Iowa State Capital Tour….

Did you ever drive across Iowa on I 80 through DesMoines and look to the south?  You would see a huge building with 5 domes.  The center dome is the largest and is glimmering and shinning of gold in the sunlight.  This is the Capital of Iowa.  I have known this but it really didn’t make that much of an impression.  A number of local people at the park said we should go visit as it was beautiful.  So after we seen the Luminaria, we went to the Capital.  Driving across the river from down town the view was so stately.  The capital has high on a hill and the street went straight just like Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington DC.


View from Capital to across the river downtown

We parked on the south side in a beautiful park area.  It was full of memorials and monuments of long ago.  It turned out to be a beautiful day.  Their were so many trees on the grounds hiding the capital on our walk to the door.  But the beautiful gold dome was peeking out shinning of brilliant gold in the sun.  This dome is one of the largest gold domes in North America.  It is the only state to have 5 domes and one of 10 states to have a gold dome.  It rises 275 ft. above the Capital grounds with an 80 ft. diameter at the top.  The original 23 karat gilding was $3,500.  The dome was regilded in 1905 at a cost of $8,800, again in 1927, for $16,500, again in 1965 for approximately $80,000.  The last time was 1996 at a cost of $482,000, with a protective layer installed to save it from the elements.


The Capital was originally in Iowa City but was decided to move it to DesMoines.  The original building was started in 1871, dedicated in 1884 and finished in 1886.  It is built with brick and faced with limestone granite and sandstone.  We entered at the basement level that was designated Visitor Entrance.  We went through the Security area and walked down the corridor to the center of the building.  We passed many tables and chairs as the cafeteria is on this floor.  We arrived at the Tour Center.  The tour guide gave us a self guide tour map and explained many things to us.  So off we went to the nearest elevator.  No stairs for us.   We exited the elevator on 1st floor onto the rotunda area.   Amazing.  We walked over to the main dome area and looked up………


Soooo Beautiful.  It is really hard to see the height.  Their is a row of windows near the top and more beautiful gold and lights.  In the center is a flag floating in the blue sky with clouds.


Here is the upper floors of the dome.  We walked up to the 3rd floor.  That is all the public is allowed on their own.  Now this is the rotunda floor.  It is all glass.  It was just restored around 5 years ago to original.  For many, many years it has been open down to the basement floor.


Now we walked down a corridor to the old Supreme Court.


In 2003 they built a new Supreme Court building across the street.


A close up of the beautiful gold Chandelier. We walked to another hallway and found this case full of dolls.


These are dolls whose dresses are modeled after the First ladies.  They are dressed in a copy of their inaugural gowns.


Onward to the huge grand staircase in the back wing.  Huge pillars of different shades of granite.  (See Rich?  tee hee) .  But did we walk the stairs?.   lol.   No….elevator to the right.  We accidently skipped 2nd floor and went to 3rd floor.


We were at the balcony area of the Senate.  Of course, nobody working….lol…Empty….Back out the door, around the balcony area looking down on the Grand stair case and in the distance the 2nd floor rotunda area.


Just look at those tile floors.  The most beautiful designs I’ve ever seen.  All different designs blending together.   The shine was beautiful.

Onward around the balcony to the other side of the 3rd floor to the House of Representatives.


Again we went into the balcony area of the House.   and Again…Nobody Home….lol…Now it was time to go back down to the 2nd floor.  We found 4 spiral staircases.  2 by the Senate and 2 by the house.  They were enclosed and somewhat hidden.


How beautiful they were.  All original and extremely sturdy.  Now down to the second floor.  This is actually the main entrance levels to the House and the Senate.


They are situated in each wing on each side of the main rotunda.  We walked into the House and Rich was wanting to get a new Job……Sergeant-At-Arms.   lol.   I think he’d make a good one.  All he needs is a gavel….or a gun?….lol    Now for the very best area of the Capital.   We were blown away.   We opened the door to the Library.  It is situated at the west end facing down town……Beeeeeautiful…..


Breathtaking…..I stood in Awwwwe…..I just looked, taking in all the beauty.  I really don’t think I have ever seen anything like it before.  Look at the tiling of the floors.  The white wrought iron spiral staircase at the other end.  their are 4 stores of balcony’s of books after the main floor.  They are all accessible by 2 spiral staircases.


I was allowed to climb up this spiral staircase just 1 floor to take pictures.  If you look at the first story up, you will see a small corridor of light that is a door to the back area.  This is the access point on each floor to get to all the books on each balcony floor.

