About Me

Tired of the mundane and craving an adventure, on Saturday, May 22nd, 2010, I embarked on the ultimate American road trip through all fifty states. After nearly a year and a half on the road, on a budget of less than 50 bucks a day, this is my story...

Iowa: Covered Bridges, John Wayne, Des Moines


Tuesday, September 28, 2010 
This afternoon I arrived in Winterset, Iowa, to check out the bridges of Madison County, yep, the ones from the movie and the book that inspired it, and John Wayne's boyhood home and neighborhood.  The bridges were all uniform, red with white railings, their inside walls covered top to bottom with the marking of couples in love.  Madison County originally boasted 19 covered bridges, but just six remain today, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridges were covered by order of the County Board of Supervisors to help preserve the large flooring timbers, which were more expensive to replace than the lumber used to cover the bridge sides and roof. Usually, the bridges were named for the resident who lived closest.  I ended my bridges experience with a photo of Francesca's house, which after arson, is no longer available for tours or anything.

Next I visited the boyhood home of the western movie legend John Wayne, in tribute to my dad, a big fan.  The modest four-room home has been restored to reflect its appearance in 1907, the year of "The Duke’s" birth.  An impressive collection of John Wayne memorabilia includes unique items such as the eye-patch worn in the movie True Grit, a hat worn in Rio Lobo, and a prop suitcase used in the film Stagecoach. Hundreds of rare photographs of Duke are on display as well as letters from Lucille Ball, Gene Autry, Maureen O’Hara, Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan and George Burns.  Now I actually didn't go inside (judge not, lol), due to the fact that no photography (flash or otherwise) is permitted on the little 15-minute tour.  I'm not personally a huge fan (before my time), so I felt it was hardly worth it, what with not being able to show my dad anything worthwhile from it anyway, so I just got some shots of the exterior, a cool "John Wayne van" in the back, and the memorial statue in the park around the corner.

I walked around the town square a little, then I visited the beautiful Winterset City Park.  First I climbed up the steep steps of Clark Tower, "erected in 1926 as a memorial to one on the county's first pioneer families by their descendants. Constructed of native limestone, it stands 25 feet high and offers a commanding view of the Middle River valley below."  Then after snapping a couple photos of a cabin built in 1852, I walked through the cool labyrinth.


It was evening when I arrived in Des Moines.  It didn't take but five minutes to drive through downtown, and see the capitol, where I found myself standing in awe at one of the most beautiful capitol buildings I've yet to lay eyes on.  After a little internet time I received an email from Ramon (pronounced Rah-Mahn), an awesome person on CF who after a last-minute request said he'd take me in.  Woo-hoo!  Before going to his place I wanted to check out the local nightlife, so I went to Blazing Saddle, a local bar where I made friends with Farris, a cool guy who I talked with the rest of the night.  When I got to Ramon's, he had his pull-out all ready to go for me, and we got acquainted a little bit before hittin' the sack.  Ramon is a very friendly, interesting, easy-going marketing dude, with a great sense of humor, always smiling and helping out however he can.  It's easy shooting the breeze with him.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This morning Ramon told me about the JG Faux Show at the Des Moines Social Club.  "The only live talk show in Des Moines!  Interviews, performances, & live commercials swaddled in a blanket of funny.  It may or may not be a magical evening. If you are into banality and mediocrity then this is the show for you."  He said I should hit up Jason, who'd be interested in interviewing me about my trip.  Then he gave me a couple recommendations for cool coffee shops, and I decided on the same one he would be going to, Mars Cafe.  After his meeting was over he came by and said his goodbyes (I already had a place lined up to stay for night 2) and exchanged info.  I spent the day updating my blog, and to my surprise, I received an email from Jason of the JG Faux Show, telling me he'd be delighted to have me on the show!  The excitement, and mostly butterflies, started fluttering about, and my new friend Farris said he'd come with, so after my day of blogging, we drove to the Social Club and I met with Jason and the crew to prepare for the show.  They gave me free drinks, which loosened me up a bit, lol, and after the make-phone-calls-to-ridiculous-local-Craigslist-ads segment and interviewing the promoters of an upcoming art installation event, Jason welcomed me to the stage and the next fifteen minutes were spent answering goofy questions about my travels, while showing the audience silly pictures from my Facebook profile on the screen behind me (gee, thanks Anna for tagging on Facebook drag photos you pasted my face onto - I'll get you back someday!).  Afterward, Farris took me to a place with karaoke for me to sing my guts out, and he let me crash at his place.


