Pappajohn Sculpture Park-Des Moines

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I am not sure at what point my Tour of Iowa took a cultural turn,but upon deep introspection into the rear view mirror,it appears that your correspondent has become a “patron d’art” .After consecutive  stops at Freedom Rock,the Greenfield Opera House, the Wallace Country Life Prairie and finally the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines,what other conclusion can there be??Let me assure you that there will no attempt at serious art critiquing here, instead I will use the standard disclaimer,I know what I like when I see it!!

IMG_1473 - CopyThe park is located in downtown between Locust and Grand Avenues  and is relatively new,having been established in 2009 through the benevolence of John and Mary Pappajohn, the city of Des Moines and the Des Moines Art Center.Uniqueness is certainly an overriding feature of the attraction as it is open to all,be they pedestrian,biker,picnicker,or just a passing motorist!!. AND it’s free unless you want a guided tour, but that’s not necessary as signage, free visitor guide maps and even cell phone assistance are  readily available.Oh yes you may want to use your smart phone to keep abreast of the latest weather radar. A group of Urbandale 6th graders and myself attempted to circumnavigate the park in a hurried fashion in anticipation of approaching rainfall.This left little time for aesthetic meditation so a set of photographs(see Photo Section of this blog) with captions,attempts to convey my impressions.IMG_1462 - CopyAs the rain became an uninvited member of my touring entourage. I decided to end my brief stay in the Capital city.Someday when the sun is shining, I intend to return if for no other reason than to further understand what it was that I saw this day. Oops, looks my recessive “art gene” is showing again!!EARCORN(4) Continue reading

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Whitewater Park-Charles City

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The city of Charles City has a one-of-a-kind attraction ,at least for now, a whitewater park for canoes, kayak,surfboards etc. that runs right through the heart of downtown,but then again ,so does the Cedar River!! Apparently, if you just take a few well-placed boulders,add a controlled water supply ,string  some lines and put up some signs proclaiming do’s and don’ts,then you have a “whitewater park”.

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Now don’t get me wrong,utilizing a resource that is already there is not a bad thing .For a town like Charles City, which has struggled with unemployment and one of the worst tornadic disasters in Iowa history,it makes perfect sense to spruce up downtown with an attraction of interest.The setting within the City’s Riverfront Park is a pretty one with park benches,pedestrian bridge and newly added flower gardens, It is a place to come and truly enjoy the river setting.Unfortunately the amount of exuberance required to  physically participate is beyond me ,I think.After all, rescue squads  have better things to do than to chase after a guy taking an uncharted and unplanned trip to the Gulf of Mexico!!

The day I visited,the water was rushing past the dam at 8000 cfm. Although there is no Charles City regulation closing the river to kayaking(that’s up to the DNR) there were ,disappointingly,no active participants.Perhaps they were resting up for a weekend or holiday competition!!At any rate the price is right for the adventurer and/or the spectator…it’s FREE!!EARCORN(3.5)IMG_0710

Bloomsbury Farm-Atkins

IMG_0636After 6+ years of  travelling around the state exploring Iowa’s attractions,I like to think that I know a little bit about the features a site must possess to become a good stop for the average visitor.However the Bloomsbury Farm north of Atkins presented a challenge to this veteran critic.Most of the problem was due to the timing of my visit and  the undeniable fact that it has been more than a couple of years since I climbed a jungle gym or jumped on a trampoline. Yes, the truth is I needed the presence of at least one person who doesn’t remember President Clinton.You guessed it ,the attraction caters to the “Can I have some money for candy?” crowd!!IMG_0633   

This is not to say that there isn’t something here for everybody.The presence of a 60 foot zip line tower,paint ball arena,tire and corn(in season)mazes, barnyard animals etc.. would indicate such.Yet most of the attractions are geared for children or grandchildren depending  on who is providing the benevolence of the admission price!!As a working farm matures during the growing season.

  The Petersons,Dave and Kathy,oversee a variety of events.These include obviously school field trips, team building sessions,kid’s summer camps,4 and 10 acre corn mazes,a pick your own pumpkin patch,haunted houses ,the list goes on and on. So there is a lot going on here,it just wasn’t while I was there!!I suppose the Iowa Travel Advisor will just have to hire a junior advisory staff, any grand-kids interested??EARCORN(4)

Chainsaw Sculptures-Vinton

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Goodbye winter 2012-13!! Yet as I write this on May 1st, the local forecast has a chance of snow for tomorrow!Maybe they are just kidding as the first trip of the season saw the outside temperature guage on my car bump briefly to 90 degrees yesterday!!Ah such is the weather of this great state we live in-IOWA.

On July 11, 2011 straight line winds hit central Iowa and the town of Vinton doing extensive damage to buildings , roofs, power lines and trees.The area is still in the process of recovery and one of the people helping is a self taught local artist by the name of Brian Parr.With a simple pull of a starter cord,Mr Parr was able to transform many tree trunks designated for word chips into wonderful works of thematic art depending on the locale of the stump. The result of this effort is an attraction worth driving to see.I took a few photos of  some of the 20+ sculptures for your perusal.If the mood strikes you, a simple drive around the streets of Vinton will reveal an interesting wooden art gallery.

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EARCORN(2)

Antique Carousel-Story City

A  quirk of fate permeates the history of the “Antique Carousel circa 1913” that can be found on the grounds of North Park in Story City.Once upon a time a gentleman named Giffords was in the carnival carousel business  taking it around the country to town celebrations and county fairs.This Carousel was no ordinary “merry-go-round” for it featured twenty horses, 2 roosters,2 dogs,2 chariots,and a whirling tub, a regular Noah’s Ark!!!Throw in calliope tunes generated by a Wurlitzer military band organ and you had an attraction that the kids looked forward to seeing  and riding every year.As the Story City story goes,a communication gaffe or flagging ambition led to a “no-show” one summer and bitter disappointment for the town populace.Determined to prevent future heart breaks the town fathers negotiated to buy the carousel from Giffords in 1938 and house it permanently in the park.After a brief retirement in the ’70’s it was restored and rededicated in  its 1982 shelter housing. This one-of-a-kind attraction is still operational during the summer months to the delight of the community kids and the “older kids” that happen to pass this central Iowa town.