Monthly Archives: July 2016

Cinnamon Ridge Store is one of Scott County’s great treasures

P1010609 P1010610 P1010612P1010615P1010616P1010617 I’d call it one of one of Scott County’s great treasures. It is Cinnamon Ridge Store, located north of Donahue at 10600 275th Ave. It’s across 275th Avenue from the lane leading to Cinnamon Ridge Farms (, another Scott County treasure.

Cinnamon Ridge Farms (Photos above were taken by Sherry Roberts) is a huge, state-of-the art farm owned and operated by the Joan and John Maxwell family. They milk Jersey dairy cows with robots and make cheese and cheese curds from the milk produced on the farm. They also raise beef cattle, pigs, goats and chickens, and they produce corn, soybeans and winter wheat.

In addition to farming activities, Cinnamon Ridge, which also has a Facebook page, is available for tours, meetings and parties. The tours are by reservation only and booked through their website.

As impressive as all of that is, my favorite part of the entire operation is that little store on 275th Avenue.

The rustic store of roughly 12-by-20 feet with a front porch and an American flag waving in the summer breeze, is easily recognized. It sits next to a giant carved yellow corncob.

The knotty pine-paneled interior gives the store the feel of a cabin in the woods.

Air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter, Cinnamon Ridge Store, which has been in operation for six years, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Joan.

For sale there are firewood, jellies and jams, cold drinks, baked goods, beef, pork, eggs, cheese and soap made from milk.

“We also have cutting boards made by John’s brother from native wood,” said Joan.

My wife, our granddaughter Marin and I visited Cinnamon Ridge Store recently and left with some frozen sirloin steaks, apple streusel bread, kalamata olive cheddar cheese, brown eggs, soap and beef jerky, all of which came from the farm.

What’s really amazing is, the store is run on the honor system. The price is clearly marked on each item and there’s a calculator on which to total your purchases. You then put your money through a slot on the back wall, and it drops into a small locked room.

Joan said most people are good about paying for their purchases. In fact, “many times they pay more than what their bill is.”

She said, “We have many people who watch our store. The community really embraces the store.”

A while back some farm boys were out during the early morning hours and saw someone in the store, Joan said, and “decided they’d better check it out because they weren’t so sure about it.”

The young men later told Joan the customers “were OK.”

The Maxwells have received phone calls or texts on rare occasions from people who have seen a customer who didn’t pay.

Joan Maxwell said Cinnamon Ridge Store is “not a huge moneymaker, but it is way for us to market our beef. We get more for the beef than we would if we sold it to a packer.”

Customers appreciate this Scott County treasure. A whiteboard on the back wall is full of positive messages from past patrons.

Copyright 2016 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This piece ran as a column in the North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

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Posted by on July 30, 2016 in Uncategorized


The joy of camping – or perhaps not

The joy of camping – or perhaps not. Years ago, Sherry and I and our four children used to go camping on a fairly regular basis. The camping segment of our lives began when we could barely afford to take a summer vacation.

Any summer vacation trips were made financially possible by spending at least half of our vacation nights in a tent with our children. The nights we weren’t in a tent were spent in the least-expensive motels we could find. That way everyone got a shower and a good night’s sleep in air-conditioned comfort.

Oftentimes, the motels wanted large families to rent not one but two rooms, and that was something we just could not afford. So we got around that by leaving the kids in the car while we registered at the motel. We’d reserve a room with two double beds and a rollaway bed.

Then all of us — two adults and four children – would either slip in when no one at the front desk was paying attention or perhaps we’d walk in in two groups.

There are several tent camping adventures that I can recall, all involving the weather.

One was in Wyoming when what appeared to be a bad storm was approaching one evening. It was 1984, and we were on our first family vacation. Our transportation was our 1981 Dodge Aries station wagon, a former rental car. It seated three people in a front bench seat and three more in a second bench seat, which also folded down to become part of the back floor.

As we watched the approach of darkening clouds, saw flashes of lightning and heard the rumble of thunder, we knew it wouldn’t be safe to stay in the tent. So we moved our suitcases and other possessions from the car into the tent. That way we had more room in the car and, with all of our items in the tent, it was less likely to blow away in the storm.

I honestly can’t remember whether or not the storm actually hit us that night. I think it did rain because we all ended up spending that warm summer night in that little station wagon with the windows rolled up. Sherry and I slept – if you can call it that – sitting up in the front seat, and the four kids, crammed like sardines in a can, slept behind us on the floor.

Another memorable tent camping time was in the Amana Colonies, and once again a storm was approaching. We were under lots of trees in our tent at the park in Middle Amana.

Sherry heard the rumble of the approaching storm in the early morning hours and woke us all. We emptied the tent, took it down and put it and all of our possessions into our vehicle, which by this time was a Dodge window van. It was much roomier than the little Aries station wagon had been years earlier.

We all climbed into the van and tried to get some sleep. As I recall, the storm itself went around us again but it did rain. So we had to leave the windows up, and the van’s interior got quite warm.

I also remember the time we pitched our tent in the mountains of Colorado. (We camped at Mt. Evans. where the campground has a 10,600-foot elevation.) It was a warm August day, but when the sun went down, the temperature dropped like a rock. We had only light jackets and sleeping bags and were very thankful that some campers nearby invited us to sit around their campfire. But later, in the tent, it was a long, cold night as we tried to sleep.

The next morning a camp ranger happened by, and I mentioned how cold it had been overnight. “You’re lucky it didn’t snow on you,” he said. We didn’t feel very lucky.

We eventually gave up our tent and graduated to a used 17-foot Mallard travel trailer that slept six, albeit not very comfortably. The trailer, which we pulled with our window van, went to places like Koch’s Meadow Lake near Tipton, Landuit’s Lake near Joslin, Westlake Park in Scott County and, of course, Middle Amana.

Toward the end of its life, the van began having overheating problems when pulling the trailer, so we stayed close to home.

I remember pulling into the campground at Westlake Park one time when a well-meaning person emerged, pointed to a cloud coming from our engine and said, “I think your van’s on fire.” Embarrassed, I replied, “No, that’s steam; it’s merely overheating.”

Family camping trips were not a bad experience if the weather was good, and the children could be outside the trailer, using playground equipment, playing catch or riding their bikes.

But the rainy days, a regular occurrence in our camping years, were miserable because everyone was cooped up inside the small trailer. Or, if the kids did go outside, they found mud and brought it back with them.

We finally sold the travel trailer because, as Sherry pointed out, she’d often spend a day loading it with food and other items for a planned camping trip. Then we’d end up camping in the rain. And then, when we returned home, she’d spend another day unloading the trailer, mopping its muddy floor and laundering muddy clothing.

Sherry eventually put her foot down and said all of her future camping trips were going to be taking place at a Holiday Inn. I didn’t argue, and we’ve lived happily ever after.

Copyright 2016 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This piece ran as a column in the North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

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Posted by on July 30, 2016 in Uncategorized