Monday, July 25, 2016

Stops Along the Way

A tour of Iowa isn't complete without a stop at Adventureland. I don't know how long it has been around but I do know I've been going there for 40 years and though most of the rides have changed, the ferris wheel is still there. The other favorite of mine the Log Ride was finally ripped out last year but not before my daughters got to experience it.

In recent times, they have doubled the size and added a water park so we decided it would be a good time to spend a day cooling off before we started our long driving journey. The kids really enjoyed it though we all lost each other a time or two among all the slides and water features. Eventually though we got everyone found and it was a quiet drive home because I was the only one awake, a sure sign that fun had been had.

A couple days later we began our Midwest tour driving south towards our first stop in Kansas City. One of the free places we like to stop to stretch our legs and which is still free to the public is the Federal Reserve Bank located there. They have a nice museum about how money is made, handles and adjusted as well as a place where you can see them processing money. In short, in ten minutes you can be within inches of more money than your parents, you and your children will ever see in their lifetimes combined. They also have a display showing almost every single coin every made in our country's history which even if you aren't a coin collector and I'm not, it is way cool to see.

With ten people and being on the road for over a week, we decided to reduce our expenditures and so we forewent our normal stop of eating some Korean BBQ that we normally feast on when in Kansas City. Instead we walked across the street and ate a picnic lunch in the shade at a war memorial park. Well fed and legs stretched, we continued south to our next destination which was a mini family reunion in Dallas, Texas.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Doesn't Take Shit From Anyone

Smack dab in the middle of our tour of the Bridges of Madison County is the town of Winterset and the birthplace of John Wayne. We have always stopped to visit the gift shop/museum in the neighboring house to enjoy the air conditioning and to look at the John Wayne memorabilia part way through our bridges tour. You couldn't beat the price since it was free though it costs money to actually go in the house which I have never done.

Since our last visit, they razed several other nearby houses and built a gift shop/museum and tore down the old one. They promised lots more memorabilia so I was looking forward to visiting it. However once we got inside, we saw the gift shop had been reduced to a tiny fraction of what the old gift shop used to sell though it now took up about ten times the space which was nice since you could now move freely about. However, all the memorabilia had been moved behind closed doors and they were charging $15 per person to see it. Seeing that I was with 9 other people who really could care less about John Wayne, I couldn't see paying $150 to go into the museum. I was disappointed to say the least and since I am almost always with people, I will probably never stop back unless I come with some John Wayne enthusiasts. Sadly, I found out that many other free museums and such that I frequent are disappearing fast but more on that in later posts.

We walked around the gift shop until everyone had cooled off from the hot muggy weather outside and then we walked over to his house and took the obligatory pictures in front with the sign and got on the road to see the remaining Bridges of Madison county. We were happy and it still didn't cost us a dime.

[A word of explanation on the title of this post: A guy walks into the store to buy some toilet paper and the clerk showed him some Charmin toilet paper 4-roll pack for $10. The guy wanted something cheaper so the clerk showed him some cheaper stuff that came in an 8-pack for $10. Still wanting cheaper toilet paper, the clerk showed him the generic stuff that came in a 16-pack for only $5. The guy paid, took his toilet paper and went home. The next day he returned to the store and told the clerk that the toilet paper must be John Wayne toilet paper. The clerk puzzled asked him why. The fellow said it was rough and tough and (see post title).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Writing On the Wall

As I have written about before, the Bridges of Madison county have painted a portion of each of their six covered bridges white to allow graffiti to happen in hopes of discouraging people from writing on the bare wood sections. People are ignorant and assholes and still write everywhere but those who are respectful of these bridges and treasure them, limit themselves to the white washed areas that get repainted periodically.

I have visited the bridges many times over the years despite never having seen the movie or read the book about them. I keep coming back because I am fascinated with the graffiti. If you look back in my archives, I probably have a dozen posts on this subject alone. I've always regretted not bringing a marker along to leave "my mark" but this time I remembered and brought a handful to pass out among my extended family. They had a blast leaving messages for others to read.

I left a few of my own but for the most part I walked along taking pictures of the messages others felt important enough to write down. Most are dull and expected but here and there something grabs my attention. This post is a collection of those images.

This last one is my youngest daughter's attempt at leaving her mark and she chose the railing out front. I really liked the fact that she even drew a stick figure.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Bridges of Madison County

Another trip we like to take people on who visit us is the Bridges of Madison County/John Wayne tour, both of which happen in Madison County around the county seat of Winterset. Although the bridges are beautiful and I enjoy taking pictures, perhaps the most entertaining part is reading what people have written on them. On a portion of each bridge, caretakers have painted over some of the timbers in white paint and encourage people to leave their mark. They are then painted over each year and the process goes on. This year for the first time ever, I remembered to pack a few sharpies so that I could leave my mark along with my guests. More of that in another post. For now, here are the rest of the Bridges of Madison County. Since most were taken in panoramic mode to get the entire bridge in one "frame", I only put the reduced sized pictures on here to save time.

Friday, July 15, 2016

American Gothic

When taking people on the "local" tour to give them a flavor of the area, we usually stop in at the American Gothic house seen above. It was the backdrop for the world famous Grant Wood picture of the same name of a dentist holding a pitchfork standing next to a dour looking sister of Wood. It is theorized that Grant Wood thought it was very pretentious to have such an ornate Gothic window in such a small farm house which is why he painted a farmer with a pitchfork in a suit coat and overalls standing in front.

I've been through the museum nearby many many times and although it has a generally history of the painting, Grant Wood and his sister Nan, it also always has a selection of painting parodies. I've seen the former enough to just skip and head straight for the parodies. This time, there were several sculpture parodies of the famous couple.

In the left of this picture, you can see a bulletin board full of sent in parodies of the painting. The museum has a collection of outfits and pitchforks so that you can dress like the couple in the painting and stand in front of the house and photograph yourself. I have done so many times but have never felt like sending it in to the museum but evidently I am in a minority judging from the multitudes of pictures covering the rest of the wall.

My favorite of them all showing another Grant Wood painting in the reflection of the farmer's glasses.