Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The bridges of Madison County

Flagstaff, Arizona is a LONG way from Winterset, Iowa (the birthplace of Marion Morrison/John Wayne), so it’s always a little startling to see references to his home town in the area where I live. If you took the most direct route from Winterset, your trip would total 1336 miles, a good solid 2 day drive.

At lease half a dozen times a year, I’ll see a semi-truck/trailer combination parked in the village where I live. Emblazoned on the back door is a sign promoting the covered bridge festival in Madison Country (Winterset is the county seat) which is held the 2nd weekend in October every year.

34 of our 50 states still have some of their original covered bridges still standing, and the list of their locations can be viewed at the link below:

Indiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Vermont seem to have a preponderance of them, but even my home state of Minnesota still has ONE standing. If you include non-authentic (replica) bridges, then every state in the Union has at least one.

After we saw Clint Eastwood’s 1995 movie depicting the brief affair between Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep) and Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) , Sharon and I decided that it would be fun to take a side trip to Winterset on our way back from Minnesota to Illinois.

Winterset is roughly 30 miles south east of Des Moines, and wasn’t difficult to find. Once we had found Roseman bridge, we then managed to find Francesca’s farmhouse, which still stands today, and is open for tours.

The kitchen still looks like it did when we took our own tour in the late 1990’s, and so does the bathtub that Francesca and Robert sat in together. If I looked hard enough, I could probably find the picture of ME sitting in the bathtub (fully clothed) but that‘s a project best saved for full retirement.

Most of the locations used in the movie are still standing, and can be viewed at the link below:

walk in the footsteps of Clint Eastwood

It’s unlikely that Sharon and I will ever get back to Madison County, or to the Covered Bridge festival, but I’ve got a feeling that some of our friends and relatives living in Minnesota might make a trip there at some point in the future.

One of the most memorable lines in the movie (involving eggs and linoleum) briefly earned the movie an “R” rating, which was later reduced to PG-13. However, another one of the lines in the movie is a good life lesson for all of us:

“The old dreams were good dreams; they didn’t work out, but I’m glad I had them.”

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