2005 Summer Vacation

Iowa

August 1, 2005


We had allotted a single day for driving from Minneapolis to Bloomington.  The only other time we made this drive (in 2002) we had taken interstate through Wisconsin.  This time we wanted something different, so we settled on divided highway through Iowa.  More than that we didn't plan.

We started, however, by Highway 61 through Minnesota, down the Mississippi Valley, through Red Wing, past locks and dams and tributaries.  In southeastern Minnesota, we turned west up the Root River Valley, solely because it was marked as a scenic route.  What a splendid, beautiful road, and valley, and picturesque towns scattered along the way! There were bicycles going up a bicycle path all along the river, and canoes and kayaks coming down.  Somewhere, however, they closed our road and shunted us onto two lane country roads, with a zigzagging detour that approximated our desired diagonal course.  Still, we were in gorgeous farm country, with the prettiest farm houses, barns, and silos set among rolling hills.  It was beautiful if slow going through 150 year old farming villages, every one of which had an ancient church perched atop the highest point in town.  We almost went to LeRoy, Minnesota, when a sign offered it to us, but it was just too far out of the way in the wrong direction.  And we were making slow enough progress as it was.


Our goal was Dyersville, Iowa, a town 30 miles west of Dubuque with two attractions listed in the AAA Iowa book.  We had advance scouts (Kristi's dad) warn us away from one, the National Farm Toys Museum, so we headed for the second, the farm where Field of Dreams was filmed, feeling kind of silly to be going to a 17 year old movie set.


But if you build it, we will come, and we're not the only ones: we arrived at 5 p.m. on a Monday afternoon and there were at least 20 cars already there in the parking lots.  Was this place really that popular, or was everybody wise to the disappointing Farm Toys Museum?

Brad returns from the Big Dugout in the Sky while dug goes to visit Ebbets field.


We could not have picked a better time of year to visit: look at the size of that corn!  Nearly as high as an elephant's eye, I'd wager.


You know that part at the end of the movie when Darth Vader--I mean--Terence Mann says people will gladly hand over $20 just to play on your ball field?  Well it's true!  Now imagine that this tourist attraction resides on not one, but two different farms, with the property line running right down the second to third base line.  Because that's true, too.  There are in fact two separate Fields of Dream: Left and Center Field, and everything else (including Farm House) Field of Dreams.


Wikipedia entry for the attraction.  Note competing web sites at bottom of entry.

There are two of everything: two drive ways, two parking lots, and most importantly, two souvenir shops.  That's the Left and Center Field of Dreams souvenir shop to the distant left, while the Field of Dreams (Right and Infield) souvenir shop (located directly in front of the house) is in the foreground right.


Apparently, no love is lost between the two competing interests.


I can't say if one party is more pure of heart than the other.  But I can say, when there is competition, the consumer wins.  Since the two parties cannot agree on a single best way to "monatize their asset," there is no monopoly, and neither party can charge admittance. 

There's a real life lesson here somewhere; a sub clause to "if you build it they will come:" if there's money to be made, there will be a falling out.

Doug and Brad settle into a pickup game in left field.  Since we came by plane, bringing our own mitts and ball for this one hour was out of the question.  So they joined a game in the outfield being played with a soft rag ball so gloves weren't necessary.


Playing ball in left field.  The Center and Left Field of Dreams must feel that they have better lawyers, since they will provide free equipment to play with, while the other Field of Dreams insists you bring your own equipment, citing liability issues.


At 6 pm, both halves of the field closed.  No one appeared on the house porch with a shotgun to enforce the posted closing time, but we thought it best to honor the request to be off the property by then.  So we made an offering in one of the two competing free will collection plates (I'll never tell which one!), skipped buying any souvenirs, and hit the road for Illinois.


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Text and pictures copyright 2005 by Keith Sherwood.  All rights, writes, and rites reserved.