We left St. Louis Monday morning headed for Des Moines.  Google map told us it would take five hours…it took seven.

Our goal is to get another day closer to Yellowstone without killing ourselves and meeting a friend and fellow Yellowstone co-worker in Keystone on Wednesday for three nights.  This friend has three of her grandchildren with her on her drive up from Louisiana.  One of these grandchildren is female and the same age as my granddaughter.  Therefore, from St. Louis to Des Moines is not out of the way if South Dakota is the next destination.

Additionally, I have a long-time friend from Jackson, Mississippi (David Gray) who has lived in Des Moines for decades.  We lived across the street from each other for eight years.  He and my brother found many creative ways to get into trouble and/or not get caught “having fun”.  They did nothing evil, just enjoyed to the fullest being a boy in a safe neighborhood.  We have all taken different directions since high school, but social media bridged the gap several years ago.

DavidDavid and his son with their “TOYS”

David always says he married up.  I got to meet his wife, Lou (a Mississippi girl), on this outing, his daughter and his three grandsons.  I agree with him, he did very well.  He has become the Pinball Wizard.  He is recently retired, but his life-long hobby is rebuilding/restoring and reselling Pinball Machines.  We got to spend the afternoon and evening with him, his family and his pinball machines.  He also owns a cannon, sweet granddaughter got to fire it!


This visit was a bonus. BTW:  Iowa is BEAUTIFUL…really!

iowa farm iowa flower iowa-3iowa corn

Gently rolling hills, newly planted corn and grains and handsome beef cattle.  It is clean, so clean and manicured to perfection.  The farms and farm houses are multi-generational.  Each 100+ years old and well cared for.  They all have flower gardens and vegetable gardens and silos and beautiful barns.  These houses are all surrounded and shaded by century old hardwood trees.  Then, to complete the all American farm portrait, the Peonies are in bloom.  What is a farm house without Peonies?

The grass edging the interstates, highways and county roads are at least (uniformly) 12″ high and sway as you drive by, as if waving.  Iowa has a constant breeze.  David confirmed that Des Moines is a windier city than Chicago, which is wonderful in the summer, but brutal in the winter.

Taking advantage of this wind are hundreds of enormous, white wind generators, scattered throughout this amazing landscape.  Sweet granddaughter, from down in big oil country, had never seen these.  Their scale rising with dignity from these humble grain fields impress and inspire.  We are America!


Meanwhile, back to the drive.  Further down the road, our trusty GPS took us onto a county road, which connected two state highways.  Along this route, we saw a sign pointing us to The American Gothic House…Naturally, we stopped.  We may only pass this way once, if time, energy and gasoline allow we are going to make the stop.

am gothic IMG_1830

We stumbled on a tiny treasure.  American Gothic is a painting by Grant Wood in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Wood’s inspiration came from what is now known as the American Gothic House, and his decision to paint the house along with “the kind of people I fancied should live in that house.”  The painting shows a farmer standing beside his spinster daughter.

Sweet husband and sweet granddaughter went straight to the pool and hot tub (indoors) as soon as we checked in last night.  I propped up my feet and finished my blog about West Virginia and St. Louis, before I forgot all I wanted to say.

South Dakota, here we come…