Never realized how gorgeous Adair County, about 55 miles west of Des Moines is, especially on a perfect spring day. Classic Iowa farm country, driving along a rollercoaster two-lane highway past lush green pastures with grazing cows and shadows from the clouds moving across the land; a hawk soaring high above a tidy farmstead; the kind of drive where you seriously contemplate what would be better to have – a red or a white barn? (I’m still torn.)
En route to Greenfield just off Interstate 80, I not only stopped at the famous Freedom Rock but there was the artist painting his annual ode to veterans – just in time for Memorial Day. This year the huge boulder is home to a graveyard with fallen soldiers, white stones on a green lawn, a soldier kneeling beside one stone, a woman laying down in front of the stone. Interesting to read the names of all the people driving by from all over the country who have signed the guestbook in a little overhang nearby.
From there onto the incredibly lovely recently restored Hotel Greenfield – gorgeous early 1900’s structure with lots of original fixtures and moldings, vintage photos, nice combination of antique furnishings and contemporary art. Well done. Equally well done is the newly restored opera house, now known as the Warren Cultural Center, a red brick corner building with a turret at the edge of the tidy public square surrounding a red brick Romanesque courthouse. All very pristine. Enjoyed the crafts by Iowa artisans inside Ed and Eva’s, a shop on the ground floor of the cultural center and a nice woman took me on a tour upstairs of the pretty little opera house, which begins with a contemporary blond wood and glass stair case leading to a surprisingly light and airy concert hall with light pink walls with the original stencils restored. Must return for a concert sometime – word has it the acoustics are amazing. So nice to see these buildings restored to their former glory.
Also stopped at the Iowa Aviation Museum – a little hanger off a dirt road by Greenfield’s tiny airport that has a mighty impressive collection of vintage aircraft collected and then donated by a local couple. Old gliders and two seaters (one with wicker seats) and word has it, you can go flying in one of the two seaters once the one little pup plane to do this is back in action. A very nice woman kindly took me around the hanger, inviting me to sit in the planes (I was afraid I wouldn’t get out once in – kinda cramped quarters) and proudly showed off all kinds of aviation legends with Iowa roots (who knew) from the Wright Brothers, whose father had land in the Adair County area, to a woman who taught Amelia Earhart how to fly (Amelia spent time in Des Moines.) Well worth a visit!
I had a light sophisticated lunch at the beautiful Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center – the farm house/home of the former Vice President under FDR. I’d eaten Friday dinner at the Gathering Table, the center’s restaurant (see photo of barn below), but not lunch – it was equally good. Salad of greens, a vegetable tart made with fresh asparagus from the center’s garden (as well as mushrooms, carrots, all top a thin crisp but buttery wedge of baked pastry dough). And the perfect dessert: homemade ginger yoghurt with chocolate curry truffles. Yum.