A weekend in our town

Welcome back everyone! This weekend started out with gorgeous weather and a happy baby! We decided to stay local today and enjoy what our own little town of Pella has to offer. We have lived here for almost 3.5 years and yet Clark had still not gotten the chance to visit the Vermeer Mill. So we decided it would be a Dutch Day!

We got to the Vermeer Mill around 11:20 in order to make it on the 11:30 tour of the mill, however, they had already sold too many tickets. But we were able to explore the Historical Village first, and with practically no one else there!

The Historical Village is a walk back through time! It tells Pella’s history through antique buildings and replicas. The first stop in the historical village was a log cabin! This cabin was what settlers from Holland built when they immigrated to Pella. After going inside, we were able to see what life would have been like in the 1840’s! I think Clark was most impressed by the HUGE bear skin wall hanging as well as the three bear skin coats!

Next on the tour was the sod house, but first, let’s go into some Pella history… H.P. Scholte was a Dutch clergyman who broke away from the Dutch National Church. Due to religious persecution, he and his followers decided to immigrate to the United States. They charted 4 ships and 900 Dutch sailed for America in April 1847. Of the 900 immigrants, 747 made it to Pella, Iowa. By the time they arrived to Pella, they did not have enough time before Winter came to build log cabins for everyone. Due to this fact, they built the sod houses that we got to see next. This was the best option when it came to short time frames!

Up next was the woodworkers shop or the “De Timmerman”. Here the settlers made chests, yokes, and other implements needed for farming.  Right next door housed the blacksmiths shop. Definitely the hottest of all the jobs! Here we were able to see all the interesting machinery that was made in 1847. Quite impressive technology for the time! Just outside the door was the water mill. These were apparently fairly common to have outside of blacksmiths shops due to the amount of water needed to cool down hot steel.

Pella has an annual Tulip Time Festival which takes place the first Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in May because this is normally the time frame where all of the beautiful Dutch tulips begin to bloom. Unfortunately for Tulip Time (but a huge bonus for you checking out our pictures) is that most of the Tulips have already bloomed and even better, the museum was not overcrowded! What a gorgeous walk around the village!

The next part of the tour was the Heritage Museum. Here we were able to see all the different Dutch outfits based on region as well as “The Wall of Tulip Queens!”. Look at all those pretty ladies! (Eyra is practicing her wave… she was born Queen material!) In this same building, we were able to see David and Goliath! These are not the characters from the Bible that you are used to, but in fact GIANT Dutch Calliopes (which is a musical instrument using steam to blow through large pipes). They bust these out during Tulip Time and man are they loud and AWESOME!!

Attached to the museum is a few replicas of what a typical Dutch kitchen and living room, as well as a replica of the church that H.P. Scholte built in Pella. We also got to pay old Sinterklaas a visit and told him that we are being extra good this year (no need to send Krampus after us)!! Although the church is a replica, the pulpit is the actual pulpit that Scholte used when he lived in Holland. His granddaughters transported it from Holland after his death.

*Cue old west music* Did you know that Wyatt Earp lived in Pella?? Well he sure did! His family lived in Pella from 1850-1864 before packing up the wagon and heading to California. The historic village has many Earp souvenirs and plenty of history about his family. They have a replica of the home he lived in as well! Another fun fact about Pella? The founder of Pella, H.P. Scholte was friends with Mister Abraham Lincoln! They even have letters between the two! Yeah! They were BFF’s!

The second to last stop in the village was the general store! This is a replica of what the store would have looked like. Inside we were able to see a real antique switchboard desk as well as a cool old phone, and even a terrifying looking salon chair! I think I would have done my own hair back then! Yikes!!

Last stop? The Klompen shop! Here is the place that would have made Klompens (or clogs) for the towns people. These are very typical for the Dutch and they often have multiple pairs including a church pair! During Tulip Time, there is actually someone here showing how the shoes are made!

When we had finally made it through the village, the time was nearing 12:30. The next tour wasn’t until 1:30, but a little Eyra was getting very sleepy! So we decided to head home and let her take a nap until the 2:30 mill tour. The good thing about us going back home is that we only live a block away.

As we arrived back at the mill, our tour guide Jim greeted us with a warm hello! We had the honor of having some Dutch tourists on the tour as well, who helped Jim nail all of the Dutch terms he used. The mill was made using parts crafted in Holland and was assembled by a group of Dutch craftsmen by the company name Verbij Hoogmade BV.

The construction of the mill is impressive! It’s amazing to see that such simple technology was used to get such impressive results. The mill has 4 large blades that have lattice work on them in order to lower or raise sails. These sails, when lowered, cover the lattice in times of little breeze to make the blades spin faster. The spinning of the blades then turns a large gear which turns the main vertical shaft that mills the wheat. This main shaft is also used to do some heavy lifting. When the miller was prepared to work for the day, he would open the doors at the base of the mill. Men would come by and drop off their wheat. They would tie the heavy bags to a rope dangling from the top of the mill and shake the rope to alert the miller. At this time, the miller would release a rope that would engage another gear to the main shaft allowing the mill to do all the work of raising the grain bags up into the mill! How ingenious!

Jim was able to show us the HUGE grain stones that are set into the mill. As an engineer, it was fascinating to see such simple technology (gears) achieve so many cool things! We were able to walk out on the deck and see the mill blades spinning as well as see the large ship wheel that moves the cap. The cap is the top portion of the windmill and has the capability of rotating 360 degrees! In order to be the most efficient, the nose of the windmill must be facing directly into the wind which means the miller must be able to rotate the cap at any point in time!

The mill also had miller’s quarters set up, since real millers would live in the mill. We were able to see how this man would live. He had a small bed (what we’ve learned is called a Dutch Bed, built into a dresser), a small living/eating area and a woodstove to cook!

The last part of the windmill tour, took us through the miniature village! I think this was Eyra’s favorite part! This tiny village was built to represent different areas of Holland. I think this is a super cool exhibit and it really makes me want to take up miniature modeling!

We finally ended our day by visiting the local Jaarsma bakery to get some good ol’ fashioned Dutch treats! Clark and Eyra really dug the Dutch letters! Later that afternoon, we met with our good friends Sara and Jason for some delicious Mexican food at El Charro because that’s clearly where we always go.

Our Easter Sunday was a blast! We were able to “hide” eggs all over the back yard for Eyra to find! She had so much fun finding all the “balls” and had even more fun when she realized she could open them! Teddy chewed a couple of eggs, I mean helped Eyra find the hidden eggs. After a while, all we heard was “Open peash daddy?”, “Open peash mommy?”. It was a great weekend.

Where will we go next? Tune in next week when we have some special guests joining us!

To be continued…

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