Saturday, June 22, 2013

My little staycation

As you might recall, I was supposed to be spending this weekend in St. Louis watching my favorite boys of summer (the Rangers, not the Cardinals).  But when I lost my job in early May, I knew this trip was no longer a possibility.  After a little bit of pouting, I decided to turn my attitude around and enjoy a staycation right here in my city

I have to tell you, I had a HARD time choosing just a few things to do, but I am so pleased with the day I had yesterday.  (P.S. I hope the number of photos in this post doesn't break your computer.)

I started with a cinnamon latte from a local coffee shop.

I have the Starbucks app, and I have coupons for Dunkin' Donuts, but I decided I wanted to make this staycation very local, so I went to a privately-owned shop, Grounds For Celebration. The staff was super friendly, and my latte was delicious. And the two shots of espresso were a nice start to the day as well.

I didn't get quite as an early of a start as I would have liked, so I had about an hour to kill before my first tour.  I went downtown and walked around the Pappajohn Sculpture Park with my latte.  I've been to the garden during the Des Moines Arts Festival, but never during a normal day.  I'll be honest -- I don't understand modern art all the time, but I still think this is a pretty cool feature in Des Moines.

Clockwise from top left:  A sculpture titled, "Ghost," which I think is creepy, but it's not the creepiest piece in the park // a bit of the skyline // One section of the garden // This "Spider" sculpture is the stuff nightmares are made of.

A sweet family took my picture in front of the iconic "Nomade" statue (after I had taken their photo there.)  It was a little windy out there, and a storm was moving in quickly. I think I timed this stop perfectly.

My next stop was Terrace Hill.  I was a little early for my tour, so I used the time to check out the First Ladies of Iowa display, which is pretty awesome.

This wall tells you a little bit about each of the state's first ladies and also lists some key points in Iowa's (and America's history).  I read this entire thing, and now I kind of hope to find a book about some of these former first ladies.  There are some fascinating women up there.

Here are a few of the history facts that caught my eye:

Finally, it was time for a tour of Terrace Hill, Iowa's Historic Governor's Mansion.

It was built in the late 1860s by Benjamin Franklin Allen, a business man who came to Des Moines with quite a bit of money.  The property once spanned 32 acres (but is eight acres today), and was the highest point of the city.  The home was luxe with six marble fireplaces, 20 rooms, a grand foyer, rich tapestries, and gorgeous woodwork.  At the time that it was built, it cost $250,000.  (Today it would probably cost a few million dollars to replicate it.)

Mr. Allen found himself in financial trouble shortly after the house was built. Up-and-coming businessman in Des Moines, F.M. Hubbell, purchased the home for $55,000, and then spent $50,000 installing modern conveniences -- as well as a huge chandelier and stained glass window -- while honoring the classic feel of the house.  The home remained in the Hubbell family until the 1970s.  For the past few decades, our governor's family has lived on the third floor (which, ironically, is where servants used to live).  It's a very stately mansion, and there's an outdoor area that would be beautiful for a wedding.  Unfortunately, you can only have a wedding there if you're in the Hubbell family. (By the way, I was not allowed to take photos inside the mansion.)

After I left Terrace Hill, I decided to continue my historical journey at the State Historical Museum.

I walked through several of the exhibits, and was so caught up reading things, I forgot to take many photos. I really liked the Civil War exhibit, especially the uniforms, weapons, and story about Ralph.  There were also some interactive exhibits.  I want to go back for the RAGBRAI exhibit as well as one on Hollywood in the Heartland.

My final stop was the Iowa Hall of Pride. I've wanted to go here for years, but for some reason I just never got there.

I loved this mural/window in the lobby.

After being there, I can see why they call it the "Hall of Pride."  After watching the introductory video, I definitely felt proud to be an Iowan.  The exhibits are all interactive -- many with touchscreens and slide screens -- and they span athletics and arts.  

I could have handled a little more Fred Hoiberg. Maybe his own wing? How about it, Iowa Hall of Pride?

I really liked the display on six-girl basketball. You can watch a short documentary on six-girl basketball in Iowa here.

Why did I love this exhibit? Because my high school was the last state champion in their class.  Oh, and I quit playing basketball when they switched to five-girl basketball too.

There are even a few games in the museum.

I got five out of six calls correct. Put me in, MLB!
I only completed one pass in this. Out of like twenty.  Ha ha ha.  I would be a terrible quarterback. I think it's because I had to throw to Dallas Clark (Hawkeye) instead of Todd Blythe (Cyclone).  You know I'm an ISU girl.

Oh, and I saw a few things and people I knew.

Look, it's my high school!
Miss Basketball Iowa 1993 went to my school. And we're related, too.

Media people who have been honored by the Iowa High School Athletic Association. I smiled when I saw Shawn Kenney's name on there. He calls games in a town where I used to live, and this honor is well-deserved. He is a fantastic broadcaster.  Now that I'm kind of back in the area, I'm hoping I can tune in for some of Shawn's broadcasts.

I could have spent so much longer in the Iowa Hall of Pride.  I will definitely be going back.  I think it'd be fun to play some of those games with friends.  I know a few who will probably kick my butt in the football one.

I ended my day with a late lunch at the Raccoon River Brewing Company.

A beer and a big burger were just what I needed.

All in all, it was a fantastic day.

Here's a breakdown of my staycation expenses:
$3.90 - Latte
FREE - Stroll through Pappajohn Sculpture Park
$5.00 - Terrace Hill tour
FREE - State Historical Museum
$5.00 - Iowa Hall of Pride
$20.00 - Lunch at Raccoon River Brewing Company (including tip)
$33.90 - TOTAL

That's a pretty good value for everything I got to do. And, yeah, lunch was a little indulgent, but I really don't feel bad about it at all.

I loved exploring some local treasures, and I can't wait to do it again. Anyone want to come visit me in Des Moines?


  1. I have never even heard of 6 girl basketball! Is that a midwest thing? And Miss Basketball Iowa? Y'all are crazy about your sports! :)

  2. I want to go to the Hall of Pride now! I love interactive museums like that. And I love historical house! I think you got a great deal!

  3. Sounds like a great day!! I've never heard of 6-girl basketball, but it must be pretty important in your area!

  4. The Hall of Pride looks like an awesome museum!! What a great way to learn more about where you live and have a fun day! So cool.

  5. I love this! Sounds like such a great day! So glad you shared the pictures with us!! :)

  6. I have never been to any of these places. So shameful!


Pin It button on image hover