Thursday, March 24, 2016

Here's Some Stuff You Probably Didn't Know About Iowa

Iowa.  It's one of those places that you just kind of know is there.  Most of us have never been to Iowa.  I have.  I saw a lot of corn there.  A whole lot of corn.  I did see some other things too.  What I did find out was that Iowa has some of the strangest attractions ever.  I've seen some whoppers in my day, but Iowa makes the most of movies, religion, terrain, corn, art, and food.  You wouldn't believe some of the things that you find in Iowa.

Now, we all know that Iowa has one of the most famous and popular state fairs in the country.  We know that there are beautiful natural wonders there.  We know that Iowa is one of those places that you drive through on your way to the Dakotas to see Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.

There are quite a few roadside attractions in Iowa that will confuse, amuse, and intrigue you.  In Avoca, there is a Beetle Spider.  Albert the Bull lives in Audubon.  The world's largest strawberry is in Strawberry Point, and there is a giant statue of Pocahontas in Pocahontas.  That's just to name a few.  The arts and creativity are alive and well in Iowa.

Most of Iowa is pretty flat to be honest.  There are a few hilly places and Snake Alley in Burlington is one of those.  It rivals San Francisco's Lombard Street as the windiest road in the country.  It's a popular landmark and a marathon uses this location every year as it's focal point.

I'm not big on baseball, but even I loved "Field of Dreams."  Kevin Costner was great, but so is the location of the movie set.  It's now a tourist attraction and you can come and see where the dreams came true.  I guess it's true, "if you build it, they will come."  It came to Dyersville.

Father Paul Matthias Dobberstein immigrated here from Germany in the 19 century, and with him comes an interesting story.  He had Pneumonia and vowed that he would build a shrine if he survived.  He did, and the Grotto of the Redemption was born in West Bend.  It's an amazing place that took decades to build.  Just remember to be very respectful.  This is a religious site.

With Catholicism comes art and in Waterloo we find a replica of the Sistine Chapel done in spray paint.  Yes, it's in a restaurant.  The artist is Paco Rosin.  It's not the only work of art around.  Paco Rosin is a very well known local artist.

Continuing with the arts, we have Matchstick Marvels.  This is a gallery/museum in Gladbrook that is a showcase for models made with matchsticks by Pat Acton.  It's got some amazing works and it's a great little stop while on a road trip.

February 2, 1959 is a day that will live in infamy in Clear Lake.  This is the place where Buddy Holly's plane crashed.  Now, you can visit the crash site and pay your respects to this rock legend.  It's not the only plane crash site that is now a tourist attraction.  I went to one in northern Maine one time too.  If you want to celebrate the singer properly, you can visit the Surf Ballroom as well. It was the site of his last concert.

Ida Grove is full of castles.  It's that simple.  There are several different kinds and they are all around the tiny little town.  Byron Godbersen is the architect and the unique structures are something that you don't find every day in Iowa.  It's a great roadside stop, especially if you love photography.

So, there are many roadside attractions in Iowa that you never would have dreamed existed.  But, for Trekkies, Riverside is special.  This is the Adventure for Anyone to the max.  If you love Star Trek, then you know very well that Captain James T. Kirk is from Riverside, Iowa.  He will be born there on March 22, 2228.  Trekkies the world over are waiting.  Riverside has built themselves a little Star Trek museum and there are references to Captain Kirk all over town.  The town is tiny, but they have a great claim to fame.

So, if you wonder about Iowa, don't wonder.  They're creative, whimsical, artsy, religious, and very movie worthy.  If you ever want a unique place to take a road trip, check out Iowa.  Enjoy!

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