Fall 2017 Traveling West- Part 1 Iowa

Did you know a young fellow named Grinnell, was once told  “Go west young man?”

He did, found Iowa, settled, and named a town and a liberal arts college after himself.

I can see why he stayed and made it his home.

Iowa is one of those quiet and unpretentious states.

You know, the kind that don’t get a lot of attention despite being quite charming.  I believe the Iowans like it that way, and prefer it stays just as it is.

Corn forever

Iowa has a population of around 3,100,000. It is neither a red or a blue state in their political leanings, but rather a purple one. I got the feeling the inhabitants have a kind of “you do your thing, I’ll do mine, and we will all be happy.” Meet in the middle and all that good stuff. Solid, friendly people in small town settings were what I found.

The landscape is much hillier than I thought. Beautiful rolling fields of corn and soy beans dominate the view. I cannot possibly see how anyone could think it was less than magnificent with the John Deere green tractors pulling in the harvest.

John Deere rules here


We spent about 3 days in the state. I could have easily stayed longer.

Upon arrival at a small RV park in Kellogg IA, directly off from I 80, we quickly set up camp in order to get to the local sports pub to catch the Lions game. All TV’s were occupied when we got there, but one kind Iowan relinquished his game so we could watch ours with another Michigan couple who were also traveling through the area. The Lions lost, but it was a good game with a couple cold beers and a pizza to accompany it.

Post game antics

Beautiful location for a sunrise right in front of the rig

The next morning we enjoyed a great sunrise and set out to explore the area. We drove a few miles to Rock Creek State Park to get our hike on.

Mother Nature had other plans.

After 20 minutes out we determined it was too buggy, hot, and sticky to continue, dang!

We sat by the lake and enjoyed the drama the geese we creating instead. Afterward we left for nearby the nearby town of Newton for a less buggy urban hike on one of the towns greenways, lunch, and a trip to Walmart for supplies.

Come back Bruce!

Tranquility

The following day we opted for a 30 minute drive to Des Moines, the state capital, to see what it had to offer. With a population of around 100,000 it reminded me of my hometown, Kalamazoo MI, with it’s expanding downtown and funky vibe in the East Village area. 

The capitol building was stunning. I made a mental note to check out all capitol buildings when I am in their towns to see if any could possibly compare to this one.

Can you find all 5 domes?

The library

The only 5 domed capitol building in the US, it is filled with stained glass ceilings, marbles stairs and columns, shiny polished staircases, and artwork. There was so much to look at my eyes could barely take it all in. We saw the Senate chambers, however the senators were not working for whatever reason that day.  We were permitted to see the House chambers also, some folks were working, but it appeared to be lunch time and not many were present.

After exploring all 3 floors and receiving a personal tour of the Secretary of State office, we were becoming quite hungry and thirsty. Sightseeing can be tough work!

After a great tip from one of the workers in the office, we walked out of the capitol and straight onto Locust Street and the East Village. Travel tip, always check with the locals to find out where they enjoy eating, drinking, and recreating.

Go west!

East Village and downtown

Like most mid-sized American cities Des Moines had an area that is undergoing a revival of sorts. Old buildings full of history were scheduled to be demolished, but a group of  civic-minded citizens set about saving them, and luckily for all of us were successful in their venture.

Many eateries, drinkatoriums, and shops were available to choose from, and with a bit of help from google we found the Iowa Taproom which features only Iowa brews and also some tasty lunch specials.

Yummy food and drink

After lunch we decided on a riverwalk stroll, but to our disappointment, it was also under renovation, so we opted for a walk to another establishment for a cold beer before we left town for the day.

Sheryle is bullish on Iowa

The next morning dawned bright and clear.

Beautiful weather for another spectacular sunrise compliments of Mother Nature. We readied the rig for travel, and set about leaving the fine state of Iowa to continue our journey west. Next stop Nebraska!

Goodbye Iowa, you will always hold a special place in our thoughts and memories.

Until we meet again…

 

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