Tag Archives: I-80 remedies

Mini Adventure: Union Pacific Museum


It’s not often we play tourist in our own hometowns, but after the New Year holiday we were able to squeeze in a trip to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs with Joe’s parents. I highly recommend visiting the museum if you’re in the CB area or headed to Omaha. (It’s open Thursday-Saturday.)


The UPRR Museum gives a lovely Carnegie Library new life, and the exhibits are a terrific blend of interesting artifacts, beautiful graphics and dioramas and engaging, hands-on components. Plus, it’s free!


Did you know the US. time zones were created to accommodate cross-country train travel/schedules?

There’s plenty for the adults to read, and for toddlers to explore. You can learn about the creation of the transcontinental railroad, its place in American history, the role of passenger rail, how trains work and more.

{And if you’re looking for a good local restaurant nearby, Dixie Quicks in downtown CB has a solid brunch.}

We did quite a bit of travel for the holidays — two trips to Chicagoland for Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas, overnight at Christmas in Algona, Iowa and then New Year’s weekend in Council Bluffs with Joe’s parents. Considering we have a toddler and 10-week old, it was a bit of a frenzy (more than 1,500 miles!) and we’re ending it all with nasty colds/ flu.

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Filed under Family Fun, Iowa adventures

I-80 remedies: Miniature Barn Museum

There is nothing fun about the drive from the western suburbs of Chicago to Des Moines, Iowa. It’s a painfully boring route, punctuated by the occasional cloud that looks like something funny, or made tolerable by a broadcast of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” On a generally gray Easter Monday, Joe and I could rely on neither as we traversed the less than inspiring landscape after a weekend of wisdom tooth removal, bridal showers, margaritas and egg strata.

So we turned to Tina Fey, and her new (audio)book, “Bossypants,” which was perfectly timed for the trip, and which was so hilarious as to protect us from highway hypnosis. Recommend. I’m sure this is a delightful read, but it’s even better to have Tina Fey read it to you. Except her whispering parenthetical asides were kind of hard to hear in our noisy Subaru.

The other highlight of our trip (the inaugural in the BSintheMidwest series of I-80 remedies) was a stop in the Amana Colonies. This time, we checked out the Miniature Barn Museum, which is an example of what makes Iowa Iowa.

The museum is, as stated, a museum of miniature barns. It is located in an unheated barn. Very meta. “Museums” in rural Iowa are code for “shrines for weird stuff.” I experienced this for the first time when Joe and I traveled to Villisca a few years ago to check out the Ax Murder House for a story I was writing about fun Iowa road trips.

I applaud older small town Iowans for their preservationist spirit. I cringe at their use of the word “primitives” for antiques and am delightfully dumbfounded by the instincts that guide homemade exhibit curation. The museum is $3.50 per adult, which is basically what you’d spend on a gas station snack.


Crazy? Yes. Kind of sweet? Definitely.


Filed under Iowa adventures