Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Iowa trip notes

Iowa always makes me feel somewhat nostalgic. Part of the reason is because I went to school down here. Another reason is because countless family trips have always taken us through Iowa. Here are a few random trip notes from my Des Moines Marathon weekend:
  • I stopped at the "Primary Iowa Welcome Center" (exact words on the highway sign) just across the border on my way down. It was a really nice center fashioned like an old red barn. It made me wonder if there was a "Secondary Iowa Welcome Center" and what that might be like. :)
Welcome to Iowa!


  • On both my trip down and back, I had the iPod plugged into the car stereo playing on shuffle mode (which is different from the "shuffle mode" that sometimes happens when running a long race!). This almost instinctively played a pleasing mix containing a ton of Son Volt, The Jayhawks, Gear Daddies, Shooter Jennings, and Wilco (including numerous selections from the "Mermaid Avenue" vol. 1 & 2 collaboration with Billy Bragg), which was so incredibly appropriate for a trip across the rural heartland of America. I was beginning to think the iPod had a GPS that synched with the shuffle mode.
  • I also stopped at a rest area that was extremely close to the hometown of a girl I knew in college. I was interested in dating her, but my overtures were met with a metaphoric stiff arm closely resembling the "Heisman Trophy pose." I wondered what ever happened to her, and if she realizes she could have potentially landed a slender, studly marathoner? :)
My historic hotel


  • As I said in my previous post, I stayed at the Renaissance Savery Hotel in downtown Des Moines. It was the host hotel for the event, and it is a beautiful facility that is actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The great thing about these hotels during marathon weekends - everyone is on the same schedule and goes to bed early! The hotel was almost eerily quiet.
  • My pre-race dinner in Des Moines was at the Court Avenue Brewing Company, which was only a couple blocks from my hotel. The "Pesto Chicken Pasta" came highly recommended from my server who resembled the adorable Daisy character on the TV show "Bones." She didn't lie - the dish was delicious. It consisted of grilled chicken in a pesto cream sauce with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and pine nuts over farfalle pasta. Their beer sounded good too, but, you know, I had a marathon in the morning! So I settled on their homemade root beer, which was excellent. A classy pub atmosphere, and a very tasty dinner.
Welcome to Swaledale!


  • My family and I always loved the name of the town of Swaledale and remarked about it every time we drove by. It just kind of flows off the tongue, don't you think? Best of all, the tiny little town has a wonderful sense of humor. Only a mile off the Interstate, they have a sign on nearly every telephone pole leading into town - cute little signs that say things like: "Looking for Swaledale?" "Well, here it is!" "Next 7 Exits." Great stuff. There was also a sign referencing polka being an Iowa state law. And, apparently there have been some good ghost sightings in the area. I love this town!

Until next time,

Jean
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