May 7 - 12, 2022
Altoona (Des Moines), Iowa
No matter where/when we travel, weather is something we pay attention to. So I'm surprised to be surprised by the strong cross winds I have to fight for all of our 150 mile Saturday drive. Almost immediately we're into our 46th state, Iowa. It's a beautiful, sunny drive with green and brown (corn hasn't been planted yet) rolling hills and pretty farmhouses surrounded by trees. Only trees are blooming so far, there's little color variety.
I'm very happy to pull into Griff's Valley View RV Park, this time to a lovely surprise - a large and well-maintained park. Our site is on a circle in the back with lots of green grass around our level concrete pad. Tessa is starting to forgive us for weeks of dirt.
50 amp FHUs with open sky for satellite. Everything is very clean and works well. No park WiFi, but our AT&T has a strong signal.
Winds continue overnight, and are joined by the expected rain storm throughout the morning. The very dark and weird layered clouds are intimidating, but no hail is so much less dramatic! We'll get more of that later in our stay.
|Rain and wind continue most of the day.|
Monday we see sunshine and blue skies - and 85 degrees with humidity! Most of the places I want to visit are closed Mondays, so we explore Iowa's capitol city. Des Moines is lovely with a variety of vintage and modern buildings, parks, bridges and monuments.
|The capitol is huge and visible from every where in the city - the dome is 23 carat gold and very shiny.|
|Completed in 1928, the courthouse is surrounded by trendy brick business and residential buildings.|
|Des Moines - a respectable skyline.|
|The Breakfast Club in the East Village serves a delicious menu.|
|Apparently Cinderella now lives in Iowa. Wish I'd gotten a pic of the whole, adorable dress!|
|Soldiers and Sailors Monument - 1896|
Bill is notified that his expected package won't arrive until Thursday so I extend our stay another day. No hardship, this is a lovely park, and the weather isn't any different where we're headed.
Monday night's storm puts all others to shame with lightening right on top of us. The vibration is like standing beside a speeding train. Even Tessa lifts her head to acknowledge the loud cracks (she's always calm through thunder, fireworks, guns). I'm on a video chat with Ezra who plays games with me through the worst of it, including the five minutes of hail. My hero!
As much as we accept that different weather is part of our traveling story, that sometimes you just have to get to the other side of it to continue on, I certainly wouldn't mind some nice calm, sunny days!
95 degrees with 90% humidity is no joke. Tuesday is brutal. After breakfast, where I get my favorite Dutch pancake at the nearby Original Pancake House, I drop Bill and Tessa so I can do some solo running around. A quick and easy pickup at Target, and then off to fun sight-seeing.
|Not a great dining experience, but the pancake is perfect.|
The few items on my list for Des Moines, are all close to each other. The Sculpture Garden is downtown, surrounded by tall buildings and clean streets. Weirdly, most of the pieces are "untitled" which seems lame to me. How hard is it to give something a name??
Plenty of metered parking around the park, and even at a nice slow, looking-at-art pace I see everything in less than 30 minutes. And I'm soooo hot! With no breeze the humidity is stifling (and I'm also not at all acclimated to it yet).
Once I'm back in the Jeep I know that hours at the Botanical Garden aren't happening in this heat. And although it's mid-spring here, very few plants are blooming yet. Instead I take a very enjoyable, air-conditioned, drive through vintage neighborhoods. All different styles, old-growth trees, large green yards, it's a beautiful area.
|I love the staggered windows.|
Only open on weekends, the last place on the list is the Jordan House. Included in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Network, the property was built by James Jordan in the 1850s. Jordan was the "chief conductor" for Polk County, and his home was a welcome stop-over for fleeing slaves. John Brown stayed here at least twice when leading several families to their freedom.
It is an ugly part of our nation's history, and it helps me to remember that then, as now, there were Americans willing to fight and risk and take a stand against racism and exclusion.
|The 16-room home is fully restored - I'd love to see the inside!|
Fifth Street in West Des Moines is a cute, artsy area of shops and eateries. I take a short walk, poke my head in a couple places, get post cards for the grands.
|Very few others on a humid mid-week afternoon.|
In the last ten days we've had over a foot of snow, high winds, hail, torrential rains, high winds, thunder and lightening, minor flooding, 90 degree temps, high winds, humidity.....really, what's left?
Wednesday morning we're socked in - thick fog :-))))
It burns off quickly, apparently just feeling left out!
I've not seen the movie, but just 35 miles south are the Bridges of Madison County - perfect for a leisurely drive in the country. The Welcome Center is closed so no map, but I have the photo I took from the website so Bill is able to route us to each of the six sites.
It's still hot and humid, but today we appreciate that the wind is back, making it more bearable.
They aren't as quaint or pretty as those in New England and Oregon, but they're still lovely. All have been moved from their original locations, and having parking and plaques at each. You can only drive through one of them.
|Imes Bridge, 1880|
|First one I've seen from the top! Holliwell Bridge|
|Cutler-Donahoe Bridge, 1881. The most beautiful setting - a lovely park in the middle of small town Winterset. They even have FHU camping sites. I'd definitely stay here next time!|
|The Cedar Bridge lacks the romance of most covered bridges.|
At the Cutler-Donahoe park some of the large tree stumps are being carved into woodland animals. The artist is working on one as we pass through. Wonderful art pieces!
So far, Iowa is my favorite state on this route! We've had our share of bizarre and uncomfortable weather, but the city and countryside are both so beautiful. I'm glad we have two more stops before leaving the state.
