An epic road trip

The Epic Iowa Road Trip made a stop in Hamilton County Wednesday afternoon. The big blue tour bus, covered in photos of Iowa attractions, is on Day 5 of a nine-day bus trip criss-crossing the state. During the trip, the bus will visit 33 counties, 46 communities, 60 unique destination and will travel more than 2,000 miles.

But Wednesday afternoon, the travel party was focused on Hamilton County, especially Briggs Woods Park.

“This area is absolutely beautiful. We’ve seen Briggs Woods Park and now we’re going to check out the golf course,” said Shawna Lode, Iowa Tourism office manager, who is riding the bus all week.

“With the river, the lake, the cabins here, there are lots of opportunities for folks who want to get out and explore the outdoors,” she said.

The travel party changes a little bit each day, she said. Among the passengers are staff members from the Iowa Tourism office who talk about the places they visit on social media. There is also representation from the three Iowa regional tourism associations. Ann Vogelbacher, executive director of the Central Iowa Tourism Region, Webster City, was traveling with the group Wednesday.

“We want to say thank you to Hamilton County and Hamilton County Conservation for hosting us today. They shared all of the great things that have been done and developed to make Hamilton County a great destination for travelers,” Vogelbacher said.

“Every county – large or small – has something to offer the traveling public,” she said.

There is also a camera crew traveling on the bus documenting the trip in film which are then posted on YouTube. Some will have Debi Durham, director of Iowa Economic Development Authority, Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, and others.

Scott Siepker, actor, a film maker and ESPN contributor, a.k.a. Iowa Nice Guy, is traveling with the group for the entire nine-day trip.

“He’s kind of the host of our trip and is the star of those films that are being posted on YouTube,” Lode said.

“So far, it has definitely been epic,” he said, “because every time that door opens on the bus, I have no idea what’s about to happen. Whether it’s in Pella or Newton or Eldon – every place we go whether it’s big or small, there’s always something that surprises me.”

Wednesday’s stop was not Siepker’s first trip to Hamilton County and Webster City, but he said he was intrigued by Briggs Woods Golf Course.

“I’m kind of thinking I may have to slash the tires on the bus so I can stick around and play the course,” he said. “I guess I’ll have to come back sometime and play 18.”

Siepker had high praise for Webster City, too.

“The community has always been great to me,” he said, “ignoring the fact that you guys beat us in high school basketball to go to state but I’m not holding any grudges at all.”

“The people here are wonderful and it’s a great place to come and chill out. Murph and Andy rave about you guys,” said Siepker. Sportscasters Keith Murphy and Andy Fales brought RVTV to Webster City last September. More than 2,200 people turned out for the celebration.

“You know how to treat tourists when they come to town. I would recommend this destination anyone,” Siepker said.