August of 2001 the family vacation turned into the parent’s vacation. My husband and I dumped the kids at their dad’s in South Dakota and headed to Missouri. Of course, that meant driving through Iowa. Now, I know what you are thinking, Iowa nothing but cornfields. Au contraire.
I think that someday I would like to take my entire one week’s vacation in Iowa. Honestly. That one day that we had to drive through the state we visited a tiny house on a street corner in the town of Winterset, the home was the birthplace of Marion Morrison (aka John Wayne). We drove up this incredibly steep hill in the city park in the middle of Winterset to see Clarks’ Tower, a 25 foot tall tower built in 1926 as a tribute to the first pioneer families in the area. From the top of the tower there were fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
Of course, the most famous attraction in Madison County would be the covered bridges, thanks to the movie with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. On our first date, Himey and I talked about the book by Robert James Waller and on our next date he loaned me his mother’s copy of the book to read. Who would have ever guessed, back in 1995, that our travels would someday take us to the Bridges of Madison County?
We visited four of the six restored bridges. At one time the county boasted 19 covered bridges. What makes them so romantic? Surely we all thought that before Mr. Waller’s book made these particular bridges famous.
I think it must be the way in which they harken back to a past time, past lives, when things were simpler. When every family was the Waltons, when there was no TV, certainly no internet. When a young man and a young woman, on their first date, would walk down to the stream at the edge of town and wade in the shallow water in the shadow of a covered bridge.