Quite a while ago, Chicago had artists decorate plastic cows for its street corners. We have seen similarly decorated bears in Maine and North Carolina. And recently Fort Myers, Florida received artists’ versions of seahorses, a fundraiser for the local children’s hospital. Well, of course, Le Mars has ice cream cones on its street corners.
Using our sightseeing by state list at the top of the page, we had visited Guttenburg, a pretty town, and the Effigy Mounds. Now, on our way across Iowa, we stopped in Waterloo to tour the John Deere Engine Works, one of six John Deere factories in the area. When we called, they said if there were just the two of us, they could fit us in the 9:30 tour. When we arrived, the other “tourists” were all middle-aged or younger men with more than a passing interest in John Deere tractors.
The tour lasted an hour and a half, much of which was riding around the huge plant. I was disappointed because they didn’t allow pictures; you will have to imagine long rows of engine blocks waiting to be machined, stacks of dull unfinished cam shafts and rows of gleaming finished ones. Most machining was done in temperature and humidity controlled boxes, and we had to be content with videos of the process. But in several places, we watched robots working in tandem. For example, one would hold and rotate a six hundred pound block while the other polished burrs off freshly drilled holes.
Waterloo had a Coldstone Creamery which probably could have made a banana split, but why “settle” when one knows the best is probably in the same state.
It was worth the wait. Blue Bunny has a museum and ice cream parlor in the downtown. A meeting had just ended upstairs, and the man behind the soda fountain looked like he could have been part of the founding Wells family. He came in, fixed my banana split and disappeared. He certainly took pride in creating a special dish.
We were glad to have seen the Deere factory and learned many interesting things about their diverse engine line. Perhaps the only thing that might have made our visit to Le Mars better would have been a tour through one of the huge Blue Bunny plants – but perhaps, as in my quest for the perfect banana split, I am just being greedy.