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ROAD TRIPPIN' Marshalltown: Nature Scene
Monday, January 18, 2016 —
MARSHALLTOWN, IA (CBS2/FOX28) In a town known for one of the most beautiful courthouse towers in the state, a bustling downtown and magnificent old Orpheum Theater, Marshalltown also celebrates a secluded place to get away from it all. The Grimes Farm and Conservation Center is one of the best nature getaways in Iowa. Amid 160 acres generously donated by Mildred and Leonard Grimes, the site is nestled in the middle of tall grass prairie, rolling hills and thick stands of native forest. Over a covered bridge that crosses a stream the spacious nature center welcomes visitors to educational programs or a self-guided tour of Iowa wildlife from baby buffalo to fierce bald eagles. Just outside the door, kids love the tracks embedded in the sidewalk as though deer, raccoons, pheasants and rabbits may have wandered through the wet cement and left a reminder that animals are everywhere. Giant Monarch Butterflies flutter by from one flower to the next as they fuel up on nectar for their long migration to Mexico. Conservation Director Mike Stegmann says theyll put tiny tags on up to 500 this fall and its not unusual for the beautiful orange butterflies to be found again along the route. Grimes Farm also offers miles of inviting hiking and biking trails through the trees and meadows, but the quite literal high point of any visit is the observation tower. Soaring into the sky more than 40 feet, the deck supported by tall utility poles is a favorite spot for picnics, studying, or just enjoying the amazing view. Wind turbines can be seen more than 30 miles away in the next county and Red-Tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures ride the currents to look you right in the eye as they swoop past. Adding to the adventure, the top of the tower has just a bit of sway to it in the stiff breeze, entirely safe, but just enough to keep it interesting. As fall weather begins and the trees start to change colors, it is a journey worth keeping in mind.