Vancouver Day 2

Thursday September 5

After breakfast at our hotel, we bought tickets for a hop on/hop off bus, and walked a short distance to their stop. We rode the bus to Granville Island, where we had another short walk to Bridges restaurant for lunch. Dad was intent on having all the seafood he could get, so he often had either salmon or fish and chips.

After lunch, the Pittmans hung out at the restaurant, while the other four of us wandered around Granville Island. We found shops, farmers market stalls, a distillery, postcards, a glassblower, a paper shop, and lots of other fun places.

Back at the hotel, we enjoyed a dinner of antipasto and snacks. We had bought some cheeses and interesting salamis at a charcuterie shop on the island. I bought a gin- and green olive-infused salami. It was good, but I can’t say the olive flavor really came through. We added some other snacks and crackers, and I ordered a small pizza that David and Lee went and picked up. It was a good day, and a fun way to see a part of Vancouver.

Friday September 6

We returned to the hop on/hop off bus tour. The Pittmans decided to stay on the bus for the whole circuit, before returning to the hotel for lunch and to relax. The four of us got off in Stanley Park, where we walked around, saw the totem poles, and had a wonderful lunch at the Stanley Park Tea House. Then we had to head back to the hotel, because Lee’s parents were due into town that afternoon. They were joining us on the cruise, departing the next day. The first bus that came by was full, and we couldn’t get on. So we called a taxi to take us back to the hotel.

We learned a lot about Vancouver from the bus drivers. The movie industry is quite large there. Last year there were about 36,000 jobs available in the movie industry. And about 3500 of those jobs were not filled. (Sidenote: if you work in show business and can’t get a job in LA, consider Vancouver!)

There are some high-rises on the waterfront, with condos, very expensive, and the buildings only have a 10% occupancy rate. Many were bought as “safe houses or bolt holes,” by people from other countries, and are sitting vacant. Local people opened stores and businesses on the ground floors of these buildings, but due to the low occupancy rate, ended up going bankrupt and out of business.

Back at the hotel, Dave and Lee took the rental car to return to the airport, preparing to meet Lee’s parents. They had arranged for a shuttle to drive the four of them, plus the luggage, to the hotel. Meanwhile, the other Karie and I were on a mission of our own. We rode a couple of taxis and did some walking, in a quest for some supplies Karie needed. Unfortunately, Dave and Lee and Lee’s parents somehow missed each other at the airport, and his parents ended up taking a taxi to the hotel while David and Lee waited at the airport. By the time everyone figured out where everyone was, it was late enough that we decided to split up for dinner. Lee and Karie taxied to the Gastown area where they went to the Black Frog Pub, which looked fabulous. The Pittmans and we went to a local pub, which I won’t tag, because it was pretty lame. The food wasn’t great, the service was even less great, and it did not have Guinness.

Then we went back to the hotel and to bed, to prepare for embarking on our Alaska cruise tomorrow!

Thank you for reading!

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Back to Work

It’s been over a month since I posted, but what a month it’s been! Pasadena, Vancouver BC, Alaska, Maine …

As I write, we’re in a suburb of Chicago. It will likely take me a few days to catch up to the present (and to get back in the habit of writing every day or every other day).

We got home from Colorado at the end of August and spent a few days catching up on things around the house as well as laundry. Then we drove south to Pasadena to visit our friends and to attend the Fresno State vs. USC football game. It was a long-planned weekend, combining several favorite pastimes.

We left Altadena first thing Sunday, and drove to Amber and Martin’s home in Visalia and visited with them for a couple of hours. Grampy got to wrestle and play with Zach and I think they were both worn out by the time we left.

One of the reasons we got an early start was that we wanted to stop by a memorial open house for a long-time friend that was happening that afternoon. Jerry and Roni were good friends of ours when we were young marrieds. They were a little bit older than us, they already had kids, and they were really great role models to us for marriage and parenting. After Dave started on the Highway Patrol and we moved to Southern California, we drifted apart except for occasional Christmas cards. When we moved back to the Valley, we had dinner a couple of times, then Jerry and I connected again on Facebook, which is how I learned he had passed away and about the memorial open house his family was hosting. Even though we hadn’t spent any significant time with Jerry and Roni in over thirty years, (except for the two dinners), it was such a pleasure to hear others talk about Jerry and to know he was still the man we had known and loved all those years ago: kind, generous, irascible, unable to hold a grudge. His son and daughter and grandkids and wife shared stories. Jerry and Roni have invested themselves into the lives of teens and at-risk kids. They’ve sent kids to camp, helped them get enrolled in college, find housing, buy books. Jerry and Roni are the real deal. They didn’t sit around talk about what programs should be funded or how to fix society. They just went about helping the people God put in their path. It was such a blessing to be there. Jerry will be missed and we promised to get together with Roni when we’re back in town.

