‘Give our Shores a Spin’ During RAGBRAI 2015

RAGBRAI Countdown Bike
RAGBRAI Countdown Bike after the 4th of July Parade in Storm Lake, Iowa. You never know where you may find the bike before the RAGBRAI riders arrive in town!

RAGBRAI is just around the corner! And if you live in Iowa, you’ve most likely been hearing about The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa for quite some time now. The week-long bike ride will bring more than 20,000 people to several towns across Iowa.

This year, the droves of people (and bicycles) will arrive in Sioux City, Iowa on July, 18th for an evening of entertainment and fun. The other overnight stops include Storm Lake, Fort Dodge, Eldora, Cedar Falls, Hiawatha, and Iowa River Landing/Coralville before ending in Davenport on the 25th.

The the first day of riding just happens to end in the town we live in, so it is hard to ignore the hype surrounding this event that is 42 years strong. The preparations are in the final stages. Food, entertainment, showers, and housing for the night have been arranged. Check out the Storm Lake RAGBRAI website or facebook page for even more details.

The countdown is on-literally! A huge metal bicycle has been spotted around Storm Lake with signage counting down the days until the bicyclists arrive in our town. It’s been fun to see where we spot this bike. We’ve found it at Kings Pointe Resort, the 4th of July Parade, Downtown Storm Lake, and in the Hy-Vee parking lot. You’ll have to go for a drive around town to see where it will be next!

RAGBRAI Windmill Blade
This painted windmill blade welcomes bicyclists and other RAGBRAI goers to Storm Lake.

We’ve also found a windmill blade near Highway 110 by the Little Storm Lake Discovery Center painted for the occasion. The Witter Gallery has an art show going on now through July 31, consisting of locally created bicycle art of all kinds. My girls have entered their own glittery bike paintings for all to see. Be sure to check out all the art before it’s gone!

So, if find yourself driving (or riding) across the great state of Iowa July 18-25, keep an eye out for extra bikes on the road. Make sure you stop along the way and join in on the Small Town Iowa fun and hospitality. Check here for RAGBRAI’s 2015 route and here for the Storm Lake entertainment schedule. Bring on the bikes, Storm Lake is ready for our RAGBRAI friends to ‘Give our Shores a Spin!’

Relay For Life: Spreading Hope in Buena Vista County, Iowa

Relay for LifeHOPE. The shirts for the 2015 Relay for Life have this message front and center. Those who attend a Relay for Life fundraising event sponsored by the American Cancer Society this year will be reminded that there is HOPE-hope for a cure, hope for survival, hope that less people have to hear the word ‘cancer.’

Cancer is a very personal thing for my family and me, like it is for so many of you. We were first introduced to the Relay for Life in Carroll County, Iowa in 1998, after my younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, the Relay has become a part of my summer ritual. The Relay for Life took on an even deeper meaning after I was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, at the age of 16. Although the county I now Relay in is different, the cause is very much the same. For me, it is a celebration. It is on the track that I am reminded over and over again about my many blessings.

Carroll County Relay for Life 2005
My siblings, me, and our significant others at the Carroll County Relay for Life in 2005-10 years ago, before any of us were married. This is one of my all-time favorite Relay for Life photos!

For others, the Relay for Life is a time of healing. A time of remembering loved ones who lost their lives due to cancer. The Relay for Life is here to provide HOPE that someday there will be more celebrating and fewer tears. The money raised at these events is used for cancer research and programming to support those affected by cancer.

This year, I attended the Relay for Life in Buena Vista County in late June at Tornado Field in Storm Lake, Iowa. The event kicked-off with a meal at 5 PM and lasted until after dark. A survivors lap honored those who have fought or were currently fighting a battle against cancer. Luminaries in honor or memory of those touched by cancer lined the track to be lit at dusk. Entertainment and games were also available throughout the evening.

I wasn’t able to stay long at this year’s Relay for Life, but I made sure I walked a few laps. I walked for my family members, friends, and strangers all touched by cancer. I walked for me. This year, I celebrated being cancer free for 14 ½ years!

Relay for Life
Spreading HOPE at the Relay for Life 2015. Make plans to attend an event in 2016!

If you haven’t been to a Relay for Life, please go, and check it out at least once. You don’t have to be part of a team to participate, but if you are up to the challenge, get a group of friends together to make a difference in the lives of others. You can find additional information and a list of Relay for Life events near you here. Get out there, raise money if you can, and walk to create HOPE that someday we will live in a world without cancer.

Meeting Local Heros at Cool Down with the Cops


Posing with Lieutenant Cole
Lieutenant Cole from the SLPD and my girls at the Cool off with the Cops event at Tropical Sno.

