Going Gothic, meeting a movie star in the grocery store: Southeast Iowa!


imageI knew this trip to southeast Iowa would be interesting but it was even more than expected. We stopped in the tiny town of Eldon Iowa and followed the occasional signs to the American Gothic house, made famous by Grant Wood who painted his famous portrait at this sweet little house with the Gothic window. The visitors center had costumes in all shapes and sizes for people who wanted to recapture the magic, so why not. I tried to produce my most dour face but not before cracking up.

We dutifully stood in line outside the house for some of the famous pile backed fresh by a woman who actually rents the house and decided to make and sell pies. The wait was ridiculously long but the pie was ridiculously good. Warm strawberry crumble pie wrapped for us in a brown paper bag with a pretty blue and white ribbon.

On to the villages of van buren county, pretty old tiny towns along the Des Moines river with stately red brick homes and mills, and then to our real destination, Fairfield. I was last here about 23 years ago and meant to return sooner. Interesting things going on here ever since the Maharishi Yogi’s representatives bought a defunct college here and made it into an internationally known center for peoplewho practice   transcendental meditation.  They are called “floaters” because apparently they levitate while doing TM in the golden domes on campus. There is also a Maharishi Business school here so the town’s pretty square is full of entrepreneurial efforts, ethnic restaurants (Indian, Turkish, Thai, etc) and galleries and shops. Plus there are lots of stately homes like the one we are sleeping in tonight, The Seven Roses Inn. We rode the gravel loop trail, which was fun and goes for about 15 miles. Stopped for a drink at funky cafe Paradiso, had so-so Indian food at the India cafe and went to check out the Raj spa and hotel here and the even more fascinating Vedic City, a brand new city built by TM-ers. Surprisingly lovely homes all facing east and with little nipple like ornaments on the roof in keeping with some mystic form off Vedic architecture.

Then I decide to go into the whole food grocery store at 9 pm because I always enjoy a good whole foods grocery store and there wasn’t much else to do and first thing I see: actor Jim Carey getting some of the areas famous Radiance Ice Cream (I think the cows do TM or some such). We heard he was in town today, giving the commencement speech at Maharishi U.  But figured he was jetting back to LA. he couldn’t have been nicer and the day couldn’t have ended with a bigger bang.

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