I had roughly a week between the end of finals and my flight back to Portland, so I speed up to Des Moines, Iowa (the “s” are _ilent, _tupid). My buddy Iowa (his parents call him Greg for some strange reason) was born and breed there, as were as his parents (and probably their parents). So, for the second time this year, I found myself sleeping on a couch in a buddies basement and, all in all, I’m getting pretty fond of it. The basements, they’re so dark, that I just konk out pronto.
Anyway, Iowa is truly God’s County and I really enjoyed my stay, although it was a lot different trip than I’m used to. The biggest difference being that I wasn’t running around like a maniac, trying to photograph everything. Nobody ran around anywhere. A DM Tuesday felt like a Portland Saturday. And get this – they grow entire FIELDS of corn. Yeah, it just grows there. No, I couldn’t believe it either. It’s real relaxed, too – I mean, when the corn grows just the same whether or not you stress out, why stress out?
I feel I should mention a couple cool things that have come out of Iowa besides corn (it leads the nation in hog, corn, and soy production although its only the 26th largest state, almost completely average) – John Wayne, Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Tom Arnold. The setting for the painting American Gothic is somewhere in Iowa. Like I said, we didn’t do to much. I got nine and half glorious hours of sleep every night. We took in a minor-league baseball game, the Iowa Cubs versus the Salt Lake Bees, which was a lot of fun. We toured the capitol, and just let me tell you about that:
Iowa, to me, is synonymous with the plain and simple and functional. I expected the capitol to be a plain brick building with a few offices. Nope. The thing must’ve been designed by Liberace, and it wouldn’t look out of place on the Vegas Strip. Everything – ceilings, carpets, location (perched on top of the biggest hill around and surround by cannons), the library, the senate chamber (complete with Jumbotron) was looking pretty gangsta. Took me completely by surprise.
But the end came much to quick, and we travelled twenty minutes across the mini-city to get to Stellas, a 50’s restaurant. Stella’s had been hyped by the Poppa ‘o’ Iowa – if you order a milkshake, they have a cute girl in a poodle skirt pour it into your glass from five feet up. The kicker? You hold the glass on your forehead while they do it. So you can believe the let down when I had to order my milkshake from a dude with dreadlocks. But the food was good, the company was better, and I was trucking back to Kirksville before I even knew it.
After that I was off to Sam A Baker State Park, down in southern Missouri. Me and some of the ROTC boys and some of their friends didn’t do much for a few days, but we did it real well – filling the days with floating trips down the local river, the nights with drink and talk, and all the meals were barbecued.
Then it was a long drive back to Kirksville, a short drive to Kansas City, and a long flight back to Portland, where I’ve been for a week and a half. And for a guy with nothing to do, I’ve kept busy – yard work, putting my room back together after my cousin moved out (it took four days), the daily exercising, meals with the fam (of how I missed them), meeting up with a just a fraction of the ORpals I need to see this break, etc. It’s been go-go-go.
But I’m planning on keeping this busy for the rest of my summer, which is a month. On July 1st I report up to FT Lewis, Washington for five weeks of getting compared to every other Cadet in the Army (every Cadet that plans on graduating next year, anyway). There’ll be leading and following and sweating and headgames and learning and teaching and planing and pretending to kill people and getting tear-gassed and never enough sleep and a lot of other stuff.
And after that, I go straight to FT Bragg, North Carolina, to job-shadow a few officers that do the exact thing I want to do (except I want to do it outside the Continental United States). And after three weeks of that, it’s straight back to Kirksville and my final, senior year. So, again, my summer pretty much ends July 1st and I plan on packing a lot of living into those 30 days.
“And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.”