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Summary of Week 3:

Louise Speaks:  Week two was more hectic because we went through three states in 7 days.  We stop to see 47 different attractions and drove 1305 miles.  That makes a total of 4826 miles,  133 stops,  and we are in our 7th state.  All of this in 21 days.  I had to stop and laugh.  When we were at Pioneer Village, they had a mileage chart and it said from Pioneer Village in Minden Nebraska was 1176 miles.  By that time we had driven over 3900 miles.  What would have taken 2 days or less has taken us 16 days, but have we had fun doing it.  This trip truly is an adventure.

Kansas:  States are getting greener.  Cities are looking cleaner.  And some attractions are getting real quirky.  If we hadn’t stopped in Kansas I would not have met Sandy and Dave, who were great host and hostess.  Had a great time in Kansas.

Nebraska:  Some of the things we saw in Nebraska were pretty boring, but some of the quirky things were pretty incredible.    If we hadn’t stopped in Nebraska, how would we have ever seen the birthplace of Kool-aid or Chef Boyardee?

Iowa:  We still have another week or so in Iowa, but so far my favorite state.  I could almost see myself living here.  The attractions have been fun and interesting and the Quirky things have been an adventure and making this trip memorable.  I can’t believe how friendly the people are here and how much I have enjoyed meeting them.  Visiting Iowa allowed me to make a new friend in Gay.  Spending two days in her home, and enjoying our time with her was priceless.  And how things would have been different if we hadn’t spent some time with my new-found friend Kathy.  She made a great tour guide, spoiled us a bit, and has promised to come see us in Arizona.  I can’t thank her enough for the most enjoyable time.  Meeting Thelmas first relative, Larry, Kay and Julia…oh my what fun.  They welcomed me with open arms and made me feel so much at home.  Kay’s stir fry made me think she had to be oriental it was simply wonderful…and did I mention we had fresh home-made breads every morning.  Larry’s sense of humor put laughter in the air, and Julia is already planning a visit to see us in Arizona.  What a great time I had.

So far Week three has been the best.  Not just because of the things I’ve seen but because of the people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.  I can’t wait to see what and who comes next.

Thelma Speaks:  Kansas was a great place to see Sandy and Dave!  There were signs of a mid west area with crops and small towns dotting up here and there.  We didn’t see the fields full of sunflowers like I had told Louise but they may have been in the process of growing and I didn’t notice as we drove down the road.  The best part of this state was seeing Sandy and Dave and catching up on family.  They were wonderful host and hostess and had a great dog that made us miss Gracie!  Thanks Sandy and Dave for taking the time out of your busy life to fit us in upon your return home from Florida!

Nebraska was a return to college days.  We stopped by the college and went to Fremont where we found a new candy to enjoy on the road even it if was chocolate and we had to eat it right then before it melted.  Omaha is a fun city and there was more there to see but seeing the chief and the hi tree along with the birthplace of Kool-Aid made it more fun.  How can you go to Nebraska and not experience Minden at least once?

Iowa, now how can you not love your home state?  Of course we are going to see lots of interesting things here!  Being home in Iowa makes  you appreciate all the little things that you take for guaranteed when you live here.  The people are all so friendly,  warm and inviting. We started with a dear friend, Gay that I taught with and had the pleasure of having her daughter Ann in my first kindergarten class.  She made sure we got to stop by and see Ann and her family.  Thank you Ann and Travis for letting us interrupt your tree cutting adventure and for sharing the children and their talents with us.  Gay made us feel so welcome and at home.  Thank you Gay! We also stopped for a cool drink with a friend from Prescott, AZ.  Rhonda was willing to stop her day and spend time with us.  Thank you for just dropping everything and going with us.  It was great to see you again.  Then we moved to Elk Horn where Kathy, a college friend, took us to see lots of interesting things in her town.  We had a great time and enjoyed having Kathy with us on these adventures!  Kathy we are wanting you to come and see us in Arizona in the near future!  Your stew was great!  Next it was time to meet the first relatives.  Hello was said to Larry, Kay and Julia!  It was farm time.  I got to see the cows, go to the garden and reminisce about family and life.  Kay was a great hostess and I had not had the pleasure of spending time with her before.  I have to say she is a wonderful addition to our family and I am so glad I got to spend time with her and get to know her better.  Can’t leave out the youngest lady we met.  Julia is so kind and sweet.  She loved our humor and would be a great addition to our travels… so we asked her to cruise with us or at least come to AZ and let us spoil her and show her the southwest!  She must think we are fun because she is planning a trip to AZ to spend time with us!  We can’t wait for her to call and say she is on her way!  Now Larry, he is the blood line that binds us together.  He has his humor and teasing way that I remember growing up and I was so blessed to get to enjoy again.  We talked about his father and had good memories to keep him close in our hearts.  We will miss him for sure!  We also got to spend an evening with my Godson and his wife and one son.  Brian called to say his wife and son would be home from a golf tournament so they wondered if we could meet for dinner.  We got to see their home and then go to dinner… poor Kyle is all I can say.  Kyle has a wonderful sense of humor and he didn’t let me get too out of hand.  Being a golfer we are hopeful he will come to Arizona State for college and play golf!  We invited him to come and check the college out and we hope he will come.  Besides I want to have another chance to tease Kyle and enjoy his great sense of humor!  Brian is my Godson and so I always enjoy my time with him and hearing what is happening in his life.  He has turned into a wonderful young man and one I am proud to call part of my family! Brian also gave me the number for his car dealership so we could get a lube and oil so our trip could continue.  Thank you for getting me to a dealership that was fast, friendly and helpful!  They were wonderful and Dan was great to deal with.  Toyota in Ames, Iowa rates an A+ from me! I had not spent time with his wife Kris.  It was great to get to sit and visit with her and hear about life with three men in the house!

