So...I made my yearly "summer trek" to Iowa last week, and, for the first time ever, it didn't feel like I was "going home"...which was REALLY weird. Don't get me wrong, it was still COMPLETELY comfortable, and fun, and delightful, and wonderful...but I found myself thinking..."okay...a week here, then I get to go HOME". Again...COMPLETELY WEIRD...
The drive down was uneventful...it was a BEAUTIFUL, sunny day, so a very mellow drive. I did the obligatory stop in Pella for goodies from Jaarsma Bakery. This time, I bought enough to give some to each of my "hosts" for the week. It still strikes me as odd that there isn't a Dutch bakery anywhere in the twin cities. UNFORTUNATELY (or fortunately...depending on how you look at it), I discovered that Jaarsma has a nationwide delivery service...CRAP...goodbye waistline...!
I got to Fairfield around 5:00, dropped off my stuff at Tena's ("homestay" #1), and headed over to spend the evening with my buddy Carol. We had a DELIGHTFUL time catching up. She made a LOVELY dinner, and we discussed her dining room makeover, and the new living room furniture she hoped to purchase. She said that she wanted to go to Slumberland to pick stuff out, and I wondered where the nearest one was...turns out it's in OSKALOOSA (about an hour's drive back up the road I'd just traveled down). FUNNY, when I think that my nearest Slumberland is THREE BLOCKS FROM MY HOUSE. Ah small town life...
After hanging with Carol for the evening, I headed back to Tena's. She was in the Way Off Broadway production of "Annie" at the Sondheim (one of the reasons I came to Iowa in July...when it's hot and miserable...), and I attempted to wait up for her to get home. She had a couple of parties at which to make appearances, so I ended up going to bed before she got home.
Saturday, I drove to Cedar Rapids to pick Duane up at the airport, so he could spend part of the weekend in Fairfield as well. Tena came with me/us, which was good, because, except for a few minutes Saturday night and a few minutes Sunday morning, that was the only chance we had to see her.
We stopped in Iowa City for sushi on the way back (well...Tena had sushi, Duane and I had tempura...), and had a GREAT time catching up. It was WAY too little time with her, but...quality vs. quantity!
After we got back, we went to Hy-Vee (because that's what we DO when we go to Fairfield!), then headed to Carol's. Carol and Duane have become TIGHT friends over the years, and it's always fun to see them interact!
Duane and Carol
Carol and me
Duane and me
We went to Bibo, which used to be Regina's, in the Broadway building for dinner, and it was good (I had the Tuscan artichoke chicken), but not fabulous. It WASN'T Regina's, and I need to stop trying to compare the two, because they just aren't the same...
After dinner we walked around the square for a bit, and looked at the birdhouse displays that they've set up as part of their summer art show.
We then headed to the Sondheim to see "Annie". It was a DELIGHTFUL show (although...having seen Maplewood do it last fall, and now this summer production, it's safe to say that I'd be fine NEVER seeing this show again...).
The show was very slick...great acting, wonderful singing (Tena, of course, was BRILLIANT!), and had very cool staging, sets, and costumes. Tena's boyfriend Andrew was also in the cast, and he too, was wonderful in his role. I'm always a little jealous when I see one of these shows...these opportunities certainly weren't available when I was living there...sigh...
Me and Tena (who still looks mean...even though she's smiling!)
After the show, Andrew came over to Tena's and we had a little more time to chat and catch up. We were all tired, so didn't stay up very late.
Sunday, we chatted a little more with Tena, then headed back to Cedar Rapids so Duane could catch his flight back to the cities (it was a VERY brief visit). There's a really cool sculpture of "travelers" near the entrance to the airport. I FINALLY had a chance to explore and take some photos (we're usually in too big of a hurry to arrive somewhere or leave for somewhere to take the time). Here are a couple of photos of it:
After dropping Duane off, I headed to Coralridge Mall. to do some shopping (I found the Fiestaware 5 piece dinner set I was looking for, in turquoise, ON SALE), then headed to Kelly's ("homestay" #2). Kelly and I are friends from my days in grad school. She moved to Seattle after graduating, and we visited her once while we were in Washington. She moved back to Iowa City about a year ago, and lives in North Liberty. It was GREAT to see her again!
We caught up for awhile, then I headed to my friend LaDawn's for dinner in Cedar Rapids. We had a LOVELY time chatting, playing a video karaoke competition game, and Trivial Pursuit (also electronic). I hadn't seen her (or Chris!) for a year or two, and our e-mails have been sporadic, at best, so it was great to find out what was going on with them, and to catch them up on my life, as well.
Monday, I got ready, and headed into Iowa City to see what had changed, and what had stayed the same. I made a brief stop at the North Liberty Public Library to say hi to my friend Jennie (also from grad school), found a Caribou Coffee House (YAY...THEY HAVE CARIBOU IN IOWA!!!), then headed downtown.
It's always a little strange to go back to a place where you spent a great deal of time, in another life, when you were a different person, and see it through more objective eyes. I LOVE Iowa City, but for some reason, it felt really "small town" this time. I'm sure living in Minneapolis has a lot to do with that, but it was also something about the way people dressed, acted, etc. that made it seem a little "rural".
Anyway...it was GREAT to be in Iowa City. LOTS of things have changed (like the Old Capital Mall, which is now called something else, and is mostly occupied by University of Iowa departments that were displaced from the flood a few years back), but lots of things that were the same...Iowa Book and Supply, the Ped Mall, Prairie Lights Books, The Soap Opera, and Mickey's, where I met Kelly for lunch.
Kelly at Mickey's!!
