Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Des Moines Iowa and Another State Capitol…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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.

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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.


  1. Loved this post about the state Capitol buildings in Des Moines. We will be in that area later this year and I know we will want to see them as well. And the sculpture park. Thanks for another great post.

  2. Gorgeous capitol! Drake University is beautiful also. We love touring college campuses.

  3. Love that park...the whole state. Our 1st year on the road. We road our bikes downtown from that state fair. Find a Tasty Taco...I crave them. My favorite hairdresser there in Ames I ever found in the last 3 years on the road :) Grotto in Iowa...great park in back and city park in cream capitol! Our RV still at corp job in central Il...4 days turned into 12.

  4. You have put an entire new category on our places to see.

  5. Now that is one capitol we have yet to visit and you just confirmed what we have heard about it.

  6. What and where is that meshy scupture? We are going to be going that way in the fall.

    1. John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park located in the Gas Lamp District of Des Moines, Iowa

  7. Pretty nice for sure. Some states have beautiful places to visit even if they aren't on the beach !

  8. Wow. an amazing capitol building! Very beautiful. I also love that sculpture.

  9. The sculpture in your header picture is really amazing. I wonder if Papa John's was founded and/or headquartered in Iowa. That's a big donation. Since we seldom do cities, we don't do capitol buildings so I really enjoy your visits. This one really is spectacular. I would never have imagined Iowa to have the best you've seen. I have fond spot in my heart since my favorite of my daughter's many boyfriends was from Iowa.