Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Road Trip/Sketchbook Journal: Iowa (Part 2)

Another exceptional highlight was visiting the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, which housed the E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center. Even though it was temporarily closed for renovations, since my girlfriend used to work for DNR and knew the Ranger we were able to preview the upcoming expansion efforts. Well-worth a revisit as the center looks to be quite an impressive establishment: I know if I taught an art class anywhere in the vicinity we'd be field-tripping every chance there was to take advantage of this resource. I just about lost my artistic mind when confronted with an enormous room piled with every conceivable specimen mount imaginable, and only enough time to sketch a quick couple samples. More below the fold!

Just for the record, that really oughta be Moosehead Ale, as opposed to Canadian Coors. Besides, drinking and flying don't mix.

One would never expect Lovecraftian horror to mesh with rural Iowa, but I think it'd be a perfect mix. That and my childhood phobia traced back to fear of what lurks in the dark, weedy waters of those innocent-looking ponds. 

Also on the itinerary was a trip to the newly renovated and expanded National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium: some really fantastic interpretive exhibits on natural history and local flora and fauna. It brought out the kid in me with some huge tanks filled with all sorts of fascinating and weird critters, like the ginormous catfish pictured here. Which is why I'd take a shark any day: being slowly gummed to death by one of these monsters would have to be one of the worst ways to go. There also was a wing with new tanks that hadn't yet been stocked with new specimens, so the museum staff took the opportunity to make a poignant commentary on the Gulf oil spill by applying semi-translucent coverings of murky globules to the exteriors: made for an eerie presentation of the otherwise empty, lifeless aquariums.
Seems like for every place we stopped along the way there wasn't nearly enough time to linger longer and absorb many of the details of all the cool stuff on display. That and I have to learn how to sketch faster.

"We have sat on the river bank and caught catfish with pin hooks. 
The time has come to harpoon a whale." - John Hope


  1. Skeptical Smokey in the background watching for potential spontaneous combustion.

  2. Actually he was smiling 'cause I told him my new idea about redoing the classic origin comic of him as a cub, but instead having him simply maul offending litterbugs, noisy campers and smokers in the park.
    (Not officially endorsed by the National Park Service or any of its affiliates)