Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On the Road Around Iowa

Steve and I drove to Dyersville, Iowa, to see the famous Field of Dreams.  In case you’ve never seen the Kevin Costner movie of the same name, the gist is that he decides to build a baseball field in the middle of his cornfields…magic ensues.  This is the site where the movie was filmed, and (until recently) the owners have maintained the field on donations, leaving it pretty much as it looked in the movie. 

Magic ensues.

You don’t really see the baseball field as you approach, and then there it is!  Surrounded on three sides by tall cornstalks, with a beautiful, traditional farmhouse along the back side, it truly is a sight.  Everyone who approached (including us) seemed to relax and smile and exchange glances:  “Is this for real?”  It is.

We hung around for a while, following the basic rituals: standing at home plate, going through the bases, walking to the corn and stepping inside and emerging, the way the players did in the movie.  (And how eerie it was to watch people do that; they really did seem to come from nowhere…that corn is all-encompassing!)  We didn’t bring any balls or bats, but plenty of people did, so we watched kids and adults goof around on the field.  Then we bought a ton of souvenirs.

I’ve heard that the owners have recently sold the field (and who can blame them?) and that there are plans for a hotel and ballfields and tournaments, etc…which I hope doesn’t work out.  The place is perfect as is.

To top off the visit to Dyersville, we popped into Country Junction restaurant, lured by a sign that said, “Iowa’s Best Pie.”  As far as I can tell, that’s no false brag.  I had sour cream raisin with meringue—still slightly warm from the oven—and Steve had blueberry with ice cream.  Oh, that was heaven, too!

Yesterday we drove up and across Iowa, to Lake Okoboji, where Steve has a business meeting.  On the way we stopped in Mason City for “the nation’s second best pork tenderloin” at Susie Q CafĂ©.  (I love that modesty!)  These were amazing pork tenderloins—not the “meat as big as your head” school, but a meaty, crisp, thickly battered delightful sandwich.  (We ordered ours “spic and span,” which meant it came with everything.)  Seven seats…and how funny that we chatted with one of the other customers who was originally from Northern Virginia, our neck of the woods!

Mason City is the home of Meredith Willson, the author of The Music Man, so we stopped by his boyhood home, which has been beautifully restored and learned about his early life…I didn’t know about his unconventional mother and an artsy sister.  We looked through the museum, admiring the photos from the world premiere of the movie, right in Mason City (or, “River City,” as it’s known in the musical), complete with movie stars.  Willson had a great affection for Mason City throughout his life, and it’s nice to see that the town is still in love with him, too.  We were sorry we had to move on without doing more than driving by the Frank Lloyd Wright house and hotel.

A quick tour of tiny Wesley, Iowa, near where my mother’s family farm was and a stop at the beautiful church where my parents were married…then on to Lake Okoboji—one of three blue-water lakes in the world, spring-fed and 134 feet deep.  Last night we had a boat tour of the lake, along with an amazing show of heat lightning flashing behind the clouds.  Today…?  Surely there’s something to eat here, and I hear there’s an old-fashioned, wooden roller coaster….


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.