On the second day of our swing through Iowa, we found ourselves in Des Moines, Iowa to watch the Des Moines Cubs, the triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. But first before we could go to the game we had several stops to make during the day. Most of the stops were found in roadsideamerica.com and left us a packed day before the game.
Our first stop in our action packed day was to go see the John Wayne museum which was located in his hometown of Winterset, Iowa. There are several things that are fascinating about the John Wayne museum. To the outside of the souvenir shop is a giant van which has murals painted on each side and the inside in tribute to John Wayne. Second, there is a statue that is outside of the building on the opposite side of the block of John Wayne that is a fantastic photo opportunity. Then when you get done with that, go into the souvenir shop and pay for the guided tour of his childhood house for $6 which is a fascinating short 20 minute tour where you get a glimpse of the living legend himself. Your tour guide will give you several fascinating snippets like John Wayne was 13 lbs when he was born and make sure you ask about his dog Duke and how John Wayne got the name Duke. It will leave you amazed and hopefully the fine folks at the museum can raise enough funds to build the permanent facility to the Duke.
Our next stop was the Bob Feller Museum which was located in West Des Moines, Iowa. This is a sports fans dream as you can see all the famous players who have stopped by to sign autographs at the museum. You will also learn about Feller’s life, career and there is perhaps one of the most valuable baseball possessions ever at the Bob Feller museum. The final bat that Babe Ruth was seen with is on display in the museum. This bat was used by the Babe to prop himself up in his last public appearance and the bat belonged to Bob Feller. Both Ruth and Feller signed the bat and it is amazing to see the faded signature of Babe still on the bat.
The rest of the time we spent in Des Moines. We visited the Iowa State History Museum which has a very interesting section on the Iowa Caucus. This section explains how the Caucus works and how each party has their own distinct process to determining a winner. Also, located in the downtown area is the state capitol building which has a huge historical sculpture garden which expands several blocks. In addition if you go farther into downtown you will see a sculpture park which Des Moines is known for. The sculpture park is very interesting, has a wide variety of sculptures and only takes about fifteen minutes to walk through as it is all confined in one square block.
Our second stop in the minor league baseball tour was to watch the Des Moines Cubs at Principal Park, their home stadium. Principal Park is much bigger then our previous stop at Alliant Energy Field in Clinton, Iowa. Principal Park is beautiful and seats probably around 15,000 people. Also, the between innings entertainment is very good as between innings it is very common for the team to shoot t-shirts or hotdogs from a cannon. It was hard to tell what people were more enthusiastic for, the shirts or the hotdogs. It is clear to see why the Des Moines Cubs are viewed as the ticket of the town, their hospitality and family environment guarantees everybody a great night at the ballpark.