“Life Is A Journey and The People We Meet Along The Way”

unique gifts

I love love love making these etched copper sun catchers.     Each one has a story of some kind.

Here’s the story behind the “Life Is A Journey And The People We Meet Along The Way” sun catcher prisms I created.

You know those times when you meet someone for the first time and you later wonder if it was a one time chance meeting or maybe the meeting of your soulmate or a lasting true friendship.

I created this copper sun catcher after just one of those chance meetings during a weekend road trip Greg and I took to Galena, Illinois.

You haven’t been there?   You should change that to haven’t been there “yet” and but it on your bucket list of places to visit.      It is a quaint little river town in Northern Illinois with much to see and do.   Historical.    Cool, old buildings.    Beautiful landscape and an awesome drive, especially in the fall.   We’ve been to Galena a couple of times and always find something new to discover.

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My photos don’t do the town justice!   Just go there and see it for yourself.

So, here’s the story behind the creation of this sun catcher.     On our last visit to Galena we stayed at the historic Desoto House Hotel.    Lovely stay and I highly recommend.    Our package deal offered a few cool amenities including tickets to the Galena Historical Society and a Galena Trolley Tour.    (And, yes, I highly recommend both.)

We decided on the early morning trolley tour.      We rose early, had breakfast at a local restaurant and took a stroll down the streets of Galena basking in the serenity of still quiet streets as the stores were not yet opened and the town not yet bustling with tourist activity.

As we strolled we absorbed the beauty of the morning, browsing in windows of quaint little shops and antique stores, and taking in the sights around us.    We came upon one of the long stairways of Galena and I jokingly challenged Greg to a race up the steps.

Galena Illinois Stairway
Galena Illinois Stairway

There was a woman sitting on a bench who heard me make the challenge.    She commented on the steps and started giving us a little history behind them.    As we chatted with her  the topic of the trolley popped up.   She, too, had a ticket to ride.     So, she joined us as we continued our stroll to the trolley station.

Galena Illinois Trolley
Galena Illinois Trolley

There she introduced herself to us as Katherine Walker, Executive Director of Tourism for Jo Daviess County.   She also introduced us to a couple she had made previous arrangements to meet for the trolley tour; Phoebe Smith, from the United Kingdom, Editor for Wanderlust Magazine and, John, her photographer.

These two travel all over the WORLD experiencing and reporting on beautiful places to visit.    Talk about an awesome career.     They were in the United States traveling down the Mississippi River stopping to explore the river towns along the way.    Very cool to have met them and have had the opportunity to chat with them.   The article was set to be published sometime in the fall of 2017, if I recall correctly.   I’m going to look into that.   I’d love to see their article.

Anyway, we all boarded the trolley and enjoyed a great tour.   Being early in the morning there weren’t many other passengers.   A fabulous time to ride and be able to get great views from both sides of the trolley car.

After the tour, Katherine asked if we had dinner plans and invited us to join her.  We were happy to accept.    We made plans to meet later that evening at Fritz and Frites, a lovely European style restaurant.

During dinner we chatted about Galena and Jo Daviess County and how there was so much more to see in the surrounding areas.   We also learned that Katherine was originally from Belleville, Illinois, my home town as well.     Small world, right?

To me the evening was almost surreal as Katherine’s pleasant personality and easy conversation made us feel as if we had known her forever as she told us her stories about Galena and bits of her life.    The night went by too quickly but it was certainly a night to remember.

Together, the three of us walked back to the hotel, said our goodbyes at the hotel lobby, and from there Katherine whet her way and we on ours.

Feeling a bit melancholy with our evening now at an end, I, as I am sometimes known to do, started spinning a story to Greg.    Was Katherine real or perhaps a Galena ghost there to tout her beautiful city and to guide tourists?    Was she a hotel ghost or did she walk the streets and climb the stairways?    How was it she was sitting on that bench this morning and just happened to hear my comment about the stairs?    And, she just happened to be going to the trolley, too?    She was so easy to talk with, no uncomfortable pauses in the conversation at dinner with someone who was a complete strange.  And, she was from Belleville?   You know there is a ghost story linked with this hotel, do you think Katherine may be the ghost…..

