Pilot and local network meteorologist John McLaughlin has logged more than 7,700 hours of accident-free flight time in both fixed wing planes and rotorcraft. He draws on that experience to lead flights and tours around Iowa such as agricultural and crop condition surveys and holiday lights sightseeing tours. The flights soar over farmland and wilderness, and he also zips over Des Moines for panoramic views of the skyline and river. John also provides flight training and examinations, teaching burgeoning pilots the fundamentals of flight and the best mouth noises to make during takeoff.
Since 2000, the Remodelers Council of Greater Des Moines has sponsored the Tour of Remodeled Homes, a journey through area homes that have undergone design and construction transformations. This year’s tour highlights 13 residences of different styles, ages, and price ranges, with projects that ranged from kitchen updates to full remodels. At each stop on the tour, the remodelers will be onsite to answer questions, and most of the sites will also have representatives from the sponsors or suppliers who worked on the projects. All of the featured craftsmen are members of the council, and this year’s flipbook gives a preview of their handiwork.
Sleepy Hollow Sports Park sprawls over 80 acres of fields and slopes buzzing with a variety of year-round activities, from go-karts and bumper boats to downhill sledding. The team puts together four 5K races throughout the year: H20 Run, Sno Run, Mud Run, and Beer Run. During these meticulously constructed events, Sleepy Hollow will pit runners against manmade obstacles and natural obstacles.
Being an Iowa-based company, Sleepy Hollow supports more than 300 groups annually, providing funding for causes ranging from local schools to cancer research. The park also serves as the permanent residence of the annual Des Moines Renaissance Faire and Haunted Scream Park.
Blank Park Zoo educates the public about the wonders of the wild by re-creating far-flung habitats and ecosystems that house more than 1,000 animals and 104 different species ranging from Siberian tigers to hissing cockroaches. Zookeepers lead chats about animals and offer conservation tips, while exhibits include hands-on feedings that allow humans to go face-to-face or nose-to-beak with hungry giraffes and parakeets. Recent new arrivals welcome curious kids to commiserate with the growing pains and early bedtimes of young wallabies, camels, and seal pups, setting a foundation for learning that may be continued in classes designed for those aged 6 months to 5 years.
In addition to raising awareness about the environment, Blank Park Zoo contributes to conservation efforts to preserve the future of native animals and their natural homes. The zoo participates in seven endangered-species breeding programs and donates a portion of admissions proceeds to several different wildlife initiatives.
The artist-run Works of Glass studio burnishes custom stained-glass pieces and extends materials and advice to hobbyists of the semitranslucent arts. Each Make 'n' Take stained-glass class provides all of the materials and guidance for six students at a time to create a three-piece heart-shaped sun catcher using the same copper foiling method used in Tiffany glass production. After a practice cutting session with old windowpanes and the walls of glass houses, students select their favorite shade from the studio's spectrum of glass and cut it themselves to form the base of the heart. Like soldering a rainbow and heart together to create the ultimate T-shirt logo, students solder two clear half-circle bevels to the sun catcher, which will make it cast rainbow shadows on sulking rooms. Students will get to do their own foiling and soldering—the processes used to bring pieces together—and will finish off the piece with a metal filigree. Finished works measure 5 inches at the widest point and are 4.5 inches long, with every square unit of surface area declaring undying love to a favorite window. Just like remedial woodshop, classes take place on the weekends.
Jasper's modern winery squeezes the life out of central Iowan grapes to create a delicious lineup of colorful wines. The 60-minute VIP tasting gives groups of four or double-four a tour of the winery's chambers and splashes tongues with tastes of all 11 vintages, which include the crisp and citrusy Edelweiss white and the Norton dry red, whose smells of baked fruit awaken connoisseurs to flavors of currant and blackberry with slight hints of cinnamon and mint.