Highway 52 cuts a path through the small towns and farm fields that blend together as you drive from Minnesota to Iowa.
There’s a beauty in this landscape, especially in late winter when the fields are covered in thin blankets of snow. Open. Barren. Solitary. It’s a beauty that reveals itself as you climb each prairie swell and chase the edge of the Earth on the horizon.
As our rental car makes a rise on the highway on the drive toward Decorah, Iowa, my son and I spot the white building with the massive green roof miles away.
Jewels Skate Country stands as a cavernous monument to roller skating in the middle of a cornfield. Part roller rink, part RV campground, Jewels still draws in kids and adults on Saturdays and Sundays.
An early morning snowfall didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of about 50 people who paid their $6, laced up their skates and glided around the rink.
Don and Bill run the skate rentals and the snack bar. Jewels Skate Country has been around for more than 30 years. Big speakers blast out Camila Cabello’s “Havana,” and there is a new lighting system. But the rink feels like an earlier time.
I see a blending of childhoods past and present. Kids chase each other and play limbo and dodgeball on skates. No one cares about smartphone or iPads. At least for a little while.