And Yet Another Reed and Mary Story

Today was our last adventure before school starts. Just an hour from here is West Bend, IA where the Grotto of the Redemption is located. Reed’s twin sister, Myra, loves rocks so we invited her to go along.

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This is the view from the parking lot of the grotto that covers a city block.

Here’s a better picture from the cover of a pictorial book I purchased in the gift shop.

Father Paul Dobberstein (1872-1954) started construction of the Grotto in 1912. He labored 42years, winter and summer, setting ornamental rocks and gems into concrete.

This place is unbelievable! I was here when I was a kid but to see it again as an adult is awesome. Reed and Myra loved it and I enjoyed watching them admire all the rocks. West Bend is a very small farming community and the whole town pitches in to watch over the Grotto. Can you believe vandalism is not an issue? And yet it is open year round and operates totally on donations. The Grotto is actually lit at night until 10pm.

Each Grotto, another word for cave, depicts part of the whole story of the fall of man and of his redemption through Christ. The work was all done by hand using precious and semiprecious stones and minerals from around the world.

These rocks that look like roses form the stairs that go nowhere because as Father said, you can’t get to Heaven on a bed of roses. We learned that interesting fact during the tour.

Next door is the church where Reed and Myra posed for a picture.

Inside the sanctuary is the Christmas Chapel completed in 1927 and considered Father Dobberstein’s finest work. It is composed of materials from every state and from nearly every country in the world. Because of this it was constructed inside to protect it from the harsh Iowa winter weather.

More pictures.

The big round ball is a petrified mud ball from a river in Oklahoma!

Wouldn’t you love to see this view out your window from across the street?

This photo has a camouflaged subject – there is a nest of baby barn swallows about halfway up and a bit to the left. Do you see them?

This was our last adventure for the summer. I’m going back to my sewing, Reed is going to 5th grade and fall is around the corner. Thanks for going along on our adventures – I’m looking forward to some quiet days.

34 thoughts on “And Yet Another Reed and Mary Story

  1. Dianne H.

    Thank you, Mary, for taking us along on your adventures. They were all very interesting, especially the grotto. That is an amazing place!!

  2. Felicia Hamlin

    Mary, it has been quite a few years since I visited the grotto. I too was in awe of this little gem and the work and patience of this priest. I think I should go again. I remember seeing places where dishonest people had taken some of the semi precious stones. But it is amazing that they don’t lose more. The big amethist is a wonder. Say hi to Reed and good luck in school.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Felicia- I wondered if you had ever visited the Grotto -I knew you’d like it and I thought about your beautiful church when we went inside. Yours is as special as this one, I think. I’ll tell Reed.

  3. Felicia

    Mary, it has been quite a few years since I visited the grotto. I too was in awe of this little gem and the work and patience of this priest. I think I should go again. I remember seeing places where dishonest people had taken some of the semi precious stones. But it is amazing that they don’t lose more. The big amethist is a wonder. Say hi to Reed and good luck in school.

  4. Bobbie

    Wow, what a amazing place. It’s a nice place to end the summer. I’m sure the kids really were amazed by all the different rocks and stones. We went from Washing to Alabama to visit my parents when our kids were small, we stopped at lots of small attraction going and coming. My kids still remember a lot of them. They ask what states they were in.
    Those kids have a very special friend in you. These are things they will tell there kids about.
    I’m looking forward to having more sewing time but not so much winter.
    Hope your winter is mild this year.
    Just keep the blog coming. We all enjoy it so much.

  5. Becky from IA/TX

    I have truly enjoyed your adventures this summer with Reed. Thanks so much sharing them with us….thanks for sharing all!!!!

  6. MaryLou Ballin

    Thank you so much for all the wonderful trips showing so many of the wonders of where you live..
    This last one is sure icing on the cake – just beautiful … What wonderful memories you have given
    to those children and yourself..
    MaryLou

  7. Debbie B

    You and Reed have had a wonderful summer. Thanks for taking us along for the ride. West Bend brings back great memories. I remember that my Girl Scout Troop made a pilgrimage to the Grotto when I was in about 7th or 8th grade. I’m from Oelwein, and we took a bus to a spot about a mile from the Grotto and walked the rest of the way reciting the rosary. I believe that was part of our Marian Award journey. We were awestruck with what we saw there and so enjoyed our visit there. I haven’t been back for along time, but would love to go again. Thanks for sharing your visit.

  8. Kris Gavin

    I bet the Grotto sparkles in the sunlight… thanks for sharing your adventure. Iowa is filled with surprises!

  9. Diane Moffett

    Wow! This is amazing! Another “wonder of the world” ! I wish I could visit it with my 12 yr. old grandson.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Diane Moffett – there is a sign there that says the Grotto is the 8th wonder of the world. I cannot imagine how that priest did it!

  10. Kathy Hanson

    The Grotto is such a fantastic place. My daughter-in-law took me there a number of years ago – seeing it in your pictures makes me want to visit again. What a fantastic place for Reed and Myra to get to see! You have done so much for Reed, and now Myra, having all these adventures – they are so fortunate, and so are you!! Now to some sewing – you will love that too……can’t wait to see what you are making!