Many smiles and ‘Thank Yous’ were shared at the ‘Cool Down with the Cops’ event sponsored by the Storm Lake Police Department on June 30, 2015. For an hour in the afternoon, members of the SLPD were on hand at Tropical Sno in downtown Storm Lake to discuss community issues, field questions, and cool off with locals. Free sno cones were given out to those who stopped by.

This event appeared to be a hit. Many children and families lined up for the sno cones and opportunities to chat with the officers. My girls were super excited to see police officers up close and personal and have their photo taken with Lieutenant Cole. It was great to see so many children (and adults) excited to mingle with the people who work hard day in and day out to protect our beautiful city.

Addie petting Cesar
Officer Schuchhardt and Cesar were a big hit with the kids at the Cool off with the Cops Event.

Officer Schuchhardt and his K-9 partner, Cesar, made an appearance and heightened the excitement with the children. The children had the opportunity to pet Cesar and share their love with him. Meeting members of the SLPD, seeing Cesar, and cooling off with sno cones were the highlights of our day. It is something the girls will be talking about for days to come.

Thank you to Tropical Sno for working hard to make the yummy sno cones. Thank you SLPD for inviting the community to spend the afternoon with you. You are this community’s heros. Thank you for all you do!

If you missed this event, there are plenty of ways to connect with our local police department. Check out SLPD’s Facebook page for upcoming Neighborhood Outreach and Coffee with a Cop opportunities. If you live outside of Storm Lake, contact your local police department to find a community outreach event near you. Get out there, and meet your local heros!


Free Fishing = Family Fun

Ready to Fish
Getting ready to fish at the Gone Fish’n Fishing Derby in Storm Lake, Iowa.

“Here fishy, fishy!” Kids of all ages were uttering these words on Sunday, June 7, 2015 at a fishing derby hosted by Gone Fish’n. This free event was held at Frank Starr Park in Storm Lake, Iowa for kids ages 3 to 13 in conjunction with Iowa’s Free Fishing Weekend. The event advertised free food, bait, prizes, and free fishing poles for the first 65 kids. While this was the first year Gone Fish’n hosted such an event, I hope it becomes an annual family tradition for years to come.

My girls were super excited to go fishing. We gathered our sunscreen, fishing poles, and camera and set out on a great fishing adventure. Our family is full of novice fishers, so our load was light. Next time I would bring the following items: Lawn chairs, bug spray, and hand wipes. (Some people also brought buckets for seats or to carry home their catch of the day.) I was able to scrounge up an almost empty can of bug spray and a couple wet wipes in our car once we got there, but having them at the beginning of our expedition would have been handy!

Shore of Storm Lake
The shore of Storm Lake was packed with families excited to go fishing.

We arrived at the park shortly before 2 PM. The free fishing poles were gone, and the amount of families lining the shore already was amazing. Later, we found out that a whopping 97 free fishing poles were given away to excited children!

The girls signed in and were given a cup of wiggly worms. We found a spot along the shore and got busy untangling fishing lines and baiting hooks. We threw out our lines and intently watched the pink and white bobbers for any sign of movement. We watched, and watched, and watched. “This is no use,” sighed one of my girls. She reeled in the line to check for signs of life. The worm still dangled from the hook. With a determined mind, she threw out the line again and waited. And waited some more.

Watching Bobbers
Making memories while watching bobbers for signs of movement!

A little girl next to us caught a fish, and excitement mounted. We chatted and watched the boat traffic on the lake. A jet ski made waves nearby. A family of curious geese swam by to check out the excitement. Our bobbers stayed in one spot, with no signs of nibbles. After 30 minutes of unsuccessful fishing, tiny little ripples started to appear on the lake, and rain drops slowly began to fall on our heads. Slowly, the sprinkles picked up. It was raining!

Our fishing expedition was over. We packed up and loaded our gear in the car. Some followed suit, while other die-hard fishers weren’t bothered by a little rain. A crowd slowly gathered in the park’s shelter house where a group from Storm Lake’s Grace Lutheran Church had graciously prepared hot dogs, chips, bars, and drinks.

Time for Prizes
This tackle box was a big hit and is now full of all her jewelry!

Prizes were then given away to kids who caught fish and to those who came to give fishing a try. All kids in attendance got a prize of some sort, ranging from lures, fishing nets, and tackle boxes. We went home with a mermaid tackle box, a big bag of bobbers, and fish coloring sheets. The girls loved their prizes and are even more excited to go on another fishing adventure! Despite the rain, Gone Fish’n hosted a great event that led to a lot of Small Town Iowa Fun!

You don’t have to wait for Gone Fish’n to host an event to get in on the fishing fun. The lake in Storm Lake is always ready for anglers of all ages. So, get your pole and tackle and plan an adventure of your own!