A day in Des Moines!

Yesterday morning, in Des Moines, Becky and I decided a visit to the State Capitol building was in order; it proved to be a wonderful idea. We spent a couple of hours enjoying the sights of this grand old building, belatedly joining a guided tour, which was great.Iowa - State Capitol building

Completed in 1886, the outside of the Capitol building is spectacular – with wonderful Renaissance style architecture. The most striking feature being the golden dome crowning the building. And, yes, it is real gold. The 23-carat gold leaf covering the dome is the thickness of a human hair and costs more than $400,000 every 20 or so years to replace (predominately labour costs).

Decorative door hinge

A decorative door hinge

Inside the building is just as spectacular, if not more so. There is a lot to see in this building – great art works – paintings, mosaics, sculptures and other points of interest. Even the floor tiles, marble wall trims, brass door hinges and air vents are works of art.

Some of the lovely floor tiles at the Capitol building

Some of the lovely floor tiles at the Capitol building

It is marvellous to stand underneath the rotunda and look straight up at the inside of the dome!

I took this photo actually lying on the floor underneath the dome!

I took this photo actually lying on the floor underneath the dome!

You are also able to access the upper level of the dome with a tour guide – it’s a great view from up there!

The marble and granite grand staircase leads visitors to the second floor where you can view the Iowa House of Representatives and the Iowa Senate (exhibiting original paintwork and the original chandeliers).

The Senate

The Senate

However my favourite feature was the library (all law books) – I could have spent hours there just absorbing the atmosphere!

Oh, The Library!

Oh, The Library!

After our tour we had a lovely lunch at the Scenic Route Bakery located in the very pretty (and fashionable) historic area of the East Village.

Becky then had to go and work – so I went for a look at the Des Moines Botanical Gardens.

Des Moines Botanical Gardens

Des Moines Botanical Gardens

Now these gardens are not huge (about 1 to 1.5hrs will see you cover it), but the water gardens were very nice. It was also a great place to practice some photography!

Pretty Gardens!

Pretty Gardens!

Water Lilies at the Gardnes

Water Lilies at the Gardens

Pretty Flowers!

Pretty Flowers!

Water Gardens

Water Gardens

Des Moines was a great place to visit (even if only for a couple of days) and if you get a chance to go to the Iowa State Fair – don’t miss it! 🙂

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A visit to Iowa State Fair!

So, I am in Des Moines for a few days accompanying a friend on a business trip. As we had Saturday afternoon free, we decided to take in the Iowa State Fair – it was huge! The grounds were lovely – plenty of trees.

Iowa State Fairgrounds

Iowa State Fairgrounds

We managed to get a car park not too far from the fairgrounds and was able to hitch a ride on one of the golf carts zipping around ferrying people between the car-parks and the fairgrounds (it was very welcome since the day was hot).

On the way we passed camping grounds where people park their huge RV’s and camp for the duration of the fair – there were hundreds of them and apparently these sites are passed down through families and there are lengthy waiting lists to get a site.

So many RV's

Camp grounds at the fairgrounds

We wandered around the grounds, taking in the atmosphere, checking out some of the displays and took a look at some of the exhibits within the expo buildings.

Quilt - USA states

Quilt – USA states

We saw some wood sculpting using a chain saw,

Wood sculpting with a chain saw

A wood bunny

some old tractors,

A rare 1938 tractor

A rare 1938 tractor

a butter cow (yep, a cow carved from butter) and some great sand sculpting.

Sand Sculture

Sand Sculpture

Along the way I was amazed at all of the food vendors – there were so many! Becky was thrilled to find a gluten-free corn dog and had to indulge (she convinced me to have one too – I have to admit, they don’t do it for me though).

Corn Dog at Iowa state fair

A Gluten Free Corn Dog

The Iowa State Fair is also a bit of a magnet for the Presidential candidates – both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton were there, however, we didn’t see either of them (but I did see Donald’s plane at the airport)!

The fair was quite an eye-opener and quite different to its cousin – The Texas State Fair in Dallas. There was a greater focus on agriculture here in Iowa and seemed to be more like a country fair that I would have expected.

Get along to the Iowa State Fair if ever you get the chance!

The Iowa State Fair is held in Des Moines and is known as “America’s classic state fair” because the event features all of the traditional activities associated with state fairs. The fair is held in park-like grounds covering 450 acres and has been in the same place since 1886. Adjoining the fair grounds is 160 acres of Campgrounds – both areas are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the buildings pre-date World War I; and are good examples of American exposition-style architecture.