Road Trip Day Six: Des Moines is the Capital of Iowa
Bill Bryson begins his book The Lost Continent with an opening worthy of Herman Melville: "I come from Des Moines . . . somebody has to" and then he pokes good-natured fun at the place, calling it "hypnotic" and boring and all the other things that people usually say about their hometown, but after driving for 13, 978 miles, visiting thirty eight of our fifty states, and cracking innumerable jokes along the way, Bryson finds new appreciation for Iowa's capital city; coincidentally The Lost Continent is the first book I finished on our road trip, and I finished it the day before we headed into Des Moines-- so I was looking forward to seeing the birth place of America's funniest expatriate travel writer, and the city did not disappoint, it is a charming place, amidst fertile, green, rolling hills (Iowa is NOT flat, though my father told my kids this repeatedly before we left) with a nice little zoo and a cool sculpture garden, beautiful botanical gardens and hip restaurants (we ate lunch at great little bar called El Bait Shop) and most importantly (after Chicago and New Brunswick) the driving is easy and the parking is plentiful . . . I really can't stress this enough, the city is on a grid and every road is three lanes wide (most of them one way) and wherever you want to go, there's a parking spot right in front of your destination-- there's even parking on the bridges!-- and there is no traffic to deter you from pulling in to your spot: a most excellent place, in some parallel life I'd like to settle there.