Saturday, November 10, 2007

Go (Mid) West!

As mentioned in the previous post, leaving Chicago marked (for us anyway) the big turn westward. It meant the end of the “travel around seeing friends and relatives and cool stuff” phase and the beginning of the “let’s head towards our new home” phase. Now it's less about “getting out of Florida” and more about “heading towards Canada.”

We knew we’d be doing a lot of visiting people and sightseeing up to this point, so we deliberately designed the trips to Iowa and Nebraska to be quick excursions, not staying long enough to really “do” anything other than rest. Nevertheless, Heather wanted to take the opportunity to visit her iPal* MamaRose, who lived in Iowa City. It was on the way and wouldn’t waylay us for long, so why not?

(I’ve invented the term “iPal” to denote that the person is best known through an online connection and may or may not have ever actually been spoken to or seen “in real life.” Maybe I'm getting old, but to me there’s a difference between “iPals” and “real” pals, so we're very happy to have MamaRose as a “real” pal now.)

Turns out Iowa City is another college town (Iowa State University of Iowa), and a pleasant one at that. We took a tour around and ended up at the famous (in Iowa politics, anyway) Hamburg Inn #2 (the first one was destroyed in a fire), where we had a blueberry pie milkshake -- yes, take a slice of pie, whipped cream and all, add ice cream and milk, put in blender and drink the result -- and voted in the “coffee bean caucus.” I won't mention here who I voted for, since it may or may not be anyone I would vote for (or have the chance to vote for) in the general election, but I will say that I was surprised to see that in Iowa City at least, Barack Obama was leading all other contenders by a wide margin. Hardly scientific, but the coffee bean caucus did correctly predict the winner of the Iowa state caucus last time around. We could be in for some surprises.

I felt bad for Duncan Hunter. His coffee bean jar was completely empty. Almost gave him a mercy vote. Almost.

We stayed for two days in Des Moines and did absolutely nothing remarkable. Mostly errands and restocking type chores. We've traded Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie-style houses for actual prairies.

On 7-Nov we made the less-than-fascinating drive from Des Moines to Lincoln, Nebraska. We noticed the slow dulling of the landscape, turning ever flatter and farm-heavy as we went. Nebraska doesn't have a lot of big cities, just Omaha and Lincoln. We are already, in just these two road trips, covering a lot of ground in “flyover country” and we have to say that while Iowa City and Des Moines felt very “midwestern,” Lincoln feels quite a bit more “western,” a phenomenon that will certainly increase as we move along.

Sadly, we don't have a lot of photos to share with you of our Iowa or Nebraska trips; Heather already posted about her visit with MamaRose, and that has one of the few pictures we took while in those cities. We only stayed in Des Moines for two days, and in Lincoln just overnight. I will say this about Lincoln, however: we were there long enough to find out that those people know what the heck they are talking about when the subject is steak/beef/cattle. Yum!

We'll put up a very small picture gallery, plus our tales of driving the width of Nebraska (!!) and down through Wyoming into Colorado in our next post. Stay tuned!