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Trip Start Jun 17, 2009
Trip End Jun 19, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Iowa
Friday, June 19, 2009

A business trip was scheduled to audit billboards along railroad property in the state of Iowa, so I took this opportunity to spend a few days beforehand visiting with family and friends in north central Iowa.  I had developed a list of favorite foods I missed from Iowa that I intended to consume at every opportunity:  breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, corn-fed beef, fresh garden strawberries, rhubarb and pie.

As the plane was descending into the Des Moines area, the skies got very dark and we were warned there may be turbulence.  Actually, yes there was.  Twice the plane dropped suddenly and we all flew up out of our seats quite violently.  Then it felt like we were doing a nosedive for about a minute or two.  I'm thinking great...I'll end up in a cornfield like Buddy Holly.  The roller coaster ride was over and the plane landed safely, but still under dark ominous skies.  Just as I was walking down the aisle, there was a blinding flast of light.  I bent down to peer out the plane window only to see a downpour of rain.  Great...I'm dressed as an Arizonan in capris, short sleeve top and sandals!

At the car rental desk as I keep a cautious eye on the exit door and the continuing downpour, the agents became frantic looking for paper and pen, gabbering about someone important by baggage claim.  Two of them scampered off and proudly returned with an autograph from Carlito, a professional wrestler.  Eh...no one that I recognize.

Car rental paperwork gets squared away and now I venture out in the rain to stand on the middle curb to wait for the shuttle to take me to my car.  The air is warm, naturally very damp, but it's still raining cats and dogs.  To wile away the time I call my parents to see where they're at in their drive down from their summer home in northern Minnesota.  Just then a car passes behind me at a good clip, runs through a big pool of water along the curb and SPLASH...I'm now soaked from the knees down.  Sigh...thanks for the baptism.  I finally get to my car, still pouring rain, and the trunk release button on the remote doesn't work.  If someone saw me running circles around the car, unsuccessfully trying to avoid the large puddles in sandals they would have rolled around laughing so hard but I didn't think it one bit funny.  I quickly gave up and just threw my suitcase and bag in the back seat, got in and slammed the door shut.  A quick glance in the mirror confirmed I looked like a drowned rat.  Welcome home.

My first stopping point, and the most important, was Smitty's Tenderloin on Army Post Road for a genuine breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.  Um um um.  My most favorite food of all and it's hard to come by in the desert southwest.  The onion rings were OK but I concentrated on trying to finish my sandwich first while keeping an wary eye on the weather outside.  Check one off my food list!

I was then finally on my way to Buffalo Center where my parents and I were staying at Lola's Cottage - a nice little rental house in town.  It's a very odd feeling returning to my homeland but not being able to walk into my old room at our house on the farm.  While Dad still owns the farmland, the acerage with our beautiful house, the barn and buildings all belong to a new owner now.  I pulled into Britt and stopped at the Cobbler Shop to get my sons commemorative Hobo Convention t-shirts.  Now in the final stretch, I drove through Woden which is where I attended Kindergarten through the first half of 2nd grade.  Also drove past an old one-room country school house where my 4-H club, Grant Gleaners, would sometimes hold meetings.

Then my final stopping point for the day, Buffalo Center, my home town!  Here are a few tidbits about BC so you may understand where I come from.  The town's population is about 860 made up of mostly German and Norwegian ancestry.  The town boasts the first consolidated school west of the Mississippi, built in 1876.  There are six churches, a bank, small grocery store/deli, barber shop, library, gas station, and swimming pool among a few others.  Our farm was located 5 miles northeast of town -- 2 miles of blacktop and 2 1/2 miles of gravel road and only 5 miles from the Minnesota border.

We enjoyed a steak dinner (first check mark on the need-to-eat list) at the Rake Cafe 3 miles away in Rake, naturally.  Then we spent the evening visiting my parents' friends Shirley & Keith.  Shirley served lunch (midwest version of evening 'snack') of rhubarb bars and lemonade.  Check another off my food list!
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