Iowa Weekend Quickie-Sunday

The Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad train excursion was not scheduled to begin until 1:30 p.m., but I left home at 10 a.m. to give myself plenty of time to gas SB, get breakfast, and take care of business that I could address on a Sunday morning. Like yesterday, the weather was mostly sunny and moderately warm with the promise to warm considerably as the day progressed.

My pleasant surprise as I neared the train depot was to see a sign that indicated the birthplace of Mamie Eisenhower, first lady of President Dwight Eisenhower, was close. I turned off my route long enough to get a few pictures of the house, which had been converted into a museum. The museum was closed, so I continued on towards the depot.

The depot was similar to others I’ve seen in smaller towns except the exterior and waiting area were clearly organized for the tourist rather than for normal mass transit. Since I arrived early, there was no waiting to get my ticket, use the restroom–I learned long ago to go before getting on a train, an airplane, whatever–and get the usual magnet and whatever other stuff got my attention in the gift shop.

Although the cars and caboose of the train were approaching a century in age, one of the coaches had been fitted with a lift, so Have-seat-will-travel and I were able to enter the car with little difficulty. I locked in at an open spot with a pretty good view of the terrain and took lots of pictures, some of which are below with the rest available at

The excursion took us at a leisurely, 8-mile-an-hour trek from Boone to Fraser, Iowa, through beautiful natural scenery and century-old structures that was accompanied by narrative presented by the train’s conductor. (A map of the route is to the left; click on the image to open an enlargement.) I do believe it was not the right time of year to see the variety of butterflies he mentioned we might see, nor did I happen to see any of the bald eagles he said lived in the area. It was warm enough that some of the coach’s windows had been opened to allow a refreshing breeze to blow through. The train was far from full, in fact the coach I sat inside only held four to five other passengers.

It was a nearly perfect trip. For the ride back, the conductor encouraged passengers switch to the other side of the train so that they could see the opposite view as it retraced its route. I decided not to move from my position since there was no space on the other side where I could use Have-seat-will-travel. As we re-entered the station, I saw a line of people on red rail bikes headed, I’m guessing, on the Scenic Valley Lantern Tour that was referenced on the Web site. Somehow, physically peddling down the tracks on those open rail bikes didn’t interest me in the slightest.

My ticket included admission to the depot museum. I checked the time and decided to make my way to my next destination, which was at least a two-hour drive away.

I reached Hawkeye Point a bit past 7 p.m. I had the site completely to myself. The setup clearly was organized for self-service, including a board where one could set their smartphone to take selfies. (The absence of any pictures taken from the post’s position is evidence that I was completely uncsuccessful in getting any selfies that way.) In addition to a mosaic marking the state’s highest natural elevation, accompanied by directional signs pointing to the high points of the other 49 states, are a number of informational displays and activities, including a life-sized reproduction of the American Gothic’s couple with head cutouts and a very large blue chair with a mysterious purpose. If I find out what its significance is, I will come back to this post and add it.

As I expected, my five-hour drive home included a high percentage of back roads; however, I rerouted Waze’s recommended turnoff from I-35 to US 30 in favor of driving a few extra miles to I-80 in Des Moines. I’d rather add a little extra time and/or distance to my drive rather than traveling down dark, empty back roads alone.

Below is the map of my day’s routing:

When I got to work on Monday, I was reminded that I had no space to add even one new magnet to the right column of my desk’s metal bookshelf. So I had to place the two magnets to the shelf space on the left column. This is, of course, only temporary since my time there is drawing to a close. Overall, it was a very good weekend to deepen my knowledge of my adopted state.



I continued to listen to my Mixed Nuts playlist for it combination of many styles and eras of western popular music. As the night drew late on the home stretch, I switched over to Randye’s Replays and eased on down the road.

As always, I thank the Lord for granting me the stamina to make the trip, the damn good reflexes to steer the SB as she needed to be guided, and the ability to enjoy His handiwork as it whizzed by my windshield.

Related Post