May 12, 2009

Westward, Ho! Iowa State Capitol Building

Posted in Look tagged , , at 10:33 pm by onetinyacorn

My husband and I, as political science and art/architecture junkies (respectively), have decided to tour every state capitol building. Our first of this trip was in Des Moines, Iowa, where a 23-karat gold dome awaited us.

It was regal and ornate. To further augment Iowa’s newfound image in the U.S. as a progressive state, I learned that it banned segregation in schools a full 85 years before Brown v. Board of Education. They also ruled against racial discrimination in public accomodations 91 years before the Supreme Court, and in 1847, the University of Iowa was the first public university to admit men and women on an equal basis. Iowa: who knew?

The state continued to beckon to us with other roadside delights, but we determined to press on, into Nebraska.

May 10, 2009

Westward, Ho! Herbert Hoover

Posted in Look tagged , , , , at 2:53 pm by onetinyacorn

Herbert Hoover’s birthplace is located less than a mile off of I-80, in West Branch, Iowa, and made an interesting little stop. First I bought this sweet passport to the national parks; it contains a map of the U.S., with the national parks and historic sites marked. The passport is divided by geographic region, and describes some highlights in greater detail. It has a place for me to stamp the passport with every site I visit. Since I love a good road trip, I figured it would be a good way to plan detours or destinations when traveling.

Things I Learned About Herbert Hoover

* He was born in a two-room cottage

* He was Quaker, and his mother spoke often at Quaker meetings

* His father was a blacksmith

* He may or may not have attended the one-room schoolhouse that you see pictured below

* The statue below is the Statue of Isis, a donation from Belgium

We didn’t go into the Presidential Library (I know, I know!), but I’m pretty interested in how they treat the subject of his presidency. Sarah Vowel has a piece on This American Life about this topic here (episode 167).

May 9, 2009

Westward, Ho! The World's Largest Truck Stop

Posted in Look tagged , , , , at 10:11 pm by onetinyacorn

On Monday, my husband and I (frantically) packed up all of our earthly possessions, and set out on a 1,500 mile road trip to Laramie, Wyoming. Those who had made the trip along I-80 in the past scoffed, “There’s nothing to see along the way.” Liars! We found lots of nerdy diversions.

Indiana and Illinois were fairly uneventful. I can’t read in a moving vehicle, lest I become horribly nauseated, so I’ve always submitted to the zen of the road trip. Most people find driving through flat expanses of farmland to be boring, but I think that it’s beautiful, in its quiet way. We crossed the Mississippi River at night, with lights glittering and small boats gently rocking. It was our first peek at Iowa, a state that pleasantly surprised me.

As we left Davenport, Iowa early the next morning, we were met with the delightfully kitschy signage for The World’s Largest Truck Stop. Obviously, we had to stop there. Having completed two month-long road trips around the country in the past, I could appreciate the grandeur of this truck stop: they had showers, of course, but also a dentist, movie theaters, a trucking museum, lounging area, chapel, and anything you could possibly need to deck out your rig.

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