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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

An awesome meal at Tequila's in Northwood, Iowa

Tequila's Mexican Bar & Grill

If good things come in small packages, does that hold true for good food in small towns? We often find it does. Our visit to Northwood, IA, proved the point. My husband and I had no thought of finding Mexican food. Mind you, we try to find restaurants wherever we go because we are definitely Mexican food lovers.

I wasn’t expecting anything outstanding when we entered Tequila’s. “It’s great food here,” my new friend Donna told us. I smiled and decided to withhold judgment.

Fajitas were the lunchtime special of the day and that sounded great to me. My husband opted for a pork burrito – as he almost always does.
Lunch fajitas

Donna was right. I knew with the complimentary chips, salsa and cheese dip, that I would walk away a happy camper – and I did. The chicken fajitas met every expectation in quality, freshness, taste and portion size.  The pork burrito did the same.

The friendly servers kept vigilant eyes on our chip and drink refill needs. All in all, it was a totally enjoyable lunch experience, right down to the fried ice cream for dessert. Would I visit again? You bet I would. Just writing this is making me hungry.
Pork Burrito

Locally owned by Manuel and Shawna Ramirez, a husband-and-wife team, the small restaurant is planning an expansion soon. It was filled to capacity when we visited. Since it’s well worth a side tour for folks traveling on I-35 through north Iowa, I know word will spread and the space will be needed.

Fried Ice Cream

So, my advice, if you’re traveling I-35 at lunch or dinnertime, take the exit to Northwood and relax at Tequila’s with an excellent meal. The restaurant is located at 846 Central Ave, Northwood, IA, and on Facebook at 

Monday, June 27, 2016

8 Reasons to Take a Break in Northern Iowa

Red Barn Rest Area

Will you be traveling I-35 in northern Iowa this summer? If so, plan to take a break in Northwood. Just a few miles south of the Minnesota line,

First, stop off at the Red Barn rest stop and visitor’s center. Undoubtedly, the best rest area I’ve ever seen, boasting a coffee shop and a boutique.

Diamond Jo Casino
The Diamond Jo Casino ( is adjacent to the freeway, attached to the Comfort Inn and Suites. A Holiday Inn Express is across the street. The casino is small compared to some of the big names and prides itself on more personalized service.  As part of Worth County, a percentage of its revenue supports schools and other programs in the area. For some reason, that makes me feel better about leaving some of my hard-earned money there.
In Finders Keepers

If you enjoy unique shopping opportunities, Northwood offers a couple that are sure to delight.  Finders Keepers is truly a “find anything” kind of place. Jennifer, the owner, and her husband are collectors who love to find the unusual. He travels all over the world and brings new items home. She is willing to share the story of special items – where it came from and when they found it. (

The Hen House
Finders Keepers also hosts a coffee and pastries bar. Also, Jennifer told us a fascinating side fact. The building was once a stop on the orphan train route.

Across the street is The Hen House Coffee Shop & Boutique, another shopping experience housed in a renovated old building. Once again, you’ll find an abundance of antiques and home decor. If you love repurposed items, you’ll discover them here. (

We ate lunch at Tequila’s. I had the lunch fajitas and they were fabulous. My husband ordered a burrito and loved it.

Swensrud School

The Worth County Historical Society ( operates several museums, including the one-room Swensrud School. When we visited, we learned about its history from a woman who had actually attended the school. The museum is well organized. I particularly enjoyed the period clothing and military history sections. The Pixley Log House, built in 1858, served as a home to several families over its lifetime. With furnishings from before 1870, it gives visitors a good idea what life was like in rural America.
Museum display

Take a stroll through the Worth County Fairgrounds and enjoy the statues that represent the various towns. Beautiful flowers and old trees line the trail of this enjoyable walk.
At Fairgrounds

Tired and thirsty yet? Cool off with a cold one from the Worth Brewing Company ( In another renovated building with a tin ceiling, the dГ©cor alone is worth the visit.

Worth Brewing Company
I love to visit towns that choose to revitalize old buildings rather than simply building new ones.  A nonprofit group, Waking Miss Winifred, has taken on the task of renovating the old Winifred Hotel, built in 1912-1913. Check their Facebook page: for more information.

