Best Pumpkin Patches in Central Iowa

best pumpkin patchesOne of the greatest fall traditions is to take your family out to a farm and pick your own pumpkins for carving. However, in Central Iowa, there are lots of great spots to choose from. What are the best pumpkin patches to go to in Iowa?

Center Grove Orchard: This one landed the #1 spot on Des Moines Parent’s fall bucket list for a reason. Both pumpkins and apples are available here, along with hayrides, corn and hay mazes, and even weekend festivals with live music.

The Pumpkin Ranch: From homemade goods like cider, hot chocolate, and pastries to unique attractions like zip lines and a 9-acre maze, the Pumpkin Ranch is a great choice.

Howell’s Pumpkin Patch: Howell’s also landed the fall bucket list in the #5 spot. Come see and interact with live animals and visit the Greenhouse. Plus, all attractions are included in one upfront price.

Geisler Farms: Once you pay admission to Geisler Farms, you also get access to their aptly-named “Fun Zone,” including all-ages entertainment like pedal karts, corn hole, and rubber duck races.

North River Adventure Corn Maze: North River offers the corn maze in addition to other attractions like jumping pillow, a tire mound, and even a party barn. Come check out the fun and enjoy drinks and snacks onsite, too.

These are some of the best pumpkin patches in Central Iowa, so why don’t you go give them a shot? Have fun!

Five Tips for Detailing Your Car

Five Tips for Detailing Your CarYour car is a lot like your body. You have to provide it with its nutrients, take it in for checkups, and keep it clean and maintained. Here are five tips for detailing your car like a pro.

Blow Away the Dirt

The best place to start is the cracks and corners in your vehicle. You should use compressed air to blow the dirt out of the hidden cracks and into the middle of your car where it can be vacuumed up easily.

Keep the Smell Fresh

While you have the air compressor out, you should turn it on your vents to get rid of any build up that you may have in the vents.

Avoid Acid Based Cleaners

When you go to clean your tires, you should stay away from acid based cleaners to avoid damaging the ri

Choose to Hand Wash

When you hand wash, you familiarize yourself with your car’s shapes and features. When you do wash it, though, make sure to use dedicated car cleaning soap—avoid using dish soap, since it can strip protective layers off of your car.

Go Back for Seconds

Simply washing your car one time usually isn’t enough for most people. If you run your hand over the paint, and it feels rough, you should wash your car a second time.

By following these five detailing tips, you will keep your car looking fresh and maintained.

Best Midwest Road Trip

Best Midwest Road Trip

While the Midwest gets a bad name at times for being all farmland, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy. Although it isn’t quite as famous as Route 66, the Lake Superior Circle Tour is one of the best road trips in America.

The Lake Superior Circle Tour spans across Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and it touches more than 2,700 miles of beautiful shoreline. From cliffs to waterfalls to views of the vast Lake Superior, there are plenty of changes in landscape to keep you interested.

Some of the more interesting sites that you can see on your trip are:

  • The Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota
  • Kakabeka Falls in Ontario
  • Ouimet Canyon in Ontario
  • The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Michigan
  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan

You can spend as much or as little time as you want on this trip, but if you want to truly enjoy the scenery you should plan for at least five days to be able to sit back and enjoy the local food, lighthouses, and different towns that make this part of the country so special.

If you’re looking for an easy, beautiful road trip in the Midwest, the Lake Superior Circle Tour is a great place to start.

How to Keep Your Car Cool on Hot Days

keep your car cool

August is the hottest month of the year, so figuring out how to keep your car cool when it’s hot outside is vital. The inside of your car can get dangerously hot at peak temperatures, so follow these tips on cooling it off.

If you have a garage, park your car inside. If not, leave the windows down if you’re comfortable—or just open them a crack—and try to park under a tree or somewhere in the shade. If you have to park somewhere without shade, it’s a good idea to invest in a sun shade that folds out and sits in your windshield to reflect the sun away from your car.

