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Stellarossa: advice sought for USA trip

Old Nov 14th, 2000, 01:16 PM
  #41  
Tony Hughes
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Kim, what part of Minnesota is Plum Creek in?

Kam - San Francisco by end of March. Wil play Alcatraz by ear. Wont bother me too much if I dont get to the island.
 
Old Nov 14th, 2000, 01:33 PM
  #42  
jwagner
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Tony,

This is a bit long so I am posting it in two chunks. Sorry. Glad you included Iowa on your itinerary. If you want a guide in Des Moines, I'd be more than happy to oblige. In fact, if you can prove to me that you are not a serial killer, I might even put you up at my place for a day or so.

In the states we have a show on public radio called "Whattya know?" It always ends with a telephone interview with someone who was picked at random out of the phone book who lives in a town also picked at random. And one of the regular questions is: If I visited your town, how would you show me a good time. Well, here goes.

We would start the day with a visit to the Iowa State Capitol. Not a long visit, but enough time for you to see one of the most beautiful state capitols in the country. Then we'd go to Des Moines’ acclaimed art center, with its very fine modern art collection, plus regional pieces by folks like Grant Wood. I'd take you to lunch at a place called "The Iowa Machine Shed" where you'd sample a typical farmer's lunch. It's a bit touristy but would be fun. After lunch, we'd visit Living History Farms, which has been proclaimed the finest agricultural museum in the world. Various sites represent agriculture in Iowa pre-1700s, 1850 and 1900. It's a working farm with rare breeds of livestock, lots of interpretation, etc. You might want to stay a couple hours, you might want to stay a couple of days. For dinner (we call it supper in Iowa) we'd go to Jesse's Embers, a great steakhouse that shouldn't be confused with the Ember's chain. When the presidential candidates visit every four years, they always pack Jesse's because the Iowa corn-fed beef if so terrific. Then we might spend the rest of the night at a local bar, shooting pool and getting really hammered. (lol).
 
Old Nov 14th, 2000, 01:33 PM
  #43  
jwagner
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Day 2. I'd drive you to Madison County, a 45 minute trip from Des Moines so that you could visit the Bridges of Madison County made famous in the syrupy book and movie. They are quite striking. We'd also visit the John Wayne birthplace. You know who he is. Before the Bridges, John Wayne was the main draw in Winterset, the county seat of Madison County. We'd eat lunch at a great lunch counter in Winterset and eventually find our way to Van Meter to see the Bob Feller Museum. I know you probably aren't a baseball fan, but Bob Feller was one of the really great ball players in the history of the game.His museum is nice and certainly worth a stop. If you want, we could spend the evening at a high school (secondary school???) basketball game where you could some some feeling for a popular activity in one of the small farming towns in Iowa.
By then, you'd probably be itching to get on your way. But if not, we could plan a trip to Pella, where the Dutch settled 150 years ago and still have a strong presence. Or we could visit the Neal Smith Nature Preserve where you could learn all about prairie life in Iowa and see a large herd of buffalo and other wildlife. We could drive up to Newton, a short jaunt, to tour the Maytag Bleu Cheese farm and visit the International Wrestling Museum (Iowa is very much into wrestling. Our university team regularly wins the national championship. This museum looks at all levels, including professional wrestling). Depending on the time of year that you come, we could go to the symphony, the opera (called one of the two best opera companies in the world by the New York Times and Chicago Tribune), or visit a playhouse. In warmer months, there's the farmers market on Saturday mornings where you could buy anything that could be grown in the state. We are particularly heartened to see a growth in the number of Hmong farmers selling Asian veggies. There's also a great little baseball stadium, terrific bike trails (Iowa is home to the largest bike ride in the world, 10,000 cyclists who ride 500-plus miles in a week) and, of course, the best state fair in the world.

Council Bluffs is at the foot of the Loess Hills, a distinctive geographic formation and a beautiful natural wonder. Council Bluffs is an old railroad town and you might want to visit the Dodge House to get some ideas about how the transatlantic railroad was built (and you might think about reading Steven Ambrose's new book "Nothing Like In In the World" which details how the railroad was built.) There's also an interesting squirrel cage jail, some riverboat gambling opportunities, etc. in Council Bluffs. It's right across the river from Omaha. And there are plenty of interesting sites between Des Moines and Omaha (and across the state). E-mail me if you want and I can give you some ideas of other things to see, depending on your route.

Oh, and Heather. You sound like someone who can't entertain herself. A cable televison type. What exactly is it that you need in order to not be "bored out of your mind" or whatever it was that you said? Maybe I can give you some ideas, too. I doubt it, though. Sounds like you were an only child and are used to being coddled.
 
Old Nov 15th, 2000, 06:05 PM
  #44  
Emily
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jwagner, thanks for the interesting and thorough responses. To be honest I didn't know what to expect from Iowa, Tony's been doing the research so far. I'm looking forward to it now, thanks! I think he'd especially enjoy a high school b-ball game, great suggestion. We'll mail you soon.
Emily
 
Old Nov 15th, 2000, 07:40 PM
  #45  
jwagner
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Emily,

Tony and I talked via e-mail today and it sounds like we are going to hook up. My wife thinks it would be great fun to put you and Tony up for a few days (if you don't mind three cats and a precocious two-year-old. It sounds like you and Tony are going to be coming from the west. I'd suggest you get on Highway 2 and take the hilly route through southern Iowa. If you want to go by interstate, there are a couple of very fine immigrant museums depicting the resettlement of thousands of Danish,Swedish and German settlers in Iowa in the 1850s.Looking forward to hearing from the both of you.

Jay
 
Old Nov 16th, 2000, 04:53 AM
  #46  
Kim
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Tony,

Walnut Grove (where plum creek is located) is in southern Minnesota on Highway 14. It's a very small town. There's even a little museum there dedicated to Laura Ingles Wilder. My sister and I stopped there on our way to South Dakota once - of course we grew up with the Little House on the Prairie books.
 
Old Nov 16th, 2000, 07:48 AM
  #47  
Heather
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Skimming through the responses, I notice that most are against your choices for destinations. Personally, I would love to read your trip report (tho, I did point out earlier that Des Moines is unbelievably boring).

I'm going to Durango for a week in December and would be happy to email my feedback, if you're interested. You've undoubtedly looked at the site www.durango.com already, but it offers a considerable amount of information about the area. We're taking the narrow gauge rail trip and it sounds terrific.

Please let me know if you would like trip notes.
 
Old Nov 24th, 2000, 12:43 PM
  #48  
Tony Hughes
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Cass, can you email me please?
 
Old Nov 24th, 2000, 01:24 PM
  #49  
Al
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We once lived in Des Moines, then a city of about 250,000 and probably much larger today. It's pronounced d'moyne. It has no rural character. In fact, it is quite sophisticated and home of Drake University, one of America's better small universities. Merle Hay was the first American soldier killed in France in World War I and a shopping plaza in the northwest quarter of the city was named for him.
Maybe you meant to type Mexican Hat, UT, a small place north of Monument Valley, just over the border from Arizona. Miles and miles of red sandstone in all directions.
Colorado City, AZ, is on the "northern strip,"north of the Colorado River. A community of Mormons, it has had problems with the law due to some families allegedly still practicing polygamy. Be careful up there.
 
Old Nov 24th, 2000, 02:04 PM
  #50  
Tony Hughes
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Al

I've read that the elders of Colorado City dont like single men visiting their town just in case they steal away one of their wives. It may be an interesting place to visit although I will take your advice and tread carefully.
 

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