Iowa – Days 1-3: Oh, Iowa…How I Love and Miss Thee

Brittany Swanson   April 23, 2016   Comments Off on Iowa – Days 1-3: Oh, Iowa…How I Love and Miss Thee

My first day in Iowa I went to Iowa City. I met up with my host and she took me on a walking tour of the University of Iowa and downtown Iowa City. Then she made dinner for us and we hung out and chatted away the evening. There were some pretty neat things about Iowa City, but my favorite was the painted benches downtown. So cool.

I loved the different painted benches in Iowa City, IA.

I loved the different painted benches in Iowa City, IA.

The following morning I got up, worked out, took a shower, and headed to the Amana Colonies. They weren’t quite what I had expected. I expected no cars or electricity and to feel like I’d stepped back in time. What I found instead was a tourist town. Cars everywhere. Electricity everywhere. The people I encountered all seemed cranky. Only one person I interacted with seemed happy to be where she was. To be fair, it was April and it was snowing, but still.

The Fudge Factory’s German Chocolate fudge at the Amana Colonies is the best fudge I’ve ever had in my entire life! It was so sweet and melted perfectly in my mouth. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water. Yum!

I made it to Des Moines in time to stop by Drake University, my alma mater, and say hello to a former professor before he headed out of town for the weekend. That was swell. I stopped in and chatted with another professor and had dinner with a third one. This time it didn’t feel weird being back. I’ve been through enough times since graduating that the novelty of returning has worn off.

As I waited for it to be time for dinner with my professor I helped the lighting designer of a show in the Studio theatre hang her light plot. That was really fun. Like ridiculously fun. I geeked out a bit more than I care to admit. I forgot how much I enjoyed working in that space. I think it was mainly just that silly hooked extension ladder. That’s the only extension ladder I’ve found that I like and actually enjoy using.

After wiping the floor with the stagecraft students (I was grounding for both the guy on the ladder and the girl in the Genie and still managed to hang five lights in the time it took him to hang two and her to hang one. Boom.) John and I went to dinner. We chatted well into the evening until he was like, B, I have to go home. It was like 9:30 p.m. Whoops.

I stopped back at the Fine Arts Center to use the restroom and while I was there my brother called. I sat and talked to him for a while and then Alex called so I talked to him for a bit too. Later I headed out to meet my host. She was so great! We chatted until 3 a.m.! Days later, I still don’t think I’ve fully recovered.

In the morning my host and I worked out and did yoga and then I headed to the Iowa Capitol Building to see the library. I hadn’t been there in years. Unfortunately, it’s closed on Saturdays. Lame. Oh well, the building itself is still pretty.

Iowa State Capitol, so pretty! Des Moines, IA.

Iowa State Capitol, so pretty! Des Moines, IA.

Then I went to the Des Moines Art Center where they had an exhibit called Arts and Letters, which the writer side of me really appreciated. My favorite part of the art museum though was this thirty minute video. It was one of those the-ball-drops-and-knocks-over-the-milk-and-the-milk-spills-and-causes-the-whatever-to-happen sequences, except it was thirty minutes long and it was more like a science fair project. Chemical reactions kept happening and flames would grow and spark other things. It was So. Freaking. Cool. However, being in a dark room with limited sound made me so sleepy I fell asleep like three different times. I tried really hard to stay awake, but I failed. My bad.

After the Art Center I met up with a couple friends from college who still live in Des Moines. We met up for a drink, had a couple, and when I told them I didn’t really have plans for the rest of the evening they offered to take me out to dinner and show me some new things around Des Moines. I agreed and the adventures commenced.

First we went to Zombie Burger and put our names down for dinner, then, while we waited the hour and forty minutes for our table we went elsewhere for a drink. As we were walking around the corner I saw the new and improved Raygun location. We’d passed by the old location earlier and I remember feeling sad thinking they’d gone out of business. Raygun, formerly known as Smash, is a t-shirt company that prints witty sayings about local and/or topical things. Since I left Des Moines Raygun has expanded to print on more than just t-shirts, and in general expanded their retail market. I learned they even have multiple locations now. Needless to say I was relieved to see Raygun was alive and thriving. I freaking love Raygun.

Raygun...it really is the greatest store in the Universe...see here for examples, Des Moines, IA.

Raygun…it really is the greatest store in the Universe…see here for examples, Des Moines, IA.

After checking out Raygun for a bit we continued around the block to Up-Down the new (to me) arcade bar. Up-Down was fun. I love arcade bars; I think they’re genius. We played Skee-ball and giant Jenga and some Simpsons game too. So fun!

Eventually, our table at Zombie Burger was ready, so we headed back there. I’d heard of Zombie Burger before but I’d never been. It was meh. I had the T-Virus burger with a veggie patty. The portobello mushroom on my burger was super rubbery. It was pretty gross. The decor of the restaurant was lightly zombie themed but that didn’t seem to justify the hour and whatever minute wait especially since the food wasn’t that great. Alas, one less thing on my bucket list I suppose.

Art inside Zombie Burger, Des Moines, IA.

Art inside Zombie Burger, Des Moines, IA.

After dinner I went back to Riane and Kevin’s to meet their puppy. Unfortunately he was a little too excited and kept trying to jump up on me. Still, gotta love puppies. I met up with my host downtown and we went out for a drink before heading back to her place and calling it a night.