My connection with Iowa, where Karol and Richard are from, starts a thousand miles to the east, and with an anecdote….
I was at my peak socially (probably intellectually too) when I was nine, before I moved from the east coast to the Midwest. I left a sleepy village located outside the grip of a big city and moved to a slick suburb that was bound tightly to the beat of close-by Megalopolis. I never recovered my own beat and a lot of what was good and simple and friendly and fun about my little town in New Jersey just disappeared. One toll taken was in school. I became adept at wasting time and day-dreaming, spending too many hours thumbing through world atlases when I should have been studying. I doodled when I should have been drilling. Lots of time with my nose in an atlas tracing the outline of the state of New Jersey — on lined paper I should have been filling with arithmetic homework and book reports. My favorite state was a long way away and soon I stopped thinking about it and at some point in time stopped tracing its outline.
As I got older I discovered there was more to life than nostalgia; there were other places to relate to, other states even. One of them, Iowa, became my new favorite. After high school I ended up in Cedar Rapids at a tiny liberal arts college. Academically it was a wash. But some parts of that experience shined. I biked on straight-arrow roads set among corn fields. I moo’d at the cows. I ate divine burgers (served by an amazon with the flabbiest arms in existence) at the Hamburg Inn and grilled cheese sandwiches and more burgers at the Cozy. I drowned myself in dollar pitchers of beer on Mondays at Joe’s Lounge near campus. I laughed till my gut hurt with my roommate and bud Dave Murphy. I drove a beautiful stretch of highway, US Route 30, between CR and Chicago twenty or more times. And dozens of years later I crossed the entire state from west to east on a bike, for seven nights sleeping in tiny towns and on one local’s sofa. I never literally traced the outline of Iowa on paper but in my mind and heart I touched the outline and interior of that state many many times.
Iowa was the second state I ever loved and I have always felt curious and close to folks who call it home. Iowans I’ve met at the bnb are friendly without being saccharine sweet; they are straight-forward without being uncouth; they are not outwardly bold but they accomplish what they set out to do; they have a gentle respect for their fellow man and woman. I am sure they would shield you from harsh winds and cold, take you in if that’s what you needed. In short and in my opinion Iowans live their lives with honor, humor, humility and honesty.
Karol and Richard came from a small town of corn and soybean farmers — Richard’s spread a mere 700 acres (smaller than most he said). They came west anxious to see the redwoods and Pacific coast, eat fresh-caught salmon and for a while experience something besides the grass and sod of their known world.
OK, I’m sure there are some bad apples from the great (and easy to draw) state of Iowa but none have ever dropped by on my watch. Just my luck.