Waukee, IA The Amana Colonies (a collection of 7 individual villages) were settled by German immigrants around 1850. They fled Germany to avoid religious persecution as did the Amish, Mennonite, and a few others. The people that settled here were from the Hessen region of Germany. For 80 years, the Amana Colony maintained an almost completely self-sufficient local economy by adhering to the specialized crafting and farming occupations that they had brought with them from Europe. They used hand, horse, wind, and water power, and made their own furniture, clothes, and other goods. Some of their customs were strange to modern folk. Men were not allowed to marry until age 24. There was no cooking in the homes of Amana citizens; instead, citizens ate together in groups of 30 to 45 and everything was prepared in a communal kitchen. The women could choose from 8 occupations. Men, on the other hand, had 39 different jobs from which to choose including barber, butcher, tailor, machine shop worker, and doctor. Services were held 11 times a week. Today, the Seven Villages of Amana are a tourist attraction known for its restaurants and craft shops. We did our best to visit as many of them as we could, tasting wine, sampling candy, lunching on bratwurst and sipping on some amazing root beer. Naturally we made a few purchases here and there – all supporting a good cause! Continuing on, we stopped in Lynnville, IA to see L.J. Maasdam’s Wheel Art. Apparently Maasdam collected wheels for years. When, at age 90, he decided to build the sculpture, he would weld on it during the day. His kids stayed up at night re-welding some of the rusty wagon wheels because he wasn't a very good welder. They never told him that they were re-doing his work.