Five years ago, my family and I set out on a journey that some people thought was unheard of. No, we weren’t moving to a new country, we weren’t building a tiny house and trying to live in 200 square feet, and we weren’t joining the Peace Corps to change the world. We were moving to Council Bluffs. Where did we used to live, you ask? We lived across the river in Omaha. Yet, you would think we were about to move to a completely new world, based on the questions people asked us. “Why? Why would you want to do that?”
I knew those people would be wrong; I knew in my heart Council Bluffs would provide everything and more than we ever needed when it came to housing, education, and entertainment. My Omaha friends might disagree, but you have to actually cross the Mighty Mo’ River to see what Council Bluffs offers.
After 12 years in Omaha, my heart ached to cross the river and plant our roots in Iowa. I am a professor at Iowa Western Community College and had lived in Omaha for the first five years of my time teaching there. And the “community” in community college started to really mean something to me. I am now a part of my community. Now, I attend Iowa Western sports events, shop for groceries near the college so my students can see my sons driving the cart in the back of my heels, and my place of worship is near the beautiful 100 Block. I can be found at the brand new Charles E. Lakin YMCA at 5:30am. You might not recognize me though and vice versa, I’m barely awake!
This city has more to offer than most even know about. I am a planner of field trips for my family, mostly my two sons who are currently 9 and 6 years old. Last week, my son was seeking a reward for his hard work learning the violin. I don’t spoil my kids with tangible things (but heck yes, I will spoil them with time and low cost/free experiences) so I was curious what he would ask for as a reward. He proposed if he learned all his violin songs for his concert, that I would take him to see the Black Angel Monument near Fairview Cemetery. I laughed out loud and quickly turned that laugh into a, “Oh, you bet buddy.” His reward was seeing his favorite statue in the city, and at six years old he knows all of them. This is the same kid who after his first visit to the gorgeous Grenville M. Dodge House, propped his head up with pillows at bedtime because he wanted to sleep the same way General Dodge did when he lived in our great city. He paid more attention to the tour than I did!
So, what are you waiting for? The adventures are here in Council Bluffs. Weekends are often spent getting in the car and seeing where the city takes us. We may end up at haunted Squirrel Cage Jail, or pack a picnic for Bayliss Park, we might run from train to train at the RailsWest Railroad Museum, or spend the day swimming at Lake Manawa Beach. We have taken self-guided tours around City Hall and the Pottawattamie County Courthouse. I get a few strange stares from others who might think kids would be bored exploring old buildings or sitting in on a court case, but they haven’t been bored yet. Year round, we find plenty of educational experiences that give us knowledge and with all the walking and racing to beautiful sites, I sneak in some exercise for the whole crew.
Keep searching for the beauty within Council Bluffs. It’s there!