20160922_154937.jpgHere you can see the door openings against the back wall of each bookshelf.  This gets you to the other side of the bookshelf.


Finally I had to take another picture  of the floors.   Beautiful, beautiful blending and designs of colors. Finally after probably half hour or more we left the library.  I did talk to the lady librarian.  Their is over 100,000 books.  They still use all the all the different levels of books for research except for the 5th level.  That one is more for storage of books and items not used much anymore.  The ironwork and the flooring are all original.   Again, this room is the most beautiful room I’ve ever seen.  So finally back to the rotunda area on the second floor.


We looked over the side to the main floor….The center piece of glass…..Now elevator to the basement.  We walked back to the Tour Directors area which is right underneath the glass floor.


She pointed out  over on the wall was some pictures and the story of the installation of this floor.  It came in pieces and fit like a puzzle to install.  They had to construct special ramps to roll in the pieces and not damage the floor tiles.  Then also a crane to hold them in place to install.     Some Facts……29 different types of marble use in the Capital…..12 types of wood, most native to Iowa…..24 fireplaces throughout the Capital…..

Now this was an awesome tour.  We just wandered around at our leisure.  I have not included a lot of what we seen.  It is just to much to mention it all.  Their was many places we didn’t go.  Many of the offices were open for viewing.  We didn’t do any of these.  Now this really makes me ashamed.    When was the last time YOU WERE AT YOUR STATE CAPITAL…..Or Have you Ever Been their..…I haven’t been to mine in Illinois since 8th grade.   You don’t appreciate it then.  Nor do you retain many memories.  Illinois has so much history.   We need to spend a day in Springfield Illinois this fall on our return to Texas.  So anyone who reads this……Make plans to visit your State Capital…..You can also visit any State Capital as you travel.   It is free.  It is an education.  We have so much to see and visit in our country not to mention our own states……Take the Time…..Enjoy…..iowa-capitalIowa State Capital ……DesMoines Iowa

“Luminaria” Fabulous

We came back from home and worked Adventureland last Saturday and Sunday.  Its almost over.  I think everybody is ready for it to be.  Wednesday, Rich was watching the news and they had a show going on downtown DesMoines at the Cowles Commons, DesMoines Performing Arts.  It was called a Luminaria.  This one is entitled “Arboria” by Architects-of-Air, Alan Parkinson of  Nottingham England.    Website:


“Arboria” is about a half a football field long when set up.

A Luminarium is a sculpture that people enter, to be immersed in radiant light and color.  Since 1992, the Architects-of-Air’s 22+ luminaria have enchanted over 2 million people in 41 countries around the world.  This is the only one touring in the US.  Their are others touring around the world.

The tickets were only $5, what a deal.  So I ordered them on line.  Thursday morning we woke up with rain.  It finally stopped around 10:30.  We arrived downtown about 10:45 and found a parking deck about a block away.  What we didn’t know was, the whole downtown is connected by sky walks.   How cool that was.


We went from our parking garage straight to the sky walk.  We followed it across the street and through the building to the other side of the block.  Finally across the street in the sky walk and we were in the right building, took the escalator down and outside we went to the “Luminaria”


Being we already had purchased tickets, we were able to go right in.  First thing we did was to take off our shoes and put them in the cubies.  The whole structure was made of vinyl plastic.  We had to stay on the plastic to enter.


Finally we had a short speech from the Volunteer before we entered.  We were allowed to wander around at our own pace.  We could sit down or lay down if wished to enjoy the beauty and sounds.  Be careful of the walls and try to stay on the flat part of the walk as the edges start to lift up.  Parents, please keep your Children with you…….Yes Please……So in we went through the Air locks……….First Impression…………..”BREATHTAKING”……


Each room or area has a dominate color.  The first room was green. ( There’s Rich )


The ceiling was soooooo  beautiful.  It is entitled “Arboria” because of the influence of the geometric shapes and graphic representation of trees.


On to the next room.  As you look around, you see round tunnels.   People at the other end just standing and staring.  Some even laying down……More color down the tunnels…


You end up in the main room.  Words cannot even explain the feelings that you see.  You have been told that the tunnels are zippered on, and that every everything else was hand glued together.  All the different colors are glued by hand.  Then you look up………


Whoaaaa…………The end of the stripes have a small blue dot.   This picture does not do the colors justice.  This main dome was 33 feet high.  As we stood their, we listened to the music.   It was so soothing and beautiful.  It was soft sounds of piano composition and wildlife sounds originated from the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest by musician Alice Eldridge.  It was as if time stood still.   You wanted to just stand their and look.  Your eyes wandered up….around….down…in circles….People just sat down or layed down to enjoy the experience.  Rich said he wanted to sit down also, but he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to get up……lol….getting old we are….lol…


Traveling on, we took one of the tunnels, and we arrived in the blue room….In front of us a a beautiful blue tree trunk.  It rose up so gracefully to a beautiful ceiling.