Yes, that stay in Galena was pure magic.   Of course traveling with my most awesome husband is always magical but this last trip to Galena was made even more mystical and intriguing by the kindness and interesting personality of a mere stranger who happened to cross our path that day.

Katherine had such an impact on me that I wanted to send her a thank you for hosting such a marvelous evening for us during our Galena stay.    It was quite memorable.

And, that’s how I came to create these “Life Is A Journey and The People We Meet Along the Way” sun catchers.      Because you never know who you might meet and how they may inspire you along your journey.

In conclusion, yes Katherine Walker is real.    I searched on the internet to find an address so I could send her a thank you c/o the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Jo Daviess County.     Truthfully, though, I was kind of hoping that I wouldn’t be able to find any information on her.    That way my ghost theory could become my next best seller, or should I say my first best seller.    And, then again I never know when my creative catalyst might just become a reality because of that one person I met along my way.

But, in all seriousness, I’m glad she is real because she is quite a lovely woman, a stranger who made an effort to become an acquaintance and share a moment in time with two very grateful people.

Life is a journey and the people we meet along the way.     Always wander and wonder!

free spirit

Des Moines, Iowa

What a Wonderful World..
What a Wonderful World..

Just returned from a trip to Des Moines, Iowa.        Our main purpose for this road trip was to attend the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa.

The Farm Progress Show was great.    So many people in attendance, young and old, male and female.     It does my heart good to see so many young people interested in agriculture and farming today.      And, the technology is unbelievable!     Also, very happy to see some of today’s farming thoughts and ideas trending towards cover crops and organic.     Check out Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Des Moines, IA is one of our most favorite places to visit.     The people of Des Moines are so unbelievably friendly and supportive of their city, state, and business.

The city itself is so beautiful and clean.   We stay downtown and love it.   So much to do and see within walking distance.     But, if you prefer to drive, getting around is no big deal and traffic has never been a problem for us, even during rush hour.

The drive for us is about 4.5 hours.    I must say that Iowa has some beautiful farm country.    This is a very beautiful drive, relaxing without a lot of heavy traffic.    And, very clean.   You won’t see a lot of trash along the roadways, weeds in the medians, etc.

A great little two day road trip for us.     Had a fantastic time.

Some of our favorite stops this trip………

  • Our dear friend Gail.    Always love spending time with him.     One of our favorite people.     Not only do we enjoy his company, but his recommendations on where to go, what to see, what to do and good food finds never disappoints.  He always turns us on to something new to try out in Des Moines!  Thank you Gail.
  • Found Things.     An awesome antique store downtown.     Lots of great finds and a shop we go back to again and again.   Marsha is supper sweet and also very helpful in recommending other shops in the area that may have similar items we are looking for.    Very supportive of her community!   Check out here facebook page FoundThings.
  • Valley Junction.   Lots of cool little shops.    Quaint, friendly, and another place we go back to again and again.    Found some great items and friendly people.   Another place where you will find a supportive community.    I love this!   Found some awesome Mexican Pottery Bowls and Whiskey Decanter at Memory Lane Antiques.     Also found some more gorgeous tea cups and saucers at Que Sera.   Love the set up of both shops as well as the chats about dogs and cats and vacations and raccoons in the kitchen!
  • Probably gained a few pounds but well worth it……..good eats this trip at:
  • Vesuvius Wood-Fired Pizza in Ames, IA.   Had lunch here.   Great thin crust pizza and salads.
  • Alba Restaurant in downtown Des Moines, IA.    Had dinner here.     Unique menu items and Amazing flavors!   The food here was delicious.     Loved the ambiance, as well.
  • LaMie.    A must for breakfast (and probably lunch, too).     Hot breakfast items and outstanding pastries.    Their sandwiches looked great, too, but a person can only eat so much in one day.   Will definitely be back.
  • Embassy Suites downtown.     This is where we usually stay.    Friendly, accommodating staff.   Good location.    Clean rooms and well kept lobby area.
  • And, so many more places we didn’t get to this trip but there’s always next time…..