Little Cubs Field:
With another day off in between ballparks, we made a few stops between Chicago and Minneapolis. The first was in the small town Freeport, Illinois. In 2008, this miniature version of Wrigley Field – known as “Little Cubs Field” – was unveiled to the public. It was built by countless volunteers from the area, and is a pretty amazing model of the real Wrigley. It’s complete with an almost identical scoreboard above center, ivy all over the outfield walls, a big red marquee sign, and even a (wooden) statue of Harry Caray. Under the scoreboard is a hand-painted mural depicting a crowd of Cubs fan – an awesome addition. The field is available for rent for little league games (or T-ball, kickball, etc.) or even an event like a wedding or fundraiser – for just $45/hour! Probably cheaper than hosting a Bar Mitzvah at the big-league Wrigley.
Field of Dreams:
A couple hours West brought us to Dyersville, Iowa – where the movie “Field of Dreams” was shot. It’s been pretty much intact since the movie was shot in 1988, and looks just like it did in the film – the corn fields past the outfield grass, the wooden bleachers next to the field, and even the white house belonging to the Kinsella family from the movie. In real life, the farm and house has belonged to the Lansing family for generations, and they were happy to allow 14 months of movie shooting – without any type of payment at all. There were a bunch of kids playing ball on the field, and I got really jealous we didn’t bring our gloves to throw around for a bit. But it was a great experience, and a true field of dreams.
Our final stop of the day was a hiking trail through an area that was occupied by people up to an estimated 12,000 years ago. But archaeologists have found that more recently – around 1000 B.C. – Native tribes that lived here buried their dead in huge mounds of land. There are about 195 mounds within this 2,500-acre wooded area, ranging from circular and linear formations to shapes of animals like bears and birds. The different shapes are believed to have been used for different rituals with various meanings. They ranged from 2 to 8 feet high, and some of the larger animal-shaped mounds stretched from 40 to a a couple hundred feet wide. One bird mound has a wingspan of 212 feet, and the Great Bear Mound measures 137 feet long and 70 feet wide at the base. All filled with the dead of their close-knit communities… a little eerie but very cool to see. The grass surrounding the mounds are mowed so you can see where they are located throughout the park.
There were also some great views of the Mississippi River from the edge of the trails.
After the day of sightseeing and a little more driving, we stayed the night in the small town of La Crosse, Iowa where we went to a local German bar called Stolpa’s Stein Haus for some amazing brats (sausages, not rebellious teenage girls). There were dozens of flavors and infused ingredients it was so hard to choose. We decided on 3 to try: the “Munich” – seasoned with parsley, chives, salt, & pepper; “Da Bear” – stuffed with honey, blueberries, and cheddar cheese; and the “Black & Blue” – stuffed with bleu cheese and black pepper. All three were amazing… so juicy and flavorful I wanted to try 3 more.