Road Trip 2009

Road Trip Blog

Day 4: Operation Tasty Cow

Posted by arpithicus on June 14, 2009 at 1:27 AM

Day 4: Iowa

The day started off a little rocky as we woke up late and missed the continental breakfast and only had about 45 Minutes to get packed, ready, and out of the room. Although we were a little bit rushed we were able to complete all the tasks that needed to be done and checked out of the room at exactly 12:00 P.M.

After checking out we explored the crazy castle themed hotel that we stayed at to rest our road weary bodies in during the night. The hotel came equipped with a coat of arms, gargoyles, and a freaking moat which was really cool. We snapped some photos and loaded into Faith and drove out to Riverside, Iowa which happens to be the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek.


Being that the fictional character will technically not be born until March 22, 2228 the town of Riverside is waiting for the arrival of this savior of worlds by celebrating his future life in style.

As we exited the highway we were greeted by a road side sign welcoming us to the Town of Riverside, IA stating this town is where the TREK begins. Although, our TREK started some time ago, the days journey was merely just beginning.


Upon entering the town of Riverside, IA we soon realized it was a tiny one horse town in the midst of corn fields with one very important claim to fame. With no real destination in mind we began to drive down the main road in this town. While Benni was driving I spotted something quite peculiar out of the corner of my eye. Without really realizing what I had just seen I instructed Benni to make a U-turn so I could get a better look at the Alien object in the parking lot we had just passed. When we got back to the Parking lot we noticed that it was actually a replica of a Shuttle Craft that was used in the Star Trek series. We immediately parked Faith and exited the vehicle with our cameras in hand. Apparently without realizing I had found the one and only Voyage Home, a Captain Kirk Museum and Gift Shop. We got our pictures of the Shuttle and went inside the museum which was full of Star Trek memorabilia and souvenirs. We explored the shop and checked out the exhibits while talking with the very informative shop owner. I bought some Kirk Dirt which combined with the Wrigley Diamond Dust that I purchases makes me a dirt collector I guess. We left the shop with a few gifts and information about our next stop, the exact location of James T. Kirk?s future birthplace.


We loaded back into faith and drove about two blocks to the end of the town, literally, and found a small sign with an arrow that mentioned the spot of the birthplace. We parked the car and walked towards the sign. We followed the sign which brought us behind a salon in the town and found ourselves face to face with what looked like a grave stone declaring the birth of Kirk. We photographed the monument and went back to road. We entered a small antique shop that ended up being really cool and had a very informative clerk behind the desk that talked our ears off about the trip.



Our next stop was a local watering hole called Murphy?s for lunch and then back on the road to battle the very elongated state of Iowa. Knowing that we would be driving for most of the day today we consulted a really awesome web site called Roadside America, ( ) that has a directory of tourist traps that our not for normal tourists. They describe them as spots that our slightly off the beaten path. I had compiled about 20 or so of these locations during the car ride yesterday and had no idea if we would cross any where near them on our normal route. We came up with a rule which stated that if the spots were more than 10 miles off track we would not go to them.

Our actual destination was Omaha, Nebraska for a fresh steak and then South Dakota for our hotel. Out of over 100 sites listed on this website throughout the state of Iowa the ones we decided that were worth seeing were as follows:


Avoca: Giant Spider built out of a Volkswagen, Beetle

Adair: Smiley Face Water Tower

Britt: Hobo Museum

Cedar Rapids: 262 foot rope bridge

Correctionville: Fighter Planes in a park

Des Moines: Assorted Slipknot locations.

Dyersville: The baseball field from Field Of Dreams

Fairfield: Three Domes of Enlightenment

Ida Grove: A town of many castles

Iowa City: Wooden Nickle and Giant COW.

Marshalltown: Giant Tree House

New Virginia: Giant Viking

Oskaloosa: Mule Cemetery

Storm Lake: Land locked Light House

Stuart: Bank that Bonnie and Clyde robbed

Villisca: Axe Murderers House


As we started driving west we passed back through the town of Iowa City, which I refuse to call a city because it was like Ringwood more or less, we decided to hit the first of these strange attractions. The Giant Cow of Iowa City. We had some trouble finding the giant cow at first but then from around the bend of a small highway in suburban Iowa we saw her standing there looking all MOOtastic. We took a few photos of the old girl and jumped back into faith to find some other weird pieces of true Americana.


