One Day in May, I made a mistake

I planned out this epic little trek through eastern Iowa. And somewhere in the middle I messed up. We drove completely around Tipton and the Cedar County Courthouse.

Trip 7

  1. (A) Des Moines
  2. (B) Cedar Rapids
  3. (C) Anamosa
  4. (D) Maquoketa
  5. (E) Clinton
  6. (F) Davenport
  7. (G) Muscatine
  8. (H) Iowa City
  9. (I) Marengo
  10. (J) Newton
  11. (K) Des Moines

A total of 458.8 miles and 9 hours and 4 minutes of driving time.

60. Linn County Courthouse. Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

60 Cedar Rapids - Linn County Courthouse Stitch

Pretty neat how this one is on an island in the Cedar River.

61. Jones County Courthouse. Anamosa, Iowa.

61 Anamosa - Jones County Courthouse Stitch

62. Jackson County Courthouse. Maquoketa, Iowa.

62 Maquoketa - Jackson County Courthouse Stitch

Drove by this one almost a dozen times before we realized this little office building was their grand courthouse. What a let down. I’m sure they saved their taxpayers tons of money… or at least they should have.

63. Clinton County Courthouse. Clinton, Iowa.

63 Clinton - Clinton County Courthouse Stitch

64. Scott County Courthouse. Davenport, Iowa.

64 Davenport - Scott County Courthouse Stitch

We liked this one. It wasn’t difficult to find and the modern look is very, um, inviting. The building itself isn’t as imposing as it seems in the picture.

Mark Twain Overlook in Muscatine

View from the Mark Twain Overlook in Muscatine, Iowa.

65. Muscatine County Courthouse. Muscatine, Iowa.

65 Muscatine - Muscatine County Courthouse Stitch

66. Johnson County Courthouse. Iowa City, Iowa.

66 Iowa City - Johnson County Courthouse Stitch

67. Iowa County Courthouse. Marengo, Iowa.

67 Marengo - Iowa County Courthouse Stitch

68. Jasper County Courthouse. Newton, Iowa.

68 Newton - Jasper County Courthouse Stitch


The current total:

County Map 9

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In Memorium

Sometimes, you take a moment to make a new memory. Whenever I hear the town name of Vinton, I’ll think of my grandfather.

59. Benton County Courthouse. Vinton, Iowa.

59 Vinton - Benton County Courthouse Stitch

The current total:

County Map 8

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Happy Birthday to Me

…And on the next day, we rose extra early and began a long one.

Trip 6

  1. (A) Des Moines
  2. (B) Harlan
  3. (C) Denison
  4. (D) Ida Grove
  5. (E) Cherokee
  6. (F) Storm Lake
  7. (G) Sac City
  8. (H) Rockwell City
  9. (I) Pocahontas
  10. (J) Dakota City
  11. (K) Fort Dodge
  12. (L) Boone

A total of 421.2 miles and 8 hours and 24 minutes of driving time.

48. Shelby County Courthouse. Harlan, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Shelby County Courthouse in Harlan

We got here just as the sun was rising, about two hours from Des Moines. The photos were very dark and it took a little playing to get the light levels right.

49. Crawford County Courthouse. Denison, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Crawford County Courthouse in Denison

50. Ida County Courthouse. Ida Grove, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Ida County Courthouse in Ida Grove

51. Cherokee County Courthouse. Cherokee, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Cherokee County Courthouse in Cherokee

52. Buena Vista County Courthouse. Storm Lake, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Buena Vista County Courthouse in Storm Lake

53. Sac County Courthouse. Sac City, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Sac County Courthouse in Sac City

54. Calhoun County Courthouse. Rockwell City, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Calhoun County Courthouse in Rockwell City

This is where the day started to be fun. The clouds started breaking up and the pictures started looking much better.

55. Pocahontas County Courthouse. Pocahontas, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Pocahontas County Courthouse in Pocahontas

56. Humboldt County Courthouse. Dakota City, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Humboldt County Courthouse in Dakota City

57. Webster County Courthouse. Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Webster County Courthouse in Fort Dodge

This is the one! My personal favorite. A little “Abbey Road” moment. I like the missing truck on the left, too.

58. Boone County Courthouse. Boone, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Boone County Courthouse in Boone

IMG_1642 Stitch

The current total:

County Map 7

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“To the river and back!”

As March rolled around, we realized we hadn’t been on the road in a while. With the camera fully charged, we hit the road and headed to the Mississippi River and back.

Trip 5

  1. (A) Des Moines
  2. (B) Fairfield
  3. (C) Mount Pleasant
  4. (D) Burlington
  5. (E) Wapello
  6. (F) Washington
  7. (G) Sigourney
  8. (H) Montezuma
  9. (I) Des Moines

A total of 349.0 miles and 7 hours and 16 minutes of driving time.

41. Jefferson County Courthouse. Fairfield, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Fairfield

This didn’t make any sense to me:


Note the new entry door at the top of the fire escape.

The Carnegie Library in Fairfield:


42. Henry County Courthouse. Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Henry County Courthouse in Mount Pleasant

43. Des Moines County Courthouse. Burlington, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Des Moines County Courthouse in Burlington

This was a hard one to photograph. The building was right up on the road and the police station across the street was the same. I might have driven the wrong way down a one-way street here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the infamous Snake Alley:

Burlington - Snake Alley - Copy

Burlington 2

44. Louisa County Courthouse. Wapello, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Louisa County Courthouse in Wapello

This one was impossible to find. It’s outside of the business district, and with the town butting up to the Cedar River, it’s location didn’t seem logical at first.

In Columbus Junction, I saw a sign for a swinging bridge.


