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Black Friday in Iowa

November 27, 2009

We mounted an expedition to Iowa City to see Number One Son over the Thanksgiving festival days.  Today is the much vaunted “Black Friday” and I’m sitting in a coffee shop across from the Iowa River screwing around on their free hookup and drinking some ersatz coffee from a paper cup.  On the whole the place is seriously reminiscent of the Albert Lea of my youth; only with a large Big Ten university dominating the downtown, and newer model cars.  Otherwise the pace of life looks suspiciously familiar.

To date only three things (apart from the reunion with the first-born) have impressed me: the Hawkeye wrestling team’s mentioned more frequently downtown than any other sporting team or event.  Large wrestling schedules are in almost every window — and true to the level of the Hawkeye’s prowess, the schedules list all dates trough the three-day NCAA National Tournament that will be held in Omaha next year.

The second neat find was lunch today at “The Mill,” a crusty independent joint downtown.   It is dark, wood panelled, and has a bar with an extensive beer menu.  BKM, Lee, and I dropped in for the special writ large on the street board: Veggie Black Bean Burgers with side fixings.  It was an excellent lunch and I was astounded when we go out of the Mill for a $20 bill.

My final favorite thing about Iowa City is the slough behind Number One Son’s apartment.  It appears the city has had the foresight to move in and purchase a large tract of land there.  Mostly it looks to supplement the city’s water treatment scheme, but it also hosts a large soccer complex and the aforementioned slough, which is about 200 acres in size.  It too is strongly reminiscent to my younger days in southern Minnesota, complete with muskrat houses.

There is a walking/biking path carved through and around the area which ties into the path that follows along the banks of the Iowa River.  It’s really a striking slough, mainly because its size is sufficient to enable it to continue business as a working wetland.  I’m enjoying taking Ziggy, Number One Son’s girlfriend’s toy poodle, out for walks along the bike path.  I watch the ducks and Ziggy manfully marks a whole new territory and investigates the corn cobs left over from last month’s harvest.

I’m also have good thoughts about this coffee-house now; they just played Arlo Guthrie doing “City of New Orleans.”   Fitting for an old railroad town.

— Jim Margadant

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 27, 2009 3:53 pm

    Sounds like a good place to live, especially if you were “never going to set foot in South Dakota again as long as I live”. I believe that was your Number One’s wording.

    When my Number Everything daughter was in her first year at Augsburg, they were the defending NCAA III champion. I asked if she had gone to any of the wrestling matches. She replied that she didn’t think they had a wrestling team. A matter of priorities I guess.

    Tough to beat a slough with some woodland edges for optimum action.

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