Tuesday, July 9, 2024

A Nice Hug in Walmart & Coal Mining in Iowa?

 Location: Island View Campground (COE); Mystic, Iowa (south central Iowa)

I crossed into Iowa with the only noticeable change in landscape being flatter land and more corn and soy beans. It seems I left the hills of the northern edge of the Ozarks behind. It surprised me, but I like the change. I've been in the hills/small mountains since I left Louisiana back on June 1st. I expect the amount of corn and soy beans to increase as I go deeper into Iowa.

You know you're in Iowa when you see a large American flag over some grain silos next to a John Deere dealership.

I got lucky on moving day as some thunderstorms passed across my path. Accuweather kept me up to date and to give the storms more time to move along, I stopped at a gas station to fill up with gas and get some Godfather Pizza. 

Liberty is lined up just right for a sunset right out her door although the clouds were blocking it on the first night.

Sunrise on the morning of Day 2 as I'm looking at a little bit of angle out my back window.

I've gotten into the habit of stopping at Walmart on moving days. All of my tows are short enough that I don't have to stop for fuel but long enough where I need to use the restroom and stretch my legs. I also pick up anything I need to top off my pantry, icebox or freezer. It's nice to take things directly from the store to the icebox (that's refrigerator for my yankee friends). Anyway, as I was walking around the aisles picking up a few things I noticed a large, older woman hugging a few people. Apparently, she had run into some family or friends that she hadn't seen in a while. As I passed them, I said, "Are you the designated hugger for Walmart?" She replied, "Honey, if you need a hug, I'll sure give you one", and she did. It was a good one too. I couldn't remember the last good hug I had received/gave. I'll be on the look out for more huggers in the future because I hadn't realized I was "hug starved". 

My campsite at Island View. It is nice to have a lake view from Liberty again. I've been missing it.

The Mayflies showed up on day 2. I'm guessing this batch hatched due to the rains from the day before. They aren't harmful and don't bite. They just sort of hang out.
A lot of the Mayflies had already flown away before I took this picture. I feel sorry for them because their lifespan is only a couple of days.

A better sunset on Day 2

This campground is on Rathbun Lake which was built between 1964 and 1971. Sadly, it isn't a hydroelectric dam but it does provided water for 16,000 families around here. This is the kind of infrastructure that has so many uses that it should be a no-brainer to build more. Just like the lake at my last campground, this lake has its gates closed and not releasing any water. I'm assuming that is because they are serving another one of their purposes and that is to help alleviate any flooding on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. It's probably working like it should and they don't need another engineer butting into their business.

Another roller-compacted earth fill dam with a very pretty lake behind it.

This is some of the native prairie grasses that were planted and thrived. It helps to visualize what the pioneers first saw as they crossed the Great Plains.

I visited the local museum today. It was the Appanoose Historical and Coal Mining Museum at Centerville. The coal mining is what caught my attention since I was unaware of coal mining in Iowa. From what I learned, at one time there were close to 300 small coal mines in Appanoose County. A small coal mining town would spring up around the mine where the miners lived and shopped. Most of the miners were immigrants from around the world. Most would arrive in New York City and be processed through Ellis Island. The ones that couldn't speak English had a piece of paper with the name of the town and state they wanted to go. In this case, it was Centerville, Iowa. The 1920 census showed immigrants in Appanoose County from 40 different nations. Married men with mining experience in the old country would come first then after enough money was saved, he would send for the rest of his family. He earned $50.00 per month. Most of the miners dreamed after getting their families here and then begin saving money to buy a few acres of farm land and become farmers. American farmers. Not Armenian-American farmers, just American.

Most of the mines were small and somewhat shallow with a minimum head room of 5 feet. That minimum is due to the use of Shetland Ponies to haul the coal sleds out of the mine. From what little I've learned, the coal in this area is mostly block coal and was mined with pick axes into large blocks. It was used locally for heat during the winter. Lots of the miners would farm during the late spring into early fall then go back into the mines for the winter. The last mine in the county closed down in March of 1971. It wasn't because the mine played out, it was due to a highway being located on top of the entrance and the owner deciding it wasn't worth opening another entrance somewhere else.


It was a small museum and I was mainly going to see the coal mining section. I was happy to see the military memorial section. Notice the flag with the 48 stars. Remember, Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the union in 1959.

I liked the advertisement of "block coal". Also the picture of a typical mining town.

The list of the 40 nations that were living in the county in 1920. By the way, Japan was not one of the 40.

Tonight's sunset. This is looking out my door. I was lucky the wind had blown the Mayflies away for a while.

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be headed to another COE campground just north of Iowa City. 

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road.  


  1. Hi, I'm downsizing and wondering how your R Pod is working out for you?

    1. I'm still loving it. Sure, there have been some problems with it, and a little more than I had with my Rockwood 5th wheel, but I'm still satisfied. It's 5 feet shorter and 4,000 pounds lighter than the 5th wheel. I also really like not having slides. In my 5th wheel, every time I started to push the button to bring in or send out the slide, I said a little prayer that it would work. The 25 foot length is just about right for me since I travel solo. I did add another propane tank and upgraded my battery. If you have any specific questions, my email is darrell_g42@hotmail.com If you send and email and don't get a response in a day or two, add a comment to the blog telling me to answer your email. Not to worry, it won't hurt my feelings.