White Pole Road

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The original straighter, smoother road from Des Moines to Council Bluffs ran along the Rock Island and Pacific Railroad line.  At times in the very early 1900’s Iowa was impassable.  Winter snow and muddy run off from the overdeveloped hills made travel through this central state nearly impossible.  Towns along this passage knew automobile travel was the wave of the future.  Reliable roads to connect townships was just good business.  The promotion of the road became known in auto club circles, traveling the “Great White Way” was a travelers dream!

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Eventually the road was extended east from Des Moines to Davenport.  The property of the actual road was not engineered or funded by state or federal governments but privately.  Farmers worked together to construct the highway at the encouragement of local businesses.  It was a win-win situation.  Sections were maintained by residents by “dragging” the dirt track smooth.  The state and then the federal departments of roads were tasked with upgrading and maintaining the road.  With the construction of Interstate 80 the glory days of Hwy 6 waned almost to extinction.

Now with the rebirth of ‘roadtripping’ traveling the White Pole Road is a destination all to itself!  History has steeped this section of hard blacktop with intrigue, and innovation.  The infamous couple, Bonnie and Clyde rode through the area culminating one of their shoot outs in Dexter Iowa.  The first train robbery of the West happened just south of this byway.  Adiar has a historic rounded viaduct, Stuart is home to Good Eggs, and Drew’s Chocolates is a must sample treat.  If shopping for antiques is more your speed, you won’t want to miss Casey’s brick lined main street shops.

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If you want to leave the rush of the interstate behind, even for a few hours, I recommend taking a step back in time and traveling this historic road.  Getting off the beaten path refreshes your soul.  Slowing down to discover little treasures can energize you.  Take the time to enjoy this beautiful area.

Travel well my friends!

Iowa The Beautiful

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Iowa has more to offer than most people know about.  The epicenter of Iowa lies as close to the geographically middle of the state, as you can get.  Des Moines is the hub of interstates, situated on the convergence of two major rivers in the area.  Shopping, industry, arts, festivals, education…the list of attractions goes on and on.  I invite you to step outside this metropolitan hub.  The small communities within 60 miles of Des Moines city limits are plentiful and diverse.

wpid-20140729_181656.jpgMy travels led me to English inspired gardens, hidden towers overlooking valleys, famous birthplaces, violent historical sites, and so much more.  Pride abounds in these small communities.  Heritage of the original settlers is evident in the architecture, attractions, and festivals.  Walking the paths of famous Americans, you get a sense of connection.  Outdoor activities abound 365 days a year.  Wildflowers are blooming on the snowmobile paths in July and ice skating rinks are fishing holes today.  In the spring, Holland is the focal point of celebration.  Descendants from Germany reminisce during October with plenty to do and see. 

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Choose your favorite season and wind your way through the Loess Hills.  Emerging green leaves cast a hue upon the winter grey trees in the spring.  Summer is alive with various shades of green splashed with thousands of tiny wildflowers.  The most spectacular season in this beautiful area must be the explosion of the autumnal foliage.  If travel plans are in your future, my recommendation is plotting a course through the Loess Hills in the fall.  The trees are pristine, the attractions are in full swing and the weather has lost the muggy summer heat. 

Soul Experiences is dedicated to hunting the most treasured gems of travel.  Inspiring history, calming nature, bustling cities, seasonal favorites, and more than you may have imagined, we are designing travel just for you. Soul Experiences loves to hear from you!  Email or call us and share with us your travel adventures.  We will compile your best recommendations in our travel journal and pass travel savings on to you when you travel with us! 

Travel well my friends! 

Off The Beaten Path

TRAVEL UPDATE!

North Central Kansas was reviewed last week.  I will showcase Iowa highlights this week.  It was a great weekend, albeit speedy, in Iowa!  Below is the original post that kicked off my Great Plains “off the beaten path” reviews.  We have only just begun with Kansas and Iowa.  Stay tuned, more to come!

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I use the phrase, “off the beaten path” often.  I value the adventure of discovery.  I enjoy finding new, seldom explored areas.  I venture away from the norm and I love sharing my explorations with anyone who will listen to my exuberance.

I am a native Nebraskan.  I have lived in this state my whole life.  It is a perfect location for this wandering traveler.  I am centrally located in the United States, I enjoy white Christmases and hot summers, that remind me of my love of winter.  The cost of living in Nebraska is low, owning an acreage is a reasonable goal.  I have wide open vistas in my backyard, trees that tower over my neighborhood and history that is as boundless as the open skies above us.

