Riding leisurely through the countryside, dining at a beautiful restaurant, discovering historical and modern points of interest, and meeting friendly faces everywhere--doesn't that sound like a great time? It was, and it happened right here in Iowa. For students and instructors from the Orientation Center, April 30 was the perfect day to visit some exciting spots in Iowa.
Our expedition first landed us in Sigourney, where we toured the Durolast Roofing Company. The roof of the Department building was redone this spring, and the special material used for the project came from this plant. The company puts together a rubber-like product that is cut to the exact dimensions for the roof being replaced, which means fewer seams and a longer-lasting roof for the consumer. It was a great tour!
For lunch, we journeyed to the Carriage House, a charming bed-and-breakfast near Kalona. Our hostess told us about the area and answered our questions. The Carriage House is actually her own home, which she has remodeled and opened to the public. It's a very popular spot, and one reason for that is clear: she does a great job cooking! We were served ham, roast beef, mashed potatoes, and all the fixings. Plus we were treated with not one but two kinds of pie topped with homemade ice cream. Mmm.
Our final stop was in Kalona. We shopped in the craft and antique stores, took in the sights and sounds of the small town with its Amish-Mennonite heritage, and even visited the cheese factory for a few morsels to eat on the way home. It was quite a change from life in Des Moines, but we all loved it. We learned, we experienced, and most of all, we had fun.-- Scott Johnston
From June 29 to July 3, Orientation Center staff and students went on what can only be described as a marathon trip. It included everything from touring other orientation centers to camping out to visiting tourist attractions.
We started off bright and early (and I do mean early!) on Monday morning to head northwest for Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As the bus rolled down the highway, Mary Clarke and a couple of the students acted as stewards, serving coffee, juice, rolls, and bagels to those who were interested.
After a few hours, we made a brief stop at a rest area in northwest Iowa. While we were making the most of this opportunity to stretch our legs, someone noticed a vending machine containing "singles" newspapers. A collection was taken up, a paper purchased and, with much teasing, presented to Julie Hengesteg, a Department staff member in training. She spent the next several miles regaling the group with the unique ads to be found within its pages. No, she did not find an ad for a single gentleman so interesting that she felt compelled to respond.
Driving into Sioux Falls we were just in time for lunch. We started calling out the names of restaurants as we passed, trying to decide where to stop. When someone called out "Fuddruckers" Sandy laughed and said she had never heard of that before, but anyplace that had the gumption to have a name like that ought to be worth a try.
After enjoying our meal, we headed for the Orientation Center run by South Dakota Services for the Blind. First the director explained some of the background and history of the facility, then we divided into groups for a tour. Their program differs from our own in some major ways, such as not requiring students to wear sleep shades or carry a cane at all times. After the tour, we came together again for a group discussion and refreshments prepared by South Dakota's students. Edyanne Haafke, an Iowa Center alum now living in South Dakota, met us in the break room to say hi and send greetings to other Iowa alumni.
We then drove to Sioux City where we spent the night at a hotel. While there, we had the pleasure of having dinner with several blind persons from the area, many of whom are Center grads. Among those joining our group that night were Rich Crawford, Greg Hanson, Heidi Ketelsen, Hob Lessman, Dorothy and Sylvester Nemmers, Iris Rayhons, and Angie Rusher Cardwell. Everyone had a good time getting acquainted or catching up on old times.
A short night's sleep and we were back on the bus once again heading for Omaha to explore the wonders of nature at the Henry Doorly Zoo. That afternoon was spent touring numerous exhibits at the new SAC Air Force Museum. One interesting historic exhibit depicted a 1950's elementary school classroom with instructions written on the blackboard telling the schoolchildren what to do in case of a nuclear attack. They began thus:
1. Put papers away in desk. 2. Get under desk...
A black-and-white television in a living room from the same era played a children's cartoon explaining the dangers of a nuclear attack and what to do if one occurred. The model of a private air raid shelter stood nearby. The display brought back memories for those who grew up in the Midwest in the fifties and gave some new insights to the younger members of our group.
Our next stop was at the Platte River State Park for our first night of camping. Instead of using our own tents, we slept in tepees. Having the guys in one "village" and the gals in another made for some interesting logistics. All cooking was done in the men's village, which seemed a good idea to the women until they realized that meant the men would have first chance at the morning coffee.
