Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Great Outdoors in Iowa

I subscribe to Iowa Outdoors magazine because it focuses on places I can get outside that are close to home. Outside and Backpacker always talk about magnificent places all over the US and the rest of the world, places I might be able to go once a year. Iowa Outdoors actually talks about places I can visit on a Sunday afternoon.

I usually drag along my friend Linda when I go, because Linda is up for almost anything. If you live in Iowa and you like to get out of the house, sometimes you have to get a little creative. For example, when I was in junior high, I decided to try a prairie burn in my back yard. I wasn't trying to be naughty; it was all in the spirit of scientific inquiry and environmental stewardship. I enlisted my little brother to help, just to be on the safe side. Since I promised not to do that again, now I have to go hiking and stuff instead.

Sometimes Iowa Outdoors writes a multipage article, lavishly illustrated with photos, and totally brags up some obscure place that I have never heard of, can barely find on a map (but there are book-length maps of Iowa that mark practically every mailbox so I can find anyplace), and that is barely even mentioned anywhere on the internet. Linda and I get out to these places, and within minutes it is clear to us why they are obscure. Yes, there is an ice cave in northern Iowa, but it is completely blocked with a gate, there are no other caves around, and there's about half a mile of walking paths in total.

On the bright side, at least it gets us out of the house. That is why I have talked Linda into going up to Cedar Falls in January to try climbing an ice-covered silo. It is the middle of winter, and I require amusement.


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