Random Photo of the Week: Balltown, Iowa

Several years ago I found my favorite urinal-wall art of all time: a little pen-drawn map of Iowa, its full squat shape for all to see, with the simple block lettering: ‘IOWA.’ Next to it someone had scrawled, with an arrow, ‘Idiots Out Walking Around.’ Wish I had taken a photo.

I did take a photo outside Dubuque, Iowa, of a portrait of Iowa’s overlooked Mississippi River valley landscape at Balltown, a high up village with a legendary chicken shack. Apparently this painting was made, in exchange for a meal or two, by ‘traveling gypsies’ half a century ago — then lost under wallpaper. It was rediscovered shortly before my visit in 2001, while updating Lonely Planet’s USA guide.

About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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One Response to Random Photo of the Week: Balltown, Iowa

  1. tom caw says:

    Those folks appear to be having a ball. A couple of chamber musicians from here in Madison drove across the state line yesterday to perform in a little town one county up from Balltown called Elkader. I said it sounded like Al Qaeda. They told me it was named for 19th-century Algerian leader Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri. It’s the truth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elkader,_Iowa

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