Dengler Domain: Final Four

March Madness is here. With Iowa, Iowa State, and Drake making the NCAA tournament in both the men’s and women’s brackets, the state of Iowa has had a wonderful basketball year outside of my alma mater. The Panthers need to go back to the jungle. March Madness is a uniquely American tradition and fun time. Giving the most non-sports fan an equal chance as any hoops fanatic to win their office pool bracket. Instead of giving my crackpot college basketball analysis, it will be more fun giving my Final Four of Tama County.

The first one is the roads. Not necessarily graded on road quality because V-18 would sink this ship faster than how fast the bumps rise on this county road. The grade is more about the ease of driving on Tama County roads and how traffic is non-existent. Compared to city driving, it is a breeze. In the city, it consists of checking blind spots while changing lanes and watching for maniac drivers. In Tama County, it is not being bothered by other drivers while taking in the beautiful views. Outside of the main farm production seasons and inclement weather, farm equipment rarely poses a problem making for almost year-round ease of driving.

The second to make the Final Four is the Traer Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery. This wonderful oddity is what makes small-town Iowa great. Every town needs a claim to fame, and Traer could succeed alone on the Winding Stairs. To truly succeed, why not have two main attractions? Located slightly west of 63, this museum is full of thousands of salt and pepper shakers. The different types of salt and pepper shakers which have been made is astounding. It is worth the trip for anyone to make, and it fits perfectly in Tama County.

Union Grove State Park is another one to make it. While I have only been there once or twice in my life, it is impressive to have a state park located in Tama County. With a beautiful lake and three miles of trails to hike, it provides a wonderful outdoor experience. This park provides the opportunity to get back out in the wilderness of this beautiful world. While it has been a while since I traversed through this park, a trip to it may be upcoming.

Last but not least to make the Final Four is St. Wenceslaus Church. I have previously written about this beautiful church west of Clutier, but the church and the cemetery provide one of the most picturesque views in Tama County. It also provides a place of peace and solace. The sound of the wind and animals in the distance will provide a chance to reset and refocus from the craziness of the world.

This is the Final Four. Plenty of other options exist, but there can only be four. If I had to pick who would win this strong Final Four, I would go with the Traer Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery. I may be biased, but this beautiful gallery is unique and worth a visit. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in Tama County. Like the Cyclones, Hawkeyes, or the Bulldogs, let’s hope one of them will be a winner this year like the Traer Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery.

Sean Dengler is a writer, comedian, farmer, and host of the Pandaring Talk podcast who grew up on a farm between Traer and Dysart. You can reach him at sean.h.dengler@gmail.com.