I feel The Great Plains are the most overlooked travel destination in the continental US.  It is my favorite “off the beaten path” area.  For the next few weeks I will be highlighting some of  my top picks for fun travel adventures in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Colorado.  I hope to share with you insights to unexplored or seldom explored areas with the intention of sparking travel desires for you.  Most of the highlights will also be sneak peeks of 2015 for Soul Experiences.  So if have not traveled with us yet or haven’t traveled with a group, this may be the preview you need to embrace a new form of traveling.  Come along with us as we search The Great Plains and beyond for “off the beaten path” journeys.

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Layers

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“Ogres are like onions…onions have layers, ogres have layers…we both have layers!” -Shrek

The hills rose up to touch the heavy clouds that rested on the earth.  As I looked over the panorama, from the crest of another hill, I thought of layers.  My mind slowly playing through layer references.  Ogres.  That is all my brain focused on.  Maybe it was the company of my fourteen year olds, that inspired my thoughts.  Memories of watching the big, green ogre, with my small boys who grew up in the Shrek era.

The scene was a welcome sight for me during these hot summer months.  Leaving Council Bluffs, Iowa, we drove in beautiful layers of fog that left me feeling ensconced with the world.  The air looked more like a scene from the Halloween season than a mid-summer haze.  The hills spectacularly separated by white and grey collections of vapor.  I-80 east of Des Moines is a beautiful drive.  I love the feeling of rolling up and down the hills.  The speed of driving on an interstate is pure joy to me, especially when a destination is waiting for me to explore. 

Soul Experiences will be traveling over these same hills in October on our way to Chicago for Chicagoween!  With stops in Des Moines and Davenport Iowa, exploring historic landmarks while we immerse ourselves in this autumn’s splendor.  We have an exceptional journey planned full of fun, food, history and of course spooktacular haunts!  It is our Fall Extravaganza with plenty for everyone one to enjoy!  Come check out all our professionally designed tours on http://www.soul-experiences.com for a new perspective on group travels.  If you have not traveled with us before now is a perfect time to journey with us to destinations that are “off the beaten path”!  If you have traveled with us, it is a great season to experience all the new tours we have designed in celebration of beautiful beginnings!

Shrek had it right, he has many layers.  An insight all of us can embrace, complex humans that we are.  We all have “layers” helping shape who we are.  We are not just our outward appearances.  We are amazingly layered souls.  Be sure to feed your soul!

Travel well my friends.

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Peace

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We are travelers.  We embrace peace.  We are humble.  We desire acceptance. 

Our world is wrought with uncertainty.  The news of unrest in countries around the world saddens our hearts.  Regions we have visited are tumultuous with violence.  Cultures have been rocked by hatred. People have lost their lives or lives of loved ones, loss of even one life in violence is far too many lost.  Landmarks have been marred by fighting.  History is being erased visually because of greed.

We, of Soul Experiences, would like to offer our prayers of peace to all who are or have been affected by any form of violence.  Our heartfelt wish is for peace.  Let us all pray, in whatever fashion, for healing and for the olive branch of peace to be extended to all in need of guidance.  Quiet your mind, even for a moment, to be thankful for everything you have.  Please keep your hearts and minds open to the worlds needs around us. 

Peace be with you and with the world.

Morning Commute

Yesterday I came across a flock of geese crossing the road during my morning commute. This would not be noteworthy if I traveled through anywhere except city center. A half mile from my home, one block north of the main road, in the heart of the city, geese lingered in the street. My first reaction to the truck ahead of me was annoyance. It stopped in the seemingly empty street, then slowly swerved left of the waterfowl. As the truck moved beyond the parade, my annoyance melted into a smile. The waddling gaggle looked so out of place in amongst the houses and manicured lawns that I couldn’t stop my grin.

Remember to keep an open mind to the world around you. You may not see the reasons for someone else’s actions right away. Most of the time another’s actions are not negative to you but positive to them or others.

Travel well my friends.

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Tiny World

This area of Kansas is stunning.  The Flint Hills remains much the way it was at least 300 years ago.  The dusty ruts of the California and Oregon Trails may be gone but the history of their migration are steeped in the landscapes, architecture, and residents. 

