Destination: Iowa

Iowa’s New Tourism Campaign: ‘Arrest a Traveler’

Promotional campaigns just keep getting weirder. The latest: A small town in Iowa that had its sheriffs “arrest” a pair of motorists with out-of-state plates and offer them a free night’s stay. Predictably, accusations of abuse of police power have been flying—though not from the “arrested” couple, who noted that the town is “darling.” Mission accomplished? (Via @BudTravel)

The Day the Music Died

It’s been 50 years today since the plane carrying Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper and Buddy Holly went down over Iowa, killing all three musicians along with their pilot. Sadly, the music world has seen no shortage of fatal crashes, but as Chart Watch’s Paul Grein points out, the 1959 tragedy—immortalized in Don McLean’s American Pie—remains “the most famous plane crash in rock ‘n’ roll history.” Grein also notes that Holly, who was just 22 when he died, has the sad distinction of being the shortest-lived artist ever to garner a Grammy for lifetime achievement.

Check out a vintage clip of Buddy Holly, in a 1958 episode of “American Bandstand,” after the jump:

Read More »

Morning Links: Weird Hotels, Flight 1549: The Game and More

Got a suggestion? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) your link.

New Year’s Eve in…Des Moines?

Maybe it’s time to give the Iowa City—long pilloried by coastal types as the capital of Midwest bland—a second look. New York Times political correspondent Adam Nagourney reports that there’s a lot happening in the city’s East Village neighborhood. So much so, in fact, that he’s actually looking forward to spending New Year’s Eve there for the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus.

Related on World Hum:
* Iowa Town Pins Hopes on ‘American Gothic’ Tourism

Iowa Town Pins Hopes on ‘American Gothic’ Tourism

Photo from The Art Institute of Chicago.

Grant Wood’s American Gothic hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago, but the house in the iconic 1930 painting still stands in Eldon, Iowa, a town of 975 people in the state’s southeast corner. To boost its struggling economy, Eldon used government grants, bake sales and raffles to fund a $1 million visitors center it hopes will help keep travelers in town for longer than it takes to pose in front of the house with a pitchfork.

Read More »

The World Hum Travel Zeitgeist: Skimpy Skirts and Thunderbolts

There’s a hint of fear in the air, but, as always, we’re still hitting the road. This week the Zeitgeist leads to Paris, Dubai, Iowa, Mexico City and the most scenic toilet in the world. Let’s go.

Most Read Weblog Post
World Hum (this week)
Japanese Tourists Succumb to “Paris Syndrome”
* I’ve seen a bit of coverage of this story this week, and the New York Post gets the best headline award: Paris Leaves Japanese French Fried.

World’s Least Favorite Airline
TripAdvisor (survey)

Most Blogged Travel Story
New York Times (current)
Beyond Skimpy Skirts, a Rare Debate on Identity
* Hassan M. Fattah’s story explores the limits of multiculturalism in Dubai.

Best Selling Travel Book (current)
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir
* Two weeks in a row at the top for Bryson’s memoir of growing up in 1950s Iowa.

Most E-Mailed Travel Story
USA Today (current)
Hotels Ditch Imposing Desks for Friendly ‘Pods’
* Three reasons why: To lure younger customers, to improve employee productivity and, of course, to increase revenue.

Most Popular Page Tagged Travel (current)

Most Dugg “Travel” Story
Digg (current)
Apple’s Gift to Travelers: Magsafe Airline Power Adapter

Read More »

Iowa Embraces Bookstore Tourism

We’re believers in bookstore tourism, so our hats are off to Iowa for becoming the first state to officially promote it. The Travel Iowa Web site now lists more than two dozen local independent bookstores and encourages visitors to the Hawkeye State to drop in to get a taste of local communities. And, of course, to buy books. Bookstore tourism founder Larry Portzline, who I interviewed for World Hum last year, applauded Iowa’s efforts. “I hope other state and regional tourism offices follow suit and start promoting their indie bookstores as travel destinations,” he writes on his bookstore tourism blog. “It’s a great way to spread the word.”

Travel Writer Taken to Task Over a Cheeto

At .6 ounces, though, it’s a really big Cheeto. But is it the world’s biggest? That’s the $.89 question. Chicago Tribune writer Mike Conklin ventured to Sister Sarah’s Restaurant in Algona, Iowa, and wrote a short piece about the famed roadside attraction. In his piece, he did some math to put the size of the Cheeto into perspective, and that’s where he ran into problems with Edward B. Colby of CJR Daily, the online publication of the Columbia Journalism Review.

Read More »

Q-and-A With Bill Bryson

Yesterday’s Washington Post featured an interview with “Walk in the Woods” author Bill Bryson. What’s he up to? “I’m doing a book which is a kind of travel book,” he tells K.C. Summers, “except that it’s a memoir about growing up in the ‘50s in Iowa.” Go with it, Bill. We’re with you.

If You Lure the World’s Largest Cheeto to Rural Iowa, They Will Come

An Iowa DJ spearheaded an effort to bring the world’s largest Cheeto—for the uninitiated, Cheetos are a crunchy American snack product coated in a thick, orange faux-cheese powder that inevitably ends up caked on your fingers—to rural Northern Iowa in an effort to stir up tourism. The super-sized Cheeto, which is comparable in size to a small lemon, was discovered when Navy Petty Officer Mike Evans, stationed at Pearl Harbor, bought a bag of Cheetos for his 3-year-old son. Does this sort of thing happen in other countries, or are Americans the only people who will travel thousands of miles to see junk food?

Update: Iowa Man Takes Road Trip to Visit His Boxer Shorts, Jesus Night Light and Wal-Mart Jeans

In August we reported on John Freyer, an arts student at the University of Iowa who planned to sell all his possessions on eBay. With the proceeds, he planned to travel around the world to visit his old stuff. He’s done it, and he got a book deal. Look for his tome in November 2002. Read his travelogue archive now at

Iowa Man Takes Road Trip to See His Orange Boxer Shorts, Jesus Night Light and Wal-Mart Jeans

The idea came to John Freyer as he drove from New York to graduate school in Iowa: He would sell all his worldly goods on eBay. With the proceeds, he would then travel around the world to see his former possessions. “I want to figure out what happens to me when I no longer have all these items that supposedly define us,” Freyer, a 28-year-old fine arts student at the University of Iowa, told Washington Post writer Leslie Walker in a recent story. “I also want to know what happens to the people who buy them. I’m going on a road trip to find out.”

Read More »

  • « Prev Page
  • Next Page »