Yeah, we have one of those camper sticker maps to show where all you’ve traveled. I made Dave promise that we wouldn’t route through a state just to spend the night to justify a sticker on the Airstream map. “Oh no, babe I’d never do that! We are winding down on our four month trip and gradually heading home to Mississippi now. And guess what? North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa were scheduled for our route home. We needed those to complete the lower forty eight states. Imagine that?! Interesting…. So, now I understand why the map looked strange.
Prairie Flower Recreation Area Army Corps of Engineers Campground
Polk City, Iowa • Aug 30 – Sept 2, 2022
This is our first Iowa campground ever. We had a great time biking the Neal Smith Trail all three days we were there. It ran 28 miles start to finish. This trail has it all!! Prairies, wild flowers, lakes, rivers, forests, dams, harbors, wildlife, and is completely paved. Being here for three nights we divided the trail and made three trips from the campground. Our first day here was a moving between campgrounds so we just rode some campground loops and a few miles of the trial south just to check it out (10 miles RT). Second day we peddled to the northern end of the trail from the campground (20 miles RT). Third and last day, we peddled south again, but kept going to the end and a little more (37 miles RT). We would highly recommend the Neal Smith Trail bike. Also, people from this area recommended High Trestle Trial and claim it as their favorite. We would love to come back one day and ride that too!
• Between campground •
I’d seen the Des Moines Art Center on Trip Advisor and we timed it on a travel day between campgrounds to arrive early enough to secure a parking spot for our camper and eat lunch before entering at their 11:00 AM daily opening. We thoroughly enjoyed this eclectic museum and spent a couple hours enjoying the paintings and sculptures. Every room we entered had a guard/docent who happily chatted with us about the paintings pointing out interesting peculiarities and histories about the art and painter. It felt good to see people so energized about their job. Amazingly this was free. (We made a donation at the end.)
Wallashuck Corps of Engineers Campground
Pella, IA on Lake Red Rock • 9/2 – 9/6/22
We moved from one to another Iowa Corps of Engineers camprounds. Unfortunately, it continues to get hotter as we move south. Luckily, we prefer to do most of our biking, hiking, and kayaking as early in the morning as possible. Less heat, and definitely fewer people.
Our first full day at Wallashuck COE we peddled the Volksweg Trail from the campground. We headed north (20 miles RT).
This was once part of the parks water system. In 1995 it was transformed into an observation tower. Industrial strength fiberglass was used in the handrails, stairs, platform and ceiling.
Kayaking Roberts Creek
Okay, I admit it, I’m a sucker for pelicans. I am embarrassed to say that I have around 75-100 pelican figurines in about every kind of material you can think of….. glass, porcelain, jade, metal, wood, ceramic, pewter, and on and on. I don’t collect ‘things’ any longer, but would probably not be able to resist an artsy pelican in a material that I don’t already own.
It was thrilling to witness all the varieties of birds on this little rock island in the lake. I really couldn’t paddle close enough to get very good pictures. When I first started aiming in their direction the first to fly off were the ducks. (The brown blurs). It looks like a Great Blue Heron is also a rock island member along with many, many, seagulls. There were two sections to this little island and this side held the pelicans and seagulls. The other side was almost all seagulls.
The day before this paddle we biked on the Volksweg Trail over the causeway on the horizon. I remember seeing the Little Rock islands and thinking that the larger lumps must have been white pelicans and the small ones seagulls. It was fun to see that I was right. The Roberts Creek paddle was pretty good but did get a little choppy on the way back in. One of our judgement criteria for our adventures is how much wildlife we see. We saw all that is pictured and also a bald eagle. There was some kind of fish (grass carp maybe) that partially came up on the shore and skittered back into the water as we paddled by. THAT was certainly new and interesting for us. Large fish of some kind were also jumping around our boats. It was a successful nature viewing day!
Labor Day was our third day here and last bike ride on the Volksweg Trail. We rode the trail south to Pella from the campground (25 miles RT). This part was even more scenic and fun. But, was a little rougher riding with a couple of miles of expansion cracks which were pretty jarring at times. This trail was very much worth the effort even with the rough parts.
I’m truly amazed that we made Iowa our 48th mapped state for the Airstream. It is a gorgeous state with biking, kayaking, and hiking opportunities. Well, there can always be another trip to this area.
Our next stop on the way home is Ray Behrens COE in Perry Missouri.
Wonderful travel log. Great photos nice witty commentary. Really enjoyed it ! Thank you so much.
We haven’t been to Iowa yet, so we are adding your stops to our to-do list! Thanks for your insight.