Sunday May 25, 2014
Kalona, Iowa is the center of the largest Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River. 1300 Amish, in nine church districts, live nearby. There are many Mennonites, as well, and local tourist brochures explain how the groups differ in religious observance.
You can take a tour of the area and visit Amish furniture stores, the cheese factory and an Amish buffet. I do not partake, but the town does cater to tourists with plenty of little shops, a museum, laundromat, a microbrewery (not Amish, of course), a Mexican restaurant, a Subway and a very well-stocked small grocery with a very popular take-away restaurant attached. Indeed, it’s a tiny little town, but it has everything you need.
The city park is huge, complete with ball fields, numerous pieces of play equipment, picnic shelters, a pool and a campground. I settle into the campground – the only tent among 9 other massive RVs in 35 sites. One RV is so huge it looks like it probably has an ‘upstairs’ and is pulled by a semi-truck prime mover. Those folks”run-around’ vehicle is a bright, yellow Hummer. Ahem….
Opening day at the pool is today. The pool pump is a soothing white noise invaded by blaring pop music and shrieking kids testing out the cold water of the early season.
The guys and I check out the play equipment and then join the locals at the laundromat. It is clean and well-kept. I sneak in and get a washer before a short, overweight woman with two teenagers takes the other nine machines. I’m not sure how long they go between doing loads, or how big their family is, but I kinda think it might be more economical to just purchase a washer if you’re doing that much laundry!
One of the teenagers will have more laundry soon as she is visibly pregnant. They ask me to keep an eye on their stuff while all three step outside to smoke. It reminds me of being a check-out chick. I cringed everytime I had to sell cigarettes to a pregnant woman because somehow I felt complicit in harming a child.
With laundry finished, and all of my clothes now fully clean instead of just hand-washed, I head back to the campground to catch up my journal and stay off my butt. It is healing. Only about an inch of the three inches of injury seems to be a concern now. Better to let it heal as much as I can this weekend since I know saddle sore infections can end tours.