Thursday, September 30, 2010
Farris let me sleep in and let myself out when I was ready, while he headed off to work.  I went to Smokey Rowe coffee shop that Ramon had previously told me about, intending to use today as round 2 of blog catch-up.  As I pulled into the parking spot I noticed Ramon sitting in his car in the space right in front of me.  What are the odds!  We looked at each other like, "whoa."  We went into the coffee shop where I met is his fun friend Suzanne, a delightful girl who puts a big smile on your face whenever talking with her.  They invited me to a "lunch and learn," a series of presentations with different speakers, different topics, and of course you can bring food.  Curious, and thinking there was a reason why we had crossed paths this morning.  The lunch and learn was presented by a man named John Stein, and the next hour he would be speaking on Destructive vs. Constructive Uses of the Mind, and how our negative thoughts are the only thing that can stand in the way of our goals.  "When we were very young, we weren't particularly worried about being right or wrong. We are all born with tremendous natural capacities.  We lose touch with many of them as we spend more time in this world.  In the course of a lifetime, the territory of envisioning and manifesting your true intentions and gifts may have been set aside or trampled by day to day obligations, professional obstacles and personal wounds."  I was completely inspired.  I felt like the universe was speaking to me, and my run in with Ramon was supposed to happen, so I could get the message.  As I let all I had just heard sink in, I spent the afternoon with Ramon.  First we checked out a printer he saw on Craigslist.  While Ramon was become increasingly more disappointing with the photo-only printer, I was being won over by the guy's dog.  Half yellow lab, half char pei, even at 5 years old it looked just like a puppy.  Adorable!   We grabbed some super good, super cheap Mexican food (and onion rings) at Tasty Tacos, a "little hole in the wall" making food fresh every day for FIFTY years.  


Ramon dropped me back off at Smokey Rowe, where I got some blogging done, then at closing time I went back to his place and had a ball goofing around with him and his friend and her super cute dog until bed time.  What an amazing day!  Thank you world!  =)

Friday, October 1, 2010
I felt like I wasn't ready to leave Des Moines yet.  My blog wasn't all caught up yet, and I wanted to go back to Blazing Saddle for an annual contest they were having.  I blogged, had lunch at Palmer's Deli that my friends recommended (I ordered my way - albacore tuna with Havarti cheese on pumpernickel - unconventional, but oh so good!), did some blogging at the the cool public library, breaked for a pumpkin malt at Drake Diner (recommended by friends and now recommended by me!), went to Mars Cafe for for blogging.  And in an instance, once again I felt the universe aligned to put me in the right place at the right time.  As I was walking to to the bathroom I did a double-take as my eyes caught a guy I met back in Minnesota that I had been interested in for quite some time.  We had made plans twice and both times he flaked on me; the second time I actually sent him messages asking what was going on and if everything was okay, and I never heard back from him.  Since then I still sometimes wonder what happened and if I had done something wrong.  An hour or so passed and as I walked out of the bathroom a second time (small bladder, lol) he said "Hey Matthew."  

I sat down and over the course of the next hour or so we resolved the unresolved.  He said he was going through a crisis, and he shut everyone out; that it had nothing to do with me.  Finally, closure.  He even resolved some other things for me, and we talked until the coffee shop closed.  We talked about his move to Des Moines this past August for school, about my trip and that I may want to move back to L.A. or take my travels global, and things serendipitous things like one tonight keep happening to me in Des Moines.  We said our goodbyes and parted ways.  I went over to Blazing Saddle and thought to myself, "What the heck am I doing here?  I should've talked with him more.  He said he had no plans and wouldn't be going to bed 'til late, yet I chose to come here and stand here by myself."  And then what do ya know.  He came to Blazing Saddle!  I got acquainted with his buddy Todd, and the 3 of us spent the rest of the night hanging out, even my friend Ferris showed up for a little while!  It was midnight and my 28th birthday was officially here!  Awesome!  The 3 of us trekked on to Perkins Restaurant (starving), then took the party to Todd's house for a little while, where I got to meet his roommates, before crashing on the couch.  What a perfect night.  Every day keeps getting better and better!!!  =)




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