River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018

River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018
River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waterways Walk and Inside the Iowa State Capitol - Mon., Sep. 22

Another picture-perfect day greeted us as we started our 11K (6.8 mile) Waterways Volksmarch at 8 a.m. The walk followed along the Des Moines River, then across it on the Caboose Red Pedestrian Bridge.
Bob on pedestrian bridge over Des Moines River
Principal Park where the Iowa Cubs farm team plays
A pretty fountain outside Principal Park
We walked to the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers at which point we turned to follow the Raccoon River. You could tell that there had been flooding upstream by the amount of debris (i.e., trees and branches) that was against bridge pilings.

Trees piled up against bridge supports
As we turned away from Raccoon River, we enter Gray's Lake Park. The recreational trail took us on a bridge over part of Gray's Lake.

Recreational trail bridge over Gray's Lake
View of downtown with lake in the foreground
Gray's Lake
Did I mention the weather was perfect? Not a cloud in the sky, about 65 degrees. After we walked around half the lake, we continued along the Raccoon River into downtown. This seemed like the longest portion of the walk along ML King, Jr., Parkway. But there were excellent views of downtown so we couldn't complain too much.

Downtown from ML King, Jr. Parkway bridge
Downtown Des Moines, IA
The most interesting building on the waterways Volksmarch was the Polk Co. Courthouse. Unfortunately the whole top was scaffolded along with parts of the sides. The building was built in 1906 in the Beaux-Arts style. This building has lots of ornamentation. In the keystones of the second floor are 28 "grotesques." Grotesques differ from gargoyles  because gargoyles were designed to divert water away from the building and grotesques are faces. (It is said the architect included his own face among the grotesques.)

Polk County Courthouse
One of 28 grotesques...Is it the architect?
More building detail
In the next photo, you can see a horizontal platform near the top of the vertical metal lift. The platform is a big elevator that is used to transport people and work materials up to the work area.

We then headed back to the car along the recreational trail. Our next destination: the Iowa Capitol. We plan to take a tour. Because our feet were tired from the 11K walk, we drove to the Visitor Center parking for the capital. As we walked in the door of the Capitol, a tour was just starting. We had a gentleman from Toronto, a lady from Cedar Rapids, WI and the two of us.

Here are pictures from our tour along with commentary:

The second photo of the Rotunda dome below is a close-up showing the emblem of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). The emblem, painted on canvas and suspended on wire, was placed there as a reminder of Iowa's efforts to preserve the Union during the Civil War. A painted sky with clouds was added to the interior during recent Capitol renovations.

The Rotunda dome.
Emblem of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)
Just off the Rotunda is a model of the battleship U.S.S. Iowa on loan from the U.S. Navy. In the foreground of the first photo below is one of the two bells from the U.S.S. Iowa. It weighs 1,000 pounds.

Dolls depicting Iowa's first ladies in their inaugural gowns
are on display near the Governor's Office.
Next we toured the Governor's Reception Room:

Chandelier in Governor's Reception Room
The walls of the Reception Room - marble and wallpaper
Because the Governor had no official business today, we were able to tour the Governor's Private Office.
Governor's office
At the base of the dome, statues covered in gold leaf,
and eight half-moon-shaped paintings called lunettes
tell the story of "The Progress of Civilization."
Below is one of the statues gracing the marble and granite Grand Stairway. Our guide told us an interesting story about the two statues at the base of the stairway. Originally, the statues were made for the Illinois Capitol. Illinois took one look at the statues, decided they were "too naked" and rejected them. The architect asked Iowa if they'd like to put them in  their Capitol and Iowa was happy to. Fast forward 100 years...Illinois came knocking on Iowa's door asking for the statues back. Iowa said no. So Illinois sent designers to the Iowa Capitol with 3-D imaging cameras, took lots of photos, and commissioned another set of statues just like the first. So if you go to the Illinois Capitol you will see statues just like these.

Above the Grand Stairway, you will see Westward, a mural painting covering the entire wall by Edwin H. Blashfield of New York. The mural symbolizes the pioneers' arrival in Iowa.

Above Westward in arched panels, are six mosaics made of small pieces of glass tile. Bob thinks he remembers that there are 400,000 pieces of tile in the mosaics, each one hand-pressed into place.

The six mosaics symbolize Defense, Charities, the
Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches of Iowa,
and Education.
One of the six mosaics up close.
Next our guide took us into The State Library of Iowa--Law Library. It is awesome and contains over 100,000 volumes. There is no elevator, so the books are moved up and down on a dumbwaiter. There are two circular staircases of iron grillwork in the library.

Law Library
Here we are on a circular staircase.
From the bottom looking up.
Impressive and ornate - notice lunettes and statues
House of Representatives
Again, notice lunettes and statues above columns.
Marble and granite Grand Stairway and tile floors.
The building is massively built with five towers. Normally tours go up into The Rotunda tower, but today it was closed because contractors need to go up to provide quotes for work. Oh well.

After our Volksmarch, then tour of the Capitol, we went to the 5er, showered, packed and headed to Wisconsin. U.S. Hwy. 151 is a great road, but we had a major misconception about the two states...we thought they were flat. NOT!! We went up and down rolling hills all day. We are so thrilled to be where it's green again.

Iowa farmland
John Deere country

Tidy farms
Beautiful green rolling hills
Rolling downhill to Dubuque, Iowa
Cross the mighty Mississippi and, voila!, we're in Wisconsin.
It was getting late and we thought it best to call it a night. In our AAA Campground Book we found Joy Lake Campground just outside Belton, WI, 55 miles south of Madison. He was just getting ready to close when we called, but we were close enough that he waited for us to get there.

The campground is on a beautiful lake. Most of the sites are seasonal residents who have added permanent additions onto their trailers. We told him we wanted to do laundry and he put us in a site way back over yonder in the campground close to the laundry facility. It was unlevel but not bad enough to unhook and level.

The laundry room had three washers and four dryers. One of the washers had coins jammed in it, so we could only use two. We had four loads of laundry to do. All went well until it was time to dry the clothes. One of the dryers was full of dog hair. Scratch that one. The dryers I used didn't get hot, so I ended up running the dryers through two cycles (1-1/2 hours) to get the clothes dry. After that I wrote my blogs and headed for bed.

Travel Bug out.


  1. Gorgeous! The stairway in the Capitol is amazing.

    You did a great job of capturing Des Moines. Looks like a awesome morning. I love the photo with the reflection of the city in the river. Great job!

  2. I love how your pics of the Capitol are completely different. . .our guide didn't tell us we could go up on the spiral staircases in the law library. . .but there were several folks in there working, so perhaps that is why. . .

    Loved it all over again through your eyes. . .

  3. We are seeing the same bucolic fields going to Dubuque Iowa. Thanks to you we might stop by Des Moines sometime next year.

  4. Beautiful pictures of the capitol, think we may have to start adding those to our to see list.

  5. Bob took that tour in the early 70s so thanks for the trip down memory lane.


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