How Did I Wind Up In Traer?

Sitting on the winding staircase in Traer

Day One

Did you know that the motto for the town of Traer, Iowa is wind up in Traer? Yeah, me either. Traer is also on the map for the infamous Traer Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery. Until I started planning this trip I didn’t even know that this community of less than 2,000 people existed, but I’m extremely grateful for stumbling upon this quaint little place. Yesterday at 12:05pm Brandee and I  got on the interstate headed toward our first stop on our 28 day road trip adventure.

The distance between Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Traer, Iowa is approximately 312 miles. This 5ish hour drive allowed us to arrive in the early evening and leave plenty of time to visit with our hosts. Sharon graciously offered to host us through the Couchsurfing website when I extended a request.  She mentioned to me that her family is very into Halloween and that her house would be all decked out because they host a family friendly Halloween party every year.

Angie and Brandee with our hosts in Traer

The Introduction

We arrived around 6:00pm and Sharon was there to greet us. She had a private bedroom and 1/2 bathroom ready and waiting for us which was fantastic. Her house was decorated for Halloween exactly as she said it would be. 

Sharon introduced us to both of the foreign exchange students that her family is currently hosting and to her husband and daughter when they came home. After a tour and introductions, she shared many stories of her travels around the world and connections that she has.

Traveling has always been in my soul. I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. Couchsurfing has given me a perspective on traveling that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. That perspective is on how accessible it is for anyone and everyone that would like to do it. Sharon discovered affordable traveling by helping people learn to speak English. Wait, what?!?! You can travel on a budget by speaking English to people that want to learn it? Yep, that’s what I learned and once this trip is over I’ll be exploring those options. I love helping people, I already do this locally and I’ll have even more avenues to explore traveling. So stay tuned.  In the meantime..

Sharon and her family offered to have us join her and her family for dinner. Her husband Keith came home shortly after this initial conversation and we shared a delicious meal that Sharon had prepared. More firsts for me here. I love soup but I’ve never had squash soup before. I discovered that it’s pretty tasty, especially when paired with mashed potatoes and corned beef. Not only did she let us share the meal that she prepared for her family, she also shared the homemade apple crisp dessert which was out of this world.

The conversation migrated to Sharon’s experience with Couchsurfing and lack of people passing through her little town. The opportunity just doesn’t come up much for her so they really enjoy the opportunity to play host when it arises. In this conversation we flowed effortlessly into how they ended up in Traer and some of this history of the town which is how we discovered the winding staircase downtown and the town motto, “Wind Up In Traer“.

Traer Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery Sign

Salt and Pepper Shakers Galore at the Traer Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery!

Another part of the history includes the Traer Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery. This is an exhibit of 15,000 salt and pepper shakers on display in the gallery. This collection was started by a lady named Ruth Rasmussen and she grew this collection to the size that it is today through her connections, travels and joy in collecting the shakers. It sounded like such a fun place to visit that Brandee and I looked up the hours for the gallery and to our disappointment, it did not open until 1:00pm in the afternoon. Fortunately for us, people know each other in small towns and Sharon wasted no time calling in a favor for us so we could see the gallery before we left.

We were able to get in to see the Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery at 9:00am so we could still be on our way to Michigan City without getting off schedule. This excursion was well worth the $5.00 per person price for admittance. Ellen opened the place for us off hours and gave us a private tour pointing out all the unique attributes of the collection. This is definitely a must see if you are in the area.

The day wouldn’t be complete if there wasn’t Halloween costumes involved. We had a couple of crayons, a Cheshire cat and let us just say Happy Halloween from the candy rapper.

Brandee in her "candy wrapper" halloween costume

Sharon was sure to send us out the door with full stomachs and a heart full of grateful. This was an amazing way to start our trip!

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