This past week the weather was sure interesting. Let’s see! We had light snow, wind, sunshine, rain and then a moment of just nothing, what I mean by that is that the time appeared to ironically be frozen in time, if that makes any sense? The streets went silent for quite some time, the presence of vehicles in the streets were completely absent, no one was walking on the sidewalks, our dog Oreo was going crazy since he had no squirrels to bark at from the living room window. Then the wind picked up again. Iowa weather is nuts! Our traveling plans solely rely on the weather, that way Abby and I (Clark) can determine and see what options we have when it comes to travel arrangements, driving conditions, alternate routes and so on. Some of the places that we wanted to go this weekend were hit by a snow storm. We mainly heard the rumors by word of mouth so I decided to make a couple of phone calls to reassure myself we could still go to those specific locations. Well… It appeared that the rumors were true and the snow accumulations reached 12 to 14 inches in Northern Iowa. To me that is a recipe for a long day (disaster).
I know for some of our friends the destination that Abby and I chose to go isn’t as exciting for them anymore as it is for us and mainly because we grew up in Colorado and not Iowa. That being said, we decided to go to the Iowa state capitol in Des Moines. Is it exciting for us? You bet it is! Why? Because we have never been there! Some of our friends mentioned that they used to go to the capitol every year when they were young on a school fieldtrip. Man! My school never did that back in Colorado. What’s up with that? We see the capitol every time we drive to Des Moines but we have never actually been inside of it. When it comes to anything regarding politics, normally I’d say sign me out! Nevertheless, we decided to go and what better day to be at the capitol other than on the weekend (Saturday to be specific). Why? Because we get the joy of avoiding big crowds rather than going throughout the week. How many of you have gone to your state capitol? If so, how cool is it? Does it have an awesome backstory? You can always leave a comment on the comment link below the page.
When we left Pella, (The Arteaga trio) Eyra was already fighting her nemesis (nap) I just thought to myself, Eyra better behave once we get there because BELIEVE ME! No nap means a long and frustrating day. Sure enough, 10 minutes before we arrived to our destination Eyra fell asleep. Anyway we arrived at the capitol and I have to say, the capitol was bigger than what I thought it was going to be. Yup! It’s HUGE!!! We parked literally less than a block away from the capitol and gosh was it freaking windy, it was so cold that it was disgusting! Got to love the Winter right? We walked into the capitol, the security guards/state patrol greeted us and we went right through the metal detectors. It was like a mini version of TSA but 100% nicer and faster.
Eyra! Where do I even begin! I don’t think Eyra has ever met a stranger before, she smiled and began to blow kisses to the security guards and state trooper, I thought to myself (maybe she is practicing how to get away from a citation when she gets older) HA!!!! Like that’s going to happen. The tour was scheduled to begin at 11:30am and of course we arrived 30 minutes earlier than anticipated so we decided to walk around the second floor and to see the capitol’s façade. This to me was one of the toughest photographic moments I have ever had. Why? First of all, the lighting coming from the capitol is extremely poor, even though there are a million chandeliers all over the place. I’m serious! The lighting is horrible. I played around with my shutter speed, F-stop and my settings and I couldn’t get a decent picture to turn the way I wanted. The background color of the capitol was too dark and then it changed unexpectedly because the capitol’s wall was covered in gold leaf, turning my photo into a yellow or bright shot! I hardly ever use filters but I didn’t see another way out of this one, I gave in and used 2 filters that I had with me, I changed them constantly since I couldn’t get the right shot, I can honestly say, this hobby of mine was kicking my butt and I do apologize for the poor pictures displayed in this blog. Today was not my day.
I decided to take a few shots before the actual tour, especially since there wasn’t anyone around. Eyra however, she was beginning to show how tired she was by throwing a few tantrums here and there and screaming on occasion. Since the capitol is huge, wide and the sealing is so high that even a whisper turns into a loud echo. Imagine what it sounded like with a screaming child but Eyra refused to sleep on my arms or Abby’s (She was awake the whole visit). When 11:30am arrived we went back downstairs to the main floor and met with the rest of the party and our tour guide, I want to say there were probably 15 of us in total. We began by going to the second floor where I had just practiced taking a few shots. Our tour guide explained to us the importance of the capitol’s glass floor which by the way, it was pretty cool but you sure wouldn’t want that puppy to break or else you are f**ked! She mentioned that at some point the glass floor was replaced by actual tile floor but since the capitol is literally an oven during the summer despite the capitol being made mostly out of granite and marble, one of the governor’s agreed to change the floor and bring back the original glass floor to improve air flow and heat reduction. I didn’t quite understand the concept on how that would help but I went with it!
