Saturday, September 30, 2017

Des Moines Art Center


   Modern and contemporary art is the main focus of this museum. The permanent collection has some beautiful pieces but we were amazed by the current exhibit which includes the work of three artists and one artist collective. All of the artwork is created using just tape!




  This one invites visitors to participate by climbing inside and walking around.



  The accessible entrance is a bit of a maze. Follow the signs up the ramp to the push button door. Once inside wait for the attendant to open the next door, go up the ramp and another door will be unlocked for you. When you’re ready to leave somebody will unlock this door again so that you can exit. The museum is accessible but it’s kind of a maze too so it’s easy to miss entire sections.


  RVs will fit in the lot if backed up over the grass or parked in the spaces along the road. Try to get a spot near the museum entrance to avoid a steep uphill push.  Museum   41.58386, -93.68079


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Danish Immigrant Museum


  Danish immigrants came to the prairie states in the late 1800s. Many were drawn to the same areas where their relatives and friends had already settled and formed communities that kept the old ways alive. Even now Elk Horn, Iowa is considered one of the largest rural Danish settlements in the US which isn’t saying a lot because only about half of the 650 residents claim Danish descent.  Pride in their heritage is evident at the museum and a nearby 1848 windmill that was carefully disassembled in Denmark, shipped across the ocean, and reassembled in Elk Horn.


  The museum is small with a few exhibits about the journey to America, a short video of a local man recalling memories of living on his family’s homestead claim, many donated artifacts from Denmark, and two galleries featuring rotating artwork by Danish artists. A garden following the designs of renowned Danish landscape architect Jens Jensen is located in the rear of the property which also includes a homesteader’s cabin. A one mile round trip, paved path leads to a house built in 1908 by a Danish immigrant and businessman.




   The museum is accessible. A rough gravel path leads downhill to homesteader’s house. Wheelchair users will need assistance.  The paved path has very steep sections so wheelchair users will need assistance.  The 1908 house was not opened when we visited and I don’t know if any of it is accessible. We did not stop at the windmill but it appears to be accessible to some extent.

  The museum and windmill lots are large enough for RVs. RVs can be parked on the street at the 1908 house.

Museum  41.59245, -95.06871   Windmill   41.5897, -95.06032


Little Mermaid Statue


  Tiny Kimballton, Iowa was founded in 1883 and settled by immigrants from Denmark. A little park with a fountain and an exact replica of the famous Little Mermaid statue that sits on the waterfront in Copenhagen, Denmark has been built on Main Street. The statue represents the mermaid from the fairy tale The Little Mermaid  written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Small statues depicting other fairy tales written by Andersen are positioned along a walkway that circles the fountain.


   The park is accessible.

   RVs can be parked on the street.  Statue  41.62978, -95.07252


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Prairie Rose State Park Campground


  Most of the campsites in this park can be reserved and even this late in the season the sites are filled on the weekends. We managed to get one of the last non-reservable sites when we arrived on a Saturday. There’s a non-electric loop that does not fill but the sites are so sloped and uneven that it would be very hard to get an RV into the spots and just as hard to get level. 

  The sites are large with good spacing between them but the lack of low growing vegetation means there is no privacy. 

  There’s only one self service pay station, located in the east loop, which does not have a spot to pull over so anyone getting information or depositing a pay envelope blocks the road. The pay station is also too far away to walk to from the west loop and non-electric loop. The price ($16.00) is very reasonable for a campground with electric hookups, flush toilets, and a dump station. A few sites have full hookup.  One site is designated as accessible. It has a table with an extended top and is close to a restroom.  Campground  41.59888, -95.22547


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Harrah's Council Bluffs


  There are three casinos in Council Bluffs but if you want to stay overnight the Harrahs parking lot is the best one. The lot is huge and it gets little use so it’s relatively quiet although there is a little noise from the interstate and the railroad. Follow the signs for RV and truck parking until you come to the parking lot along the river. The best part is the easy access to the Iowa Riverfront Trail that connects to a network of trails on both sides of the Missouri River. We didn’t walk/roll along the trail because it was too hot while we were there.


  The casino entrance is a bit of a trek from the parking lot. The chairs are fairly easy to move and most of the card and money slots are easy to reach.  Casino  41.25402, -95.91731 


Western Historic Trails Center

   The history of four western trails - Lewis and Clark, Oregon, California and Mormon – are covered in this small museum which is also an Iowa information center.  Three dimensional scenes made from flat, painted sheet metal add a nice touch to the exhibits. The center is also the starting point for the Iowa Riverfront Trail that connects to a network of trails on both sides of the Missouri River.
  The museum is accessible.

   RVs will fit in the lot if parked across the spaces.  Center  41.22743, -95.90058

Monday, September 25, 2017

Durham Museum


  The Durham Museum which covers the history of Omaha, Nebraska is housed in a gorgeous art-deco Union Pacific Railway Station built in 1931. When passenger trains stopped running in 1971 the railroad donated the building to the city. The building itself is worth seeing even if you don’t go to the museum.



   Omaha was founded after the US government made treaties with the Omaha tribe in 1854. The city was a stopping and supply point for settlers and prospectors heading west. As the rail system expanded it became a meatpacking and processing center with  acres of stockyards and a reputation as an “open town” of gambling, drinking, prostitution and general lawlessness. The museum does not gloss over any of it’s turbulent history which makes it an interesting place to visit.



  Very well done exhibits trace the city’s history with displays on Native American life, the immigrants who came to work in the meat packing industry, local businesses and inventions, and the 1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition.




  The museum is accessible.

  RVs can be parked on the street in front of the museum. Museum  41.25189, -95.92771


Joslyn Art Museum


  The Joslyn Art Museum was a gift to the people of Omaha from Sarah Joslyn in honor of her husband George who made millions in the newspaper industry and gave generously to local charities and institutions. The Art Deco building was completed in 1938.

  The museum is not large but contains a wide range of art from European Medieval paintings to American modern art. We did not expect to see so many paintings by famous artists like Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, Wood, and Pollock in a Midwestern city museum.






  The museum is accessible. A few display cases were too high to easily view the contents from a seated position.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV if parked lengthwise across the spaces. Museum  41.26109, -95.94561


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo


  The enclosures is this zoo are, for the most part, very roomy and designed to give the animals a natural, interesting environment. Large animals such as giraffes and elephants are well represented along with many types of smaller mammals, birds, and fish. Included are a large saltwater aquarium, a butterfly pavilion, a rainforest, a huge dome with a desert environment, an aviary, and a splash park. Train, tram, carousel, and sky rides have additional small fees. The zoo is large so plan on spending the entire day. We did not see everything in five hours.






The zoo walkways go downhill almost immediately after the entrance. Fortunately an elevator is located at the lower section to take visitors back up to the top. Even so there are enough hilly spots that wheelchair users may need assistance. The walkways are wide and smooth. Most of the enclosures have multiple viewing areas and the animals are easy to see. Since the layout is a large circle it doesn’t matter if you go clockwise or counter clockwise. Check the map as you go because it’s easy to miss sections. The tram is accessible but the other rides may not be.


  Signs request the RVs be parked in the north lot. We weren’t sure where the north lot was so we just parked in a fairly empty section since it wasn’t busy the day that we visited.  Zoo  41.22638, -95.93142