After eating a delicious breakfast cooked over the campfire, we headed for Lincoln to the Orientation Center run by the Nebraska Division of Rehabilitation Services for the Visually Impaired, whose program is modeled after our own. The Center's supervisor, Fatos Floyd, gave us a tour of their facility. Afterwards, staff and students from both Centers got together to share ideas and refreshments prepared by the Nebraska students. Before returning to camp, we had a chance to admire the newly remodeled apartments where Nebraska students live during their orientation training.
One more night at the campground hiking, playing cards, swatting mosquitos, talking around the campfire, and sleeping in tepees, then back on the bus the next morning for the return to Des Moines. Tired and thoughtful after our many experiences, everyone looked forward to a quiet and restful three-day weekend. --Rebecca Swainey
Julie Hengesteg is the new Rehabilitation Teacher for the northwest corner of the state. In September, she completed her training in the Orientation Center and has now begun her teaching duties. On the last day of her training, she delivered this poem as her farewell address. Julie is a talented teacher, and we wish her well in her new job.
As you all know, a poet I am not, But I can make words rhyme, so I'll give it a shot.
This little diddy is about my time in Orientation, And I tell you what, I could use a vacation!
Here are some memorable events as I recall. Gosh knows I can't list them all!
I donned the sleepshades early this spring. The tapping of my cane soon was a familiar ring.
It was slow going in the beginning, Walking around shop 'til my head was spinning.
Although Dave is a Bulldog and I a Viking, This time around I found shop more to my liking.
I did have a most interesting travel route-- Larry and Sandy can tell you what that's all about.
Home block, they said, was my destination, But it really was an act of humiliation.
With a long stinky fishnet in hand, I grumbled and moaned all the way to Grand.
The goal of my mission was to catch myself a man. I have a feeling they saw the net--and ran.
A rainy day in Kalona was definitely muggy, But well worth it to watch Mary drive horse and buggy.
Forgetting to mention Cip wouldn't be prudent. Who could forget her calling of "STUDENTS!"
We took a big excursion to our neighboring states, Though this still didn't snag me any dates.
We visited other centers and went to the zoo-- I still think the bus needs a racing stripe painted blue.
We were all anxious to check out the campsite. Those darn mosquitos sure did bite.
Sandy and I were tossing, turning and talking half the night-- Did I mention those mosquitos sure did bite?
We had one last hurrah on the Boone River. Enough water was splashed to make me shiver. I knew I'd be launched into the river that day. Sure enough, I was. What more can I say?
The students are truly what keeps this place going, And with this crew nothing could ever be boring.
And I couldn't forget Sandy and her "50-year-old bones." Now one thing more I just can't say enough--GO CYCLONES!
Thanks to everyone for a really good time. This is the end of my neat little rhyme.
-- Julie M. Hengesteg
Stacy Hayworth was awarded the top scholarship of $10,000 at the July 1997 National Federation of the Blind convention in New Orleans. Last spring, she was named Graduate Student of the Year for her department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She was also named one of the two Graduate Students of the Year for all of UNO. Stacy has recently accepted a position with Omaha Psychiatric Associates. Congratulations, Stacy!
Paul Knott has graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree in rehabilitation. Cudos to you, Paul.
Paul Snow has accepted a position as a software engineer at TechniSource, a Cedar Rapids-based company that contracts with Rockwell-Collins. Congratulations, Paul.
Emily Wharton, a recent Center grad, is now working as a Braille and cane travel instructor at Blind, Inc., a private Orientation Center in Minneapolis. Congratulations to you, too, Emily.
John Shelton became the proud Grandpa of a baby girl, Ryleigh Jean, on January 27, 1998. This makes grandchild number 7, and John wants everyone to know he is delighted with each and every one of them.
Larry Manley is proud to announce a granddaughter, Codee Jo, was born August 3, 1998. Just one more day and she would have been Grandpa's birthday present. Codee is little sister to Larry's five-year old twin grandsons.
Jacki DeHoedt Mobley gave birth to a son, John Mobley IV, on November 7, 1998. He weighed in at 6 lb, 1 oz and, according to Mom, is a very happy little guy. Mom and Dad feel that, along with older sister, Jasmine, John IV is the perfect way to round out their growing family.
On October 13th and 14th, the Orientation Center had the opportunity to host a visit from twenty staff and students of the Orientation Center at the Nebraska Division of Rehabilitation Services for the Visually Impaired. The trip was arranged last summer, after our own staff and students had toured the Nebraska facility in Lincoln. This visit provided us with an excellent chance to reciprocate for the wonderful hospitality we had received at that time.
