Leaving Omaha Nebraska for the 154 mile drive to Des Moines was very uneventful especially since we took the boring Interstate 80 going from west to east across the middle of Iowa. There were lots of rolling (mostly green) hills all recently planted in corn. When driving across Iowa it is not hard to believe that Iowa is the largest producer of corn in the United States. After fields of undulating greenery we pulled off the highway and as we pulled into our site (number 17) we were quite happy with our campsite.
We are currently at a Corp of Engineer's park called the Bob Shelter Campground north of Des Moines, Iowa. This campground is along the spillway of the Saylorville Reservoir and they are letting out a ton of water from the reservoir into the Des Moines River. As a result there are lodes of fishermen along the banks trying their luck and even a few bow fishers are shooting and catching some rather large buffalo fish (20 to 30 pounders). I am not sure what they are going to do with them but they are keeping quite a few.
Our first full day here we drove south to nearby Des Moines Iowa to check out the Iowa State capitol building. But before doing so we passed by Drake University so we decided to park and walk around the small campus. Drake was founded in 1881 and is a Division 1 school as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. We found it to be a pretty campus with a few intriguing buildings and it appears that Drake is mostly a commuter school.
After a brief walk around Drake we found the visitor parking for the Iowa State Capitol building. Wow this capitol is the most visually stunning of all the capitols we have visited to date. Our eyes were treated to not just one dome but five domes with a 80 foot diameter main golden Dome. Completed in 1886 this glimmering gold domed building shines brightly as it is covered with 23-karat gold leaf. It is a sight to behold for sure!
Once we made our way inside we were delighted with the grandeur of the interior as well. I mean, what a fabulous capitol building! We spent several hours simply oohhh’ing and aaaahhhh’ing in all the splendor inside this building. I thought the most fascinating artwork was a series of murals each of which was composed of probably 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch mosaic tiles. The end result was exquisite! We really enjoyed visiting this state capitol…
On the way home we stopped at the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park located in the Gas Lamp District of Des Moines. The park features artwork by 22 artists. While we found most of the sculptures whimsical we both enjoyed one called “Nomade” by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. This 27 foot tall hollow human shape is made of white steel alphabet letters all seemingly glued together to create quite a showpiece. It is amazing that the Pappajohn’s donated $40 million dollars worth of art/sculptures simply for the citizenry to enjoy.
NOTE: It sure was a great way to spend our first full day in Iowa. We look forward to exploring Ames Iowa and Iowa State University next and will leave here on Thursday to move over to Iowa City, Iowa.