Blue skies and farm fields filled the horizon as I drove through Iowa. Mixtures of yellow wildflowers and corn burst through different hues of green, their yellows and golds offering a softness to the ambience in front of me. My end destination was Dubuque, but I was currently looking for a place to meditate. Pulling over to the side of the road, I was able to zoom out on my map to see a full satellite view of the area, one of my favorite features of driving a Tesla. I quickly found the closest river, which had a state park next to it labeled Cedar Rock. “Works for me.” I declared as I set it as the new destination and headed off, not ready for the surprise that awaited me once I got there.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a quaint visitor center with a few displays telling me about Lowell Walter, the former owner of Cedar Rock who had donated the property to the state upon his death. Walter had been the owner of a local paving company and I was curious to know if he held any actual importance outside of donating the land to the state. Not wanting to get too caught up in my questions, I set off on a mile long path towards the river.
Quickly, I was again surrounded by fields and I smiled as the buzzing of crickets filled the air. I stopped a few times to click away and take it all in. In moments like these, the humility of discovery has a tendency to take over. As I came around a curve, I saw a building on the banks of the river. A sign reading “Cedar Rock: Architect Frank Loyd Wright” stood in front of me. Suddenly, I realized why this house was important and chuckled with joy as I headed forward.
I walk around the property taking it all in. It is beautiful beyond expression; not just the building, but the entire scene. Sharp angles complement minimalism. Red brick gives way to blooming bushes of flowers. Windows create entire walls, perfectly aligned edge to edge. As I push my face up against the glass, I peer into a poshly decorated garden room. Ivy adorns the walls and ceiling inside and as I look up, I see the same ivy crawling along the edges of the roof; a perfect segue to connect the interior and exterior. I try to go inside but (as expected) the house is locked up. Slightly saddened, I continue around the other side to explore some more.
Beyond the house lies a river followed by green forests; the laughter of a kayaking family down stream fills the air. A barking dog, two siblings splashing in the water, an agitated father unsuccessfully trying to calm his children down, these noises fill my ears and lend to the feeling of joy starting to swell inside of me.
I stroll down to a boathouse and climb up to the roof where I can take everything in.
I smile as I become more thankful of being blessed with this day.
It’s time to meditate but this concrete is hard so I walk back up to the yard where some grass can cushion my bum. As I walk back to the house, I see a tour guide and a single couple arrive.
“Are you guys going into the house?” I inquire.
“Can I jump in?”
We walk into the epitome of contemporary architecture with brick walls and cement floors. The only light is natural from the skylights and a thin hallway opens up into an open garden room with completely glass walls. Sharp modular furniture sits in the middle with the space filled by luscious green plants. A Steinway piano sits in the corner. Ivy crawls over the walls. I close my eyes, and for a minute, I am in a room filled with posh party goers. I can see the evening dresses, smell the cigarette smoke, hear the clanking of glasses. As long as my eyes are closed, I am a part of this past world.
We continue on through the kitchen, hearing stories about the stubbornness of Mr. Wright. Every detail of the house had been designed by him. Every angle, every piece of furniture, every bit of the decor, all pre determined to fit his vision and contracted into his services so it would never be changed. In fact, he would often show up to “his” properties years later to make sure the owners had kept things the way they had agreed. In one particular instance, he showed up upset that Mrs. Walter had added a tea set to the kitchen that he had not approved and thought was hideous. She promptly moved the set to a top shelf that he could not reach, even with a cane, for fear that he would smash it.
I laughed as I listened to story after story like this. He seemed like such an interesting mind and quite the celebrity, complete with the arrogance that usually comes with similar fame.
We then walked to the river to get a glimpse inside the boathouse, an early predecessor to today’s man cave. The simple design from the house carried through even here; everything sharp and clean. The inside was as simple as it could be. Only a bed, toilet and small kitchenette inside for when Mr Walter needed an escape. One especially quirky thing stood out though, a small wooden trap door in the floor. Upon opening it, you could see where the boat would have been and the realization of a James Bond style exit took over my mind. Roll out of bed, open the floor, drop into the boat and escape into the river. I can’t imagine anything more perfect.
As the sun got lower in the sky, the realization that the tour was coming to an end came over all of us. I still needed to meditate so I inquired if I could stay behind and was told as long as I was back within an hour, that would be fine.
I climbed up top to the boathouse roof and got comfortable, ignoring the hard cement beneath me and sat for a moment to take the scene in. It was like I was inside of a Bob Ross painting and that realization engulfed me with pleasure. I closed my eyes, ready to escape inside my mind for a moment, excited to know that when I opened them, this scene of beauty would be here waiting for me.
Closest Supercharger Dubuque IA 65 mi
400 S Locust St, Dubuque, IA 52003
Cedar Rock State Park
2611 Quasqueton Diagonal Blvd, Independence, IA 50644