Selfie overlooking the High Trestle Bridge
For my sister’s final day in Des Moines, we finally got half way decent weather (high 40s!, some sun!) so we took a day trip with our sweet Lab mix rescue dog Millie northwest about 40 miles to the High Trestle Trail. What a treat to have the entire bridge to ourselves on an early spring day — and always a spectacular view and surprising structure to find in the middle of Iowa. (It was recently dubbed by the BBC as one of the world’s eight spectacular foot bridges.)
The good news is that it’s now easier to walk to the bridge quickly along the trail, thanks to a handy sign along highway 210 just west of Madrid, Iowa that helps you clearly find the dirt road (QF Road) that leads to the trailside parking, which is about a ten-minute walk to the bridge.
We stopped at Picket Fence Creamery in nearby Woodward,Iowa and tried a little tub of ice cream and some chocolate milk (that we earlier saw being bottled in the little shop beside the dairy that is on a largely unpopulated dirt road in the country). From there we drove ten minutes further west to the Hotel Pattee which is still hanging in there (last I heard it was for sale again) and is still incredibly impressive, with one-of-a-kind rooms, each decorated with art and artifacts to honor a specific aspect of small town Iowa life. The desk clerk gave us the key to the 1913 farmhouse room but several other rooms were also open so we wandered in them as well (the southeast Asia room, the Irish room, the Russian room…unfortunately the RAGBRAI room wasn’t open)…
Anyway, the three stops made for a perfect half-day road trip from Des Moines, perfect for visitors.
You heard it here first (maybe) but the DM Register is now confirming what I heard from a Perry shopkeeper a few weeks ago during a bike ride from Waukee to Perry – there are prospective Buyers for Hotel Pattee in Perry, a true gem of a historic hotel. Here’s hoping it happens!
Fresh tacos in downtown Perry Iowa!
We tried out the new spur of central Iowa’s Raccoon River Valley Trail on Sunday, riding 38 miles round trip from Waukee to Perry through the small towns of Dallas Center and Minburn. The trail was straight and flat (which explains why we rode so far) and pretty scenic, lined on either side primarily by fertile fields of corn and soybeans. (Perfect for a tutorial from my ag expert husband on how you can tell the difference, visually, between a field of seed corn, the kind grown to produce seeds that are planted to grow corn, vs. commercial corn, the kind grown to feed livestock.)
Having small towns to ride through every six miles or so helped keep the scenery from getting too monotonous. In Dallas Center, we spotted a nice b&b on a side street (The Yellow Swan, see photos above) and in Minburn, a little park at the edge of the trail had some cool old farm equipment that we sat in and posed for photos. In Perry, we chanced upon a terrific little Mexican restaurant off the main drag called Taqueria Villa, serving very fresh, well-seasoned, and delicious tacos (we had the “authentic Mexican” style, trying three kinds – Roasted Pork, Grilled Steak and Rotisserie Pork). The prices were almost embarrassingly cheap – a substantial portion of guacamole for $1 – yes $1. What costs $1 anymore? Add chips and it was $3. The tacos were $2 each. The owner took obvious pride in his food and service, which we greatly appreciated. Word has it you can find him and his food at this year’s World Food and Music Festival (part of the World Food Prize festivities) Sept. 20-21 in Des Moines’ East Village if you can’t make the trek to his little hole-in-the-wall in Perry. We were saddened to see the shuttered Hotel Pattee (hope that changes soon) but impressed by the Raccoon River Valley Bicycle Co., an unusually elegant bike shop in what was once the hotel’s gift shop.
Early 1900’s farm equipment in Minburn, Iowa