On the afternoon of the 13th, our students gave the Nebraskans a thorough tour of the Department. They were impressed by our spacious facility and asked many questions about the Center and other services available through the Department. That evening, our students served a buffet dinner in the Rec. Room. We enjoyed barbequed ribs, grilled chicken breasts, and a variety of salads. The meal was topped off by cookies served with homemade ice cream that had been cranked earlier in the shop area by both Nebraskans and Iowans. After playing some games to get acquainted, our guests headed to their hotel for a night's rest.
In the morning, Fatos Floyd, the supervisor of the Nebraska Center, and I held a joint Business Class of students from both Nebraska and Iowa. We talked about the similarities and differences between our centers, and came to the conclusion that, whatever their programming, the best centers are based on a positive philosophy of blindness. While Business Class was in session, instructors met with their counterparts from each state to brainstorm and share ideas.
Before leaving for home, the Nebraskans presented us with a cutting board in the shape of Nebraska and a beautiful Nebraska-made basket filled with goodies prepared by their students. We parted after making tentative plans to get together for a joint camping trip in the spring.
Late in October, we decided to take a fall camping trip with a difference. Instead of sleeping in tents and cooking over an open fire, we stayed in a modern lodge with central heating, a fireplace, warm beds, and a modern kitchen. Despite these conveniences, though, the trip was still an adventure.
Our trip started with the bus leaving from the front of the building at 7:00 A.M. It was raining most of the day, but fortunately, we had indoor plans. The first stop on our trip was the Bily Clock Museum in Spillville, Iowa. It is an interesting display of ornately carved clocks made by two bachelor brothers who spent their free time and winter evenings designing and carving them. The pieces were so intricate and detailed that it was shocking to hear how little time it took to carve them. Henry Ford had offered them one million dollars for one of the clocks, but the brothers turned him down. They donated the entire priceless collection to Spillville to be displayed in the museum.
Our next stop was Harmony, Minnesota, to see Niagra Cave, named after the waterfall that had carved it out of limestone. It was discovered in the 1930's by a farmer looking for three missing pigs. Hearing squealing come from a hole in the ground, he sent his sons down to investigate. They came up with the pigs and the news that the hole was actually the entrance to a cave. The temperature inside is a constant and damp 48 degrees. We walked down 300 steps and through narrow and wide passageways to see the waterfall, the wedding chapel, stalagtites, and other formations. Unfortunately, after we reached the bottom, we had to climb the same 300 stairs to get back to the top.
We then drove to southwestern Wisconsin to our lodge at the Sugar Creek Bible Camp. The camp director greeted us with a fire burning in the fireplace and hot beverages and plates of cookies. After eating stew and cornbread, many of us headed to our bunks early for a good night's sleep.
Wednesday was a beautiful day with sunshine and temperatures near 70 degrees. After a large breakfast, we toured the scenic camp in a hay wagon. We then took a sleepshade walk down a muddy lane to the camp's nature center. It was really interesting to touch and use your other senses to explore bones, wasp nests, and other objects from nature.
After lunch, we went on another sleepshade walk to the challenge course, where you build courage and trust in yourself and your partner. We got to know each other by standing in a circle and saying our names followed by an animal sound. By the time we went all around the circle, we had heard just about every animal sound, including the lion, the dog, the cat, and even the monkey. We then paired up for a trust-building activity. After receiving instructions, one person fell while his partner caught him. We then had to find our way out of a maze made out of ropes wrapped around trees and held up by stakes. It was a rather challenging thing to do, especially since we had to trust our other senses to get out. It was fun and made you realize that you could get out of something that you had gotten yourself into even if you could not depend on your eyes.
We ended the afternoon with a nature hike around the camp. Our guide, Joel, let us feel the tracks of deer and raccoon left in the mud beside a pond. We also concentrated on observing things with our other senses, like smells in the air and the sound of birds and running water. It really made you think about what you miss when you only depend on your eyes.
Wednesday night, we drank hot apple cider and listened to a speaker talk about the history of the Mississippi River. While some of us stayed up late to play Outburst, others went to bed to rest for the next day's adventure in the wilderness.
Thursday morning, we packed our gear and headed for Effigy Mounds in northeastern Iowa where we walked the steep trails wearing our sleepshades. After a late lunch in McGregor, we made the long trip back to Des Moines. We were all tired but felt the trip had been a worthwhile experience.
Watch your mailbox this spring for an alumni edition of the newsletter. It will include articles about Alumni Day activities, a poem from Jim Crawford, Mary Clarke's banquet address, and recipes from the brunch and banquet.
1998 - 1999
Return to Newsletter page.