After a certain age, many create a bucket list. Skydive, go to a certain place, swim with dolphins, etc. Right now, mine is to get to all 50 states (and the airport doesn't count).
I was hired to speak to the Florida Professional Photographers in Orlando last fall and thought with the Oregon Ducks playing the Nebraska Cornhuskers five days later, I could get to states #46 and #47: Iowa and Nebraska.
On Tuesday I went to the Animal Kingdom park in Walt Disney World.
While not worth a full day (I did the Kali River Raft Ride 5 times!), it was well worth going to. Seeing wild animals up close was great-especially the Gorillas, with 10 of them living there. The two year olds playing with each other was a kick and this six year old had his own Bucket List.
I spent 20 minutes just watching them.
Next Stop: Iowa, The Hawkeye State: Population 3.1 Million (Oregon is 3.9).
I flew to Cedar Rapids and spend time the following day going to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library (the first of Presidential Libraries) in West Branch Iowa.
My wife and I had visited Calvin Coolidge's birth home in Vermont and several years I go I went the Clinton Library in Little Rock Arkansas. I have always found it highly interesting to learn more about our Presidents. In Hoover's case, he got a bad rap.
Known as The Great Humanitarian, the only elective office "Bert" had run for prior was Vice President of the Student Body at Stanford. He was a brilliant engineer and strategist, his effective and friendly manner led the effort to feed the starving Europeans after World War I. He became immensely popular world-wide. As Coolidge's Secretary of Commerce, he did try to warn others of the inflated values of Wall Street prior to it's demise, which happened eight months into his Presidency.
Hoover tried many things to stem the bleeding, but his own party wouldn't support his efforts and in 1932 was soundly defeated by FDR. (Who did NOT fix the problem either until WW II rolled around.)
While Oregon can't claim a President, Hoover comes close. After his parents died, he and his older brother and younger sister were each sent to various relatives. From age 11 until he went to Stanford, Herbert Hoover lived in Newberg Oregon. No wonder he continued to come back to Oregon, as he especially liked to fish the McKenzie River.
After WWII ended, he was called upon again to be the point man on helping feed decimated Europe. Because he continued to serve in various public capacities until the time of his death in 1964 at age 90 (his wife had passed 20 years prior), his image was restored. There is a reason Hoover Dam is named after him, not only because he initiated the building of it during his Presidency (My dad worked there as a young man), but because his popularity increased after he left office.
From there I went to see the State Capitol in Des Moines.
Built in 1871-1886, incredibly beautiful with five domes, it has marble from all over Europe (and Indiana), gold leaf painting, stunningly carved woodwork and two state houses that rival anything I've seen.
On the 4 o'clock tour with me was a man from Brazil and a graduate student from the U of O who lives in Eugene. Small world!
We even were in the Governors' office.
From there I went to Winterset Iowa.
While I enjoyed the six bridges, Lane and Linn Counties here in Oregon have more majestic bridges in my opinion.
A great sunset for my last night in Iowa:
The next day: Nebraska, The Cornhusker State. Population 1.8 million.
I spent hours in the State Capitol of Nebraska in Lincoln. It reminded of Oregon's State Capitol in many ways. The interesting thing about Nebraska is they only have one state house (49 Senators), and they are all non-partisan. My guess is they probably get more done!
From there it was on to Memorial Stadium.
Scrolling through radio waves, I found four full time football pre-game shows on all at the same time. Sports is a religion here (Omaha hosts the College Baseball World Series).
The following day, during their 350th consecutive sell out (dating back to 1962). Nicest fans ever. At least 7 different parties welcomed me to Nebraska and had something kind to say. When our football team came out, no boos were heard. Class act that I wish fans at Autzen would emulate.
Every point by the Cornhuskers got fireworks and the first score they made also incorporated red balloons being released.
Even though the score didn't go our way, it was an enjoyable experience. Traveling usually is, as it expands your mind.
That is why all 50 states are on my Bucket List!