And what brings you to Mason City?
Trip Start Aug 24, 2013
7Trip End Aug 31, 2013
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Where I stayed
Historic Park Inn,
The reason we picked Mason City for this trip has its beginnings a few years ago, when I found a 1919 "Masonian," the yearbook from Mason City High School. Turns out, it was from the senior year of Meredith Willson, the man made most famous by his creation, The Music Man. The play takes place in River City, Iowa, a barely concealed fictional version of Willson's home town. In the yearbook, there are many small clues to the things Willson brought to stage and screen about his hometown: the school's boys' band, which traveled around the state drumming up business for Mason City, and mention of a
But first things first… after our fabulous breakfast, we headed out of town, stopping at Granny's, a doughnut shop highly recommended by John Wilcox, not only for its delicious treats but for the friendly owners behind the counter. We were not disappointed by either.
Making our way south, we stopped in a cute little town called Northfield, Minnesota, which sounded familiar to Doug. We shopped in a little "juried" art and antique store and were sad to leave some good things behind that couldn't be brought home on the plane (*cough*lamps*cough*). Turns out Fairfield, Minnesota, was the end of the line for many of Jesse James' gang, which is why Doug knew the name.
Driving along, we saw a Wool Mill in Faribault (pronounced Faribo) and turned around when we realized they had a retail store. The Faribault Woolen Mill Co had some beautiful wool blankets and scarves, incredibly expensive, but I'm sure worth every penny (to someone else). We chatted with the young ladies working there, and headed back out on the road, eventually landing at Sakatah Lake State Park for a picnic lunch.
We finally made it to Mason City and to our hotel. Which is spectacular. The only hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright still in operation, it was completely renovated two years ago. And it's magnificent. A marvel of detail and beauty. In Mason City, Iowa.
Our room is large, with period-style furniture and lighting, and six arts-and-crafts style windows that look out onto the city park. Even the air vents in the room are made of beautiful wood.
Mason City used to be a pretty big town, but now it's very small and quite "sleepy." Every person we met here so far asked us, "And what brings you to Mason City?" but it sounds more like, "What the hell are you doing here?"