This may be week three but for me it is number 1! I got to see so many new things and places but then got to spend time with special friends and family! I loved this week and everyone one that helped to make it a special time for me!


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The Bridges of Madison County, Winterset, IA

100_4840Louise Speaks: Day 21  Continued:  From Johns Wayne’s Home we started our tour of the Bridges of Madison County.   Although there were many more bridges only 6 remain.  Some have been moved, some have been restored, but only one can be driven over.   The reason for this is that this bridge had burnt and has been rebuilt.  The bridges are very close together so you can very easily see them all…and so we did.  I must say the state of Iowa did a great job in letting people know where the bridges were and how to get there.  There are state signs about every 2 miles telling you the name of the bridge, and arrows telling you which way to go, and where to turn.  There is no way you could get lost or pass up a turn.

Our first stop not too far from John Wayne’s Birthplace was the Cutler-Donahoe BridgeIt was built-in 1870 . The Cutler-Donahoe bridge is 79 feet in length and features a pitched roof.  Originally located over the North River near Bevington, it was moved to its present site in Winterset’s City Park in 1970. Cutler-Donahoe was renovated in 1997.

Our next bridge was the Holliwell Covered Bridge–It was built-in 1880.  It is the longest covered bridge, measuring 122 feet. It remains in its original site over the Middle River southeast of Winterset.  Holliwell was renovated in 1995.  It is featured in The Bridges of Madison County movie.

Moving right along, our next stop was the Imes Covered Bridge—This is the oldest of the remaining covered bridges, and was built-in 1870.  It is 81 feet in length.  It was originally located over the Middle River west of Patterson.  In 1887 it was moved to a spot over Clinton Creek southwest of Hanley.  Imes Bridge was moved again to its present site over a natural ravine just east of St. Charles in 1977.  It was renovated 20 years later in 1997.

Driving through the bridge

Driving through the bridge

The next bridge was Cedar Covered Bridge—It was built-in 1883.   Cedar Bridge was 76 feet long and was the last bridge open to vehicles.  This is the only bridge you can drive over today.  It was built over Cedar Creek north of Winterset on what is now U.S. Highway 169.  It was moved to its present location over the same creek in 1921.  In Robert James Waller’s novel, The Bridges of Madison County, Cedar Bridge is where Francesca Johnson goes to meet Robert Kincaid to help him take photographs.  Cedar is also the bridge on the novel’s cover.  The bridge was renovated in 1998.  Cedar was destroyed by an arsonist on Sept. 3, 2002. A replica of the original bridge was built from the original plans using authentic materials and methods. The new bridge was dedicated on October 9, 2004.

When we arrived at this bridge, even from a distance I said this was my favorite.  Roseman Covered BridgeThis bridge was built-in 1883 and it is 107 feet in length.  It  sits in its original location.  Roseman was renovated in 1992.  In Robert James Waller’s novel, The Bridges of Madison County, and the movie of the same name,  Roseman is the bridge Robert Kincaid seeks when he stops at Francesca Johnson’s home for directions;  it is also where Francesca leaves her note inviting him to dinner.  This bridge is also known as the “haunted” bridge.   Roseman is where two sheriff’s posses trapped a county jail escapee in 1892.  It is said the man rose up straight through the roof of the bridge, uttering a wild cry, and disappeared. He was never found, and it was decided that anyone capable of such a feat must be innocent.

100_4868Just as I had said that Roseman was my favorite bridge, we came upon Hogback Covered Bridge—This bridge was built-in 1884 .   The Hogback Covered Bridge measures 97 feet, and is in its original location in a valley north of Winterset.  Hogback gets its name from the limestone ridge which forms the west end of the valley.  It was renovated in 1992.  This by far was my favorite bridge.  The way the water ran underneath was like a post card.

