Weekend Trip to Des Moines

The first weekend of May, Mother's Day weekend, I took a break from all the chaos that was moving to spend a fun couple of days in Des Moines. The goal was to attend the Des Moines Renaissance Faire with my friend Audrey and have a good time. Both were accomplished with some other things thrown in for good measure.

The Des Moines Ren Faire is typically held in the Fall while their newer event, Ren Faire After Dark (an adults-only event), happens in the Spring. This year they decided to combine these two events for a new event called Spring Fling. Basically, it's regular Ren Faire during the day and RFAD in the evening - although you had to pay extra for the evening event. I've been to the RFAD before with my ex-husband, and it was a blast, so I was eager to do the combo. Audrey is my fellow Ren Faire Fanatic (RFF) so she was down to go as well. So, we headed out early from my house on a Saturday morning.

As is my custom, as soon as we arrived I ordered a glass of mead. They were selling it by the bottle so I figured it would be more economical to buy a whole bottle as opposed to a handful of glasses, and it was. Hey, think smarter not harder, amirite? Besides, we needed the booze to help keep us warm because it was a terribly cold day. 

While it's neat to peruse all the shoppes and see what fun wares can be purchased for a few pieces of silver (well, not really, you use actual dollars, but I am an RFF so I like to keep things authentic), the entertainment is what really makes the Ren Faire so much fun. My favorite RF activity? Why, the Joust, of course. A RF without a joust isn't one I want to go to.

Every Joust starts with the combatants trying to knock each other off their horses...

...and ends with some hand-to-hand combat. Huzzah!

I'd say my next favorite bit of RF entertainment would be anything related to fire. I've seen Norsefyre at the Potter Faire in Omaha last year, so it was nice to see them at the RF. They also provided some risque, adult entertainment for the RFAD event later that evening. They're an amazing fire troupe that I highly recommend seeing if you get a chance. Check out another photo below.

Like I mentioned earlier, we bought the extra tickets to stay for the RenFaire After Dark event. This is a 21+ event which is nice on a few levels. One, no screaming kids, and two, adult entertainment. After a fun show by Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers and a smoker (an event for adults only where all the "blue" humor is performed), we were treated to a great performance by Logan Jimenez. He's a contortionist and fire eater who performs a lot of dangerous stunts. It was fantastic!

Audrey and I got tired a wee bit early, I'm sure all the booze had something to do with that, so we left about 30 minutes early. It was cool to see the Village lit up at night...I've only ever seen a Faire Village during the day.

We stayed at a hotel about a mile away (using my hotel reward points, yay!) where I promptly fell asleep. We woke up the next morning and decided to find some free entertainment before we headed back home.

We started off by walking around the Pappjohn Sculpture Park, located downtown on the riverfront. There are brochures at the entrance that explains each piece in detail so we grabbed one to help us on our little tour.

A view of the inside of this large, interesting piece. Looking upwards towards the sky, you can see out the mouth of the sculpture.

To learn more about each individual sculpture, click on this link.

After our walk through the sculpture park, we headed over to the Des Moines Art Center. Built in 1948, it boasts free admission and I was pleasantly surprised at it's exhibits and it's architecture.

I think my favorite collection at the Center was that of Judith Schaechter's. Housed in the original wing, and made of stained glass, her pieces evoked feelings of the macabre and had interesting subject matter.

For more about this piece, you can read her blog post about it.

While the original wing of the Center was built using Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles, the second wing, built in 1968, used a Modernist approach. Many windows let lots of natural light in.

My favorite piece in the second wing was this large, Gothic-style mirror.

A view from the side makes it appear to be composed of several mirrors layered upon each other. The piece is called "Iago's Mirror" and is the work of Fred Wilson. According to the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston's website, it tells the tragic story of Shakepeare's Othello.

You can read more about the Center's collection here.

After this, we ended our trip at Zombie Burger, a place that Audrey wanted to have lunch before we left town. It's a place I've been to before - and talked about on this blog - that serves burgers and shakes that are themed on zombies in popular culture. We left with full bellies and returned home, happy to have spent a fun weekend together. It was Mother's Day weekend after all, and sometimes us moms just need a chance to get away.

I'll be back mid-week, but until then, have a great week!



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