"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Iowa - Home of John Wayne & Covered Bridges

Indianola, Iowa
Warren County Fairgrounds
Winterset, Iowa
Pamell State Park

Just over the Missouri River we arrive in Iowa which is the only state, besides North Dakota, that we have not been to yet in the contiguous 48 states.  We are excited to add this state but mostly we're looking forward to meeting up with Lee and Trace of Camper Chronicles.  They are among 15 or so couples that we met when we first set out to fulltime.  We call ourselves the Class of 2014.  We've been lucky to cross paths each year.
Crossing the Missouri River
We decide to stay at the local fairgrounds for a couple of nights to scout out the area and find a nice place to camp when Lee & Trace arrive.  They've been workcamping in Oregon for the summer and are heading back to the east coast to visit family.  We knew we'd cross paths at some point this fall as we are headed in the opposite direction.  And here it was! Iowa! The fairgrounds was small but very busy with a wedding and two small festivals and Farmers Market while we were there.  It was $18 for water and electric.
We drove around the town to check things out.  Not too much here but it's quite close to Des Moines.  We make a stop in the Confluence Brewery near the confluence of the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers.  This brewery is also accessible by the Great Western Bike Trail which is a paved 16.5 mile trail connecting to others.  Many bikers stop by.  They had a Lunch Truck which had some amazing Carne Asada tacos which we shared.  If we had more time to spend in Des Moines we'd have loved to bike on some of the trails.
Des Moines, Iowa
There are many graineries like this all around.
We found a great place to stay at Pamell State Park in nearby Winterset.  Not only was it a nice, small, quiet park, we had it almost to ourselves.  There are a few fun things to do in the immediate area. We chose two spots on the end with water and electric for $18 in sites 9 and 10.  You do have to make sure you enter the park from the south as the north has a very small tunnel which most RV's won't fit through.  See above picture.
Lee & Trace on the left, us on the right.  Big, open site on the end.  Lot's of nice green grass for Hurley to run around on.
"Aunt Trace" is so nice!  She brought a duck toy for Hurley.  He loved the heck out of it for about 5 minutes, happily squeaking away until he turned it into a pile of shredded material.  Ya, he's that way.  Always nice of Trace to think of Hurley though!

We made dinner for them since they had a long drive and then talked around a nice campfire before heading to bed.  There are several covered bridges nearby including the one used in the filming of Bridges of Madison County.  We decided to drive to 4 of them.
Built in 1879, and later rebuilt in 1880, is the Holliwell Bridge.  It is the longest bridge in Madison County as well as the longest remaining timber bridge.
Not much water flowing in the river at the moment.

The Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge built in 1870 is 79 feet long.  While the bridges are quaint, they look mostly the same and are not as pretty as most you will see back east.
On the way to the other covered bridges we checked out the Clark Tower which was erected in 1926 as a memorial to the county’s first pioneer family by its descendants. Constructed of native limestone, it stands 25 feet high and offers a nice view of the Middle River valley.

It's a nice 2 mile hike.  On the way Steve and Lee found a geocache on this stone bridge.


Me, Steve, Trace and Lee

Cute picture of Trace.
We had fun goofing off too.  The tower trip turned into a nice surprise.
We watched the sun set and went back for dinner made by Trace and another campfire.
Handsome guys!
On Sunday we went to the Birthplace and Museum of John Wayne.  Steve really wanted to see this so he was happy when we asked Lee and he said "Of Course". (Well, it was this or the Quilting Museum).  It was actually very interesting and very well done.
Amazing murals painted on a huge boulder out front.

Some local heroes.

There were some of those painted rocks left here too.
Wah, ha, ha!
They had a nice movie theatre with some history of John Wayne playing.

There were several movie memorabilia items.

Next to the museum is John Wayne's birthplace.  It was a very tiny home with some family pictures.

After the museum we drove through town and found a couple more geocaches while looking for a place to have dinner.


While looking for a restaurant that was just out of town we came across another geocache hidden in some playground equipment.  How long has it been since you went on one of those merry-go-round thingies?

The Hogback Covered Bridge built in 1884.

We stopped into a cemetery for one last geocache called the Tree of Life.  You can see why below.
We didn't find the cache but enjoyed the cemetery.  On the drive back we heard that Tom Petty had passed away.  He is my favorite singer.  So we sang American Girl in his memory.  So sad.

The Roseman Covered Bridge was the last one on our list.  It was built in 1883.  Most famous for The Bridges of Madison County, and the movie of the same name, Roseman is the bridge Robert Kincaid seeks when he stops at Francesca Johnson’s home for directions. It is also where Francesca leaves her note inviting him to dinner.  It had a nice gift shop built next to it.
There was the usual tchotchke type stuff as well as a couple of unique items.  Ever hear of a Hedgeball?  The hedgeapples grow on the Osage Orange tree.

Lee modeled the John Wayne toilet paper.  I found a giant square ice mold for Steve and Trace bought a nice covered bridge replica bird house/feeder.

The restaurant that had been recommended to us was closed so we ended up at a buffet diner.  The food was just ok but we were hungry so it was fine with us.  We really enjoyed our time with Lee and Trace and will be seeing them again in Oregon next summer if all works out!  Can't wait!

Well she was an American girl
Raised on promises.
She couldn't help thinkin' that there
Was a little more to life
Somewhere else.
After all it was a great big world,
With lots of places to run to.
Yeah, and if she had to die,
Tryin' she had one little promise
She was gonna keep.
--Tom Petty, American Girl


  1. Love the covered bridges. Good tip on entering the campground to the south, you would have never made that! I would like to visit the John Wayne museum sometime as well.

    1. Ya, I think that bridge was like 10 or 12 feet! It was a nice museum and town.

  2. Great photo of the 4 of you at the tower!

    1. We almost forgot about the tower, but glad we remembered. Sometimes you really enjoy those simple things. We spent a lot of time there and had some fun with it too!

  3. How fun that you can plan a meet up with friends. I agree, the photo of you four peeking out the port-holes is cute :-)

  4. Twe love spending time with you and as always it was something special and unique to he four of us, Miss you guys very much and can't wait to see you at the reunion rally!!

    1. Glad you'll be at the rally and can't wait to see you and Lee again! Always a fun time :-)


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