Monday (Labor Day) and Tuesday were busy with work and errands and appointments. Monday afternoon I finished my monthly reports for the day job and my computer wanted to install updates so I told it to go ahead while David and I had dinner. I came back a few hours later and the computer was frozen. I could see the welcome screen, sort of. But I couldn’t sign in. It wouldn’t respond to anything. I did a couple of forced reboots. I unplugged the power, let it sit, plugged it back in. Same thing. Argh. Put the thing in the car to take to the Geek Squad Tuesday. Which I did, amongst the other 40 errands I had to do. Along with packing.

Because, dark and early (4:45 am early!) Wednesday morning, we were leaving for Vancouver BC, and our long-awaited Alaska cruise! My kind and gracious brother- and sister-in-law picked up Dave and our friends Lee and Karie, while I drove to pick up my folks and we rendezvoused with both cars at the airport. My sister-in-law took my car to work, then dropped it off at our house later. So we had six people and about 12 bags, totes and backpacks to get through the airport. Everything went fine except I had neglected to remind my folks about TSA’s rule about liquids having to be less than 3.4 ounces in your carryons. They had to throw out toothpaste, hairspray, and shaving cream. But at least it was all things easily replaceable in Vancouver. So we made our 6:40 flight from Fresno to Seattle just fine. We had a long layover in Sea/Tac, where we had requested wheelchairs for my folks, not knowing how far we’d have to walk to our gates.

We had a serendipity in Seattle when we ran into a friend and former co-worker of Dave and Lee’s who was waiting for his connecting flight home to Idaho. That was crazy! From Seattle, we flew into Vancouver. It’s a beautiful airport, and it was our first experience with the mythic super-polite Canadian. We’re a little bewildered about that.

Our wheelchair pushers delivered the folks and their bags to a couple of motorized carts then disappeared. I understood them to say they had to go get two more passengers, but they weren’t clear in their communication. And we waited a looooong time. Just as everyone was confused and irritated, they arrived back. By the time they loaded up the people who needed assistance and their bags, there wasn’t room for the daughter of the third passenger on Mom and Dad’s cart. She walked alongside the cart. As David and I did. Actually, we walked ahead of it and were waiting at Customs. When the cart arrived, the other passenger and her daughter were talking quite loudly, Mom was giving me a LOOK, and the young female driver looked like she wanted to disappear.

I went to help Mom off the back of the cart and to get everyone’s passports. The third passenger mumbled to me an apology for her behavior. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I just shrugged. Well … come to find out, she and her daughter had gotten into a shouting match and had been yelling at the poor driver on the trip from the gate to Customs. As we were gathering ourselves and our passports, the driver went to a supervisor nearby and said she would help our party, but someone else needed to help the other two ladies from her cart. As she was talking us through the Customs kiosk, David asked if she was okay, and she teared up and started to cry. We all apologized for the others’ behavior and tried to help. We tipped her generously. When we observed the daughter talking to a supervisor, we also told a supervisor that nothing was this young woman’s fault. Mom told the daughter that their behavior was inappropriate. The daughter nodded and didn’t disagree. I really don’t know what got into them, except the mother/wheelchair passenger wanted her daughter to ride on the cart too, and there wasn’t room. It was a 4-passenger cart. Two Pittmans, her, and the driver and there was no more room. So that put a dark cloud over our arrival in Vancouver.

The walk from our gate to Customs was beautiful. They have displays about nature and the environment of British Columbia. The rest of Customs was easy and uneventful. Because of the delay, Lee and Karie had collected all our bags, so they were waiting for us.

We then schlepped everything out of the airport and across to the parking garage to the car rentals where Lee had reserved an SUV. It held all six of us and all 28 of our bags (they multiplied on the journey–I shared the far rear seat with some of them). On the walk, there are some really cool sculptures of rocks with handles attached, so they look like luggage, backpacks, briefcases.

We got to our hotel in downtown Vancouver and checked in, and found an Irish pub for dinner, where we had good food, Guinness, and watched one young man wait on all the tables.

It was an early night for us. We were all tired, emotionally and physically.

Tomorrow: Our three days in Vancouver.

Thanks for reading!

CO –> CA

Thursday, August 22 — Monday August, 26, 2019

I left off after we picked up Jeff and Katia at the airport in Denver. They’re from El Paso, Texas, and will be taking this trailer west to Nevada, New Mexico and California. We spent Thursday afternoon getting acquainted and showing them the trailer.

On our way back from the airport, I noticed one of my favorite California restaurants, the Lazy Dog, so I knew where we’d be having dinner! Then on the way to Lazy Dog, I saw a sign for HuHot, a Mongolian Grill place IMG_2779I’d visited two years ago in Fargo, North Dakota when I’d been at a pesticide conference. I knew Dave would love it, so problem solved about where to have dinner tomorrow night!

Friday morning we began training Jeff and Katia. We unloaded the boxes of RALI supplies, the popup shelters, the generator, etc. We set up the trailer from its travel mode. Jeff and Katia had watched the videos I took in Indianapolis of Joe and Frank training us, and read the transcripts I’d done, so they basically knew the info. I gave them my tour. Dave gave them his tour. Then the guys did some shopping and worked on truck and trailer maintenance while I went back to the hotel to work.

