Saturday, July 2, 2011
Many Fields of Dreams
Many of the destinations Melvin and I visit are somebody’s dream. The attraction can be rational or unbalanced, well-executed or ragged, but they are part of the cultural landscape because someone had a dream. “If you build it, they will come.” We heeded the call, then towards the end of the day went to see the Cedar Rapids Kernals take on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
We once again passed up a continental breakfast, heading instead to Krumpets Bakery and Café. The owner told me she always wanted to own her own restaurant and now that she does, she can call an English muffin a “krumpet" if she wants to. Nice place, good food, friendly owner and staff—I wish her much success.
Or at least more success than the local entrepreneur who opened a restaurant with Flava Flav, formerly with Public Enemy and now reduced to self-parody. That dream became a nightmare and the eatery closed after four months. The Van Allen Department Store downtown is also gone, but the Louis Sullivan-designed building remains. The main first floor tenant is a pharmacy (top photo) and it appears the upper floors have been converted to apartments.
Across the Mississippi, in Fulton, Illinois, Harold and Thelma Wierenga built Heritage Canyon in an abandoned quarry, a memorial to bygone Midwestern culture. Both are deceased but the collection of antiques (and fauxtiques) in old buildings lives on.
In Dubuque, J.K. Graves dreamed of a faster way to get to the top of the bluffs from downtown and had the Fenelon Place funicular constructed in 1882. Rebuilt three times following fires, we rode round-trip, then continued on to the site where Field of Dreams was filmed. Melvin and I did not find the homage to a fiction very interesting, but neither of us has seen the movie. Perhaps that would have made all the difference, although I doubt it.
Melvin took a quick tour of the National Farm Toy Museum, also in Dyersville, and I regret choosing a nap—I do not recall having any dreams—over the dioramas of farm equipment. His pictures make it seem more interesting, at least to me, than Trainland.
We got to Cedar Rapids early enough to have a pre-game dinner at Al and Irene’s Bar-B-Q House, which both of us had read about in multiple sources. There wasn’t much char to the meat and if the baked beans did not come out of a can, someone in the kitchen should save themselves the trouble of preparing a dish that tastes like it does. The sweet potato pie is more custardy than either Melvin or I like it. But look at the picture of Al Quartermain on the wall and you see a happy man.
The baseball game between the Cedar Rapids Kernals and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers went scoreless for the first six innings. In the last three innings, the visiting team put up a picket fence. With three outs remaining, the Kernals fought back. It looked like Rolando Gomez hit a two-run shot over the left-center wall. The hit, however, was ruled a ground rule double. Gomez (crossing the plate the first time, above) and the lead runner would eventually come around on a Jeremy Cruz single, but the Kernals came up short, 3-2.
After the game Melvin and I had a night-cap at the Parlor City Pub, which has an excellent selection of draft beers. Whoever thinks that guitar player is good is dreaming.