Iowa & Nebraska

In the early afternoon on August 25, 2016, we left Madison, Wisconsin and hit the road for Iowa.

Our first stop in the state famous for it’s massive amounts of corn was a corn field. Not just any corn field, the Field of Dreams. Yes, that Field of Dreams from the popular Kevin Costner baseball movie of the same name.

After hitting the game winning home runs, we stopped for a quick lunch at Quiznos and headed for our hotel in Ottumwa, Iowa. We checked in and saw that we had a microwave and a fridge, so we headed to Walmart to grab somethings for dinner and some snacks. While we ate our dinner in our room, we watched a bit of TV, and planned the next few days of our trip.

The next morning, we partook in the complimentary breakfast at the hotel lobby then we hit the road and headed to the small town of Eldon, Iowa to visit the American Gothic House Center to see the home that inspired one of the most recognized depictions of life in the United States, “American Gothic” by Grant Wood.

The visitor’s center had a wealth of information and the staff was incredibly friendly and accommodating. We watched a video about Grant Wood’s life and career. Then, we got to dress up as the iconic father-daughter duo.

Our next stop was the small town of Pella. Pella was founded by Dutch settlers in the mid 1800s and still has a lot of Dutch charm. We visited the famous Jaarsma Bakery for their signature pastry the Dutch Letter. Then we visited The Cellar Peanut Pub for a local brew. We asked the bartender for the most Iowan beer they had and naturally, it was a corn beer. Next, we walked around the small town and saw their windmill and their park.

After our time in Pella, we headed to Des Moines, the capital city. For dinner we went to a German beer hall called Hessen Haus. After our visit to Germany last year for Oktoberfest, we love the opportunity to have German beer on tap and this place totally hit the spot. We thoroughly enjoyed our stein of Weihenstephan lager and DB loved her Jaeger Schnitzel dinner.

We then went to the downtown area and checked out the art installations and the amazing capital building.

Our last stop in Iowa was to see one of the covered Bridges of Madison County made famous by the best selling novel and movie. Unfortunately, we did not get to drive through the bridge because Becky and her up-do did not fit. We also spotted a frog camouflaged  in the mud by the bridge!

Next, we left Iowa and made our way to Marlaina’s Mom’s hometown, Omaha, Nebraska. She only had one recommendation for us, “Omaha beef is the best… have a delicious steak or two.” Marlaina doesn’t eat steak, and her Mom knows that fact, so for her to suggest such a thing, it has to be good.

We arrived at the Airbnb about 9pm and our host was so nice. Marlaina told him about what her mom said and asked for a restaurant recommendation. He said the most popular old fashioned steakhouse in town was Gorats. Our host also let us do a load of laundry before we went to bed.

When we left the place the next morning, we headed to Starbucks for some high speed wifi and some highly caffeinated beverages. We also shared a pastry.

Once we were fueled to start our day, we drove over to Westside High School, where Marlaina’s Mom graduated.

Afterwards, we to headed the Old Market area of downtown Omaha. We walked around the old, but repurposed buildings full of funky shops. For lunch, we stopped at Zio’s Pizza which had great service and it was a great value.

Our next stop was the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. The center is located in an old warehouse building and is full of interesting, modern art, most of it made by Nebraskans.

Next we visited the Heartland of America Park, the Lewis and Clark Trail, and the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge where we were able to stand in Nebraska and Iowa at the same time.

We then drove to the neighboring city of Bellevue to check into our Airbnb. We rested a bit then dressed up for our dinner at Gorat’s Steakhouse, which is said to be one of Warren Buffet’s favorite restaurants. For the appetizer, the staff recommended their hand made onion rings. The breading was way too thick and we were not impressed with them. For our main entree, we ordered their signature Omaha T-bone steak and it was incredible. DB says it’s one of her top 5 steaks she has ever had. On the side we had mashed potatoes and green beans which went very nicely with the steak.

With very full tummies, we drove back to the room we were renting and went to bed.

The next morning we packed up and headed to our final destination in Nebraska, the Joslyn Art Museum. The building and the grounds were beautiful and we were impressed with the collection of art especially since the admission is free. We were really glad to see that they had a Grant Wood painting in their collection.

It was time for us to leave Nebraska. Next up is our visit to Kansas and Missouri.

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