When you first get into your car, try changing the air so that you’re only using the bottom vents. Roll your windows down and let the cool air push the hot air up and out of the car. Once it cools off a bit, you can switch back over to the top vents.

If the sun is too hot or bright when you’re driving, you might want to look into getting your windows tinted. Always keep antifreeze in your car, as hot weather can lead to your engine overheating. And make sure your tires are inflated properly—hot weather can damage them if they’re underinflated.

What is Magnetic Ride Control?

First debuting in a 2002 Cadillac, Magnetic Ride Control has maintained its position as the most advanced suspension system in the automotive industry. Capable of adjusting instantaneously, this suspension system offers a smooth, flexible ride without many complicated parts. Here at Watters Autoland, we have a quick and easy-to-understand explanation of what Magnetic Ride Control is and how it works!

To react to changes in the road instantaneously, the shock absorbers are filled with a special polymer fluid that’s filled with small magnetized iron particles. Electromagnetic coils wrap around the shock absorbers. When an electric charge shoots through the liquid, the particles change the liquid’s viscosity, ranging from a free-flowing liquid to dense rubber.

Magnetic Ride Control is known as the quickest reacting suspension system ever created. By using an Electronic Control Unit and multiple sensors, the system reads the condition of the road up to 1,000 times per second. By reading the road, the system detects potholes, crack, craters, and other abnormalities. The system adjusts the shock absorbers accordingly, effectively reducing vibrations and enhancing ride quality and handling.

As a result of Magnetic Ride Control, vehicles can be designed with handling for the track and a ride fit for back country roads. That’s a huge advancement in technology and considering the most recent generation includes a competitive drive mode, General Motors still has plenty more to come.

How to Stay on Top of Summer Tire Maintenance

Summer Tire Maintenance

Make sure your tires are properly maintained for those summer road trips.

It’s easy to forget about car maintenance in the summer. There are other things on your mind, like packing for vacation, finding someone to watch the kids while you’re at work, and that family cookout coming up in a week or two. But while winter can be tough on your wheels, summer tire maintenance is just as crucial.

It’s basic science: while cold temperatures make tires lose pressure faster, hot temperatures cause tires to expand, which makes them more likely to blow. This is exacerbated by the constant friction of tires on hot pavement.

As a result, drivers should make an effort to check their tires on a monthly basis and make sure their tires are properly inflated to the recommended pressure — no more and no less. An underinflated tire is also at risk of blowing out, as the lack of air puts too much pressure on the sidewalls. Additionally, if you notice a particular tire may be underinflated more often, it could indicate a leak or puncture.

Other summer tire maintenance includes keeping an eye on your tread. Tread that is uneven or too worn can indicate that it’s time to get your tires realigned or even replaced completely. You should also keep a spare in your vehicle at all times just as a backup plan.

Outdoor Fun at the Des Moines Principal Riverwalk

Outdoor Fun at the Des Moines Principal Riverwalk

300 miles of Cetnral Iowa trails to explore.

Located at the heart of the downtown area, the Des Moines Principal Riverwalk is a central hub for many of the fun locations and activities nearby. From public landscaping to local art displays and more, the pathways and bridges of the Principal Riverwalk link up to 300 miles of Central Iowa trails.

Take a stroll across nearby points of interest such as the Union Railroad Bridge or Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge. There’s also the Promenade, various trails such as the Meredith Trail and Multi-Use Trail, the Hansen Triangle, and the recently-renovated Long Look Garden. The garden and Hansen Triangle both present public art, along with the Riverwalk’s Hub Spot, a food spot that offers hand-made sandwiches, local craft beers, fresh pastries, and more.

Riverwalk Hub summer hours are Tuesday through Thursday 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. On Fridays and Saturdays, the hub opens at the same time, but stays open an hour later until 9:00 PM. The Hub is closed on Sunday.

The Des Moines Principal Riverwalk completed construction in 2013, and since its completion, the Riverwalk has attracted all sorts of people to the Des Moines downtown area and encouraged development in surrounding areas. With beautiful sites, local art, and delicious food, the Riverwalk has something for everyone.

