Posts Tagged ‘small town fun’

Part of the fun on this adventure is not knowing where you will end up at the end of the day.  We awoke in Joplin, MO, with the intention of heading North and making our stop for the evening in Des Moines, Iowa.  Dad spent a lot of the morning looking at possible hotels in Des Moines via TripAdvisor and hotels.com, but just could not bring himself to make a commitment to a specific hotel.

Welcome to Iowa!

Our plan was to stop in Des Moines because although it was a full six hours from Joplin, it was only two hours from one of our first planned stops the next day in Gladbrook, Iowa.  It was only 3:00 when we crossed into Iowa and stopped at the Iowa Welcome Center and Rest Stop.  While looking at the giant wall map of Iowa, we determined that we should keep moving on past Des Moines.  It has become a joke among the family that we cannot check into a hotel if there is still daylight outside, and we definitely cannot stop the day’s driving before 4:30 in the afternoon.  A quick search via the iPhone assured us that Marshalltown (the next pretty big dot on the map) had hotels, restaurants, and a Catholic church, so all of our needs were met.  The consensus was to head on to Marshalltown, another 52 miles past Des Moines.

Just a little longer, kids

Upon arrival, we checked into the AmericInn in Marshalltown, and then set off in search of food.  After driving through the newer areas of town, we found ourselves in the old downtown area.  We located the church we planned on attending in the morning directly across one of the more ornate County Courthouses that you will ever find.

The Courthouse

The #1 rated Restaurant on TripAdvisor, Zeno’s Pizza, has been a local favorite since the 1950s.  As we were turning around to park for Zeno’s, we passed the Orpheum Theater.  This restored theater originally opened in 1949 and has been showing classic movies for about a year.  That night’s feature was the 1959 Disney classic, The Shaggy Dog starring Fred MacMurray.


The Orpheum

The movie was set to start at 7:00 and we walked into Zeno’s at 6:26.  It was going to take some fortuitous timing, but since this is the YLA, we knew that it was going to work out.  We ate some really great pizza, paid our bill, and ran out the door on the way to the theater at 6:57.  Tickets were $3, drinks $1.25, candy $1, and homemade M&M cookies were $.50/each.  We all enjoyed the full nostalgic experience, complete with uniformed ushers and ticket takers.

It turned out to be a great night of unplanned family fun, and just another example that sometimes making reservations is not necessary.  We are supposed to end up in Bloomington, MN, next, but we might hold off on making those reservations just yet.


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