What a great visit! I look forward to seeing where you are headed next. If Minnesota, our storms are supposed to end tonight with highs in the 70's for the foreseeable future.ReplyDelete
I had to take Minnesota and Wisconsin off the route this time to save on fuel costs - bummed because we love the area! I'm happy to see our route into Illinois and Michigan also has cooler temps and fewer storms. Fingers crossed for a calmer summer!Delete
Guess you shouldn't have asked what was left with the weather. Guess you found out...haha! You have had it all. Now to have high humidity and temps...ugh! Thanks for the tour of Des Moines. Love the staggered windows, also. I've never seen anything quite like that. Perfect RV park with lots of concrete but lots of very green grass. Safe travels!ReplyDelete
When I win the lottery I'll have windows like that on my beach house! That RV park is one of the very best we've ever stayed at. No clubhouse or pool or play courts, just super clean and perfectly laid out and, as you said, the combination of concrete and green grass is great.Delete
I'm guessing there are stairways behind those staggered windows - very clever. Your weather is not just testing your abilities, but that of the RV. Glad are are holding up well.ReplyDelete
We did the Oregon covered bridges on one trip north, fun to see those old structures preserved.
As for the sculptures, I want to see those wood carvings!, and can skip the downtown park ...
Staircase windows makes sense, the light must be lovely. Yes we're all holding up and that's what really matters in the long run! Yes, the downtown sculptures were all a bit odd and with no names it was difficult to imagine what the author had in mind. The carvings were so much better, and still in progress.Delete
It’s Gay…what a beautiful city. Love the skyline! But the carved woodland animals are totally awesome! We always send the grands postcards too!ReplyDelete
Wish I could find better post cards for the grands - they really don't care about pretty scenery. Think I should start my own series and call them Nawma's Notes :-))))Delete
Scary weather! Those are some strange sculptures and you are right--how hard would it be to give them a name?? Glad Tessa is enjoying the green grass and that the storms weren't too awful!ReplyDelete
So glad that bad storm moved through fairly quickly. Us California kids aren't used to all that drama!!Delete
Whoa!!! You really have had every kind of weather on this trip. It's crazy to think that you've had such high temps and high humidity. Everyone always assumes that the South is the worst for heat and humidity, but it sounds like the Midwest is far worse! Iowa sure does look pretty, though. I had no idea that Des Moines is so attractive and interesting. I recognize several of those artists' works from other sculpture gardens we've visited!ReplyDelete
I guess this is a fluke of early heat, apparently just for us! Des Moines was a big surprise - so beautiful in many different ways. Interesting you recognize the works, wish the plaques had been more informative.Delete
I don't know what's happened but I'm not able to comment as I usually do. That was my comment above. :-) LaurelReplyDelete
It seems you're not alone - lots of Anonymous showing up here and on other blogs - weird!Delete
shhhh, don't ask "what else" or you might find out! It sounds like you made the best of the heat and humidity and rode out the storms. I, too, recognize a couple of the sculptures, especially the drift wood horse. Is that huge rabbit thinking or.....taking care of business?ReplyDelete
You're so right about teasing the weather gods!! The rabbit seems to be sitting on top of the world.......I think :-)Delete
I must say, this is one of the reasons I haven’t been west in a long time – the weather we encounter getting there, or in your case coming east, and this year is amazingly bad with SO MUCH wind and heat. NINETY FIVE in May? A rocking RV and being sand blasted just make me crazy. You guys are troopers with much better attitudes than I have.ReplyDelete
A 23 carat gold capital dome makes me shake my head. Really?? Why?? It’s amazing that nothing is blooming and yet it is SO hot and humid. Worst of all possible Iowas IMO. You really did make the best of it. But then I don’t much care for cities anyway. Always hotter than anywhere else. I am really sorry you missed the Jordan House. I was hoping for a free tour so I wouldn’t have to go to Des Moines. Really love those Victorianesque homes. Thanks for the tip on the park in Winterset. Have you read the Bridges book? Love the tree stump art. What a great idea!! Beautiful stone bridge – over ??????
I'll never live in another one, but I do enjoy visiting cities around the country. Some disappoint, but Des Moines is really lovely in so many ways. And easy to navigate with no congestion. The stone bridge goes over a very tiny creek that had no water when we saw it. A few of the bridges are also "over" just land, not water, since they were all moved. I haven't read the book, and have mixed reviews from friends. While weather is definitely a consideration, it's worth the challenges to continue exploring new places.Delete
We spent a good bit of last summer in Iowa. Our daughter and family live in Burlington. Love the small towns with the beautiful old houses. If you get a chance, check out Cantril, Iowa and the Dutchman Store (which is most of the downtown). Very nice little city RV park...speaking of Iowa weather, we spent several hours in the RV park storm shelter waiting out a tornado warning..nice shelter, bunch of exercise equipment, TV and reading material.ReplyDelete
Sweet! If you have to be in a storm shelter, that sounds like the one to be in! Looks like Cantril is south of our route, but it's on the list as we'd love to return to Iowa.Delete
Looks like Griff's was designed by a RVer. I've probably said before how I love Dutch oven baked pancakes. The sculptures almost scream a name. All very dramatic. I grew up in Illinois and thought Iowa was just forever corn fields, which it might have been back then. I love how you find the special about this place. Hang on it's going to get hotter.ReplyDelete
It's a different view of the midwest before the corn is planted! We're dreading the lengthy humidity but enjoying the week's cooler temps now.Delete