Today?s travelogue takes us to the mystical land known as County Linn Under. I got there accidentally (more on that later) but you can probably get there too. It is really quite the trip, with few tourists and a duty free gift shop.
County Linn Under is basically the supernatural alternate dimension occupying the same space as Linn County, Iowa. There?s also a little bit of Cedar County as well but we don?t talk about that much. Like any supernatural realm, one will find strange creatures, unimaginable horrors, and a buffet with steak and shrimp on Thursdays.
There are many ways to get to County Linn Under. If you can go into a completely dark room in an old barn, sometimes you can find the ?other? door that will let you in. You can also look for culverts in ditches that don?t seem to come out anywhere. The roots of the lone tree on the banks of the creek through the pasture often have tunnels to the other realm. Stairs in the wild that lead nowhere are a sure sign. The unused door in the basement, that is almost always a way in. Don?t get me started on the tunnels under downtown Cedar Rapids.
The way I got in was a little different. Folklore has long told us that going through two upright poles (or trees or similar) is the same as going through a door. There is a sign at the south-east corner of Noelridge Park that has two posts. While on my daily walk, I went between the posts.
Most of County Linn Under is made up of rough caverns with connecting tunnels and underground streams. I meandered around them while carefully avoiding the Prairie Dog People. It?s not that they are dangerous it?s just that they are kind of goofy looking and they get really peeved when you laugh at them. If they get peeved enough they threaten violence. When a creature that cute and cuddly threatens you, you can?t help but giggle more.
I spent a few quiet moments in the Graveyard of the Red Wing Black Birds. These birds are common in Iowa. This graveyard is a cavern where the red wing black birds go when they know they are going to die. It is filled with bones and decaying bird corpses. There is a strange silence in that room.
A few trolls hobbled by and I had to duck into a side tunnel. Trolls in Iowa are the shorter variety, but they are sensitive to that and it makes them irritable. They are offended by anyone taller than they and will instantly attack your knees. Their favorite food is children. When they passed, I continued my journey.
I passed the hall of the Red Tailed Hawk Queen. Going into a hall filled with predatory birds is not a good idea, so I just glanced through the door. Her Majesty was not in attendance, but the room was still filled with hawks. They had nests on every ledge. A strand of barbed wire stretched across the room. Each barb held a wriggling field mouse.
The next cavern was the hall of the Trumpeter Swan King. The old king and queen floated passively on a pool in the floor. Only three swans attended the old royalty, and they seemed to be molting heavily. Dust covered the horizontal rock surfaces. It was a sad reminder that the trumpeter swans used to populate Iowa and now are down to the few that have been resettled by the Department of Natural Resources.
The next cave was sadder still. It contained nothing but dust, tufts of old fur, and echoes of ancient times. This was the old hall of the Buffalo King. Many years ago the Buffalo King moved his court to the Dakotas. The deserted hall stood unused; not even the trolls go there.
I finally found a light in one of the tunnels. Figuring that it would be a way out, I headed toward it. The tunnel led to a tree in a creek near Alburnett. I emerged into the late afternoon sun and immediately annoyed the bull living in the pasture. A quick run and jump over a fence put me in the yard of an irritable German Sheppard.
Should you get the chance, try to visit County Linn Under. It is a fascinating place with interesting creatures and cool underground pools in which to swim. You will want to schedule the whole week in case you decide to stay, get lost, or get eaten.
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