Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Bridges of Madison County

(take 2 *Blogger seems to have lost the first version of this, so I'm practicing my "patience" skills and rewriting it. Note that patience is not one of the 13 dimensions of a FSO. I guess they figure it could go either way.)

As I mentioned in the last post, I just got back from a daytrip to THE Madison County to take pictures of their covered bridges. This was not because I am such a big fan of the movie - in fact, I only watched the movie today to cap off the visit - but because I have been feeling guilty about giving my home state such short shrift. Usually wherever I go I make it a point to delve into the local culture, sample the delicacies, read the famous authors, visit the sites, and just generally be an obnoxious tourist. But I've never done all that for my own home. Now that I'm staring down the barrel at several more years (at least) of international travel I decided it was now or never, so I set out with my dad's trusty (and clean) car and hit the highway.

I saw all six remaining bridges - out of an original total of 16 - and some miscellaneous pretty things. If anyone is ever in the area, unlikely as that would be, I recommend it as a fun day trip.

First stop was Cedar Bridge, the only one you can still drive across. It's actually a replica since the original was burned down in 2002.

Next I saw the unfortunately named Hogsback Bridge and the nearby Stone Schoolhouse.

Third was Roseman Bridge, which was the one where Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood's characters both wanted their ashes scattered in the movie. It was nice, but eerily similar to the first two...

I stopped in Winterset (the county seat) to visit the birthplace of John Wayne. I skipped the tour because I was running a little late, but it was still interesting to imagine anyone being born in that postage stamp of a house in the middle of the rural midwest and going on to become so famous.

Also in town they have a great city park, with the fourth bridge (Cutler-Donohoe Bridge) a stone bridge (also in the movie) and a stone watchtower. If I'd had more time I would have stopped there for a picnic. I have an unreasonable fascination with woods and parks.

On the way out of town I stopped at Holliwell Bridge, the only one with any other tourists, which is a major benefit of playing tourist in the midwest - the last time I went anywhere touristy in DC I practically had to climb over mountains of other tourists to see anything good. (National Archives, I'm looking at you.)

Finally, outside the tiny and rather shabby town of St. Charles was Imes Bridge, which is the oldest.

All in all it was a good day. I'll have to retroactively add the Bridges to my life list so that I can cross them off, and I feel like I can represent my home state with just a bit more energy now.

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