Day 4 - Ledges State Park, IA
|Wednesday, August 25, 2021: The lake looked very peaceful in the morning, with just a few birds out.
|A small bird was taking a bath in a puddle on the road in front of us, so we could tell it had rained the night before.
|There was a path up the hillside to the bathroom/shower building.
|Here's the view on the way back. Mmmm. That's a good looking rig, isn't it?
|Debbie spotted this cat, erm, Panther Juvenile, prowling along the edge of the lake.
|She's just behind the tree in this photo, sneaking up on the birds on the lake. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
|This is an American white pelican, which has the second largest wingspan of any bird in North America, just behind the California condor.
|Its companion is a double-crested cormorant. Unlike her pelican friend, this cormorant's wings are not waterproof, and it must spread them in the wind and sunlight to dry them.
|This single boat drifted quietly by, likely trying to catch the same fish as the birds.
|Around 11:00 AM, the camper next to us packed up and departed, leaving us all alone on our little stretch of waterfront.
|Around noon, we decided to break camp ourselves and get started toward our next destination.
|After seeing these colorful squares and stars on this barn, we designated today as "stars and squares" day, expecting to see many more. Alas, these were the only ones we saw worth photographing.
|Our first stop of the day was going to be the Museum of Danish America, but when we arrived, there were a few too many cars in the parking lot, and with COVID-19 and the Delta variant raging, we decided not to risk it. Better safe than sorry.
|We continued down the road along the Western Skies Scenic Byway until we reached our next destination, ...
|... the Danish windmill in Elk Horn, Iowa. This is an actual Danish windmill, built in 1848 in Denmark, and then shipped in pieces to Elk Horn and restored to working order in 1976.
|We drove through the charming town of Elk Horn, with Danish flag-lined main stret, ...
|... to the Danish flag-lined main street of Kimballton, with a mural on the side of this building featuring a preview of our next stop in the lower-right corner.
|That's right. Our next stop is Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid & Sculpture Garden.
|It features a replica of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark, which we visited in 2002 and 2013.
|Both are based on the 1837 fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. There are numerous replicas of this sculpture around the world, and we had previously seen one in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands in 2008.
|Around the main statue and pool are smaller statues depicting some of his other works. This one is The Ugly Duckling.
|This is The Little Match Girl, ...
|... The Steadfast Tin Soldier, ...
|... The Tinder Box, ...
|... The Princess and the Pea, ...
|... The Emperor's New Clothes, ...
|... The Snow Queen, ...
|... and finally, Thumbelina. Each sculpture had amazing detail and they were absolutely adorable.
All of the statues had a plaque underneath with a phone number to call, (712) 773-HANS, that's 712-773-4267, and a code for each individual statue, and someone would read the story to you. Well, someone will read the Wikipedia synopsis of the story.
The codes for each story are:
|Around the corner from the Little Mermaid statue is a park with another Freedom Rock, this one showing the American flag, the Danish flag, and the Little Mermaid. How fitting.
|Even the street signs had Little Mermaid emblems on them. What was unclear is why the Little Mermaid is shown here in reverse.
|As we were leaving town, we spotted another corn-cob-drying-silo that had been turned into a screened-in patio. It was a clever way to reuse these structures, and this was at least the third one that we had seen so far.
|Our next stop was to see Albert the Bull in Audubon, Iowa. The statue is 30 feet tall, weighs 45 tons, and has the most adorable eyelashes on any giant bull that we've ever seen.
|We passed a field of modern windmills, just before passing ...
|... a windmill-themed rest area. That's a windmill blade sticking straight up, which gives you some idea how huge these things are.
|McDonald's curbside service is so convenient, we just can't resist. Frankly, we don't try that hard to resist, but that's not the point.
|This was the land of Casey's gas stations, being headquartered in Ankeny, Iowa, and they were getting a make-over. This is the new look, with just the name "Casey's" and a simple red background.
|This is the original look, branded as Casey's General Store, based on the original store in Boone, Iowa. We saw more of the new looking stores than the old.
|We continued east, headed to Des Moines, where it seemed that every bridge in the area had just been freshly repainted.
|Des Moines has charming vintage shops in buildings with cool brickwork, but we were here to see ...
|... Sphere within Sphere in a downtown building courtyard. There are variations on this sculpture all over the world, and we had first seen one in Dublin on the campus of Trinity College in 2015.
|We passed the beautiful Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden with its glass geodesic dome.
|In 1950, as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Boy Scouts of America, the group placed approximately 200 miniature replicas of the Statue of Liberty across 39 states, and about 100 of them remain. Here is one of them.
|We were here to see the Iowa state capitol building, which was absolutely magnificient. As with the bridges seen earlier, it seemed like the capitol building had just be cleaned and repainted shortly before our arrival.
|The view from the capitol steps is of the Des Moines skyline.
|We took the Jefferson Highway Heritage Byway (that's a mouthful) to our next stop.
|We were reliving Debbie's youth at Union Park Historic Rocket Slide. The Miracle Equipment Company of Grinnell, Iowa, started selling space-themed playground equipment in the late 1960s. Debbie remembers having a similar slide as part of her local playground equipment when she lived in West Seattle as a child. This one is three slides connected by a 60-foot long ramp.
|This end features a spiral staircase inside the rocket body, with a slide about halfway up, and the start of the big ramp at the top of the spiral. This one was in great shape for being 50 years old, and children were enthusiasticly enjoying it while we were there.
|After reluctantly leaving the rocket slide, we continued our tour of Des Moines and enjoyed more well-maintained bridges, ...
|... and this muraled tower.
|We did a quick drive-by Dice's current office building, which used to be one of Tom's clients, ...
|... on our way to Target in Urbandale.
|Our quick stop was to purchase a large fan for The Ocho in an effort to beat the heat.
|Our purchase complete, we headed toward Madrid, Iowa.
|We were here to see the High Trestle Bridge, a former railroad bridge turned into a trail as part of the "Rails to Trails" initiative. The bridge is thirteen stories high over the Des Moines River Valley, and runs for nearly a half-mile. It is a spectacular sight and is probably even more amazing when it lights up at night.
|That's a dapper-looking gentleman. The Dragoon Trail is a scenic drive along the Des Moines River that follows the path of the 1st US Dragoons, the country's first mounted infantry unit, on their historic march in 1835. The trail itself is approximately 200 miles long, but we were only on it for a very short time.
|All of Iowa's state parks shared the same road sign design. Let's go to this one, shall we?
|Our destination this day was Ledges State Park.
|We had a nice spot reserved with electricity, water, and sewer.
|We lowered shades, covered windows, and set up our old and new fans to help control the temperature, occasionally running the cab's air conditioner to bring down the temperature a bit.
|Dinner was chicken fettucini alfredo from Backpacker's Pantry, another one of our favorites. We seemed to be eating as much comfort food as we could on this trip.
|We watched "Dear Frankie" to help pass the time and to keep our mind off the heat. Here's the final scene of the movie, filmed on a dock in Greenock, Scotland, that we had visited in 2015.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy