Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Iowa Adventure -- Part 1 -- Volksmarch Walk at Hoover Library

My older daughter and I went to a family reunion in northern Iowa on Sunday. Afterwards we drove to a hotel in Coralville, a place I lived while attending the University of Iowa. I was certainly lost. I couldn't even find where I used to live! The city has grown immensely since then and all the major highways have changed. We were both very tired and went to sleep very early.

Then we were up early and drove only a few miles to West Branch, the location of the Hoover Presidential Library.Somehow in some of my recent European travels the subject of food relief about Wor ld War I came up and I've been wanting to get back to the Hoover Library for that reason to refresh my memory. Hoover was born in West Branch and lived there until his early teens when both his parents died. Then he went to live with a uncle in Oregon.

He was admitted into the first class at Stanford University. There he met Lou, who became his wife. She was originally from Waterloo, IA. She must have been quite a young woman, for she completed a degree in geology, also, at Stanford, at a time when education for women was highly frowned upon.

The directions for the Volksmarch said to go the Jack and Jill Grocery Store and look for a box in the southeast corner. I found a store clerk and asked for the Volksmarch box. She couldn't figure out what I wanted, and then suddenly said, "Oh, the walk box."  We then quickly signed up and were on our way for a 5 K walk.

Our route first took us through the grounds of the Hoover Library.

The first thing we saw was this monument, The Goddess of Life, given by the Belgian government.

Our route took us past the Library/Museum, not yet open since we started quite early. We continued on to an area of prairie being rehabilitated to resemble what the European settlers found when they first arrived in Iowa.

Here is my daughter standing in the prairie with the Miles farm in the background. We continued for about a half mile in the prairie and then followed a path down to the Library grounds. Our route next took us past the Hoover graves.

Hoover was part of the Quaker community that settled in West Branch, and the graves reflect the simplicity desired by this community.

Our route next took us towards the downtown area. We crossed a little creek and found it is being monitored to gather data to predict water flows including floods.

We ended up on Main Street right by a winery.

Then the route started through a residential area and up by the elementary school. Notice the word, up? The description for this walk warned that it had some steep hills and we were finding them. We were directed to the West Branch Cemetery to the graves of Hoover's parents. To prove that we really had done the walk we needed to look here for the grave of another family member.

We headed back to Main Street. Our route took us by the present Friends' Church in West Branch.

Nearby was a very old cemetery. Most of the graves are no longer in this location and the names of those who used to be buried there are noted on a monument. However, there was one grave there that appeared to quite special.
This is for a soldier, a Marine, who died in 1843. Notice the flag next to the grave, left there since the recent Memorial Day.

Continuing the walk to Main Street, we spotted this old building, called the Opera Block.

We were nearly to the end of the walk when we spotted the lovely old building. Turning a corner we spotted Reid's Bean, a cute little coffee shop. What a great place. If I lived in this town, I'd be there every day. The food is good and the woman who runs it is very friendly. After enjoying a break at the coffee shop we wandered across the street to the Jack and Jill to finish the paper work for the walk. We enjoyed everything we saw and didn't think the steep hills were too bad, except for the very last one!

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