ISD Road Trip: Clear Lake, “the day the music died”

ISD road trip to took the Daily staff to Clear Lake, Iowa, located in north central Iowa.

Frances Myers

“A long long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. And I knew if I had my chance that I could make those people dance. And maybe they’d be happy for a while. But February made me shiver with every paper I’d deliver bad news on the doorstep. I couldn’t take one more step. I can’t remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride. But something touched me deep inside the day the music died.

“And they were singing,

“Bye, bye Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry. Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye. Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die. This’ll be the day that I die.”

“The day the music died.” If you have never heard the classic “American Pie,” by Don McLean, you may be unaware of what this phrase refers to. Even if you have heard the song, you may be unaware of its deeper meaning. The day the music died refers to the fateful day when the plane carrying rock ‘n’ roll icons Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa. They had just finished up a concert Feb. 3, 1959, at the famed Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake.

For this week’s road trip, the Daily decided Clear Lake was a place that offers a little bit of everything. You like music? Surf Ballroom. Many great acts have performed there, including Waylon Jennings, Faith Hill, The Who, Santana, REO Speedwagon, Kansas, Alice Cooper, The Doobie Brothers, B.B. King, ZZ Top, Martina McBride, Lynryd Skynyrd, as well as so many others.

Looking for a challenge? When we arrived in Clear Lake, we felt like we wanted to change things up a bit. We felt a challenge was just what we needed. Therefore, we checked out the Fort Custer Maze. For $6, you can challenge yourself and some friends to find your way to eight different checkpoints within this maze. This maze covers an area of fewer than two acres and has two miles of trails. Believe me, you’ll get your share of exercise trying to get through this. The objective of the maze is to find eight stamps that are located within four corner towers, three bridges and one central outlook post. Oh, and one other thing. You’re timed. If you do this with some friends, it can be a really good time.

Are you more of an outdoors person? Lo and behold there’s the lake, appropriately named Clear Lake. Here, you can go fishing, boating, swimming or do like we did and just enjoy the breeze while sitting on the dock. Be careful if you happen to take your flip-flops off, though. One of our staff members had one of hers blown into the water. Lucky for her, though, the same strong breeze that blew it off the dock also carried it swiftly onto shore.

For food, we decided the Boathouse Bar and Grill would be nice. This is open 5 to 10 p.m. daily and features a variety of food. We stuffed ourselves on some great fried food, thereby reclaiming all those calories lost in the maze. What can we say? After all, we are college kids.

Going to Clear Lake made me realize a few things: Live life now. Go to the lake with your friends. Get lost in life’s twists and turns. Find your way out. Have fun. And most of all: Live your life to your own tune.