• Traveling alone
• A balanced plan, or lack there of
In October, I found myself planning a trip across Iowa to attend the Iowa Tourism Conference. I had never been across the entire state, and as an amateur ‘road warrior’ I was excited to take time to see all that I could.
Let me tell you a secret…I am exceedingly Type A when it comes to planning travel. I have a tendency to plan almost every minute in order to make the most of what little time I have in any location. I plan and live as if I will never be in any one place again and work to see the things that are most important to me. This is a double-edged sword at times.
For Iowa, I wanted to have some leeway so I asked friends and family if they had any recommendations for stops and built a travel plan on MapQuest™ (one of my favorite tools). I laid out the course to my destination with planned stops to see a few things, but not having a real set time for any one item. I then browsed TripAdvisor™ to see if anything caught my eye along, or near the route I had chosen.
Back to the plan:
I planned to leave early, take I-29 to I-80, stop for lunch in Walnut, in Des Moines to see the Poppajohn Sculpture Garden, and make a pit stop at Iowa 80 Truck Stop for fun. I would enjoy the conference and my stay at Isle Casino Bettendorf making my return trip via I-80 to I-35, staying the night in Mason City, and on to home. But the journey took on a mind of its own…or I let my Type A turn a little Type B.
Now when I say my trip took one day, it literally took me almost 10 hours to make my journey. I stopped in Walnut, IA, “The Antique Capitol of Iowa” for lunch and to walk the brick lined streets of downtown. The Haystack Diner was quaint and served up a special of homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, gravy, and a biscuit for less than $8 - sometimes tried and true is better than new. As I continued on my journey I saw signs for many places I wanted to go, but was worried about time…however, a sign for the Bridges of Madison County had me turning into unknown and unplanned territory. With the fall foliage in full color, I joyfully meandered the countryside and was able to take in five of the six bridges still standing. I even drove across Cedar Bridge, the only bridge you are still able to traverse by vehicle.
Come morning, I enjoyed breakfast at the 1910 Grille with lively conversation from the waitstaff. I made time for local caffeination at a coffee shop that came highly recommended. While placing my order and making small talk with the barista, I mentioned that this was my first time to the area. At this point, a few local women chimed in about places I needed to see and great things to do - That is what I love to see from communities, a warm, inviting, and friendly demeanor.
I made a few stops to see the Music Man Bridge and statue of Meredith Wilson before leaving town to make the long trek home. I then made a short stop-off to the Buddy Holly crash site (not planned and actually not too far off interstate).
See a few short videos of my journey on YouTube.com:
‘Music Monday’ in Mason City