Saturday, June 5, 2010

Midwestern sightseeing

Last weekend included a Monday holiday. We (well, really DP) decided that we needed a change of scene, so we headed off on a road trip. (Or, as my sister said, “You’re going to stay in a different hotel!”) Since we’re still total newcomers in this part of the US, just going to a different state that we’ve never been to before sounds exciting, so that’s what we did. Two, actually: Nebraska and Iowa. DP found some Miss-B-friendly sights to base our itinerary around (trains in Omaha, animals in Des Moines); I did some restaurant research; and we headed off on the back roads to see a little bit more of the Midwest. Here are some of the things we discovered.



1. This part of the country is not as uniformly flat or as full of cornfields as stereotypes would have you believe. In parts of western Iowa, in fact, the terrain is so hilly that it’s been terraced for farming.
2. Southwestern Iowa also has an Amish community, the first I’d ever encountered in real life. We associate them with Pennsylvania, but according to Wikipedia, there are significant populations in Indiana, Ohio, and in Canada as well.
3. Sleeping on a sleeping porch is just as awesome as I imagined it back when I first read about them in the Betsy-Tacy books.
4. One of the best used bookstores I’ve ever been to is in Omaha, Nebraska. Did not expect that!
5. The picture above shows part of the biggest steam engine ever built—the Big Boy. It is some serious machinery.
6. The bed & breakfast where we stayed in Omaha was an amazing old house which included, among other things (like the aforementioned sleeping porch!), a stained-glass window designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
7. Here’s a stereotype: in the Midwest, people put cheese on everything. If you stand still long enough, they’ll probably put some on you.
8. On a related note, why do vegetables always seem to be in such short supply on restaurant menus? Or is that just around here? They always seem to be an uninspired afterthought. Or they have cheese on them.

Not bad for two days. If, once we get the house, I can be persuaded to leave it again, I look forward to trying the same thing in a different direction.

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