Saturday, September 27, 2014
Saturday, September 20, 2014
My, is downtown Des Moines hopping today. We’ve always loved downtown Des Moines, from the skyline to the river to the activities. We moved here in 1996 after selling our Minneapolis video stores and noticed that it was not as vibrant as Minneapolis. Well, it is smaller but it didn’t seem to realize that the downtown could be as vibrant as the suburbs. But, then we noticed a lot of change: new buildings, new corporate offices for large corporations, new activities, a new arena and lots of downtown housing going up and being converted from old warehouses.
Des Moines also discovered that there was actually a river than ran through the middle of the city. Fancy that. Like many other cities, the river was lined with old boarded-up businesses, old warehouses, train tracks and not much else except some fine real estate and some beautiful old bridges. Certainly not the showpiece of the city that it is today. Finally, someone realized that that strip that ran through the city and divided the east side from the west side, the Des Moines River, actually could be used a the centerpiece and be a draw for activities, building, housing, trails and festivals. What a great idea.
And, the town was off and running and today, we saw it at its best, with crowds enjoying its many aspects. We were in one of the day’s activities: the annual Alzheimer's walk which we try to do where ever we are in the fall. We’ve been in the Fort Dodge, IA walk, the Des Moines walk several years, the Phoenix walk and returned to the Des Moines walk this year. It’s been in several places in the city but today it was at the premier location: the Des Moines Capital. (we were talking with one of the organizers and she told us that an activity had to have a critical mass before it can be at the Capital. Not every activity can be here and the Alzheimer's Walk has grown and grown and finally has enough people to be held here.)
I should mention at this junction that my wonderful, witty, vibrant, thoughtful, caring mother had Alzheimer’s for at least 15 years. But, if I continue in this vein, you’ll see the tears on the blog so I’ll just say that Gary and I walked for her today.
We awoke to rain. Oh, shucks. But It was a light rain and the radar looked as if it would blow by soon so we dressed, ate breakfast and headed off. As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed that there were lots of others pulling in and heading off for the front of the capital. Looks like a good crowd. We got in line, picked up our wrist bands, our flower, our t-shirts and headed over to the food area: donuts, fruit, milk, bagels donated by a local grocery store, Hy-Vee and a local outfit called Bandit Burrito had breakfast burritos. Gotta get those carbs.
There was a band, a Zumba instructor moving faster than I ever could and a great crowd. There were a few speakers and then they had 4 people up front to tell what the flower colors were for. Purple was for those who had lost someone to Alzheimer's and we had this color, as did most of the others. Yellow was for caregivers and there were a few of them. Blue was for those who actually had dementia or Alzheimer's and there were a few of these also and orange was for those who were walking because they wanted support the cause. They had just released a flock of white doves which was flying overhead when Gary took this picture. (whose finger is that, Big Gar?)
The walk started at 10:00 and headed down the hill to the businesses on the east side. Because there were other activities in the city today, the walk was 2.5 miles, a little longer than the usual walk, and crossed that river twice over two new bridges. The one below is a bridge that used to have a railroad track. That stone wall is from the early part of the century, lines the river on both sides and even has a cement walkway below it. You can actually walk on the walkway for about 2 miles when the river is low but today it was higher and the walkway was covered with about 5” of water.
There are statues and other artistic pieces along the river now. These are next to a small sandwich, coffee shop with tables on the side of the river.
Where in the world do these steps go? Up to the top, as far as I could see, and no further.
Beautiful walking course: beginning at the Capital, along the river, over two marvelous bridges and then back up the hill towards the Capital. Adults, kids, strollers, wheelchairs, large teams, small teams, dogs - a marvelous variety. As we walked, we could feel the energy of the group and the desire to cure this awful disease.
The walk headed off down the capital hill, along the river and then back up the hill. At the end we stopped to listen to a local band. Looks like someone needs to learn how to do selfies. (And, whose arm is in these pictures, Nanc?)
At the end, we stayed a bit to hear the band which played a variety of music and then headed onto the second big downtown activity - the farmers market. One of the best in the nation, I’ve read and we’ve been going every year since we came to Des Moines. We’ve seen it grow from several blocks to about 10 now. There are musicians, crafts from baby clothes to metal lawn statues, baked goods from strudel to Dutch letters, drinks from coffee to smoothies, and, oh yeah, they’ve got vegetables galore. Today, since it is close to the end of the growing season, there were lots of potatoes, squash, carrots, pumpkins but there were also lots of beans, tomatoes, peppers etc. I decided to buy some beets. Now, I’ve never cooked beets from scratch - I’ve always bought canned beets but I thought I’d try these. They are a deep red so they must be good for you.
After this we walked around the downtown area. One of the largest department stores in town has stood empty for about 10 years now and they were finally rehabbing it when, you guessed it, a spark set the building on fire and it is a total loss. They are in the process of demolishing it now. What a loss and what a shame. As we were walking towards the river to walk along it, we met a couple from Dyersville, IA (from ‘if you build it they will come’ - Field of Dreams fame - looking for someplace to eat - and they are vegetarians. We directed them to the third big event in downtown today, the World Food and Music Festival.
I have to admit that we’ve never been to this one but, my, we’ve missed a lot. With the backdrop of the Des Moines skyline and being on a bridge over the Des Moines River, and offering food from many countries, we wonder why we’ve missed it. Look at the crowds, look at the food booths and look at the lines. A neat feature is a sample size of each booth’s most popular item. Great idea. If you want to try lots of different foods, you need to sample them, not have large plates. Here’s our favorite booth: the Local Yokels - serving Iowa food and the line was pretty long.
Here’s one of the bridges arching over the river with the white tents of the food festival on it. Back in 2005, the water was so high that you couldn’t even see the arch. All the national TV stations were here and if the river had crested any taller, it would have flooded downtown Des Moines, a real disaster. It did not and we were saved.
So, we’ve been to 3 of the major events in downtown Des Moines and haven’t even mentioned the Phantom of the Opera playing about a block away. Then there were several other charity walks around the downtown area.
It was a rocking time in downtown Des Moines today.
On another topic, kind of. Here’s a huge block of condos that were built in Des Moines about 8 years ago. Nice condos and we actually took a tour of one to check it out when we were looking for a town home. Funny thing, about 2 weeks after people started moving in, they noticed the train tracks running right beside the building. ‘Hey, there are train tracks right beside our building and trains toot their horns every time they cross the street.’ ‘It’s awfully loud.’ ‘What can be done about it?’ ‘Can it be moved?’ Didn’t they notice that track when they were visiting that town home the first time and the second time? Why were they so surprised?
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
And, he makes phone calls and goes online to find out what the solution is. Meanwhile for 6 months we kept the slide in and did not roll it out (of course, we’re traveling through Oregon and Washington where it can rain at any time.) Made the bedroom a bit smaller but, better a small bedroom than a wet bedroom. Here you can see above our slide and look out (the blue strip) and below you can see our bedroom cabinets above the bed and over the slide to the white line which is a sunny day outside. A small opening but water can pour in anywhere.