Northwood, founded in 1853, may be small but its residents have mighty big plans for keeping their culture and history alive!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lexington, Kentucky

Sometimes you find lots more than you were looking for. Last weekend, we drove out of Cincinnati, headed to Louisville. Suddenly, our GPS popped up an alternate route due to heavy traffic. We found ourselves headed to Lexington instead.

Most of us know that Lexington is the horse capital of the state. We saw some beautiful horse farms on the outskirts of town but I had decided to check out the Visitors Center downtown. Their website ( said to look for the awning with the blue horse. Once inside, I found a life-size blue horse decorated with Kentucky attractions.

At the suggestion of a friendly guide, we decided to check out the downtown area. Unfortunately, we'd already had lunch so we simply walked past several local restaurants. We stopped at the girlhood home of Mary Todd Lincoln. In her early childhood, she had lived in a home across the street that is no longer standing.
Mary Todd Lincoln's home

Since I love old buildings, we headed to the pre-Civil War section of town
on Mill Street. The area, known as the Gratz Park Historic District, is home to many structures built in the early 1800s. I'll feature just two of the twenty-five buildings.

Henry Clay's law office

Henry Clay, a US Senator and Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams, started his career as a lawyer. His law office, built in 1803, is one of only a few surviving professional buildings from that period. The Gratz Park brochure suggests that he probably interviewed Aaron Burr in this office.

First Presbyterian Church

Next to it stands the First Presbyterian Church,  built in 1872. This beautiful church is home to one of Lexington's oldest congregations, tracing its beginnings to 1784.

Whether you're interested in historic buildings, the Civil War, horses, museums, the Underground Railroad or wildlife, you'll find it covered in Lexington or the surrounding area.

Unfortunately, we were on a deadline to get home, so now I want to go back to Lexington and discover many of the attractions I missed.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pennsylvania and a camera - a marriage made in Heaven


Since I first visited Pennsylvania, I've collected thousands of pictures of scenery, places, historical sites and cities that captured my imagination. I've experienced three seasons - spring, summer and fall. Each has its own beauty. I know I've only touched the surface of what the state has to offer, but here's a sampling of my current visit.

Neff Barn
I've fallen in love with round barns and will be planning future road trips around the possibility of finding more.

The first I found was near Gettysburg, built by a Shaker family in the early 1900s. Today it is a fruit market and shopping destination.

Butler County
The second, the Neff Barn, is a few miles outside State College on Hwy 45. You can see it from the highway but it is on private property. Fortunately, it's possible to pull off the road long enough to snap a photo or two.

We searched for one near Altoona, but even with the coordinates, we were unable to locate it.
Mingo State Park

Sachs Bridge

I've found two covered bridges - one in Mingo Park near Pittsburgh and the Sachs Bridge at Gettysburg. The latter is historically significant as it is the bridge through which the Confederate Army retreated after the battle.
McConnells Mill State Park

Pennsylvania has an abundance of beautiful forests. With the many different species, the varied colors create great photo ops.

One of my favorite tree photos was taken in the fall in the pouring rain at Mingo State Park.

Mingo State Park

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Baltimore, Maryland

We made a quick (unfortunately) ride through Baltimore to check out the Inner Harbor district. Brick streets, sidewalks, homes and buildings beautify the city. Whether you look up or down, the use of brick leaves an impression of charm and uniformity.

The Inner Harbor is in the heart of the city. Even on a holiday weekend, some people bustled about. Others walked their dogs or strolled around the harbor. Lots of tourists - easy to spot because of the cameras in their hands.

View from the Marriott
I jumped out of the car at the Marriott Hotel and had time to take a few shots. Almost any waterfront speaks to me and this was no exception. It gives the city a sparkling clean appearance. The sky was blue, reflecting in the water and creating a great foreground for the city. The brick walkways make it one of the most attractive waterfronts I've seen.

The Inner Harbor District is home to a number of restaurants and shopping venues. It would be a great way to spend a day.

Camden Yards
We drove by Camden Yards, the home of the Baltimore Orioles. I always take photos of baseball stadiums for the baseball fans in my family.

Before we left town, we stopped at Ft. McHenry, the site of the fort that defended the Baltimore Harbor from British forces in the War of 1812. The grounds are spacious and appealing. The fort itself hugs the coast line. Built it 1798, it stayed in use until the end of WWII. It is now a national park.

Ft McHenry

Although I only had time for a glimpse of the city, I know I'd like to visit again.