As I traveled back north towards Nebraska the little towns were begging for travelers to stop and stay awhile.  Signs for historic hotels and landmarks.  “Two-dog, cow towns” diminishing with less rail traffic,  beautiful sturdy limestone buildings erected to conform the non-conformists, and the “oldest round-a-bout in Kansas, which was a fun gathering area for the citizens of Blue Rapids.

The world seems tiny when traveling in a local areas.  Take some time to really enjoy what each of your stops offers.  Our world may seem tiny while looking at the big picture but when you slow down to experience the big gifts of small towns you might just see how really magnificent tiny can be. 

Scenic Kansas

The road climbs up to carve through the sandstone layered on the top of the hills.  Shale flakes litter the shoulder of the blacktop.  I see trees growing through the crevices of the rock and wonder at our natural world.  The determination of the vegetation.

Every ten miles or so another group of houses are situated along the highway.  Growing over the years into small towns.  Welcoming signs greet weary travelers.  Convenience stores planted firmly right off the two lane road.  No two towns look the same but the feel is very similar.  Leaving the highway and venturing into town, I find landmarks of historic value or architectural anomalies embraced by the residents.

This is the northern tip of the Flint Hills in Kansas.  The vistas flow on for miles.  Prairies stretch on as far as the eye can see.  Following Highway 77 south takes me skirting past Turtle Creek Lake and Milford Lake before landing in Junction City.  This growing Kansas city has balanced the historical nature of The Flint Hills with a family friendly atmosphere.  I was intrigued and surprised to find the 1800’s blending seamlessly with the modernized city.  Whether you choose to shop the day away or entertain the kids with outdoor activities Junction City offers it all.  I would recommend a leisurely drive and relaxing weekend in this spectacular area, your adventure awaits!

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Small Town Kansas

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My travels took me through the rolling hills of northern, central Kansas.  Stopping occasionally for little points of interest, I quickly realized someone’s quirkiness is probably someone else’s pride.

I came across a small rural community that beckoned me to leave the blacktop highway for a visit.  As I drove down ‘main street’ the sounds of the passing traffic lessened and gave way to children’s voices and a mower chewing up a resident’s lawn.  The city park was quietly entertaining a few children as caregivers chatted under the picnic shelter.  I found an empty picnic shelter of my own and settled in for writing inspiration.  Needless to say it wasn’t there.  So, leaving my respite, I wandered down the street to what seemed to be the town’s gas station.  Looking for a Dr. Pepper to quench my thirst the first thing I noticed when I walked through the door is the aroma was more of a bait shop then convenience store.  The outside appearance of this establishment was unadorned.  The inside, however, was a spectacle.  Not only can you re-fuel your vehicle, you can pick up lunch, dress a wound, bait a hook, or buy a fishing hook for that matter!  You can also choose a new light fixture for your home, buy a souvenir to take to that home, and then indulge in a custom blended, soft-serve ice cream cone (if you can get past the fishy smell)!

All in all my stop in Randolph Kansas was not what I expected but an adventure in the unknown.

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Community Renovations

The patch of barren earth is green now, where the building once stood. The shell has been removed, the sidewalks have been swept and flowers are blooming in the planters that used to touch the side of the building. The side of the adjoining building is a scarred reminder of the structure that once stood proudly nearby. A community has moved on from a tragic fire in the historic downtown area. Soon the talk will be of “I remember when…” about this empty lot but for now the renovations have begun. Life moves ever onward.

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Originally posted on Soul Experiences
Community Setbacks
April 1, 2014

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While traveling through a small town I was shocked and saddened to see a shell of an old building.  The building had been gutted by fire.  The evident age of the building presents its historical significance.  A history that was erased for the next generation by an all-consuming fire, a history now only preserved in photos and recollection.

The structure was once a local watering hole.  People gathering to share stories with each other, mixing in their laughter with the friend or stranger next to them.  Now this once bustling building stands empty.  Void of life.  Surrounded by a safety fence.  What will become of it now?  Torn down I suppose, to be forgotten in time.

What does a building really signify to a community?  It is just mortar and bricks, not a living breathing organism.  Yet our memories are tied directly to tactile objects that stir in us those repressed feelings, thoughts, and senses.  Recalling a special event in our lives or even just a quick hide away from the day-to-day of our lives.  Physical items serve as anchors for our memories.

Embrace what is here and now but be ready to let go of the “things” that tether us to this world.  Life is out there, happening every day.  Enjoy all your life has to offer!

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