Winterset, IA -- The Home of John Wayne

Thursday morning, October 23, 2008 -- Winterset, IA

Winterset is the County Seat of Madison County Iowa. Only about 30 miles southwest of Des Moines, this small town of abut 5,000 people is an example of what I imagine as an ideal place to live. It's a great combination of small and intimate -- large enough to have it's own school system, grocery store, restaurants, and services, and small enough to be free of congestion, crowds, crime, and hype. If a person needs the amenities of a larger city, Des Moines is just a half hour drive away. According to the last census, it's barely growing (+1.6%) so people have come to adapt to a steady-state environment. Everyone we've run into is open and friendly. As with most small places we've experienced it's the norm to wave at people that you see along the way.

We arrived at the City Park Campground here in Winterset early Tuesday afternoon. Dar handled the driving chores today from jacks-up to jacks-down. The weather was good and we had a tail-wind most of the way. The City of Winterset maintains a campground with about 30 RV sites to help support local tourism. The attractions are the covered bridges of Madison County (refer to Robert Waller's 1992 best-seller book) and the birthplace of John Wayne. Apparently there are enough old coots like me that get a kick from stuff like this to keep the campgound open.

On the way to Winterset we drove out of clear sunny skies and, as I write this, haven't seen the sun since. There's a pesky, persistent, low pressure system just to the southwest that's been producing bands of rain for almost two days now, and is supposed to produce more until Friday night. But I've increasingly learned to just take it as it comes... to enjoy the conditions that exist and not wish for something different. Well, OK, most of the time.

We did get out a little yesterday, Wednesday. We had lunch at a little cafe on the Courthouse Square, drove around and familiarized ourselves with the town, saw John Wayne's boyhood home, and checked out two of the closest Covered Bridges. Now that I'm caught up on blog posts, I'll be writing more about all this and more in the coming days.

We think we'll be here until Monday or Tuesday. Besides the local explorations, we want to visit the State Capitol in Des Moines (part of the State Capitol Tour) and do some exploring around the Bauer, Melcher, and Lacona area just to the east of us, where the Hoch side of my family settled in the 1800's.



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