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.
For more than 10 years, The Heart of Darkness has elicited scares from nearly 10,000 visitors every Halloween season with one of the largest haunts in Iowa. People from across the country and ghosts studying abroad brave nine separately themed areas on the terror-infested grounds, from a haunted playground to a maniacal-clown asylum. Each section crawls with grotesque creatures. A living scarecrow swipes at guests with a rusted sickle, causing them to flee right into the padded cell of Crispy, a demented arsonist whose victims gave him a taste of his own medicine by scorching his skin.
So committed to their duty to terrify, owners Kevin and Dolly Schults are affectionately known as The Halloween Family, as detailed on a 2009 episode of ABC's Wife Swap. Outside their spooky corridors, the Schults reward survivors with concession stands, a live DJ, and a photo booth that snapped the pictures Crispy uses for his online-dating profile.
Give Advanced Air Incorporated an hour of your time, and their instructors can give you the power of flight. Their training aircraft climbs high above Council Bluffs, where the airport's 656 acres start to look like the world's most realistic Lego set. The instructor hands over the controls, and novices take charge of a plane for the very fist time. The experience is known as a Discovery Flight, and it's a fitting name. That short time in the air can plant the seeds for a lifelong hobby, or perhaps even a career.
The journey to private or commercial licenses begins in ground school, but skills solidify once on Council Bluffs Airport's runways. CBA offers new pilots an ideal location. The airport lies close to Class C airspace, so new fliers begin communicating with air traffic controllers right away. Here, Advanced Air Incorporated's instructors have led many pupils to success; their website's home page brims with words of congratulations for new fliers or pilots who have gained instrument ratings and advanced certifications.
These students don't set their autopilot to fly off into the sunset. Advanced Air Incorporated keeps pilots around with a rental fleet of 10 aircraft, including Cessna and Piper models. The maintenance team also works on privately owned planes.
Travelers follow Jo Daviess County's sprawling fields and undulating hills toward Massbach Ridge Winery’s 18+ acre estate. Founded by the Harmston family in 2003, the winery’s proprietors select grapes grown in Jo Daviess County to concoct their batches of reds and whites. Members of the winery family escort guests on impromptu tours before rendezvousing in the tasting room or on the patio for samplings. The outdoor patio grants a heightened view of the vineyards below, which visitors can wander through on quests for vine-ripe copies of The Grapes of Wrath. In addition to its frequent tastings and tour sessions, Massbach Ridge Winery hosts a number of wine-related events each year.
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.
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