Oct 20 2010

Moorehead Park

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As I jog, music from my IPod blares into my ears. Each song drowns out the sound of dead leaves and dirt rustling beneath my feet.  I cross one of the many wooden bridges along the trail and gaze upon the calm still waters of the lake.

I smile to myself, as I see what appears to be a small family of turtles popping their heads up near the waters edge. Each one looking at me, as if to say, “slow down and lower the music buddy.”  My lungs gasp for breath, as my strong quick strides turn to hesitant steps. A nearby park bench offers me solace from the aches of my run, as I take a moment to absorb all that is Moorehead Park.

Listed as one of only 75, “watchable wildlife areas,” in Iowa[i], Moorehead Park is where I go to get away. When I moved here during the winter of 2006, Moorehead Park was where I went sledding for the first time. The long steep hill provided me hours of entertainment. That is, until I realized that a novice shouldn’t try the slope from the top. My head still hurts thinking about that crash.

Having been the initial site, of what is now Ida Grove, Moorehead Park’s rich abundance of history is evident. With “ruts from the early stagecoach still obvious near the old (now refurbished) stagecoach inn.” [ii] The original hand-hewn stagecoach barn and its wood pegged timbers still stand nearby.  Local caretakers recount stories of secret rooms, packed with provisions where women and children hid for days at a time, due to Indian invasions.  Additionally, the original Grant Center Schoolhouse has been relocated to Moorehead’s 258 acres.

A quick peak inside this schoolhouse and one would assume they’ve been thrust back in time. As flickering kerosene lamps illuminate the room, a rustic black pot-bellied stove provides just enough heat to keep my chills at bay. I chuckle at the sight of an old wind-up phonograph (thinking back to our earlier class discussion about technology) and marvel at the 38 starred flag, which dangles from the rafters above.

Returning this past Labor Day, the piercing cries from the locusts overwhelmed my senses.  I decided to walk along one of the parks many nature trails; finding serenity in everything from a lonely fawn sheepishly delighting in a patch of grass to an old solemn horse post drenched with thick green moss.  As I came upon Moorehead’s 12acre lake I watched as two black billed swans sailed across the waters surface. Neither acknowledging my stare.

I watched as a few fishermen tried their luck from the docks. Their empty pails a sharp contrast to reports of largemouth bass, catfish, and bluegill haunting the depths. Perhaps, the scream of children at Moorehead’s family playground scared even the hungriest of fish.

All in all, I’ve found that Moorehead has a lot more to offer than I had ever imagined.  Having grown up in Southern California, I never realized what “stopping to smell the roses,” was really all about.  I just hope that after years of smog and pollution I can still sense what’s right under my nose.

[i] www.mycountyparks.com

[ii] http://frontiernet.net/~idaccb/index_files/page322.html


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