I took over the driving duty at this point in the day and drove us back to route 80 and started our journey through IOWA and onto Nebraska. While on the road the plan was to look at all the exits on route 80 and see if any of the towns that we had found roadside weirdness for were mentioned. Kat even created a Bingo board with all the towns listed on it so she could be entertained by this scavenger hunt of sorts. The next town we came across that was on our list was the capital of Des Moines, Iowa and the birthplace of Slipknot. We drove into the town with only a few pieces of information Slipknot played at a place called the Crow Bar under the name MELD, and their first show as Slipknot was at a place called Safari Club. We soon found out while searching the webernet that both of these places did not exist anymore and we were forced to visit the crappy Irish pub that took over the Safari Club, which was called Hairy Mary up until about three years ago. Some sad pictures were taken, because well even though the building was still there it was closed and no longer held any type of decent shows.



Back on the road and saddened by our trip to Des Moines Iowa, which showed us a really amazing capital building, a pick-up truck full of kids, two bums picking through the trash at a store called KUM and GO, but nothing relating to Slipknot at all. We pointed Faith west yet again and took to the road. The next attraction we came to was in the town of Stuart, which houses a bank that was robbed by the one and only Bonnie and Clyde. Which in some ultimate ironic turn is now a Police Station. For what it was worth it was very chill. The building was in a very small town and according to the website the Police Station houses three cops and the Chief Of Police. The building had a sign on it turning itself into the only monument to Bonnie and Clyde in Iowa. All in all I was quite excited to visit this building because I have a strange fascination with Bonnie and Clyde.



The next stop on our list of tourist traps was an easy one. We learned from the website of a huge water tower with a smiley face painted on it that can be seen from exit 76 on Route 80. As we drove to it though we began to see a few wind turbines that were collecting power from the wind. Soon the few wind turbines turned into an enormous field full of them. My only thought is that we actually drove past a freaking wind farm. It was not only amazing that there were at least 100 of them spread out over several fields but just how enormous these machines actually were. I was much more impressed by these green machines than the smiley face water tower which was in the vicinity. Don?t get me wrong it was different but I may never again see a wind farm as long as I live.




Finally, just as we thought we were not going to make any more stops we saw a sign for Avoca which was to house the Giant VW Beetle Spider. We thought about skipping it but determined that it may be a really cool piece of roadside art and punched the coordinates into the GPS and forged ahead. When we arrived at the site of this monstrosity we all knew we made the correct choice? No words can explain how cool this piece of art was so look for yourself.


Avoca was the last stop before we made our way to Omaha, Nebraska for a big juicy steak from the home of mouth watering dead animal. I mean, this town?s steaks are so damn good they ship them around the world in dry ice. It was everything that I expected and more. I ate the best 22 0z porter house steak that I have ever had while Kat and Benni dined on a New York Strip. We all drank some wine and filled our bellies with glorious glorious cow and then loaded back into Faith for the final leg of our drive today to South Dakota for a night on the Country Inn.



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Reply Debbie
9:56 AM on June 14, 2009 
Hey, Kids! I have to say that the strange things that you guys saw yesterday is starting to make New Jersey look less weird! I'm glad you are having fun! I just know that my husband is going to want to go to Iowa after seeing your pictures of Kirk's future birthplace! Hope you see cool stuff today!
Reply Daddy
2:16 PM on June 14, 2009 
To: Exploring offspring, After a day of cows, castles, steak, VW spiders, and the birthplace of James T. Kirk, how can a father be ever so proud to claim his children a success. Three college educated grown ups chasing roadside treasure hunt..... Sounds like your having a great time. Wish we were there...not. Just kidding. You know I'm jealous! We look forward to tomorrows blog entitled." What we did next on our summer vacation-who cares?" Love you, be careful, and have fun. Love Super Daddy
Reply Colleen Uuereb
5:53 PM on June 18, 2009 
You make me want to go to Iowa. They should hire you. :)