As our year begins to unfold, more exciting places emerge and come to mind. This weekend Abby and I (Clark) had to decide where to go and explore. We had originally planned to go to the Iowa capital which is in Des Moines but I’ll be honest, I forgot that the women’s march was happening on that day, I know! I’m a terrible citizen. I wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for a friend at work (Brent) that reminded me about it. Sure, it would have been a great experience for us to show our support, love and affection in favor of the women’s march; however, there is always that one individual who takes things too far (either side or party), it doesn’t matter what type of march or protest that person is taking a part of. With the responsibility of a child now, we decided it was best if we didn’t go near the capital since Des Moines was expecting 10,000 people during the march. Abby and I decided to sit this one out. To all the women out there, we respect and support you.
So where did we go? John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset, Iowa. It’s not a National Monument or a National Park but might as well be one. It doesn’t get more American than this! As T.E. Lawrence once said “big things have small beginnings” and this quote proved to be true with the story of Marion Robert Morrison who was later known by the name of John Wayne. Winterset is a nice little town with a rich history and full of surprises.
As we entered the museum, we were greeted by 3 friendly volunteers and my eyes instantly had to adjust to the massive collection of John Wayne memorabilia. The walls, bathrooms, TV’s, literally everything and everywhere I fixed my eyes upon, John Wayne was certainly there. The entrance to the museum also happens to be the gift shop, Eyra had to try on a John Wayne cavalry replica hat from the movie Horse Soldiers I have to say, she looked pretty bad ass! Eyra is a natural baby movie star.
The fee of $15 dollars seemed a bit high specially since the museum was pretty small. Abby and I read the entire plaques on display and we were done reading and looking at the memorabilia within 30 minutes. There was also a 15-minute film featured at the museum that was presented by John Wayne’s daughter (narrator, not physically). We decided not go in and see the film since we learned our lesson with Eyra at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site last weekend. Eyra loves to run around, which is completely normal for a toddler and with people in the theater we decided to skip it. We’ll give it another shot in a few years (film). One of the things I loved to see was that John Wayne was not ashamed of his roots nor where he came from. There was a letter written by John Wayne that was sent to the Winterset clerk and on that letter, John Wayne wanted a copy of his birth certificate and he clearly stated on his letter “I would like to obtain a copy of my birth record. I was born in Winterset, Iowa”.
The outside of the museum was super cool, all of the movies that John Wayne ever filmed were engraved in granite (movie titles) and placed all along the sidewalk. That was a super rad and touching way to show the world the many films made by John Wayne and what better place to show the engraved movie titles than on the two sidewalks outside of the museum. I am not a western type of guy nor I ever will be, but let me tell you, this guy loved what he did and boy was he good at it! If you have seen some of his flicks, you for sure know that on every film he made, John Wayne showed his love for country, from the Alamo to the Sands of Iwo-Jima. All I have to say is that, Chuck Norris doesn’t have shit on John Wayne and I love the Norris.
Since the museum is operating under Winter hours, John Wayne’s house was actually closed but Abby and I got vouchers to return during the Spring at no additional cost and got a second chance and opportunity to visit the museum again. I want to thank the volunteers who made this possible, I am not sure if they can even do this (vouchers) but hey! They did. I am grateful and yes! We will see you again during the Spring, $15 dollars well spent.
Since our visit to the John Wayne Birthplace Museum was so short we concluded that we were going to see yet another attraction that can only be found in Winterset. Have you guys ever read or watch the movie Bridges of Madison County? Yup! That movie was filmed in the many bridges that Winterset has to offer. What makes these bridges so cool? First of all, the bridges are covered wooden bridges and second of all, these bridges are not very common nationally unless you go to New England or Virginia. In Winterset there are a total of six covered bridges, all within a few miles from each other and they are pretty cool. We only went to one bridge; we originally had planned on going to two bridges but one of them was closed for unknown reasons. It was raining and the roads to get to the bridges are dirt roads, I thought that was cool since I don’t mind driving on dirt roads but it sure gets super muddy and slippery. Yeah!!! That’s a grown man’s playground but I didn’t have the tires nor the equipment with me just in case things went South as I do with my old cruiser. That being said, I drove like a pansy to our destination.
We went to Cedar Bridge, we drove on the bridge twice and decided to pull over and have lunch by it, yeah we had lunch in the car since the kiosk by Cedar Bridge was soaked and muddy. I turned the ignition off and got Eyra out of her car seat and began to munch on our lunch. Eyra discovered the sunroof of our car and was thrilled, she kept saying WOW and NO!! That’s because rain drops kept falling on her cheek or forehead, it was pretty entertaining.
On our way back home we decided to take the back roads to Pella and we saw some interesting towns and people but mostly small farming communities; however, I have no idea where this place was or is but I will have to do my research for sure. We came to a complete stop at a red light somewhere (again no idea where I was) and noticed that there was a VW shop, if you don’t know us, Abby and I love VW’s and noticed that the shop or store or hoarder had three VW buses, a Rabbit a Karmann Ghia and other modern VW cars. I wanted to take a picture but everything happened to fast but I will find that place. Will the VW bus be an early Christmas present? I doubt it but now curiosity is killing me. Do they sell the cars? Fix them? Crush them? I may never know! What is it?
Our trip was a success despite the weather being foggy and rainy and as the Winter continues to progress here in the Midwest some places that are on our list are momentarily out of reach, but we will continue to make responsible efforts to maintain a steady influx of weekend blog posts. What is going to be our next destination? Unknown.
To be continued…