An awesome scale replica of the USS Iowa is on display at the Capitol along with the original bell that once belonged to the mighty battleship. It played a key role during WWII and also the Korean War. Despite being completely remodeled and updated it was decommissioned after 70 years of service due to an accident that killed 25 sailors. One of the guest in our party asked why the ship was updated only to be decommissioned 5 years later despite an accident. The response was sure unexpected. The tour guide responded by saying that every ship, plane, tank or piece of equipment belonging to the United States military must be battle ready at all times in case of an unprecedented conflict. It makes sense to me but I bet that wasn’t cheap to update. The USS Iowa was also FDR’s battleship of choice when he traveled by sea because it was the only ship in the navy at the time that obtained an elevator as well as a bathtub that FDR could use as polio treatment. The USS Iowa currently resides in Los Angeles, California as a museum. But what I thought was a cool and a touching way to appreciate the people of Iowa was that, the battleship Iowa was made to defend freedom against the oppressor and American ideals but the battleship’s toughness and design can only truly be appreciated by the residents of those who live under the name given to the ship. Can you guess who those people may be? Ding, ding!!! You guessed right! The residents of Iowa of course. If an Iowan finds him or herself at the USS Iowa museum in California and show their Iowa license, the admission is free of charge. Pretty neat isn’t? I can’t prove that statement right but you bet I will for sure try, we’ll see if the myth is true. Also Eyra made another friend and this time she won the heart of her victim by giving her lots of hugs.
We proceeded to the chamber of the house of representatives which apparently burned down or I should say, it burned but saved from burning completely to the ground in 1904. A man working behind the house chamber forgot to blow off his candle and as you can imagine the rest is history. The stairways to get to the chambers are extremely narrow but AMAZING and very unique. Eyra sure enjoyed the stairs. The now restore house of representatives looks pretty sweet but I must say; The senate’s chamber is even more majestic. Both the chambers of the house of representatives and the senate where a spit image of each other but since the chamber of the house of representatives burned, it had to be updated and as you can imagine, the façade completely changed. Abby and I had to alternate through chambers since our kiddo was not cooperating one bit. Eyra and I walked around the 3rd floor while Abby was inside the chamber of the house of representatives. Then Abby and Eyra hung out while I went inside the senate chamber. It’s understandable, no kid wants to just sit and listen to a random person talk about the capitol!
Once we were done with the senate chamber we were told that we were going up to the capitol’s dome also known as the hall of whispers but unfortunately Eyra was not allowed to be there because the age requirement to be at the hall of whispers is 6. Eyra and another kid weren’t allowed there so I figured that we could conclude our trip and head home. Abby however said otherwise. Abby took one for the team and said that she would hung out with Eyra on the main floor. I of course agreed and thanked her. Our group went up 90+ stairs to get to the dome and boy was it cool. The hall of whispers got its name because even the slightest whisper can be heard at a high tone as if the whisper was no whisper at all. I got to see Abby chasing after Eyra from the dome while my ladies were on the second floor, that was funny to see. I can see why they don’t allow toddlers up here.
After my group and I concluded our business in the dome we went back to the 3rd floor and we were told by the tour guide that the capitol library was closed during the weekend but if we ever had the chance to come back during the week, stopping at the library is a must as it is considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the nation. I’ve seen a few pictures of the library and yes! It looks as if the library was taken from the movie Beauty and the Beast! With spiral stair cases, gold leaf covered walls and multiple floors covered with books. I would like to go back with Abby for sure during the week and say that we’ve been there. Cough…cough!! Man I feel sick already! I might have to call in on Monday! Haha.
I met my ladies on the main stairs between the 2nd and 3rd floors and Abby mentioned that Eyra was fascinated with the stairs as she went up and down the stairs 11 times, Abby didn’t mind since she was getting her steps in as well as her flights of stairs on her Fitbit. Way to go mama!!
As we were living the capitol Eyra instantly fell asleep, her battle with her nemesis (nap) reached an end and Eyra was defeated for the good of a peaceful and quiet ride home (only momentarily) All that running around wore our Eyra down but only to recharge her long lasting battery. As we drove to the nearest exit I noticed the weirdest statue right outside the capitol and I told Abby “look the statue is flashing us” Abby responded no she is not, why would you say that? Sure enough we parked by the erected statue and BOOM! The statue was sure a memorable one. I am sure there is an explanation why this specific statue was made the way it is but I promise you, I am betting that the sculptor didn’t have some weird fetish!
So far every place we have been has been great, the people that we’ve met have been really friendly and since its Winter the places that we have gone were mainly empty which is nice but there are still plenty of places to see. The capitol was a great experience for us and we enjoyed it very much. Until next time.
To be continued.