Summer Scenes

Last week we have friends from Canada and California visited and stayed with us for a few days. It was a mini-reunion of sort for my wife and her two friends, since all of them have not been together at the same time for about 20 years. I know Iowa is not really a tourist destination, unlike Niagara Falls and Disneyland area where these people came from, but just seeing old friends was enough for them to come.

Aside from enjoying each other’s company and┬áreminiscing the good ‘ole days, we also tried our best to show them that visiting our place is worth their trip. Perhaps with this photos I can convince you also that we can be a tourist destination too.

We start with our immediate neck of the woods.

home sweet home

my wife and her friends having fun

We have other visitors too that frolic in our yard.

fawns in our yard

ducks swimming in the man-made pond

we are blessed to live in this idyllic neighborhood

We also showed our friends downtown Des Moines.

our State Capitol

downtown Des Moines as viewed from the Capitol (note the flag is at half staff)

Courthouse in Des Moines

We went and toured the Salisbury House in Des Moines. This mansion was built in the early 1900’s by cosmetic magnate Carl and Edith Weeks, and was modeled after the King’s House in Salisbury, England.

entrance hall

great hall

In the great hall is an antique piano. The tour guide even allowed my daughter to play it, after he made sure she adequately cleaned her hands. This old piano’s current market value is estimated to be almost half a million dollars.

antique Steinway concert grand piano

dining hall

vintage car in mint condition in the mansion’s garage

One of our favorite place to bring our visitors is to “The Bridges of Madison County,” which was featured in a book and film (starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep) with the same title.

Roseman Bridge, built in 1883. One of the few remaining covered bridges of Madison County

racing back through time and history

under the bridge

We also spent half a day wallowing in a nearby community water park.

floating in the lazy river

lining up to the water slides

Our friends’ visit was just in time for the annual National Balloon Classic festival held in Indianola, Iowa.

blowing up the hot-air balloons

Up, up, and away in my beautiful balloon!

my son climbing the stone wall at the balloon festival grounds

balloons coming in for landing

We also drove to the nearby state of Minnesota to visit Mall of America. This mall is the biggest in the USA. It is so big it has an indoor theme park at the center of the mall.

“Air Bender”ride

“Log Chute” ride

log ride crashing through the water

“Swing Along” ride

“Fairy Odd” roller coaster ride

With all the walking and touring, it was indeed tiring. But my family and our friends and their family, had a fun time together. Maybe next time it’s your turn to visit.

tired but happy feet (my wife’s and her friends’)

(*thanks for my “official” and “unofficial” photographers for the pictures)

Iowa Tourists

Few days ago, some dear friends from New York visited us here in Iowa. Yes, while hurricane Irene lashed out New York City and the northeastern seaboard, they enjoyed a perfect weather here in the midwest.

Aside from reminiscing┬áthe good ‘ole days we spent together and having re-bonding time, we played host to them as well as tour guide to our locale. There are more to see than cornfields here. (For there are also soybean fields!) But seriously, even though our state is not a popular tourists’ destination, we have interesting places to visit. But if it is cornfields that amuse you, then this is a “Field of Dreams” for you. (By the way, that film was shot here in Iowa.)

We visited the historic covered bridges of Madison County, which was popularized in a best-selling novel by Robert James Waller and later on made into a film, “The Bridges of Madison County,” which starred Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.

There were 19 covered bridges built in Madison County during the late 19th century. Only 6 remain today.

This was the oldest remaining bridge which was built in 1870.

Holliwell bridge which measures 122 feet, is the longest remaining bridge.

When you step inside them.....

....they provide a passage way into the past.

We went to visit the Salisbury House located in the ‘South of Grand,’ an area in Des Moines noted for eclectic variety of historic mansions and luxury homes. The Salisbury House is a mansion built by cosmetic magnate Carl Weeks, and was modeled after the King’s House in Salisbury, England. The house was completed in 1928, and has over 42 rooms.

Some of the artifacts found inside the mansion.

mantle of the fireplace at the great hall

The courtyard of the mansion. It was being readied for an event.

We also drove around downtown Des Moines and visited the Iowa State Capitol complex.

Golden dome of the Iowa State Capitol

Allison Monument

Monument of American Revolution

Lady with parasol and the "Shattering Silence" sculpture. The sculpture commemorates the 1839 Iowa Supreme Court ruling granting freedom to a former slave.

We also toured the Temple of Performing Arts in Des Moines, a beautifully restored building, which was a former Masonic Temple. The building now hosts music and theatre performance facilities.

grand hall

clock on the top of the elevator

We also went to Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown, which just opened in 2009, and features artwork by 21 of the world’s most celebrated artists.

In the backdrop of the park is Principal building, the tallest structure in downtown Des Moines.

more park sculptures

Jumping inside the sculpture

The tour would not be complete without a visit to the farm, after all, that is what our state is known for. We were invited by one Filipino who lives in Nevada, Iowa. Her family owns an almost 9,000 acres of farmland. While we were driving to their place, we got “lost”, and intentionally took a detour to have a closer look at the rows and rows of windmills, jutting out from the vast landscape of cornfields.

wind farm

parasol lost amidst the cornfields

dust cloud

old farming equipment

setting sun over soybean fields

After touring our visitors, this gave me a new perspective and deeper appreciation of this place, even of my immediate neighborhood.

sunrise in my neighborhood

view from my porch

looking outside my window

This just solidify my endearment for the place I now embrace as home.

me on a bench at Capitol complex, overlooking the city of Des Moines

(* photo credits to my visiting photographers, and to the resident photographer, my wife)