Welcome to part 2 of The Iowa Gallivant’s trip through historic Van Buren County, IA that we blazed during one of the best Memorial Day weekends we’ve ever had. We set our heading to the town of Farmington and took the time to stretch our legs. The Des Moines River kept rolling and so did Team Goodvin!
Near Farmington was a much needed opportunity to get even more active on the day. Right on the edge of town is Indian Lake Park. An absolute jewel of Van Buren County. The park is an outdoor haven and produce some amazing Iowa scenery. With every trip we go on, we find multiple reasons to come back. Indian Lake Park is near the top of the list for this chapter!
Hiking, skipping rocks, and giggling as Dad makes his way across a dock that swishes back and forth on open water can make a family hungry. And a father teary eyed. Because the cottonwoods are getting to him. Which I wasn’t able to prove because my son said their wasn’t any in sight. Moving on. We revisit a flyer that Monie was handed earlier in the day. A buffet cooked by a local Amish family. Meatloaf….yes, please. Breaded chicken…..um….yea..we love that. Mashed potatoes and gravy…please go on. Garden fresh steamed cabbage……that..that…sounds tasty. A salad spread that was growing in the dirt just outside the window from where you’ll be eating…..OK we’re now more hungry than we were at meatloaf. Warm bread right from the oven with soft butter……That’s a meal in its self. Fresh baked pie and homemade ice cream….May I please be told that I can’t leave for several weeks? Just on the outskirts of the Village of Bonaparte is the Sunrise Bakery and their holiday weekend buffet.
John Bontrager greeted us as we walked in. His smile was as big as his beard was long. His wife, Marie started to take the lids off the chaffing dishes that revealed what would become one of the most memorable meals our family has ever experienced together. We quickly met the Bontrager children as they took turns smiling at each of us through our meal. Showing respect for our most gracious of Amish hosts we did not take pictures of them. But, we can tell you that they were some of the kindest and fun loving Iowans that we have ever met. The hard work that the Bontrager family put in to the meal, and their everyday lives, was on full display. From the care they showed by greeting us to the freshly cooked food to taking the time to visit with us no matter how busy they were. Everyone was welcomed into the Bontrager home and I witnessed my kids taking it all in. Gigi couldn’t get enough of the bread, butter, fresh celery and carrots. Leah became a fan of coconut cream pie and couldn’t keep away from their pecan pie. Charlie said it was the best chicken and mashed potatoes he’s ever had. I gobbled up all the food I could. Cabbage is my all time favorite veggie and something I could eat every day. The steamed cabbage and crispy coleslaw would have lured me in to the Sunrise Bakery alone. Literally a part of all of Team Goodvin’s favorite foods were at our taking in rural Bonaparte, IA that day. And Team Bontrager were our Van Buren MVP’s.
Daylight is now getting to be in short supply and we need to hop to one more village. Monie is in need of more garden beautification and luckily for us we were able to find a place that could help her out. Cantril, IA was ready for Leah’s keen eye!
We use the term “scratched the surface” a lot in our blog posts. But, in every time we truly mean it. In one day we crossed the Des Moines River, took in a flea market, hiked around a lake, ate the best meal of the year, found the most impressive country stores ever and had a family visit to a burial ground of one of the greatest chiefs in Native American history. And we only scratched the surface of Van Buren County. I’m not sure how “Iowan” one can be. Soaking in the heritage, cuisine, landscape and Villages of Van Buren could bring out the Iowa spirit in anyone.
Don’t forget to read part 1 of Village hopping!
Please take time to visit……..