Showing posts from July, 2018

Mount Vernon, Iowa - America's Coolest Small Town

A midwestern oasis Upon arriving at Mount Vernon, Iowa, numerous banners proclaim it as being America’s Coolest Small Town and after spending a few days there, I’m inclined to believe it. Artist Grant Wood immortalized the region through his landscape paintings and American Gothic , his most famous work, has been reproduced on a barn just outside of town. One of my favorite places is a small nature park that is just bursting with wildflowers and outstretched trees that are a shady refuge from the sweltering heat. The most striking element is the profusion of sunlit tiger lillies that contrast so sharply with the dark-green forest. Along the edge of Mount Vernon, the Cedar River sloughs patiently through ripe cornfields and the billowy, green hills. Despite its peaceful personality, the Cedar has a swift current so beware as it could definitely sweep an unsuspecting swimmer a long ways downstream. The centerpiece of this midwestern oasis is a small pond where the reflections

Cedar Bend Park - A Midwestern Swampland

Cedar River Bend Just outside of Waverly, Iowa, a muddy trail descends into a dark passageway that whisks you to a bend in the Cedar River. A winding, wooden boardwalk emerges from the dense cover and expels the foreigner onto a sand dune beach. The wide waterway snakes it’s way through the midwestern swampland while moving at a fairly fast clip. Connecting separate segments of the jungle trek, lofty bridges are built into the steep, broken hillside. The damp woodland is overgrown with plants and teeming with reptiles and bird life but the occasional snag is spot-lit by the filtered light. The finish line is decorated with a bouquet of blue wildflowers that so eloquently bid the visitor a fond farewell. A dark passageway A wooden boardwalk A wide waterway Lofty bridges A dead tree snag A bouquet of wildflowers

Beaver Brook Reservoir - A Dark Inkwell

Beaver Brook Reservoir Along the trail to Beaver Brook and a grove of aspen is awash in golden ambiance while wavering in a warm, summer breeze. The sun is just beginning to set so the pine trees are backlit, making for a strange silhouette. Glowing mountains brood over the water’s edge where tall grasses flicker in the fading light. Around the bend it’s blue hour and a rocky, forest outcrop is dipped precariously into the dark inkwell. The Beaver Brook Watershed is a rugged ravine that has carved its niche into this remote wilderness. At the eastern edge during an unceremonious exit, the evening’s last light floods a soggy bog of orange woodland. Awash in golden ambiance Pine trees are backlit Tall grasses flicker A forest outcrop Rugged ravine Orange woodland

Courthouse and Jail Rocks - Offering Inspiration

Courthouse and Jail Rocks “We came in sight early this morning of the "Courthouse," a hill, or immense mound, which strongly resembles such a building, with wings; it rests imposingly on a bluff; the sides are near a cream color, with apparently, a black roof.” ~ Phillip St. George Cooke (1845) Composed of Brule clay, Gering sandstone and ash, Courthouse and Jail Rocks are erosional remnants of an ancient plateau. They were formed by intense volcanic activity that happened thousands of years ago. The Rocks are located just south of Bridgeport, in the Nebraska panhandle, at the eastern terminus of the Wildcat Hills. The impressive landmark ascends 400 feet above the nearby North Platte River Valley. They’re an enduring symbol of the pioneer spirit, hope and home. During Westward Expansion, they were a famous benchmark as the Pony Express, Oregon, California and Mormon trails all passed by the geographic marvels. The formation was first noted by Robert Stuart, in 1