32 hours in Iowa

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life35 Comments

My son Cole just made the St. Olaf Men’s Ultimate team and they had their first tournament down at Luther College in Iowa. Last year, you may or may not recall, I went to see my daughter play at the women’s event at the same location, and after having a freezing but fabulous weekend of watching ultimate, I returned home and promptly broke my hand.

This time, I’m being more careful.

Dan did not join me for the weekend, as he is pretty slammed with work. When you change grade levels three times in three years, there is so much work to be done all the time. But that’s okay. A little time apart can be a nice thing.

I hopped into my new car and headed south. (And yes, kept my eye out for deer along the way!)

I listened to the first three episodes of the new season of Serial, and stopped three times for bio breaks. (That bladder, she ain’t what she used to be!) And while the fall color is only just starting to make its annual statement, the drive down Highway 52 into Iowa is really lovely.

I passed a handful of people from the Amish community, driving their horse-drawn buggies. I saw faded fields of corn. Barns. Silos. All the things that paint such a pastoral scene here in the upper midwest.

And I couldn’t help but think: I need to get out more.

Even now, as I’m writing these words from my hotel room in an adequate Super 8 on the edge of Decorah, I realize with nothing else to do (like laundry, dishes, or daily work at home), it’s just me and my thoughts and apparently I can put them down in, well, writing.

I will tell you this: time is fleeting. I’m so grateful for all of the college experiences I was able to share with my daughter, when appropriate, and I am and will be grateful for the like with my son.

As I wrote recently, the time of all four of us living as one unit is over, for the most part. This is all new, and yet also a little familiar. It’s hard to remember those early days, when for five  years, it was just me and my husband, before Aidan arrived on the scene. So much has changed over the years. Now is a time to breathe and connect and re-learn whatever is needed, or simply learn whatever is new and continue moving forward.

Taking a little 3-hour road trip was a good idea.


Cathy Zielske32 hours in Iowa

35 Comments on “32 hours in Iowa”

  1. #1
    carol ann

    It’s great you took a little time for yourself. Helps to clear your mind. For me, it was a bit hard to adjust to being an empty nester, but, you are blessed to have a supportive community here. Just know that things are exactly like they are supposed to be. The distance you feel will bring you closer. Hang in there and watch your young adults evolve. They will always need you. 🙂

    1. #1.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I’ve got another trip planned, sort of work related, in a few weeks. That should also be nice, to get away. 🙂

  2. #2
    Glenda Thorne

    Sounds perfect to me❣️Spending any amount of time with your kids, young or older is a splendid time indeed. I used to take a road trip from New Brunswick, Canada to Halifax, Nova Scotia to visit our son while he was in University. YUP, perfect❣️

  3. #3

    Cathy – Ahhh – my love for north eastern Iowa! My momma was born and raised in Oelwein and her sister and brother both lived in Postville which is very close to Decorah. So many wonderful memories of spending childhood summers in Iowa and shopping in the Swedish store in Decorah. (Side note – my cousin who is from Postville now lives in Roseville MN!) And another cousin attended Luther College! Your post just made me very nostalgic this morning. Thank you.

    1. #3.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Me and two other parents who are good friends of mine (my daughter’s ex boyfriend’s parents, and he’s a senior and the captain of the team) went out to dinner in Deborah. Just a charming little town!

        1. #
          Cathy Zielske

          No, we went to La Rana? Does that sound right? It was very good! Loved the small restaurant vibe!

    2. #3.2
      Sarah Allcock


      Vanneheim, the Norwegian store in Decorah, is no longer there. I was shocked. Vesterheim, which is the Norwegian-American museum in town, in still operating and thriving.

  4. #4
    Madeline St. Onge

    Cathy you are so motivateing to move and do at a very confusing a scarey part of my life, keep it up I need it to get through this journey Love you lady

  5. #5
    Judy B

    It’s too bad that the trees weren’t more colorful Kathy. We do have some beautiful scenery here in Iowa. I live in the capital, Des Moines and like to take small road trips to enjoy the Fall colors. I’m glad you enjoyed your time here and hopefully if you visit again the weather will be better.

  6. #6
    Sarah Allcock

    Even before I got to read the reason for your road trip, when I saw NE Iowa, I wondered if you meant Decorah. It is beautiful there, I know from experience, having been a Luther student once upon a time. Glad you got away for a fun little break.

  7. #7

    Serial is the perfect companion to a solo road trip. That way when you’re screaming at the speaker, there’s no one else to annoy. If you have another road trip coming soon, I recommend Dr Death or Dirty John. Both are as thrilling as they are infuriating.

    1. #7.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yep. On the way back home? I listened to the first four episodes of Dr. Death. Wow. And I listened to Dirty John last year. Both very compelling!

      1. #7.1.1

        Dr. Death…holy cow. I have binged listened to it this weekend. Hard to wrap my brain around what he did to people.

  8. #8
    Beth Holt

    You were in my neck of the woods! It’s so refreshing to read your post about what I love about my daily life. It gives me a whole new appreciation!

  9. #10
    Barb in AK

    Changing grade levels each year is challenging, BUT, having a SPLIT class is herculean!
    I feel for Dan and understand what it’s like.
    Cathy, I’m glad you had a chance to enjoy the “pastoral” setting this weekend. Definitely brings on the relaxing attitude, eh.

  10. #11

    We have a home in Mexico where we live half of the year. We just returned to Eastern Nebraska, where the leaves are turning, fall is in the air and thoughts are turning to Halloween and Thanksgiving. We do so to spend time with family; with kids, grandkids and great-grandkids, we have plenty to do and catch up on. I love the Midwest this time of year, and you captured it beautifully in your blog and with photography. Thanks for sharing, and good luck with the Ultimate season!

  11. #12

    Luther is my Happy Place!! My oldest just graduated in May. I will miss visiting her there, but I will make many more visits to Decorah in the future for sure. I have been wanting to get there this fall for a football game but it has not worked out. Maybe I will remember to check out this Ultimate tourney! I admit I have never seen ultimate but have been intrigued by your posts about it.

    1. #12.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I’m pretty sure the Luther Invite happens every year. The men play one weekend and the women play in a few weeks! Last year was the first time I visited, for my daughter’s last Luther invite. Really loved the town! I look forward to next year!

  12. #14
    Leslie B

    GAH – you had me at Iowa. I’m a native but now live in AZ. Fall in the Midwest is my absolute fav and really I miss it. So glad you had a great time in Decorah! Has anyone recommended the My Favorite Murder podcast to you? Also, if you dig history, The Dollop is a good one.

  13. #15
    Linda Matthews

    I think that I am going to feel all of these same feelings when our son ships out for USCG in a couple of months. He graduated culinary arts school in May. I am a soon to be a Coast Guard Mom.

    I am taking in all of your feelings because I am going to be a wreck.

  14. #16

    I’m 55 and 29 year old has never moved out. Three of my children and families have moved in with me at separate times. My mother lives in my home. My husband and I leave for a weekend and we have to force ourselves not answer the phone to enjoy ourselves. Now how does that empty nest thing work? lol I wouldn’t change my life. Maybe get away without phones.

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