After a FABULOUS Mickey's chimichanga (who knew??!!), we drove around town for a bit, looked closer at the damage around Hancher, the theater building, the art building, etc., then stopped briefly at Sycamore Mall (where Kelly found a FABULOUS pair of purple sandals at Von Maur). I then took Kelly back to work, and I headed to Kalona to have dinner with my friend Jim.
I can't remember where Jim and I met. I THINK it was at Faith United Church of Christ, when I was attending services there during my last few years in Fairfield. We've kept in touch, and he's a good friend. We had a GREAT time chatting, and enjoying his FABULOUS back yard. He's done a lot of work on it. Here are a couple of photos.
Tuesday, I packed up the car (I had LOTS of help from one of Kelly's "found" cats, Felix, who kept wanting to get inside everything, and, apparently, come with me), put air in the tire that kept making the "low tire pressure" light on the dashboard come on, and headed back to Fairfield.
I meandered back, stopping at Menard's in Iowa City to get paint samples for Carol's dining room, stopping at a Goodwill and an antique store in Washington, and taking several "back roads" along the way.
I got to town just in time to have lunch with DeeAnn, Trish, Scott, and Carol at Revelations. I hadn't really HAD my Revelations fix yet...having only stopped in for coffee on the first morning in town, so it was GOOD to actually get to sit at a table there, and enjoy one of their FABULOUS pizzas! As usual, I had the Greek Pizza, with artichokes, kalamata olives, and garlic.
Carol and Trish
After lunch, I hung around at Carol's ("homestay" #3) for awhile, then headed to Hairstyles Unlimited to have Jeannie, my former stylist, cut my hair. She didn't have any openings, so had me come after she closed. We chatted, drank wine, and had a GREAT time coming up with the "fauxhawk" below!
At lunch, DeeAnn mentioned that it was "community band concert" night, and my friend Fred was celebrating his 45th birthday with a party, so we decided to be PARTY ANIMALS, and attend both! It was DELIGHTFUL to see a TON of people I knew at the band concert, and it was also fun to see old friends, and meet new ones at Fred's party! It turns out Fred and Sue moved into a house that I used to play in as a child...it was right around the corner from where I grew up. Small world...
Deena, with whom I worked at the Fairfield Public Library!
Catching up with Suzanne at Fred's birthday party!
Trish and me
Chatting with Scott
After the party, we headed to Scott and Trish's to see their daugher Emily's senior pictures, which, as is the family tradition, were taken in St. Simon's Island, Georgia. After staying up WAY TOO LATE, we went back to Carol's and CONKED OUT!
Wendesday, we headed to Slumberland in Oskaloosa to look for new living room furniture. They actually had a pretty good selection of stuff, and, after only a little searching, found what we were looking for. Here's the chair that Carol chose (two, actually, with an ottoman)...
...but in THIS color...
...and here's the loveseat she picked out (with my encouragement). She's still not completely sure this is what she wants (red is a little bit outside her comfort zone), but I think it's going to look AMAZING (the pillows will NOT be included in the decor)!
Carol is also FINALLY having the wallpaper taken off her dining room walls (today, in fact), and we chose a LOVELY light brown that she's going to use. We also found a slightly darker brown that she's going to use to paint the inside of the built-in cabinet (which is currently a dirty, pool-turquoise color). It's going to look FABULOUS!!!! Here's the old wallpaper (that we started picking at a few days ago...).
After picking out furniture, we went to "downtown" Oskaloosa, and had lunch at a GREAT Mexican place, (I think it was called Miranhito's). I had a LOVELY chicken mole dish...very "cinnamon-y"! We then went to a COOL independent bookstore, called the Book Vault, which used to be a bank. You can go into the various vaults and look at genre specific books. I found the "mysteries", and books on "Al Capone", housed in one vault PARTICULARLY fun!
We then took some photos at the gazebo in Central Park (below), then headed back to Fairfield.
Chief Mahaska, for whom Mahaska County is named.
After the Oskaloosa trip, we hung out at the house for awhile (napping, reading, and being low-key...my first chance to do so since getting to town!), then I headed to my friend Claudette's and we took a walk along some of the trails near Chautauqua Park. NOTHING says comfortable and pleasant like a walk down a dirt path in Iowa in July, when the heat index is 105 degrees! Ugh! I forgot how uncomfortable Iowa can be in the summer, but it was GREAT catching up with Claudette, finding out all that's happening at the library, around town, with her family, and in general!
The evening ended with television and wine on Carol's sofa (the loveseat had, earlier in the day, been relegated to the garage, in preparation for the new, RED loveseat that's set to arrive next week!). It was a LOVELY, mellow end to the visit.
Thursday, I got up, packed, loaded the car, stopped at Revelations for one last coffee (and their AMAZING triple berry scones!), stopped at Fairfield Flower to send a bouquet to a former co-worker who is recovering from surgery, then started the LONG AND TEDIOUS drive back to the cities.
I stopped in Des Moines to TRY to pick up an 8 foot by 2 foot Northwest Airlines sign that Duane bought on e-bay, but, after trying several times, UNSUCCESSFULLY, to cram it in my car, gave up, and will now have to go back with a larger vehicle to get it. It ALMOST fit, and, if I were willing to have it rest on my head, blocking any view out any window of my car, for the four hour trip, WOULD have. Sigh...
One quick stop at the antique mall in Story City, and I'm now back in the cities, unpacking, doing a TON of laundry, and thinking about all the FUN I had this past week. Great friends, great times, 1,300 more miles on the car...oy!!!!
Here's hoping YOU had a chance to catch up with friends recently, and that YOU were able to do it without driving...and driving...and driving...and driving!