Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Visiting Amana and a Big Shopping Mall

After setting up at the Amana Colonies RV park on Friday we took care of some chores, including a trip to Wal-Mart Cedar Rapids on the scooter.  Saturday was our day to play tourist and explore Amana Colonies.

Amana colonies was begun about 1860 by a religious sect from Germany.  The actual name of the religious movement is "The Community of True Inspiration."  They believe that certain of their early leaders had "inspirations" that were given to them by God.  Those inspirations were collected in a book that they consider sacred.  They broke away from the Lutheran Church in the early 1700's and moved to America in the early 1800's to escape persecution.  They originally settled near Buffalo, NY but soon outgrew their land there and eventually purchased land in Iowa about 1850 to relocate there.

When they moved to the US, they adopted a communal way of life although they had not lived in that manner in Germany.  In addition to trying to more closely follow their understanding of how early Christians lived, it just worked better as a method of pooling resources and establishing a community.  They were quite successful with the communal lifestyle for many years, but by the early 1930's it fell apart.  This was due to many causes but mostly to the fact that younger generations no longer wanted to live the cloistered, communal lifestyle and they wanted a higher education than the 8th grade.  The commune was changed to a corporation and individuals were given stock in the company.  That corporation was the Amana company which soon began manufacturing appliances.

The Amana Colonies consists of 7 villages spread over about a 20 mile area that are still in existence and lived in.  Only about 350 of the residents are still members of the original church.  Most people who live there are not, but the communities have been retained in remarkable condition.

We toured the 7 villages and stopped at museums and shops in most.  We visited a communal kitchen, a communal farm, one of the original stores and transportation centers, as well as just wandering around and looking at the well kept communities.  We ended the day in the largest of the villages, Amana, which is now pretty much a tourist destination.  It has all the obligatory shops and restaurants where you can buy stuff you don't need and overpriced food.  We did take advantage of the food.  It was of course, German and home style, but actually pretty good.

Sunday we moved north toward Minneapolis and spent the night at an RV park about half way.  Then Monday we moved to a regional park just 5 miles south of Minneapolis Airport.  From the campground you would never know you are right next to a major metro area.  The place is very secluded and pretty.

Dom arrived from Dallas about noon yesterday and we picked him up at the airport.  Our first stop was the Mall of America, located between us and the airport.  It is advertised as the biggest mall in the world, but who knows how "biggest" is measured.  We were expecting something similar to the Edmondton Mall that we visited in Canada about three years ago, but this really did not live up to expectations.  It is just a very large mall.  It is built in a rectangular shape, with three levels of shops, multiple food courts and restaurants, an amusement park in the center, miniature golf course, movie theaters and aquarium.  But, at least 90 percent of the stores are just the same stores that can be seen at every mall in America.  I think every chain store in the country is represented.   Even the food courts have the same vendors that you see everywhere.  Maybe that's why they call it the Mall of America.  It looks just like every other mall in the country.

The amusement park had typical carnival rides and nothing really unique.  The prices were astronomical so we passed.  We just couldn't justify spending almost $30 per person for rides that were a scaled down version of what you might see at Six Flags or Magic Mountain.   After visiting Edmonton Mall and being really amazed at all the things there, Mall of America was a disappointment.

We returned to the campground where we picked wild blackberries and raspberries that Nana combined with strawberries to make a delicious pie.  After dinner we watched some TV, played some games and called it a night.

The plan for today was to head north toward Duluth, but the weather forecast looks very stormy, including possible tornadoes.  We may just stay here another day and wait for the storms to move through.


  1. Interesting bit of history, about Amana.

  2. It is interesting. Now I wonder about the origin of the Amish. I'm pretty sure they have German heritage also.

  3. Glenda and I visited a Shaker community in New England when we were there in 2005. It sounds a bit similar in that it was a religious sect that lived and supported themselves, and the village has been preserved for modern visitors. We really enjoyed seeing that, and I'm sure the Amana Colonies are equally interesting.

    In San Francisco last week, we ate lunch at the Westfield Mall, and the food court had no restaurants that we had ever seen before. It was very unique. Glenda and I ate Japanese and Alice went for the Vegan.