I'm having dinner at a little steakhouse near Omaha. It's the final leg of a long day of driving, 600+ miles, to a small Iowa town in order to do a story about the Iowa Caucus. I hate to even say the term but “flyover states” like Nebraska and Iowa get a bad rap. They have their own kind of beautiful and are filled with honest, hard working people with no pretense. But they are sparsely populated and essentially rural where except for a few places that my buddy who works on Wall Street would barely call cities. These states are filled with tiny and isolated towns that are little more than specks on the map. So as I left Denver this morning I really didn't come to anything that amounted to more than an oversized truckstop until I got here whereby I decided that I could get a brew and hot slab of bovine tastiness of actual quality. Luckily in this world of homogeneity there are always the usual suspects of fast food joints but unless I really have to I bypass those. Neither tasty nor cheap but if that is all you have …
My bag of snacks from home has kept my hunger at bay, some of my mothers left over holiday cookies are always a welcome addition, but this stop as they say hits the spot. The steak is quite good and Kacey my spunky waitress properly tempted me with their freshly ground horseradish. Yeah!
Ya see, I love traveling for pleasure and tolerate traveling for business. Being a “foodie”, craft brewing aficionado and over-all city boy, I tend to like the finer things that are hard to come by in small towns in say, South Dakota. Coming home is not just because my wife and familiar bed is waiting for me but I can often finally get, sorry for the tone of snobbery, a proper meal and pint.
When the wife and I travel it's often to locations that we pick specifically for their food/drink options. We might swing by a monument or museum between eating stops so as to work up a good appetite for the next round of gustatory delights but that's about it. A bit ago the wife and I decided that for our ten year anniversary we are likely going to go to Vienna to celebrate. When we mention this people say things like.”Oh Vienna is lovely, very romantic and filled with history and culture!” But we reply “Yeah, a history of great cheese, sausage, schnitzel and beer. Oh and the architecture isn't bad either.”
So given that bit of background you can understand how my friends upon hearing that I was headed the hinterlands of rural Iowa, yes I know that's a bit redundant, gave me a sad look because they know that I would be in the land of meatloaf and boiled potatoes. Well certainly not MY meatloaf that is.
But let me say this: all of the people that I've spoken to in Iowa to set up appointments, access and subjects have been flat out the nicest people I may have ever spoken to. Friendly, open, accommodating and humble. I'm looking forward to meeting them and documenting their lives. Should be a hoot. However I know that I will be in the flat lands where there is no looming mountain range to give you a sense of direction. I hate that.
Much like when you spend time in a foreign country, and to many Iowa qualifies as such, it will be a wonderful experience but it will also be great to be home and back into my usual groove. After the story runs I'll do a post about that.