This dome was 26 feet high.  ( There’s Rich again )  As you walk, you almost feel unstable…..dream like….


Around the edge of each room are little pockets.  A long slice of color is added.  They said these are little out of the way rooms that you can sit and just take this all in.


They even let wheelchair and people with canes enter.  They wrap the wheels and protect the bottoms of canes.  I thought this was so amazing as I seen this man wander through the tunnels.  He was so amazed and thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere.  They told me they do like to bring the physically and mentally impaired people in on the slower days. It gives them a great calming effect.  I can’t even imagine how they must enjoy it.  It is out of the realm of anything they have ever imagined in their world.   As far as that goes, ours also. Their were a number of Volunteers inside that were helpful with info, and especially one that gave me all her time.  She loved her Volunteer time and was so enthusiastic to help and answer questions.


This is the red room.  Again you can see the geometric influence on the ceiling.  As you walked around, you not only felt a little unstable, but I also felt like things were hazy….dreamy….It was just such an indescribable feeling….


Now all this light you see is just natural light shinning through the plastic.  It was a dreary overcast day, but yet the inside was so bright and vibrant with color. I can’t imagine what it would be like on a sunny day.


The inside was very comfortable in temperature.  It was air conditioned.  You didn’t hear the air blowing, but around the outside little pocket areas, you would find the air ducts and feel the air blowing in.


We are blue lovers, so this is our favorite room.  We probably walked through the tunnels at least twice.  We stood in the rooms and the especially the big dome room for quite awhile, taking it all in.  The looks on peoples faces were amazing to see.  Some were laying on the floor with eyes closed, some eyes open just staring at the ceilings.  People were just looking and turning in amazement.  If i didn’t know better, I felt I had just visited HEAVEN. Could this be what it is like?   Finally Time to Go.   We went out side and sat by the Fountain….


This reflecting pond was also a wading pond, open for the kids to walk through.  It also had some “Dancing Waters”.  lol.   We sat their for along time, just taking it all in.  Looking at the whole sculpture and seeing where we were.  The Big Dome Room….You can see the different colors, the Red Room and all the little pocket rooms around the edge.  I read that it takes around 4 hours to unpack and weight it down, and then only 30 minutes to blow it up.  Taking it down is fast, 90 minutes and ready to roll.  As we sat their, a volunteer who was just relieved was walking by.  We started talking about her job of Volunteering for the Civic Center and all the activities.  Such a Nice Lady.  Then she told us about a food court in the next building over.  We were sure hungry by now.  Back we went into the building and up the escalator to the sky walk.  We walked several blocks to the end and back just to see everything.  The Food Court Building was called the Kaleidoscope.  They had food and shops on 3 floors.  We choose loaded spuds…..


Huge potatoes loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon…….Hmmmmmm….Bill? Under $15 for 2 with drinks……Finally done and off we went to walk the sky walk again.   Now maybe we are behind the times, or we just came out of the corn fields, but this is magnificent.  You can park your car in the parking garage and walk the sky walk to work.  Where ever that may be.  The whole down town is connected.  Even the Civic Center, and all the Iowa Federal Court system.   In the center of it all is the Kaleidoscope Hub.  Walk to get your lunch and back to work.  Never go outside till you leave the parking garage.  We even seen a sign of a Condo for sale…..Open your door and your at work…….Can’t imagine the price…..I looked at the signs for Sky Walk closing.   I found one that said the doors close from 2 am-6am.   You could go walking anytime, any weather.   Finally we walked back to our parking garage.  We left and drove around the city.  There is remodeling and building everywhere.  New buildings going up with new sky walks attached.  Old buildings being turned into Condos and Office space.   The city is growing and renovating.  Finally we headed back across the river to the east.  Directly across was the Iowa State Capital.  It stood proudly and stately on the hill with Court Street leading straight to it.  It reminded me of Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington DC.  The Iowa Capital has 5 domes total, with the fifth dome in the middle covered in Gold …….It was shinning Brilliantly in the sun.   We stopped and toured it also, but that will be the subject of the next blog.


So much info to share….After that we hunted up an Rv Center and toured Motor Homes.   “We were trying to decide how to spend a half a million if we had it…….”