Friday, August 26, 2011
the hills of Iowa make me wish that I could
(Photo taken by TumblingRun on Flickr)
We just returned from a family trip to Iowa. I'll admit that Iowa is a state I hadn't given much thought to. I've never driven through it on any of my cross country trips, nor have I ever had even an airport layover there. I figured it would be hot, flat, and full of corn. Friends of mine moved there several years ago from Seattle, and I didn't really understand it.
But now I get it. It's a really pretty state. We drove from Des Moines to Cedar Rapids and saw a lot of corn, of course, but the land was so pretty and green and...open. It's not like Seattle where buildings and streets and new subdivisions are crammed into tiny spaces. There are lots of trees and hills, so not nearly as flat as I expected.
I will admit that our restaurant experiences were not so great - a lot of pan-fried, deep-fried and more fried stuff made me CRAVE fresh vegetables by the end of our trip. Though I did learn that a 'tenderloin' there is a battered, deep-fried piece of pork on a bun.
But the rundown looking Hy-Vee grocery store near our hotel had a HUGE organic/natural foods section rivaling any respectable Seattle grocery and had several different brands of soy milk including T's favorite Soy Dream. In fact, they had the soy yogurt and soy cheese I have to go to Whole Foods to get here in Redmond. And even more shocking were the prices. A 1 pound box of Barilla pasta was $1.50. I'm pretty sure we pay close to $3 for it in Seattle. A pound of *organic* grapes was $2 (!). Zoiks.
And I figured that I'd get a lot of leery looks of the "you ain't from around here" type that were pretty frequent when I was working in Butte, MT. But no! There were brown people everywhere and more than a few mixed-race couples with kids. There were other Asians, too. Not *quite* as diverse as Seattle, but not nearly as far off as I expected.
So, if I were performance reviewing our trip, I'd say it "exceeded expectations". We had fun with family, T got some grandparent and auntie-time, and my misconceptions about the state of Iowa melted away quicker than soy cheese in a quesadilla. We could have done without T's vomiting incident on the plane, likely brought on by the Denver airport Mesa Verde Grill totally disregarding our allergy questions/instructions. (Another time I was glad T's reaction to dairy is likely not anaphylactic.)
It also turns out I have a bunch of people in my Facebook friends list that have some connection to Iowa - family is from there, they were born there, used to live there, etc. Who knew?
Our friends in Des Moines live close to a brand new huge shopping area that reminds me a lot of the ones you see in Phoenix. It has a Trader Joe's and I'm pretty sure I saw a Starbucks. And it turns out Microsoft is building a datacenter nearby. Us living in Iowa? Never say never...