I spent Thursday and Friday this week driving 740 miles through Northwest Iowa, bringing the number of counties I’ve visited in the State to 81 (out of a total of 99). The Northwest has beautiful lakes, immense farms, the highest point in Iowa (elevation 1,670 above sea level), a chunk of the Blarney Stone, and the Ice Cream Capital of the World, among other destinations of note. Much of the Northwest is also culturally part of the Sioux Lands, and looks more toward Nebraska and South Dakota for influence, commerce and connection than toward the State Capitol in Des Moines. Having experienced 16 new counties this week, here is my current Iowa tour map, with the remaining unvisited counties in white:
By fluke of coincidence, the two regional blocks I have yet to visit are radically different from each other. Far Southwestern Iowa includes four of the ten smallest (population-wise) and several of the poorest counties in the State, as well as the smallest incorporated city in Iowa (Beaconsfield, population 15 in 2010, up from 11 in 2000). The unshaded block in Eastern Iowa, on the other hand, is cosmopolitan in comparison, featuring four of the ten largest (population-wise) counties in the State, as well as two of the State’s three public universities, and three of its ten largest cities. I’ll be travelling with Marcia when she visits clients in Dubuque and Clinton, and will dispatch those ten Eastern counties on those trips, while I can visit the eight in the Southwest on a long solo day trip from Des Moines. I might complete my Full Grassley by March 1, if weather and schedule cooperate. My sense for and appreciation of the State is greatly enhanced by having seen so much of it from the ground, but I’ll wait until I’ve hit all 99 counties before expounding on that. Suffice to say it’s been a tremendously enjoyable undertaking.
For some views of Northwest Iowa with explanations as to what you’re seeing, click on the wind turbine below. Have you ever stood directly under one of these monsters when they’re spinning? I have now, and it’s disconcerting. If you’d prefer to just see the pictures and figure out what you’re looking at on your own, you can click here for the slideshow version.