” Is this Heaven?”… “No, this is Iowa” Field of Dreams
Not an entirely off-base question. There is much of Iowa that is quite heavenly. Especially in the summertime when the endless rows of corn seem to cover the state like a verdant comforter. But there’s much more to the state than just corn. The state is the birthplace of a president, a duke, and the captain of the USS Enterprise. You can find trouble in River City or the place the music died. You can run the bases with Kevin Costner or marvel over the covered bridges with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. If your willing to surrender your corny stereotypes, Iowa will amaze you.
The French called the river that runs through Iowa’s state capital and the largest city “Le Riviere Des Moines” or “River of the monks” in English. The city was originally called The Fort on the Des Moines River but that was kind of a mouth full so it was just clipped to Des Moines. While not a huge city (the metropolitan area is only about two hundred thousand) the city does have a very nice sculpture garden and art museum, a renowned botanical garden, and probably the most beautiful state capitol building and governor’s mansion in the entire country.
Winterset and Madison County.
The area was relatively unknown until Robert James Waller’s bestselling novel The Bridges of Madison County turned the area into a tourist must-see. The book also became a successful film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. And speaking of movies, Winterset is also the birthplace of John Wayne. There is a museum and you can also tour his birth home.
Clear Lake and the Surf Ballroom
Located on the shores of Clear Lake, the city that shares its name has been called the place the music died. The Surf Ballroom was the last concert venue of Buddy Holly, Richie Vallens, and the Big Bopper. All three were killed in a plane crash east of the city. The event was captured in the 70s rock classic “American Pie”. The ballroom is still a concert venue to this day and has a small museum that features memorabilia from Buddy Holly and the many musical icons that have played here.
“We’ve got trouble” right here in Mason City. When local playwright Meredith Wilson wrote his hit musical “The Music Man” he modeled the fictional “River City” after his hometown. The town features “The Music Man Square” that includes Wilson’s childhood home and the set from the Academy Award Winning 1962 film and sculptures featuring Wilson and another made from “76 trombones”
Dyersville The “Field of Dreams” set.
West Branch: The Hoover Presidential Museum
Riverside, Iowa “The Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk”
362 Days of the year Riverside, Iowa will seem like any other town in the Midwestern United States. It has one main street and a big grain silo just like most small towns. In the summer they have a weekend celebration with fireworks and a parade. But that’s where they are different because of Riverside, Iowa is the future birthplace of Starfleet commander James Tiberius Kirk. In one of the Star Trek films. Captain Kirk mentions he was born in Iowa. The town lobbied creator Gene Roddenberry to allow Riverside to be that birthplace. Since then the city has an annual TrekFest, The Trek universe has made Riverside their adopted hometown, and Trek Days has lured most of the living members of the many Trek incarnations to come to the town for a visit.
There are it’s of pictures in today’s entry but Iowa features a lot in my local travels. It isn’t just because it is close to my current home of Kansas City. Or even because I have family there. It’s just a great place to visit. The people are kind and polite, it’s rich in history and the landscape is quite diverse. Flat and rolling fields in the center with scenic river bluffs on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers that cradle the edges. Maybe Iowa is Heaven after all.