Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bridges and a Castle

One of the places in Iowa that I had long wanted to visit was Madison County, home of the famous covered bridges. The movie brought a lot of attention to this part of Iowa and it was a place I had never visited. Winterset is also the birthplace of John Wayne, and I had been to that house once before, but it was winter time and not a good season to go exploring bridges!

June, however, is a perfect time to go exploring and great weather for a drive in the country. The sign said it was 7 miles to the Rosemon bridge and after what seemed like 17 we did find it.

The view down the river was pretty cool! At this location there is a gift shop and the most impressive thing I saw was the vehicle license tags from so many different states and even Canada in the short time that we were there. The movie is history and so are the bridges, and it seems like lots of folks are still interested in seeing them.

We returned to Winterset and found another bridge that had been relocated into the city park. and when we drove past this bridge we found a one way trail that appeared to lead into dense trees and then we saw a sign telling us that we would find a castle on this trail. So being adventurous people in a Dodge pickup (this trail was really rough!) we headed up to see the castle.

The castle was erected in memory of Caleb and Ruth Clark who were pioneer settlers in Madison County in the 1800's. the most impressive thing about the castle was the view from the top! I did go up and take a look out one of the open "windows".

And just when we were thinking we really accomplished something getting up that winding rutted trail and dodging tree limbs and navigating hairpin turns, we found these two couples who made it to the castle on their Harley's'! So much for our skills!

You can find history of Madison County area at

There is a Madison County Covered Bridge Festival October 10 & 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Arnold's Park IS Amusement!

Arnold's Park Iowa was a favorite place for me growing up. The park is now 127 years old and still one of the most popular attractions in Northwest Iowa and Southern Minnesota. the famous Roof Garden is home to many summer time concerts and shows. The park hosts rides and amusement games as well.

From the roller coaster to the fun house with its tilted floors and magic mirrors, it was a great place to go with friends when you were a teen. the roller coaster was built in 1927 and is the 13th oldest in the US. It is like Coney Island in the middle of corn country! Something for everyone seemed to be the theme of this park, young children and adults alike enjoyed a day at the park.

The miniature golf course was always a hit and you can see why from the photos.

Once I was grown my favorite was a trip on the Queen II. lake Okoboji is amazingly deep in spots and the entire Great Lakes area that includes Big Spirit Lake is a tourism mecca. the QueenII cruise around the lake is a refreshing trip and the view of all of the lake properties something you won't want to miss.

Built by Palmer Johnson and launched in 1986, the Queen II looks and feels like the steamboats of yesteryear. Tours last one hour and fifteen minutes, and include narration on various historical landmarks around the Iowa Great Lakes. A full bar and snacks are available on board.

You can find out more at where tickets are available online! This is an affordable family vacation spot so keep it in mind for your next summer vacation.