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Louisa’s Majesty-Endless Waterways,Woodlands, History, & an Authentic Burmese Feast


Louisa County, IA

You’ve see all the signs. The shade of brown with white lettering. Turn hear to a campsite, state park, wildlife refuge, wetlands, Native American preserves, river access, lake front, hiking trail, historic landmark, memorial, river slough, boat launches, pioneer cemetery…..You’re probably saying that you have all of those in  your home county. You may. I will challenge anybody to tell me they have as many of these brown signs if not more. Trust me. They are EVERYWHERE in Louisa County. So if you love the great outdoors, then you need to get to this area of Iowa immediately and you’ll see why Team Goodvin has come back here and will be making several trips back as soon as possible. This Gallivant is historic and very scenic through Louisa County with Kathy Vance as our trusty guide. First stop is at the Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge. (Click on the pictures for descriptions)

A trip with miles of trails, overlooks, bird watching, wildflowers, and education from our new friend Sally working the interpretive center at the refuge. That’s a reasonably full day. This was just the beginning. One of the major draws to this area is Lake Odessa. Kathy made sure we saw its shores.

Lake Odessa with campsites right by the water and the nearby woods.

We headed back to one of my favorite towns to eat in. Columbus Junction! We usually head to this Louisa County town for their authentic taquerias. Kathy showed that there was even more culinary authenticity. Believe me when I say this. Columbus Junction has one of THE BEST Asian restaurants I have ever been to. Not just one of the best in Iowa. Not just one of the best in the Midwest. OK Asian Restaurant is a family-ran operation cooking up authentic Burmese food and they are making some of the best flavors I have ever had anywhere. Anywhere! When you walk into the OK Asian Restaurant, you’ll see that there are no frills. It’s run by a close family that migrated to Columbus Junction from Burma and wanted to feature the ingredients from home. This is the real deal. Take everything in stride here and let their cooking do all the talking.

After three big plates of Lepheh Toh (Cabbage, tomatoes, fried bean, sour leaf, chili, and ginger), noodles with fresh veggies and shrimp, and the Burmese twist on Coconut Chicken (Stir fried chicken breast with coconut milk, onions, and fresh avocados tossed in at the end), we walked the town of Columbus Junction and enjoyed some pastries at Panaderia El Chuy Bakery on Main Street. Then enjoyed some marshmallow malts at Dairy Sweet. Calling out on all of you with an intense sweet tooth out there! Dairy Sweet has a very high butterfat content which makes their ice cream rich and delicious!

We have our carbs, protein, and our sugar rush refueling our energy and we’re ready to take on more of the sites. Next stop is at Chinkapin Bluffs Recreation Area. Yes, Louisa County has stunning bluffs too! Another trip to a scenic overlook, more trails, prairie preserve, playground, and Iowa’s natural woodlands surrounding us.

Louisa County doesn’t have a shortage of roadside attractions, landmarks, or memorials either. You can see zoologists at play at the Fairview Zoological Farm, view historic churches and pioneer cemeteries, and explore classic 19th century tunnels. As you arrive to the town of Morning Sun, you’ll see a museum dedicating themselves to the history of the Rural Free Delivery postal service. Louisa County was the first area west of the Mississippi River to receive this service.

Just off the roads are three very important memorials and an unbelievable story of American History. Near Grandview is a memorial dedicated to all of our veterans with a helicopter from the Vietnam War era. It is also home to the future Louisa County Freedom Rock, a huge project eventually coming to all 99 Iowa counties. Toolesboro has two great memorials and stories. First are the Indian mounds that are ancient burial sites of local Native Americans. It features also a very educational interpretive center along its path. And just up the way from the mounds is a memorial to the Littleton family, residents of Toolesboro during the Civil War era.Their family of 12 dwindled to 4 in short time period. The parents would pass away prior to the war, while 6…that’s right SIX brothers would all eventually die during the conflict. They left 4 sisters behind in Toolesboro with three of them eventually moving on from the area. 1 sister, Permilla, would stay in Louisa County, spending the rest of her life in the area. This story is starting to gain some steam and is very important to our Iowa history. The Littleton Memorial and Toolesboro Mounds are one of Iowa’s best stops for any history buff. Please experience them as soon as you can. We’ll be doing a post on the Littleton family in the future…Stay tuned, readers

We say this from time to time and we do we mean it. We only scratched the surface of this beautiful county. Louisa has over 15,000 acres of public lands with only 11,000 citizens. That’s a lot of legroom, folks. There’s no four lane highways, busy interstate, and zero stoplights anywhere. It’s also the only Iowa county along the Mississippi that doesn’t have a bridge connecting it to a state on the eastern banks. I find comfort in all of this. And I know that there’s many more out there that would. Louisa County’s majesty is a one of kind area in America. Explore Iowa’s wilderness and discover the treasure that is Louisa County.

You’ve found clue 5 of 8! Click HERE to go back to the Scavenger Hunt Page to see the next clue.

Be sure to read all about our earlier trip to Louisa County in our 2016 Taco Tour stop in Columbus Junction!

And now a huge thank you to….

Kathy Vance of the Louisa County ISU Extentsion. She was our guide and spent the whole day showing Team Goodvin around this scenic county. One of the best ambassadors we’ve ever met. We’ll see you again, Kathy!

Thanks for reading! -Team Goodvin

7 thoughts on “Louisa’s Majesty-Endless Waterways,Woodlands, History, & an Authentic Burmese Feast

  1. Thanks for your blog about the best county in Iowa! Come visit us in Louisa County for all the reasons JayJay writes about and a whole lot more he hasn’t had a chance to see yet!

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