Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

From Copper to Gold - Sun., Sept. 21, 2014

The start point for today's Capitol Volksmarch is the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden which is just a few miles down the road from the Iowa fairgrounds. Since the gardens didn't open until 10 a.m., we were able to sleep in and cook a pancake breakfast.

Me signing in for Volksmarch in front of living wall
at Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens

"Spectral Liberation" by Christiane T. Martens
The temperature was lovely at 69 degrees when we started out. As we walked along the Des Moines River, we passed the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens. Governor Ray was the first public official anywhere in the world to offer a haven to the endangered Vietnamese "Boat People;" created Iowa SHARES to send food and medicine to starving Cambodians, and kept the Tai Dam  of Loas intact as a people and a culture by arranging for them to re-settle in Iowa. Because the gardens looked so inviting, we stopped in for a few minutes to enjoy them.
John Deere Chinese Pavilion
Bob at Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens
Me with a Chinese Fu Dog
As we continued along the river, we passed the Iowa Women of Achievement Pedestrian Bridge and had great views of downtown Des Moines.

Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge
Des Moines River and downtown
Fall color starting up!
As we walked along the river, we noticed an event taking place on one of the bridges into downtown. Many tents and banners spanned the bridge deck. We had no idea what it was. More on this later.

The walk took us on downtown streets toward the Capitol. We passed Zombie Burger + Drink Lab and then a colorful mural that took up the whole side of a building.

Zombie Burger + Drink Lab outdoor seating
As I was taking photos of the gorgeous mural, a guy was walking down the street next to me and said, "I''m glad you like it." I replied, "Are you the artist?" Sure enough he was. I asked him if he'd pose next to his work.

Artist with his mural (on the side of a beauty shop on E 5th)
On the way up to the Capitol, we detoured to the Iowa Holocaust Memorial, a tribute to those whose lives were lost and those who survived. The quotes and stories brought tears to my eyes. Very well done.

In contrast to what we read at the Memorial about hardship and extreme poverty, we turned our eyes to the Iowa Capitol, an ornate edifice with five domes. Unlike Topeka's copper dome, Des Moines Capitol's main dome is covered in 24K gold leaf. The gold leaf covering the dome is so thin that 250,000 sheets pressed together would measure only one inch thick. The dome was most recently re-gilded in 1998 at a cost of approximately $400,000.

Construction of the Capitol began in 1871, was dedicated in 1884, and completed in 1886. The building is made of brick and faced with limestone, granite and sandstone. In addition to serving as the seat of Iowa government, the Capitol is a showcase for artwork, woodcarving, artifacts and decorative wall and ceiling painting and stenciling. Inside are 29 types of marble from all over the world as well as a variety of woods. The Capital is closed on Sunday, so we continued on with our Volksmarch and plan to return tomorrow to tour the inside of the building.

The golden dome
A massive edifice
View of Des Moines from the Capitol
1959 statue of Lincoln and Tad in front of the Capitol
Our walk continued around the Capitol where we saw a plethora of statues, sculptures and war memorials. The Boy Scouts of America donated a replica of the Statue of Liberty which is on permanent display.

As we continued our circle of the capital grounds, we saw...

~ The WWII Memorial (the nation's first)

Bob at WWII Memorial
Really looks like a torch or flame in the sun!

~ Art deco ears of corn over doorway in the Lucas Building

~ Iowa's Liberty Bell (and you get to ring it!). Bob loved it and wanted to do it again. The dimensions and tone are identical with those of the original Liberty Bell which rang out our independence in 1776.  The replica Liberty Bell was cast in France and is one of 53 Liberty Bells given to the United States government.

Iowa's Liberty Bell
~ Civil War Memorial

Civil War Memorial
~ Korean War Memorial
~ Vietnam Memorial
~ Submarine Memorial

Submarine Memorial
~ William Boyd Allison Memorial
~ Christopher Columbus Memorial
~ American Revolution Memorial

American Revolution Memorial

Across the street on the next hill is the "Shattering Silence" Monument, commemorating that Iowa has been in the forefront of breaking the silence against inequality.

Shattering Silence Monument
From the Capitol, we headed across the Des Moines River into downtown. Our route took us directly through the event we had seen earlier. What we stumbled into was the World Food and Music Festival. Oh, yeah! Right up our alley. It was sounding like a great time for lunch! Did we want Mexican, Thai, Russian, Italian, Mesopotamian, Andalusian, or one of the myriad other food choices available? Decisions, decisions. All of Des Moines seems to have showed up for this festival!

Pad Thai was our choice
Crazy busy!

Also Beer from Around the World!
For dessert we had cupcakes. I had Thin Mint (dry and could barely taste any mint); Bob had peanut butter/chocolate (moist and yummy). Then we continued on our journey.

Of interest downtown is the Equitable Building. The design was influenced by the Neo-Gothic style of Middle Ages churches. On the third floor are gnomish figures straining to support the building.
Equitable Building gnomes
"Must support this building!"
The most modern (and green) building in downtown has to be the Central Library. It has a grass roof that reduces energy load, and the walls are expanded copper mesh pressed between two glass surfaces that reduces glare and solar gain to be highly efficient.

Central Library
Central Library
The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park has $40 million worth of art from their personal collection. It is one of the most significant sculpture parks in the nation.

"Nomade" (unknown people in the photo)
"Cafe Table 1" and "Seating for Eight" by Scott Burton

"Thinker on a Rock" by Barry Flanagan
"Spider" by Louise Bourgeois
Our walk also took us past the Meredith Publishing Complex, publishers of Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, Midwest Living and others.

Meredith Publishing
Art wall changes seasonally
All along the walk, we are continually amazed by new, interesting art or buildings. The people we pass along the way are friendly and greet us warmly. Des Moines is a pretty cool place.

The Principal Building below is the tallest building in Iowa (45 stories). It is the home of the 801 Power Climb, a fundraiser for the American Lung Association, where participants run up the stairwells.
The Principal Building - 45 stories
The Cathedral of St. Paul

Fall color bowls in downtown
Des Moines River from Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge
Our walk was complete and we returned to the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens. I wanted to tour the gardens, but Bob wasn't interested. He took a nap in the truck while I spent an hour in the garden. See my next post if you're interested in a look-see at the botanical gardens. This post is long enough already!

To be continued...


  1. Oh my gosh...I never knew Des Moines was such a lovely city. I need to see how we can get there on our way back to Ohio in the spring. It looks like it offers so much in the way of the arts and architecture.

    What a bonus. Meeting the artist. It is a very pretty mural indeed.

    1. It is a lovely city. Iowa shattered all my pre-conceived notions that Iowa is flat farmland filled with corn and soybeans. This is our first time in the area and we are seeing so much we never expected to see.

  2. Wow, we should have passed by there, it is beautiful! Susan we are now in Quincy, Illinois. Are you heading south as well?

    1. We are currently headed north toward the Upper Peninsula and fall colors. All reports indicate we will be there at the height of the colors. Can't wait. We plan to hike to waterfalls while we're there.

  3. artists and architecture, my kind of day in the city!


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