Visiting Family in Iowa | Hiking in Ledges State Park | April 2022
The first weekend of April was an eventful one for us. It started with attending the 122nd Submarine Birthday Ball at the Paxton Hotel in Omaha. Surprisingly (or maybe not), this is only the second ball or formal Navy function we’ve been to, with the last one being 6 years ago in Charleston, SC. (The last 2 Sub balls have been cancelled because of COVID, and we never attended in Hawaii because it was so expensive. Curtis would instead volunteer to stand duty instead, because someone had to do it!) We have a fun group of friends that made the event enjoyable, and of course it was fun to have an excuse to get all dressed up.
The ball went until 11, then the next morning we were up at 6 and out the door by 6:30, headed to my family’s house! Being that early, the drive was quick and uneventful, besides the weather — it was snowing for the last half hour of the drive, and in our hometown! The snow didn’t stick around, but the weekend was definitely colder than we would’ve liked. We reunited with my family, Nanna, and the dogs. (One of the best parts about going home is that Charlotte knows exactly where she is when we pull in the neighborhood, and she’s always so excited the moment we let her out of the car!)
The main reasons we were visiting were for fun events that were happening that weekend, but we also hadn’t been home since Christmas so that was reason enough! That afternoon, we helped my sister Gina get all dolled up for her senior prom, and I got to take pictures for her and her boyfriend. That evening, everyone else had plans, so Curtis and I took it easy with the dogs and got sushi from our favorite restaurant, Oyama.
The rest of our weekend was pretty normal and laid back, except on Sunday afternoon Curtis really wanted to try kayaking in the Cedar River up near Palo. He’s talked about doing it every time we’ve visited since getting the kayak, but since there was rain in the forecast I let him go and do it himself. In his words, it was a good learning experience, so it was probably for the better that I let him learn on his own. 🙂
Curtis was able to take Monday off, so we stayed with my family until Monday morning and then said our goodbyes. To make the drive home more interesting, we decided to visit Ledges State Park to do some hiking. It’s one of those state parks we had known about for a long time, but never made the time to go. Since the weather was finally warming up again, we had all day to make the drive and it’s basically on the way…if you don’t mind taking roads with slower speed limits.
We arrived in the late morning and parked in the upper parking lot. The entrance was free (as it is with most Iowa state parks!) and so we took one last look at a map before setting off on the trail. We started hiking along a ridge, which eventually went down to the creek that flows through the park. Since the trees didn’t have leaves, the views down into the Des Moines River valley and all its tributaries were less obstructed than they would be in the summer. We stopped briefly at Table Rock before descending the final bit of trail to the road.
We followed the road, crossed the creek, then began following the trails up the opposite side towards the Crow’s Nest. One of the highlights of this park are the sandstone ledges, and this is where we were able to see them the best. On this part of the loop, we also had a view of the Des Moines River. We looped our way back to the road and creek, then crossed once again taking the shorter and steeper trail back up to our car. Altogether our hike was about 2 miles long — Here is our AllTrails recording if you’re interested.
After we were finished, we drove through the park, then back up to Boone to see the county courthouse. While driving through, we learned that this was the hometown of Mamie Eisenhower, the wife of President Eisenhower.
Next, we drove South on US-169 to Adel where we stopped for the Dallas County Courthouse, and since it was a nice one positioned in the town center we took a short walk around which Charlotte always appreciates. Then to avoid the interstate for a little longer, we took Old Highway 6 West to Redfield, and stopped to see a couple roadside historic sites along the way, which were all a part of the Iowa Scenic Byway Passport.
The first marked the old abandoned amusement park known as Dexfield Park, where, in July 1933, the Barrow Gang (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) was ambushed by local the police and sheriff. While Bonnie and Clyde got away, Clyde’s brother Buck, and Buck’s wife Blanche were captured with Buck dying of his wounds in nearby Perry a few days later. The second marked the location of the 1948 National Plowing Match…a competition for plowing fields (it doesn’t get more Iowa than that). That alone probably wouldn’t warrant a road side stop, but President Truman stopped by as the keynote speaker on his campaign trail drawing a crowd over 100,000+. Some believe that Truman’s speech to the farmers of Iowa started him on the road to his eventual victory against Senator Dewey.
For our final stop on the way home, we stopped to buy a new metal detector for Curtis. He has been wanting to upgrade for some time now, and since he had been using his old detector for almost 6 years it was finally time. We finally hopped on I-80 and finished the drive back home.