Next-Generation Buick Regal Could Be a Wagon

Next-Generation Buick RegalWagons aren’t typically a big deal in the United States. General Motors offers the Opel Insignia in Europe, where it’s hailed as a sleek and modern offering in the segment, but the Insignia is only available in the U.S. in the form of its sedan variant, rebadged as the Buick Regal. However, at the recent annual Buick-GMC dealer meeting, General Motors confirmed that the next-generation Buick Regal could come in the form of a rebadged Opel Insignia Sports Tourer wagon.

At the meeting, held in Austin, Texas, dealers and correspondents were shown the upcoming 2018 Enclave, 2018 Regal, and Regal GS in addition to the wagon variant. Industry experts expect the Regal wagon will receive all-wheel drive, though powertrain information was not given at the meeting. GM Authority also discovered some time ago that General Motors filed a trademark for the name “Buick Regal TourX,” which may or may not become the name of the U.S. wagon variant.

It is speculated that the 2018 Buick Regal, along with its wagon version, will make its onstage debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, which is still a few months away. The vehicle itself is expected to launch sometime mid-2017 due to its 2018 model year.

In a market that’s increasingly saturated by crossovers and SUVs, making the next-generation Buick Regal a wagon seems to be a risky move. However, General Motors could be strategically filling empty spaces on the market in order to appeal to niche crowds, as well as consumers with more mainstream tastes. More information will likely be available as the 2018 Regal wagon is revealed to the public.

Visit the Buxton Park Arboretum in Indianola, Iowa

 Buxton Park ArboretumThe center of scenic Indianola, Iowa is the city’s crown jewel of a park — the Buxton Park Arboretum. Loaded with beautiful glimpses into nature, woodland trails for recreational use, a gazebo that can be rented in advance for private events, and a variety of interesting plant life in the gardens, Buxton Park is the ideal place for anyone looking for a beautiful outdoor experience during the summer — or during the rest of the year, too.

Located adjacent to Simpson College at West Girard and North B Street, Buxton Park offers sights such as the lovely butterfly garden, several formal gardens including the Memorial Garden, a bike trail, a fountain, sculptures, public art, and more. Whether you’re just out for a stroll, looking for a place to hold an upcoming event, or looking for something beautiful to photograph, you can find it in Buxton Park.

There’s even a self-guided Tree Tour through the arboretum you can take, outlined in a pamphlet that can be found near the gazebo. Along the tour, you will find a tree that is the largest of its species in Iowa, a conifer that loses its foliage in the fall, and a Kousa Dogwood that’ll be up for adoption at this year’s Adopt-A-Tree event, as well as some interesting facts about the historical uses for bark and wood.

Make sure to make time to visit the Buxton Park Arboretum next time you’re driving through Indianola, Iowa, the place we here at Watters Autoland call home. With everything from the work of local artists to an outdoor trail to carefully-cultivated gardens, Buxton Park is a sight you need to see.

Replacing the Serpentine Belt in Your Car

replacing the serpentine beltIf you hear a squealing sound from underneath your hood, check the serpentine belt. If it’s frayed or even broken, it’s time to replace it, as this belt controls the alternator, power steering pump, and a whole lot of other important things.

Replacing a serpentine belt is possible to do at home, and frequent DIYers will probably find it fairly easy, but it’s not really beginner level. If you’re more advanced, though, give it a shot.

Grab your owner’s manual and find the diagram of the serpentine belt system for reference, and then pop your hood and find the belt. Then find the tensioner, which should be located very near the belt—check the diagram. Move the tensioner so the belt is loose enough to pull it off.

That’s the easy part. The trickier part is getting it onto all those pulleys. There are a lot of them. Again, reference the diagram in the manual to make sure you’re putting the belt on correctly.

When the belt is on correctly, turn the tensioner back so the belt is tight again and use a belt tension gauge to make sure it’s the right tightness.