How’s that new slogan sound? Our Superpower! The traveling band of Team Goodvin is rolling up on our second anniversary showcasing this wonderland of discoveries and we don’t see the end coming nor are we even looking for it. From Larchwood to Keokuk, and New Albin to Hamburg, and Northwood to Lamoni, The Iowa Gallivant wants to stockpile as much Hawkeye State memories as we can. And thanks to fellow Iowans, it’s one of the easiest tasks we can think of. But what exactly are we trying to accomplish with our blog? Great question! I knew someone would ask.
The early days of our blog were working more like a scrapbook of our summer of 2014. Guess what….There’s a market out there! A market of folks that are eager to read about their hometowns and the state we’re so proud of. And not just readers, but travelers alike. Thousands of us discovering and rediscovering Iowa in our own unique ways.
When we turned down the path, quite literally at times, that The Iowa Gallivant is currently exploring, we needed to have certain goals. Even though randomness is one of our many specialties. So we said that we would look for the splendor wherever we went. We quickly found learned that we needed to rephrase that because we never had to “look” very hard or at all. Now we “…look forward to seeing the splendor of Iowa in every community.” And believe me, it’s there everywhere we go.
But there’s going to be criticism out there and skeptics. it comes with the territory. Even from friends, fellow Iowans, loyal readers and out-of-staters. Here’s a few common ones….
“You only write positive reviews…” Excellent observation…kinda. We love to plug local CVB’s, economic developers, chambers of commerce, and state funded tourism boards, but we’re not affiliated with any of them. Tourism is a major point of interest in Iowa these days and we’re happy to join the bandwagon. We love to showcase our awesome state. And most of the “positive review” reaction is accurate to a point. However, we’re not critics. Not on our blog that is. If we have a sub-par experience we commit the ultimate act of defiance you can do in these early days of the 21st century. We simply don’t write about where it was at. What!!!??? It’s true. No credence given at all. We’ve had our fair of negativity, bad service, questionable lodging, and crappy meals. We’ve know that bringing light to negative experiences would get us more and more clicks. But how does that encourage travel? Why stymie our momentum. There’s plenty of ways you can surf around the web and see what folks dislike.
Some of our blog posts do show the struggles a few of our Iowa communities are going through. This doesn’t mean they’re void of good times. We told the story of my family’s plight in Adams County and the destruction of the Goodvin farm in the 1990’s. A far to common story that has happen to countless Iowa families and farming communities everywhere. Our article on a simple donut shop in Cedar Rapids that is the last outpost of its kind- Donutland was once an Iowa staple with locations all over the state employing great people and serving thousands. Now this proud Iowa based company has its single location that locals flock to and the occasional customer from out of town that’s craving a delicious sweet treat, but craving a piece of their hometown nostalgia even more. We’ve featured the much needed “renaissance” that Keokuk is painstakingly working on. Keokuk, and many of Iowa’s Great River towns, tell the similar story of their “hay-days” when they were economic juggernauts in America. For most, those days were long ago, but there’s much to see and be proud of in these communities. History could very much be on their side.
There’s also been tears in our trips. The quest to locate Chief Black Hawk’s grave site and seeing my very thoughtful daughter weep as she pondered on her recent studies of Native Americans. The long, and very hot, walk through the corn fields near Clear Lake and seeing my in-laws, from Texas, get emotional at the crash site of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper. Sad for the loss of life but also missing the era they left behind. Let’s not forget having to endure the Hawkeye’s blowing a huge lead to Nebraska in numbing sub-zero weather. Now that’s painful! But, always the splendor. If you can’t see it…Well, that’s a you problem.
“That town has one of the highest crime rates in Iowa. Have you seen that place?” Well, we can’t argue with that. And gee-whiz, thanks for the heads up! There’s always room for improvement when it comes to stopping crime rates. But I am very genuine when I say this. I may not have the data to back it up but I’m sure it was more dangerous to step outside of my grandparents front door to their rural Carbon, IA farmhouse during pheasant season then it is to visit ANY of our Iowa communities at ANY given time or place. Some of our readers are home bound and not by choice. They love reading about the adventures of Team Goodvin wherever we go. A day trip to some of our urban metro areas would be welcomed with an enthusiastic eagerness. While you’re poo-pooing and entire city/region of fellow Iowans, many of them are glowing with pride and displaying their talents to The Iowa Gallivant and legions of travelers and locals. There is a silver lining to folks that unfairly profile a community. It makes us want to visit there more often. Not only to prove such ignorance is unnecessary but there’s a more than excellent chance we won’t be bumping in to said commenter. That’s worth the trip in itself!
“So people pay you to come to their town/restaurant/place of business and you write happy stuff for them?” Now that would be convenient! Also soul crushing, boring, and extremely lacking in creativity. We do get invited to many places, however. And in many cases, folks are willing to assist us with the cost of lodging. This is very flattering and great to see. These requests have never come out of desperation for publicity. These are communities that are proud of themselves and wanting others to see what they have to offer. We’re seeing more and more of this patriotism as we travel through Iowa. It takes a lot of courage to open your own business in any market. I have an enormous amount of respect for small town business owners and the lives they lead. For someone to say “Here. We’ll make it happen here…” Means the world to many of our Iowa communities. When we write about a taqueria in Columbus Junction it sends a ripple to our readers who then show support for their hometown tacos hours away from the town they just read about. And possibly challenging a chef in Ladora. Writing about a thriving boutique in the city of Washington shows that a boutique in Glenwood can make it happen as well. Boasting about cold Iowa Pale Ale at a brewery in Amana can bring out the support for the local beer maker in Shenandoah.
Can you answer that question now? Your superpower? I can hear some of them now… I run a historic motel, restaurant, and a museum all at the same time in Colo…I cook farm to table food from my own garden, sell local art, and gifts in Hiawatha…I take care of the landscaping at one of Iowa’s most mysterious cemetery’s near Avery…I work at a sporting goods store by day and ball boy for the Cedar Rapids Kernels by night…I’ve saved the lives of a dozen of our feathered raptor friends at Lake Macbride…I volunteer hours on top of hours in support of our Waterloo museums and look good doing it…I pour copious amounts of Iowa craft beer in the hot sun for fair goers in Des Moines…
Iowa is loaded with hard working superheros, bad-asses, achievers, leaders, educators, and the worlds greatest farmers making our everyday lives possible. Thanks for the offer Superman and Wonder Woman. We’re fully staffed here. Let us know if you ever need a hand though. To infinity and beyond, Iowa!
Thanks for reading! -Team Goodvin