  11. Beth Laverty

    I too have enjoyed all the adventures you and Reed have been having this summer. He is a lucky young man. My husband and I are having a bit of an adventure as we have been traveling through New England and New Brunswick Canada. Yesterday I spent the whole day in the artist colonies of Rockport and Gloucester. fun for me but not as interesting as those Grottos…. Wow is all I can say, though the Rocky coast in Gloucester was interesting too. Our biggest adventure was time spent spent at a doctor in Bangor Maine where it was discovered my husband officially has Lyme Disease. He “wondered” why he felt so tired and sore……….. But with the proper antibiotic he is feeling 100percent better. I personally will be glad to get back home and get back to “boring” sewing.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Beth Laverty – Lyme disease is nothing to fool around with as I know several people who have had it. Connie and I visited Gloucester years ago when we were at quilt market in Boston. She had a relative living there and I will never forget the scalloped seafood she fixed! Glad your hubby is feeling better.

  12. PJ

    Thanks for sharing all your adventures with us it was our joy to see it all through your n Reeds n his sisters eyes always watched for your blog to enjoy it all, thanks n have a great day!!!

  13. Joanne

    Can hardly wait to see Reeds What a did on my summer vacation school report. What a fun filled summer for Reed and his siblings.

  14. Sue Roberts

    This reminds me of the time we took our three grandchildren to the Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin.
    Wonderful trip, I would like to see the one in West Bend.
    Love your adventures with Reed.

  15. Kate Schloemer

    It’s so wonderful to see you and Reed on your adventures. The Grotto is a magical place. I haven’t been there since a kid either. I have drove by there but didn’t have time to stop.

  16. Carole

    I’ve loved reading your blog for ages, and these adventures with Reed and Myra are so sweet. How I wish my dad had known about the Grotto. He was a nearly lifelong rockhound. He would have loved it! Thank you so much for continuing to share your life with us!

  17. Colleen

    Lucky you to have 2 young people to send the day with. You will miss them when they are busy learning at school instead of learning first hand with you.

  18. Pam from NC

    Mary, love ready your adventures no mater how big or small, happy or sad. I want you to know that I spent four months this winter and spring recovering from emergency abdominal surgery. My colon had ruptured with no previous history. What I’m getting at is that for almost two months I wasn’t strong enough to lift the phone. But when I did, I deleted all the hundreds of emails except yours. Your communications some days were all I could find interest in. I hate to admit I had even lost interest in quilting, I was that sick. I’m sorry I can never make a long story short but wanted you to know how much your email posts did for this ole Iowa farm girl’s heart at a really bad time. And just how much I appreciate your writing. Oh, and by the way, the love of quilting came back in full force! HA! Thanks again for all you do and I hope you keep up the good work!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Pam fromNC – wow, that’s quite a story! I’m so glad you survived and found quilting again. I had a colon resection 10 years ago and was very weak and sick but not for 4 months! So glad you enjoy this little touch with Iowa!

  19. Betty Klosterman

    Oh, Mary, you didn’t mention that the manger for the baby Jesus is a huge amethyst geode from Brazil. There is also a stalactite from Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico sent to Father Dobberstein by a NM priest back when that was allowed. Our family used to meet at West Bend for picnics as it was central lopcation for all of us when I was a kid. There used to be swans swimming in the pond. What a wonderful place for kids who loved rocks. Frank had only heard about it so we stopped about 15 years ago on our way to Fort Dodge and he was totally amazed. His sister gave bus tours all over the country and also stopped there to the amazement of all the people who had never even heard of it. They all thought it was such a close kept secret. Another great place to visit for Reed and Myra is the museum in Clarion. Big Bud is there along with many, many other vehicles of all ages, plus the downtown streets have been recreated AND 2 rooms are dedicated to the Iowa Hat Lady, Alvina Sellers. She isre close to my heart as my Mom went to school with Alvina and her daughter was in my class. The museum is a very interesting for men, women and kids of all ages. It seemed that there were a lot of Iowa relics in corn cribs, etc like the jail from Rowan that were donated for display.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Betty – yes, I know about the things you mentioned but the post was very long as it was. The geode in the Nativity was amazing as was the huge stalactite! The kids were fascinated! There are still 2 white swans in the pond and 3 ducks – that we could see. Father D. was an artist with a vision beyond comprehension!

  20. Janie B Lang

    School days….autumn is just around the corner! The Grotto pictures are fascinating! The Christmas Chapel is beautiful! Maybe Reed will have a chance to write about his summer adventures.

  21. Brenda archambault

    Wow! What an adventure. I’m sura Myra was thrilled to be invited to join you and Reed. It’s been quite a summer for you and Reed and something he’ll look back on with love and wonderment. I was his age when I spent two weeks visiting a former neighbor and, having just turned 80, it seems like yesterday. I’m sure sewing will seem quite restful after “the adventures of Mary and Reed.”

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