I’m so glad we made the time and the effort to see all six bridges, because if we hadn’t, I would have missed the best of them all.

100_4863In the middle of all these bridges is Pammel State Park.  I had this park on the list but didn’t know why.  I thought it was to give me a general idea of how to find the bridges.  I didn’t know they would be so easy to find.  We drove through the park in order to turn around.  In doing so we found a calm river area where people were fishing and swimming and some were just sitting in lawn chairs enjoying the peaceful river.  As we were headed out we cam upon a tunnel.  Not just an ordinary tunnel but one that was literally cut out of the mountain.  I had to wonder how the bridge stays in tact.  The trees and other vegetation were growing right out of the rock.  This tunnel area was just beautiful.  I don’t think this is why I had the park on my list, but I’m sure glad we stopped.

All of these stops were just breath-taking, each one more beautiful than the one before.  I don’t  care how much time it took, how many miles they were, or how long it took us to get to each site, these seven sites are ALL worth seeing.  This attraction gets a rating of an A+…I just loved it and recommend you stop to visit all 7 of these places.  Even if it means going out of your way, it is well worth it.

Thelma Speaks:  You know sometimes Louise gets it right, this was one of those times.  I had lived here in Iowa for years and never saw the bridges.  Then the movie came out and you would think that I would have come then but it took Louise saying lets go and see them for me to finally get to see all of them! Thanks Louise!  Well anyway we were on a mission.  We had seen John Wayne’s home and so we had the time to see what we wanted.  Off we went with a handy map they give you with all the bridges on it.  We took off and made the loop.  It was a great drive and at each bridge we got out and walked from one side to the other.  Some of the insides were the same but there were others that had a different pattern used for construction.  Each was better than the one before in the order we had taken our drive.

I loved the Hogback!  We spent more time there just taking photos of the water running under the bridge and of the peacefulness that you feel when you are here.   It was a great way to end our travels of the day!

I loved the bridges and would give this a rating of an A.

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John Wayne Birthplace, Winterset, Iowa

100_4828Louise Speaks:  Day 21 Continued:  We have had the best of luck on this trip.  We had left Elk Horn and was trying to get to Winterset by 4:30 because we knew that’s when John Wayne’s birthplace closed.  Thelma dropped me off at the corner and as I was walking to the house, they locked the door.  I said we had come all the way from Arizona could they please let us in, and they did.  Very nice of them to do that.

Besides all the bridges, John Wayne is what put Winterset on the map.  The mere mention of his name produces images of courage and patriotism. The life story of John Wayne began here in the Iowa town of Winterset. He was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907, the son of Clyde and Mary Brown Morrison.  This modest four-room home has been restored to reflect its appearance in 1907, the year of Duke’s birth. An impressive collection of John Wayne memorabilia includes unique items such as the eyepatch worn in the movie True Grit, a hat worn in Rio Lobo, and a prop suitcase used in the film Stagecoach.  Since its opening, the childhood home of John Wayne has been visited by over one million people, including many celebrities and dignitaries. On November 3, 1984, President Ronald Reagan commented that the John Wayne Birthplace is an inspiring tribute to a good friend and a great American.

This year a huge birthday celebration was held at the Winterset home.  Maureen O’Hara was in attendance.  The celebration lasted 3 days and was full of daily activities.  They showed John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara films all day, had a pancake breakfast, tons of food, races, tours of the home and an evening dance.  This was the towns biggest event since the opening of the house.  Funds are currently being collected to build a 5,000 square foot museum that will not only show memorabilia, but will also help  teach new generations about the  Duke and the character for which he stood.

On the tour, so much more was told to us.  There are photographs of just about every phase of his life.  Pictures of his marriages, his children, his awards, letters from presidents…just about everything.  It was interesting to think of a family living in this 4 room house and to think there was a family of four living here.  John Wayne and his family moved from Winterset when John was 7 years old…the rest is history.

I’m really glad that we stopped, and very grateful for the tour guide to not only stay open, but to give us a tour and allow us to walk around the house for as long as we wanted.  This was a great attraction, especially if you were a John Wayne fan.  Definitely worth stopping for.  John Wayne gets a B rating.

Thelma Speaks: John Wayne, the Duke, has been a favorite of mine for years.  I have been here before but always love to come back and see the items they have collected that tell about all the movies he has played in and tons of other memorabilia.  It was a quick trip to the museum and we did get the whole tour.  What a lovely lady to stay and take us through the museum/home after hours.   Winterset is a home the size of John Wayne.  The  people here love their Duke and they are not afraid to share their love with you.  I can’t wait to come back and see the next addition with 5,000 feet of new displays! 

I rate this a B.  It is worth stopping by and seeing everything they have collected and to learn more about the Duke and hopefully the new building will be finished when you stop by!