So, our "bird-in-the-hand" campsite here at Smith Lake County Park was beginning to look like the best alternative for the weekend. I mean, we're established here, we like it, and are still finding new things to do. We're still hoping to sample the Gavins Point Dam area but will do so no sooner than Sunday... after some of the crowd abates.
In the meantime, we did some local exploring yesterday. First on the agenda was the small well kept Union Cemetery a few miles out in the country northwest of our camp. A neighbor of ours here at Smith Lake turned us onto the historic significance of it. There's a story of mystery and folklore that's associated with it and I'll include a link here if someone wants to read the story, which is interesting but too long for this Journal.
Some say the spirit of the town was broken along with the lone rock that day... the day it was blown apart. Others think it's just coincidence the town's decline seemed to accelerate after that. And still others see a moral to this story: the act of possessing something can destroy it.
And finally we drove to West Bend, Iowa and to the Grotto of the Redemption. Reputed to be the largest grotto in the world, it was the conception of Father Paul Dobberstein, a Catholic priest, who started building the grotto in 1912 and made it his life's work until he died in 1954. Others assisted Father Dobberstein and continued his dream even after his death. And yet today there's a dedicated group of people that continue to maintain and operate the grotto, and tend to the estimated 100,000 people that visit annually.
This is just something you don't see anywhere else. As much as anything, it's the scale of the work that impresses the most. The amount of effort to collect minerals from all 50 states and most of the countries of the world, to categorize and store the specimens, to plan the design, and to painstakingly apply each piece, one by one...millions of pieces over so many years... into this!
What an amazing accomplishment. We'd categorize this one as a "must see". And Dar has more photos of the day in our online photo albums... just click on the photo link above and check them out.