May 3 to May 8, 2022. Contributed by Bob A.
Twelve members from our Club journeyed to Des Moines--10 by air with Peggy and I driving. The weather started cool (high 30's) but warmed up fast. Though rain threatened some outdoor events, it just stayed overcast! Everyone enjoyed seeing their host and seeing the various activities in the Des Moines area. Barry and Linda returned to the area they lived back in the 1990's! We ate and slept well! Here is a brief summary of events:
May 3--Welcome Party--at a Clubhouse with a speaker from the Chamber of Commerce giving us a history and overview of the city.
May 4--A fire at the Kemin plant caused a reschedule in our tour till Friday, so it was a "free morning". Our hosts took us to the IA History Museum with a drive Downtown and a stop at a Tea Shop. We met up with our group at the Main Street Cafe which is sort of like Jason's Deli here in Georgia. We then visited the John Deere plant which was a Munitions Factory during WWII. This plant has 1600 employees spread over a campus of buildings and manufactures the heavy (and costly $1 M plus) farm equipment like Spreaders, Tillers, Cotton Pickers, etc. There is use of lasers and robotics in many of the assembly lines. With all equipment on hand, a large John Deere "tractor" goes thru 15 stations for 20 minutes each--so it takes 5 hours to assembly one! That night each of us had a small group dinner.
May 5--We drove about 30-40 miles to the Pella Tulip Festival--an annual event since 1935. Lots of Dutch costumes (including wooden shoes!) for residents of all ages, a newly crowned Queen with a Royalty Court, dancing to Dutch songs in the street, then street sweepers preceding a parade! Of course, tulips of all color just beginning to "open up"! We snacked on Poffertjes (pancakes with powdered sugar) and baloney (sausage) on a stick! Of course, Pella had to have a giant Windmill in the downtown area! That night we all took our hosts out to dinner and I tried steak de Burgo--sort of a prime rib with a special sauce.
May 6--Our first stop was the Hoyt Sherman House which consisted of a mansion, art gallery and concert hall. Hoyt was a early founder and philanthropist for the City and the younger brother of William T. Sherman! We enjoyed a catered lunch at the House and walked down a few blocks with a guided tour of the outdoor Papajohn (not the pizza man) Sculpture park. Then we were off to our rescheduled tours of Kemin Industries--not a household name, but one who develops anti-oxidants, potatoes, hemp (CBD oil anyone?) herbs (rosemary, spearmint, oregano) for many of the foods, vitamins and veterinary products. It is a private company with very nice facilities and work conditions with a lot of security; they have plants in over 90 countries in the world! We had a nice dinner at the "early" Farewell Party with clever skits put on by both Clubs. Rest easy, we did not line dance!
May 7--We had another full day! In the morning we toured the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates which is housed in the original Des Moines Library on the river. Dr. Borlaug developed the idea for this prize in the 1980's to annually recognize and award a researcher, politician, etc. from around the world who does the most to address world hunger. This prestigious award is like the Nobel Prize for Food! John Rouen (of oil trucking company fame) funds the prize--of course, Barry and Linda knew him! After a lunch on our own, we toured the Iowa Fairgrounds which is a big deal in August. Our group then met for a personal tour of the Iowa State Capitol which was originally built in the 1880's. With 5 domes and more gold inside than on the domes, it was large and impressive with a lot of intricate woodwork and artwork. We visited the old Supreme Court chambers and both houses of the Senate and Representatives. Then time to pack up the dirty laundry and head home (for most of us) the next morning.
May 8--All to the airport except Bob and Peggy who went on to visit old friends and pharmacy colleagues in both Omaha and Kansas City before driving back home.