45. Washington County Courthouse. Washington, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Washington County Courthouse in Washington

46. Keokuk County Courthouse. Sigourney, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Keokuk County Courthouse in Sigourney

47. Poweshiek County Courthouse. Montezuma, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma




The current total:

County Map 6

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And Now A Sense of Urgency

One weekend at deer camp, I wrote a book. I had bought this little leather book full of blank pages at Barnes & Noble.  The idea was simple. I wanted to write down the story of Jami and I. I started with us meeting, and chapter by chapter, I added more and more of our story. When I got to Chapter 33, I wrote one sentence:

Will you marry me, Jami?

Christmas Eve morning, I woke her up nice and early. I let her read the last three chapters and she said, “Yes, of course.”

With the decision to wed, came a new plan. We wanted to finish the courthouses before the wedding in October. That led us to the decision to not take the winter off and at the beginning of January, we headed North once again. This time intending to swing through Nashua so Jami could see the location of our vows at The Little Brown Church in the Vale.

Trip 4 

  1. (A) Des Moines
  2. (B) Grundy Center
  3. (C) Allison
  4. (D) Charles City
  5. (E) Waverly
  6. (F) Waterloo
  7. (G) Toledo
  8. (H) Marshalltown
  9. (I) Des Moines

A total of 308.5 miles and 6 hours and 44 minutes of driving time.

34. Grundy County Courthouse. Grundy Center, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Grundy County Courthouse in Grundy Center

I was worried about this one turning out. The sun was behind the building, leaving it very dark. Through some tweaking in Windows Live Photo Gallery, I came up with this.

35. Butler County Courthouse. Allison, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Butler County Courthouse in Allison

I’m not happy with this one at all. Another hard picture to pull off because of the position of the sun.

36. Floyd County Courthouse. Charles City, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Floyd County Courthouse in Charles City

The Cedar River Dam at Nashua:

Cedar River Dam - Nashua Stitch

37. Bremer County Courthouse. Waverly, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Bremer County Courthouse in Waverly

38. Black Hawk County Courthouse. Waterloo, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo

I liked how this one turned out. The gentle curves make it appear as if I used a fish-eye lens.

39. Tama County Courthouse. Toledo, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Tama County Courthouse in Toledo

40. Marshall County Courthouse. Marshalltown, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Marshall County Courthouse in Marshalltown

The current total:

County Map 5

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All Points Due North

At the end of October is a traditional event for us… Woodsie’s Annual Halloween Party. This is normally one of those events that ends with three guys in various states of costumed undress sitting around a quarter full keg trying to be “champions” (or “winners” if you’re into that whole Charlie Sheen lingo thing), and finish it off before the sun peeks over the horizon.

We had planned on driving due north out of Des Moines and hit all the courthouses to the Minnesota border and back the next morning. But that involved some level of restraint at the party, because seriously, who wants to drive 8 hours with a massive hangover.

Through the magic of decision-making, I avoided the keg beer and drank light. We didn’t head out at dawn like we planned, but we did hit the road before 8.

Trip 3

  1. (A) Des Moines
  2. (B) Nevada
  3. (C) Eldora
  4. (D) Hampton
  5. (E) Mason City
  6. (F) Northwood
  7. (G) Forest City
  8. (H) Garner
  9. (I) Clarion
  10. (J) Webster City
  11. (K) Des Moines

A total of 355.4 miles and 8 hours and 47 minutes of driving time.

After a brief stop at the McDonalds in Altoona for breakfast, we headed for our first stop of the day, Nevada.

25. Story County Courthouse. Nevada, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Story County Courthouse in Nevada

Wind farms have become a very common sight in rural Iowa.


26. Hardin County Courthouse. Eldora, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Hardin County Courthouse in Eldora

This courthouse was receiving some much needed love. They had completely removed all of the trees and plants from the square, which left of us with a perfect view from every angle. There are quite a few courthouses that could learn something from the fine folks in Hardin County. Show off your buildings, don’t hide them behind trees!

27. Franklin County Courthouse. Hampton, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Franklin County Courthouse in Hampton

Jami and I both liked the park across the street from the Courthouse and we thought it would look great included in this shot.

This was neat:

055 Stitch

28. Cerro Gordo County Courthouse. Mason City, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse in Mason City

Hard to shoot this one. There wasn’t any green space to stand in, the building sits right up on the road. It was a busy road, too. We had to wait for breaks in traffic to take the shots.

Also in Mason City is a hotel the Frank Lloyd Wright designed. It’s currently undergoing renovations. Here it is:

072 Stitch

29. Worth County Courthouse. Northwood, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Worth County Courthouse in Northwood

This bank caught my eye:


30. Winnebago County Courthouse. Forest City, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Winnebago County Courthouse in Forest City

31. Hancock County Courthouse. Garner, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Hancock County Courthouse in Garner

32. Wright County Courthouse. Clarion, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Wright County Courthouse in Clarion

33. Hamilton County Courthouse. Webster City, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Hamilton County Courthouse in Webster City

Had to call my dad and have him find this one on the internet for me. We drove all over this town looking for this building, which sits on Highway 20 on the very far south of town. I think we managed to find where the previous building had been downtown, but couldn’t find this one.

We ran out of sunlight outside of Stratford on the way to Boone. I did get some shots of the sunset though:

132 Stitch


The current total:

County Map 4

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Labor Day Weekend 2010

For Labor Day weekend, we packed up the car with camping gear and headed south for The Forty. On the way we stopped in Knoxville.

24. Marion County Courthouse. Knoxville, Iowa.

Composite Photo of the Marion County Courthouse in Knoxville

Knoxville really wasn’t out of the way at all. I didn’t even count the miles we drove.

The current total:

County Map 3

And at The Forty:

006 Stitch029 035059 056060076 Stitch063

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