‘Insiders’ Tour of the Iowa State Capitol

by Jonathan, November 21st, 2010 | 5 Comments

Cassie and I have been to the Iowa State Capitol a bunch of times – it’s undoubtedly one of the most amazing buildings in the state.  But visitors aren’t allowed past the second floor :(  The tours stop just short of the amazing golden dome, which has a tiny room on the very top, called the cupola. Its so tantalizing since the room must have an incredible view – we can even see it from our apartment. Anyway, we’ve always wanted to go up there, but thanks to over-zelous lawyers, it’s off limits.  Members of the public can only get to the top if they are accompanied by a state senator or representitive.  Fortunately Cassie knows someone :)  So after waiting many, many years, we finally made it to the top!

Iowa State Capitol

Iowa State Capitol

Becky Schmitz being sworn in

Becky Schmitz (aka Cassie's Mom) being sworn in

Cassie & her Mom

Cassie & her Mom

The state senate

The state senate

The law library

The law library

Looking up at the dome from the ground floor

Looking up at the dome from the ground floor

The stairs going up to the first level of the dome

The stairs going up to the first level of the dome

The view down from the lower of the two viewing balconies in the dome

The view down from the lower of the two viewing balconies in the dome

Cassie at the lower viewing level

Cassie at the lower viewing level

Close up of the dome

Close up of the dome

The stairs up to the higher viewing level - this is the start of the tour which is usually off limits

The stairs up to the higher viewing level - this is the start of the tour which is usually off limits

The stairway comes out of a column and weaves between the inner metal dome on the right, and the outside brick dome on the left

The stairway comes out of a column and weaves between the inner metal dome on the right, and the outside brick dome on the left

The sky background hangs down from the outer dome.

The sky background hangs down from the outer dome. The inner dome is to the left and the outer gold dome is above.

The view down from the higher viewing gallery

The view down from the higher viewing gallery

At the higher viewing gallery - you can see we are at the same level as the flag that is stretched across the top of the dome. After all the trouble we had getting permission to come up here, it was gratifying to see that it was indeed dangrerous. You can't really see in the photo, but the edge of the railing is pretty low- just barely above my waist.

At the higher viewing gallery - you can see we are at the same level as the flag that is stretched across the top of the dome. After all the trouble we had getting permission to come up here, it was gratifying to see that it was indeed dangerous. You can't really see in the photo, but the edge of the railing is pretty low- just barely above my waist.

You can see how their are really two domes - the inner dome is made of metal and holds all the lights.  The brick in the background is the outer dome.  The sky is a big canvas painting which is attached to a huge concave metal backing which hangs from the outer dome.  I have no idea what the CIA tripod thing is.

You can see how their are really two domes - the inner dome is made of metal and holds all the lights. The brick in the background is the outer dome. The sky is a big canvas painting which is attached to a huge concave metal backing which hangs from the outer dome. I have no idea what the CIA tripod thing is.

From the floor, the flag looks like it is attached to the top of the inner dome. Actually it is just laying on the wires which are streched across dome.  We added our initials to the dust :) But it was really scary since the boards aren't attached to the wire in any way - they are just laying there. If we had knocked the board a bit too much it would have slipped through the wires and fallen 100's of feet.

From the floor, the flag looks like it is attached to the top of the inner dome. Actually it is just laying on the wires which are streched across dome. We added our initials to the dust :) But it was really scary since the boards aren't attached to the wire in any way - they are just laying there. If we had knocked the board a bit too much it would have slipped through the wires and fallen 100's of feet.

Looking up at the outer dome from the top of the inner dome.  We are headed up the stairs into the cupola at the top.

Looking up at the outer dome from the top of the inner dome. We are headed up the stairs into the cupola at the top.

The alien spaceship hidden inside the capitol dome.  Actually I think this is the top of the inner dome.  On the other side of this dome is the painting of the sky.

The alien spaceship hidden inside the capitol dome. Actually I think this is the top of the inner dome. On the other side of this dome is the painting of the sky.

We made it to the cupola!

We made it to the cupola!

A panorama of the inside of the cupola

A panorama of the inside of the cupola. Click for the full verson.

The view!  The weather wasn't so great, but the view was still incredible.  I took 50 photos and stitched them into an awesome 360 panorama from the top. Click on it to get the full version.

The view! The weather wasn't so great, but the view was still incredible. I took 50 photos and stitched them into a 360° panorama from the top. Click on it to get the full 8mb version.

Another view of the panorama:

Videos from our trip

by Jonathan, November 12th, 2010 | No Comments

Here are two of the videos we shot- I would have posted them earlier except the computers at the internet shops won’t let you edit video.

Arequipa Founders Day Parade

Every year Arequipa hosts a massive parade and party to celebrate the founding of the city. We had heard about this, but we didn’t know when it was. Until we arrived in Arequipa. The day before the party! The parade was unlike anything I’ve seen before- it consisted of no less than 10 hours of solid dancing! The parade route takes three hours to travel, which is pretty impressive considering every one is dancing in costumes the entire way.  The performers come from all over South America – some folks staying at our hotel traveled 16 hours on a bus from the jungle to be in the parade.

We flew on this really small propeller plane to get from island to island in the galapagos. The plane looked like it was living on borrowed time, and the pilot flew to the wrong island the last time our guide had been on a flight with him. So we were a bit nervous. Then once we took off, the pilot, who was usually very stoic, started moving his arms around in the cockpit. We didn’t know what was going on. Turns out there was a fly in the cockpit :) He kept trying to get it, but every time the fly got away. Unfortunately it was really hard to record, so I only captured him going after the fly twice, but he was doing it most of the flight.  The fly escaped unharmed :)

I also collected all my favorite photos into one album:  You can see it here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=99726&id=1311729985&l=e3bd812bd1