Iowa, Hawkeye Point (1,670 feet)
Date: December 31, 2014
Distance: Drive up
Hats off to the residents of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, and other similarly COLD states. You are a tough breed! Our journey took us through all four of these states, where temperatures ranged from a high of 2 degrees to a low of -30. Yes, you’re reading that correctly NEGATIVE 30. I dressed in mostly ski gear the entire time and still managed to freeze, so you all have my utmost respect for toughing out those temperatures on a regular basis.
This trip was nothing short of impromptu. My husband needed miles to gain status on a second airline and I needed Iowa’s highpoint. My daughter wanted to go swimming in winter, so a trip that promised a hotel with a pool made her jump up and down with excitement. A win-win-win.
In our hurried research of the area, it seemed best to stay in Sioux Falls, SD for a night so we could check out Falls Park, which was nicely decorated for the holidays and the Sculpture Walk. Just over an hour from Hawkeye Point, it’s convenient. And, our normal hotel family offered a heated indoor pool and hot tub – a clear winning location.
We didn’t spend much time with the Sculpture Walk since the temperature was about -20 that night (I would have loved to meander along, examining each sculpture – seems interesting), but we did explore outside at Falls Park. Falls Park’s Winter Wonderland features choreographed movement of holiday lights with festive music on a local radio station. Nicely put together. The Falls were frozen in the low temperatures, but still beautiful.
The people we met in all four states were so friendly. A man at the hotel in Sioux Falls recommended things to do near Harney Peak, which may have us adding time onto that trip. A woman in a restaurant in IA would have chatted with me all day about my daughter. And, special thanks to the man in MN who pointed us in the right direction to Hawkeye Point as we were struggling to identify the best exit off of Route 90. I can’t say enough how nice everyone in that part of the country was to us. Thank you all for your hospitality.
Between the man in MN, my phone, google maps, and Don Holmes’ book (the regular GPS did not recognize Hawkeye point), we successfully arrived at the farm. Yes, it took all of these resources to find it, but we made it.
That morning, with wind chill, it felt like -30 degrees. It was so cold that my daughter dutifully posed for a picture with me then ran back to the car with tears in her eyes – pretty sure they froze on the way. I, too, had to keep sprinting to the car in between pictures to warm up.
About to leave, I noticed the register. Ugh, I had to leave the car again. I dashed to the box housing the register, grabbed it, and dove for the car, hoping that the owners of the adjacent land wouldn’t think I was stealing the register. I signed us all in, then my daughter added her own name (a second time) – one of her favorite parts about highpointing. Mission accomplished, I sprinted back to return it for the next group.
Despite the extreme cold, I loved this trip. Every year, I aim to spend New Year’s Eve in a way different from any other of my NYEs past. This year was no exception. Hawkeye Point in -30 degrees was a different and memorable way to close out the year, not to mention the most fitting. 2014 was largely about highpointing, so it made sense to finish the year strong. To gain a highpoint with my family on the last day of this active year means a lot. Looking forward to all of the adventures that await in the coming year.