Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Loess Hills Adventure

Good morning! You might have noticed that I wasn't here yesterday with my usual Monday post. Well, there's a reason for that. I've picked up a second, part-time job, and with my already busy schedule, I decided it would be best for me to change my posting schedule to Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. While I'll be posting one less blog a week, it won't be lacking in greatness! ;) Anyway, let's move on to today's post.

My best friend and I have been best friends since we were four years old. Four years old! Crazy, right? Well, he just got back from Peru on Saturday. Ever since he and I went on a trip to Ireland back in 2014, he's been on a mission to visit every continent. He's since gone to Germany, Australia, South Africa, and now Peru. He'll be going to China in November, and then to Antarctica next spring. It's so exciting!

We agreed that when he got back that we should spend some time together. With my crazy schedule, I don't get to see people as much as I'd like to, so when he made his usual Sunday stop after church, we made a quick plan. NG and I got ready, packed up a picnic lunch, and off we headed for an afternoon roadtrip of the Iowa Mountains (the Loess Hills for those of you unfamiliar with my nickname for them).


A view of the Omaha skyline from the Monument.

Our first stop was the Lewis & Clark Monument in Council Bluffs, IA. My bestie had never been there before, and it's a good starting point for road tripping the Iowa Mountains. 




NG stands on a stone bench near a frieze of Lewis & Clark.

This monument marks the historic meeting between Lewis & Clark and the Otoe & Missouria Indians.




The rotunda scenic overlook at Lewis & Clark monument.




Now, I've been to the monument a few times, but this is the first time I noticed these locks. I've heard of the famous Parisian bridge where lovers will write their names on a lock then attach it to the bridge as a sign of unbreakable love. I guess it's becoming a little tradition here too. What better place to profess your undying love than atop such a beautiful scenic overlook?




Some more love locks.
We also saw one dedicated in memory of someone's mom. 




These stairs, coming off the scenic overlook, that lead down to the hiking trail. I've posted about this trail before, complete with pictures.





After leaving the monument, we moved on towards Crescent, Iowa, following the Old Lincoln Highway





We eventually made our way to I-680 as it meanders towards Des Moines, IA. There is a Scenic Overlook Tower that I didn't know was there, so we stopped to check it out. Look at this beautiful view from the top!





Way on the other side of I-680 from where we were, rose a set of radio towers. We actually drove along the gravel road next to these before we drove over to the tower.




A view from the other direction on top of the Scenic Overlook Tower.



View of the river pillars from the visitor's center at DeSoto NWR.

After we left the tower, we meandered over to I-29, and since we were so close, drove on over to DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. Located west of Missouri Valley, Iowa, this refuge aims to preserve and protect wetland wildlife.




A closer view of the pillars.




The visitor's center at DeSoto is beautiful and educational. There are a couple of viewing areas in which to see wildlife. This is a view of the Missouri River from the large viewing area.





This is a view facing the other direction from the same area of the visitor's center.





A male and female bald eagle are forever immortalized in this display.





The visitor's center, besides having viewing areas, also has wildlife educational exhibits, wildlife movies, walking trails, and are famed for housing the treasures from the wreck of the Steamboat Bertrand. We've been here many times, and always enjoy it. The entrance fee is only $3 per car, so why not go?





After spending some time at the visitor's center, we drove over to the excavation site of the Bertrand. This pond is where the hull of the wrecked ship lies, but the waters were too murky to see it.




NG makes ripples in the excavation pond.

After DeSoto, we grabbed a few nice brews and headed back to my place where we spent the rest of the evening enjoying good conversation and a meal with my husband and the kids. We had a really fun time exploring our area and checking out new and old places. There's always adventure to be had at home if you just look in the right places. Exploring is a good way to learn about where you live and to get out and do fun things, either alone or with people you care about. So, pack up a picnic and hit the road! 

I will be making a few separate posts about the wildlife at DeSoto as well as one dedicated to the Steamboat Bertrand, so stay tuned for those!

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