Travels – Part 1 Of Hopefully Many

Iowa’s got it right.

Right now I’m sitting here at a rest area welcome center in Northern Iowa, on my way back from Minnesota.  This is the same rest stop I stopped at on my way up to Minneapolis (I remember distinctly Diamond Jo’s casino, located right next door), but because I was in a hurry to get up north I didn’t do any blog post then.

I’m singing Iowa’s praises because as I’m sitting here writing this entry I’m connected to the Internet.  At a rest stop.  And this isn’t the only one – I passed a number of rest areas that similarly touting wireless connectivity if you pulled over and rested your weary engine and/or stretched your legs.

This is awesome.  I can remember a few years – very few – ago, even when only a select few places had wireless connectivity…period.  Now I never really have to be further than maybe a 45-minute drive from my lifeline to the digital world.  I can’t communicate how warm and fuzzy that makes feel inside.  It ROCKS.

I didn’t see any of these in Missouri, nor did I see them when I made it to the land of 10,000 lakes.  So as far as I can tell, at least on the I-35 corridor this is just an Iowa thing.  Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska – pay attention because you could learn a few things.  I can tell you that when I go to Milwaukee (visit Grammy) or Michigan, baring it adding extensive time to my drive I’m WAY more inclined to take a route through Iowa simply because I can stop and do a blog post or just enjoy the weather outside while I’m connected (oh, yeah – I’m sitting outside, enjoying 75 degrees and sunny with a light breeze, under a canopy so I have shade and can see my screen) to my e-mail or work.

OK, now that I’ve sung the praises of Iowa (side note: said praises do not extend to the University of Northern Iowa – just the rest stops), let’s get on to the travels.

So I took a two day trip to Minnesota.  Goal: catch a ballgame at the new Target Field (Twins) and in Omaha on the way back (Omaha Royals – AAA farm club).  Did some work on the way (gotta love having e-mail access on my phone, so I can work from wherever – including rest stops if I really want to).  Just me.  No kids, no buddies, no other human contact in the car with me save for Orchestral Manuevers in the Dark and the rest of my Pandora selection.

Along the way I decided I’d figure out if man cannot live on bread alone what can he live on?  So far I’m learning that man can survive on coffee, popcorn, beer, a bacon cheddar hamburger and a polish sausage.  And more beer.  My body is starting to revolt (I think it started to digest brain matter sometime late yesterday afternoon), but technically it would appear that you can make it at least two days on slightly more than bread alone.  This morning I actually opted for a Belgian waffle at a little diner I stopped at (more on that life-changing experience later), but that’s it.  Pretty limited.

I got to see my Twins game – they happened to be playing the Yankees.  I got some good seats – Diamond Seats, row 8.  The view was great (think just at the end of the visitor’s dugout.  Up something like 30 rows up (“row 8” on the ticket was deceptive – it was row 8 of the second section).  Got some good photos of the batter/catcher/ump lineup (for lefties, anyway), as well as Jeter and whoever was playing left field (don’t remember).  Game was good – at least if you’re a Twins fan – with a lot of action.  A couple of blasts for the Twins, and some smaller ball to score the rest.  Kubel had one heck of a game for the home team, capped with a 3-run blast in the 7th.

I took something close to 800 pictures of the game & stadium.  Walked around the inside, took pictures of the players at batting practice, in game, etc.  It’s amazing how few people will actually question you if you’re walking around with a fancy-looking camera (it’s just a Nikon D90, but it’s a highly-recommended by me and thousands of others for anyone interested in photography as a hobby).  Even though I was in khaki shorts and a KU Jayhawks t-shirt I went pretty much anywhere I wanted.  I didn’t try to get in on John Kruk’s Fox Sports Net broadcast – figured they’d peg me for an imposter – but I did go into several of the “reserved” sections.  All-told I now have over six gigabytes of memories sitting on my hard drive (and hopefully my SugarSync online backup account, as well) to remind me of my first game at Target Field in Minneapolis.

But the fun part of the game was the 8th & top of the 9th.  I was vying to get Bert to circle me (anyone who’s watched a Twins game will understand that – basically Bert Blyleven, the famous Twins pitcher and announcer, will circle fans in the stands) and to do so I made a sign that said “Circle me, Bert – it’s my first time at a Twins game”.  Nothing fancy…except I also decided to bring along a blow-up doll (clothed) that I purchased just for this very occasion (I’m serious – drop the smirk.  Now.) and held it over her head.  Don’t know if Bert did it or not (have to check a taped version of the game to see), but it was a freaking blast.  I had people all around the section coming over to look.  It was great.  A young woman even took a picture – I should have had her send it to me.  It was funny.  Granted my conscience kicked in when a 5 or 6 year-old girl game over and gave “Mary Jane” (I’d been listening to Tom Petty when I purchased my “date” for the game – hence her name) a high-five.  Kinda felt guilty, but her mother thought it was hilarious so I suppose that should assuage my guilt a little.

OK – short break.  Told myself max of a noon deadline here before I hit the road for Omaha again.  Finish this in a later post.

In the meantime, here’s to our (Missourians) northern neighbor.

Cheers, Hawkeye state!

(post image courtesy of digitalart /

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