Although a little chilly, it was a beautiful day to wander around the estate. If you haven’t been to Brucemore or attended any of its events such as Classics at Brucemore (featuring “To Kill A Mockingbird” this summer), Cabaret in the Courtyard or Bluesmore, do so. It’s serene setting makes you forget about the rest of the world, even if it’s just for a few hours.

After checking out another plant sale at Corner House Gallery and Frame just down First Avenue from Brucemore, we were ready for lunch. I suggested going to Czech Village. Yes, there were other places a lot closer to First Avenue and Collins Road, but I am so impressed with Czech Village’s resilience after being devastated in last June’s flood, I wanted to support their businesses.

Although not completely rebuilt by a long shot, Czech Village has come a long way in the past 11 months. We ate at the Bohemian Café and Pub in the heart of the village on 16thAvenue. It just opened Monday; it was an antique shop pre-flood and has been renovated into a restaurant/pub/bakery featuring Czech dishes such as a pork loin sandwich topped with sautéed apples and cheddar cheese. In the future, it hopes to attract busloads of tourists visiting the museum which plans to relocate to the Music Loft building next door.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette. Sykora Bakery in Czech Village recently reopened to large crowds.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette. Sykora Bakery in Czech Village recently reopened to large crowds.

We then went to recently reopened Sykora Bakery down the street. I hate to admit it, but that was the first time I’ve been there. There was a line, but I didn’t mind the wait for freshly baked kolaches and turnovers.

At every place we visited, the owners and employees graciously thanked us for coming to their rebuilt business that was destroyed less than a year ago. They also invited us to come back to Czech Village next weekend for Houby Days.

It was questionable whether the annual festival celebrating all things mushroom would proceed due to continued clean-up efforts in the area. But it has been decided the show will go on. I highly encourage you to attend some or all of Houby Days next weekend, May 15-17. The residents and businesses of this Eastern Iowa treasure have put their whole lives into rebuilding this area the so love. While we can’t control the weather or the river, we can ensure the vitality of Czech Village’s future by throwing our support and dollars into it.

I plan on taking all sorts of stay-cacations over the next few months. I’ll write about them and take some pictures. I invite you to share your stay-cation stories and photos here. Please e-mail me at ajh1109@mchsi.com

On my mission to fight frump and get my groove back, I hope to get out and do more things. In the past five or so years, financial limitations, scheduling nightmares and parental duties have pretty much kept me at work or at home.

Nancy and Ann Wilson of Heart

Nancy and Ann Wilson of Heart

While driving to work yesterday, I heard that Heart was going to play an outdoor concert in June at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort just south of Iowa City. Really? Ann and Nancy Wilson are my girls. They have been since my freshman year in high school in 1986 when my home-ec teacher used to play their comeback self-titled album (and yes it was an album) in class every day. My brother took some friends and me to their concert that spring at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, and I was hooked.

I saw them a couple more times in high school and college but then they seemed to stop touring. In 1999, my husband and I lost a bunch of weight through Atkins and were determined to live it up. We still refer to it as the “Summer of Fun.”  

SOF, as we called that summer, was based around our trip to Seattle for my cousin’s wedding in June which was in Bellingham, about an hour-and-a-half north of Seattle. It turns out Heart was going to play in their hometown Seattle while we were up there. Perfect, except that the concert was the same night as the wedding. We didn’t go to the concert but drove down to Seattle after the reception to see if we could still get into the club they were playing. No dice.

Later that summer we did catch their tour at a stop in Topeka. It was at the Performing Arts Center and the crowd was made up primarily of season ticket holders who weren’t quite as in to the concert as me. I felt deprived that I hadn’t seen Heart in their native Northwest. We got on their Web site and saw their last show of the tour was at Sokol Blosser Winery in Dundee, Ore. How cool would that be?

The stage where Heart played in 1999 at Sokol Blosser Winery in Dundee, Ore.

The stage where Heart played in 1999 at Sokol Blosser Winery in Dundee, Ore.

But we couldn’t just fly to Portland after being in Seattle two months earlier. Or could we? Our trip back to Kansas City from Seattle was delayed so we got discount vouchers. To top it off, a coworker worked part-time at an airline and got our seats upgraded to first class. So in late August we hopped on a plane again and headed back Northwest. We felt like true jetsetters.

The concert was unbelievable. We managed to wiggle our way into the front and absorbed my favorite band under the moonlight in the gorgeous Willamette Valley’s Dundee Hills. The next morning, less than 48 hours after we embarked on this adventure, we boarded a plane back home.

Since that grand Summer of Fun, doing something like this would be unthinkable. Going out to dinner in Cedar Rapids is a huge planned event for us now. I look forward to the concert at Riverside. It’s certainly no Oregon winery, but it’s a start.


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