Monday, January 6, 2014

Exploring The American Heartland

"Is this heaven? It's - it's Iowa"
- Field of Dreams

I headed over to Des Moines, Iowa after Christmas to visit some friends and celebrate New Years with them in Minnesota.

I knew that Iowa was famous for its agriculture and financial institutions but having only ever lived on the coasts (California and New York) the Midwest was completely uncharted territory for me. I was warned that it would be cold but I don't think I was quite prepared for what was about to hit me! Granted, I did get unlucky and travel during unseasonably cold weather even for Iowa. Which would later go on to disrupt my travel plans somewhat (flight cancellations - 4 days stranded).

One of the first things that struck me about Iowa is how very adapted it is to the extreme weather. Skywalks were not something I had come across before but allow for locals to go about their daily lives even during the coldest of months. Connecting seemingly every building, apartment and store, the skywalks provide heat and easy access to various parts of town. 

I stayed with my friends in a stunning apartment in downtown Des Moines, a built up part of the city that resembles a tiny NYC, faus for its agriculture and financial institutions. There was an eery silence to the empty winter roads that contrasted my experience of any big bustling city.

Meet Chuck- the most amazing stray cat my friends took in who loves to lick windows and thinks he is a dog. 

What I most loved about my time in Iowa was the people and their hospitality. They were extremely warm and welcoming people keen to show me their part of the country and way of life. 

The local cuisine can only be called hearty, feel-good food. It may not always be the most extravagant or refined but on a cold winters day it is definitely what you crave! The rich farm heritage is reflected in the rural landscape and the great produce on offer. 

There was something magical about the peaceful, frozen countryside. Silent and captivating. And perfect for sledding!

Wild geese

We visited the Capitol Building, set high up on a hill overlooking the city. This government building houses the Iowa Senate, Iowa House of representatives and Office of the Governor among other things.  

Not long after being declared a state, Iowa chose to move its capital from Iowa City to the more central location of Des Moines. The 23 carat gold dome and Renaissance influence makes for an extremely grand and impressive building in stark contrast with modern Des Moines city. This extravagant building is filled with local history and artifacts. 

My first Smore!

Open fires, long country walks and sledding, Iowa was the perfect winter break away from the city. 

As I mentioned before, I did end up spending an extra four days in Iowa due to snow storms and flight cancellations... however this was a pleasant change of plans as far as I was concerned as I was not yet ready to leave!


  1. mate you still ain't left! ps: you wrote faus instead of famous ;) nice pics though

    1. faus is the new famous and I'm back now!