AMES, Iowa — “Experience and explore Iowa in ways never before thought possible” is the invitation extended by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach educational travel courses. The courses created and taught by Diane Van Wyngarden, a community development specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, include history, stories and insights about each community while opening doors to private homes and places typically not accessible to the public.
“The courses take participants into private places to experience the culture and lifestyles of Iowa’s most unusual communities,” Van Wyngarden said. “Each course has a theme of study, and travels via boat or motor coach to a different community each day, traveling 500-900 miles in one week.”
Through her ISU Extension and Outreach community development work with these societies, Van Wyngarden has built relationships with key leaders and gained access to rare society insights. The 2013 travel schedule includes tours of Iowa’s uncommon utopian communities, historic towns along the Upper Mississippi River, and a three-state tour by river and rail of three signature Midwest cities.
The courses are geared for lifelong learners as part of the national Road Scholar nonprofit organization. The programs are open to all adults and attract couples, friends traveling together, persons sharing an adventure with one of their parents and many solo travelers. The all-inclusive courses cost less than $200 per day, double occupancy. Every detail is already planned and paid, so participants can simply relax and enjoy the experiences, Van Wyngarden said.
Registration is now open and courses fill quickly. To register for a program, call National Road Scholar in Boston (toll free) at 1-877-426-8056 and state the program number of the appropriate course, or register online from the links on the ISU Extension and Outreach Road Scholar website. “These travel programs also make exceptional gifts,” Van Wyngarden said. Contact her to purchase gift certificates.
1. Exploring Uncommon Communities: A Touch of History, A Taste of Utopia
Enjoy a personal visit with Old Order Amish inside their homes to learn about their lifestyle and beliefs; see how they operate their kitchens and woodworking shops without electricity. Then cross the Mississippi River into Illinois to explore beautiful Nauvoo, home of the Mormons and lesser known Icarians. Back in Iowa, we are treated to a private peek inside the homes and domes of the Maharishi in Vedic City and an organic lunch at the Raj Resort, referred to as the "Mayo Clinic of natural healing." Discover the delightful history and humor of the Amana Colonies from a noted colony historian and unveil the wonderfully rich true story that lies behind the restaurants and fudge shops that many people think of as the Amanas. Our final day features special stories, ethnic foods, costumed Dutch dancing and parades at Pella's famous Tulip Festival. Savor themed dining, which encapsulate the study of the societies we learn about each day. This program begins and ends in Des Moines.
2. Upper Mississippi River Reflections: Historic Towns, Trails and Tales
Learn from regional experts as we travel the river and the Great River Road, exploring historic towns, seasonal foliage, migratory birds and local stories. Enjoy three uniquely different boats, including a half-day chartered eco tour through locks and National Wildlife Refuge; the personal stories by a commercial clammer on his pontoon boat into backwaters, and an all-day cruise on a Victorian riverboat. Come nose to beak with bald eagles at the National Eagle Center and go behind the scenes at the Mississippi environmental lab to view cutting edge research. Other stops include the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque; historical tour of Galena, Ill.; learn about the effigy mound builders at Pike's Peak bluff and enjoy spectacular views along the route. Overnight lodging in 3-star hotels include Bloomington, Minn., Onalaska, Wis., and Dubuque, Iowa. This program begins and ends in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.
3. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City: A Tale of Three Cities by River and Rail
By boat, trolley and train, explore three signature American cities and the great waterways that sustain them. Gain insights into the story told by Chicago's skyline during an architectural survey by boat. Travel by train to St. Louis for legendary landmarks, sprinkled with tales of this Mississippi River region. Continue by train to Kansas City for chronicles of sunken treasure in the Missouri River, and presidential humor personified at the Harry Truman Museum.
Free time allows you to explore historic and cultural sites of most interest to you. This program equips you at all times with the expert advice of your study leader, who weaves history and insights into your expeditions. This new FLEX Road Scholar Small Group program offers a choice to explore each city with your Study Leader or investigate additional sites on your own. Itinerary: three nights in Chicago; train to St. Louis, two nights; train to Kansas City, 2 nights.
For more information about these programs go to ISU Extension and Outreach’s Road Scholar website at www.extension.iastate.edu/RoadScholar or contact Diane Van Wyngarden at email@example.com or (641) 295-5757.