Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The White Pole Road Marathon and Three Crazy Goofballs

Every summer here in rural Iowa we have a day-long event that spans five towns, many miles, and lots and lots and lots of sales. The Old Great White Way is now known as White Pole Road. Originating just to the east of Dexter, in Dallas County, the road meanders through Stuart, Menlo and Casey, in Guthrie County, and ends in Adair, in Adair County. Part of one of the original cross-country roads, our quiet little piece of history was once a busy thoroughfare.

If you've ever seen the Disney movie Cars, then you'll understand the fate of The Great White Way. Once the interstate was completed, traffic chose the higher speed roadway, and the little towns, the motels and hotels, the restaurants, the gift shops, the gas by one began to close their doors. New motels and restaurants were built on the interchanges. Big truck stops replaced the old style service station. A little piece of Americana was lost forever.

The White Rose Gasoline attendant stands at attention in Menlo.
Don't tell that to those of us that live here! We embrace our scenic little byway and celebrate its history by paying homage to the old name- lining the highway with white-painted phone poles and calling it The White Pole Road. Every year the towns along this historic road pick a date and hold the White Pole Road Marathon Sale- basically mile after mile of garage, yard and rummage sales. And it's fun! Every town has loads of participation. Some folks set up the traditional tag sale, others hold bake sales, hot dogs and cold drinks, churches get involved- it's a great day and an event unique to American small town life.

So anyway......what's more fun than two goofy sisters and a nephew getting together for a road trip, town to town, sale to sale, winery stop along the way? That's exactly what we did! Got an early morning start and hit the highway. What does a carload of lake residents do for entertainment? Hang on- you're about to find out.......

We started our adventure in Dexter. Fueled by caffeine, we were ready to hit the road and do what former city people do in the country- whoop it up. Well.....calmly, it is still morning, after all. 

Our big plans for a day of bargain hunting and fun turned south very quickly. The few sprinkles on the windshield as we left Dexter quickly turned into a torrential downpour that lasted the better part of the day. We planned to tough it out anyway, after all, sales in garages should stay pretty dry. However, many of the sellers didn't agree. Garage doors closed, plastic tarps covered yardfulls of goodies, and we headed to Carver's Ridge in Stuart. What better way to wait out the rain than in a store that sells wine! 

A few of the goodies Carver's Ridge offers
Carver's Ridge is so much more than that. Tyson and Anne Greenwalt are the owners of this company and what they do is just awesome. Besides landscaping, they engrave- everything from custom glassware and little rocks for wine bottle stoppers to huge boulders in your yard. The retail shop also carries a great selection of gourmet foods and mixes, like baking mixes made just for them, and WINE. Wonderful Iowa wines! Bet you'll never guess what I bought.....

Menlo is next on the hit list. By the time we got there many of the sales had given up. We stopped at one but most of what this man was selling was well outside of the garage sale price range, and I really didn't need a camper.......

Casey, Antique Country. You got that right! I'm starting to feel a little like an antique right about now! A wet antique...... by the time we arrived in Casey, well, the day was pretty much a bust.

And finally, Adair. We never made it this far. Too much rain, too much disappointment, we figured we might as well look at the weather radar and find some non-rainy towns. We headed over to Earlham, in Dallas County, and had a little more success. After Earlham we drove back to Stuart and with no garage sales having reopened,we gave up on the garage sales and hit the winery.

The Dale Valley Vineyard and Winery it just north of Stuart near the old ghost town of Daly City. The tasting room is in the old Daly City school, which was moved to the winery site and restored by the owners, Ed and Tracy Mahlstadt. It's a fantastic place with rolling hills of vines,a beautiful outdoor covered patio, and delicious wines, many of which have school-theme names,such as Recess. The gift shop offers lots of fun wine-themed items and of course, you can taste the wines!  We bought some- no surprise there.

After that we headed further north to Panora and Britches and Bows Country Store. This adorable little shop is out in the country, on a farm, and is brimming with cute crafty items, unique clothing and jewelry and antiques. I found a couple things I could use for food props and wished I had a lot more money to spend in there.

Arriving back the lake we decided to see if any lake sales were open and we hit the motherload! I scored several gorgeous vintage chianti bottles, dishes, and a sweet little sign for my garden. So, in spite of the rain, the day turned out quite good. The busy day turned into a quiet evening with The Chef and a bottle of wine. country girls (and boy) know how to have a good time!

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