As I predicted, HuHot was a hit for dinner. Saturday involved more training, but this was about driving the truck and trailer. First, Dave drove all of us to downtown Denver to

check out the venue where the trailer was scheduled to be Monday and Tuesday on the grounds of the Capitol. Downtown venues are always tricky, with narrow, one-way streets. We had directions about where to place the trailer and we wanted to be sure it was possible. We found the location, discussed how to make it happen, and we were satisfied. It would take some maneuvering and stopping traffic for a few minutes, but it was doable.

Back at the hotel, the guys dropped off Katia and me, hooked up the trailer and drove to a truck wash to get both the truck and trailer washed and all pretty for the trailer’s Denver debut on Sunday. It was also Jeff’s first trailer driving lesson. I had work to do. IMG_2785 Part of my work involved repairing a part of the trailer decor which kept losing its horns during transport and finally one broke.  That night we walked across the street to a BBQ place, Jim ‘n’ Nick’s, that was amazing! The cheese corn muffins are to die for! We shared riblets, a salad, and blackeyed peas.

Sunday we had an event in Greenwood Village. This was Jeff and Katia’s first event, so they got to ease into giving tours. They did great! We were also treated to a visit from our cousin, Trena, who moved to Denver a few years ago. Catching up with her was wonderful! It was a warm day and everyone kept apologizing for the weather, but honestly, after what we’d had in Iowa, it wasn’t that bad.

The event itself didn’t have a great turnout, but it was sponsored by state representative, Meg Froelich.  As usual, everyone who came through was surprised by what they learned. I did one media interviewAnd HuHot was such a hit Friday evening, we went back again Sunday for dinner. 

Monday morning Dave and I rode in the back seat and Jeff and Katia drove us to the Capitol. We did stop traffic, but we got the trailer in position relatively quickly. After a IMG_2809smooth set up, but a not-so-smooth unhitching of truck from trailer (which involved a broken jack), I gave one tour to some RALI people. We took some pictures, said goodbye, then headed to the airport via a free downtown shuttle and Denver’s light rail.

We’re now at the gate, waiting to board our flight to San Francisco, then to Fresno. I’ve written this post in three stages today. At the hotel this morning, on the train, at the airport.

Make that four five stages. I had to board the plane. I finished writing on the plane, and in San Francisco, I will insert the pictures and (I hope) post.

We’ll be home for about a week, visiting family and going to see the Fresno State vs. USC football game this weekend. Then we fly to Vancouver for our long awaited Alaska cruise. We’re not quite sure when and where we’ll rejoin the trailer. We thought it would be DC on Sept. 17, but we were just told today plans and schedules have changed, so … once again, we’re being flexible. Stay tuned …

 

Iowa –> Nebraska –> Colorado

We left Des Moines around 2:00 Monday afternoon. Dave did some errands for the trailer that morning while I worked and then went for a pedicure. I needed some self-care. 😉 We said a last goodbye to Bryan and Cuda at Farm Boy Garage, also breaking down their booth at the fairgrounds. Then we hooked up the trailer and put Des Moines in our rearview mirror. 

We knew we had an event in Julesburg, Colorado on Wednesday, August 21, but that’s all we knew. I emailed the one contact I had for info, we crossed our fingers and headed out for Lincoln, Nebraska, our stop for the night. We’d planned to stop at a trailer/RV place just outside of town that had exhibited at the fair. For more–you guessed it–trailer supplies. By then it was nearly 4:00 so we looked for a place to eat. Kue'dWe hadn’t had lunch yet, so we called it a late lunch/early dinner. I found a place called Kue’d that looked good. It was a bit out of our way, but we weren’t in a hurry.

We shared a salad with burnt ends and it was amazing! The brisket ends were tender and smoky and the salad was very welcome after the 9 days of fried foods at the fair.

So it was almost 5:00 by the time we were truly on the road and headed for Lincoln, Nebraska. We had about two and a half hours to go. This was our first time pulling this new trailer in a new truck. We weren’t sure what to expect. The new trailer’s hitch seemed to be sitting quite a bit lower than the other trailer.

Well.

This trailer pulls much more smoothly. No major swaying, no being buffeted around by the wind, or by trucks passing. It’s a huge difference. I don’t feel my heart in my throat and grip the armrest whenever a vehicle approaches on the left. Dave’s going to see what adjustments he can make to the other trailer when we take that one over again in September.

IMG_2760We arrived in Lincoln about 8:00 and stopped for runzas at a restaurant called Runza’s. I did a little reading on the way and discovered Nebraska’s claim to culinary fame is the runza, which is very similar to what we in the Central Valley call bierocks. They’re a kind of savory meat pie/turnover. I liked it, but Dave didn’t care for the spices in the meat.

We got checked into our hotel just after 8:00, which was unfortunate, because we discovered we’d missed their complimentary Happy Hour of snacks and wine. Someone took pity on our forlorn and bedraggled appearance and gave us a plastic cup of red wine, but the snacks were gone.

Tuesday morning, we had a bit more information about the Colorado schedule for the week, so I made some hotel reservations in Denver since we finally knew where we needed to be when. There are no hotels in Julesburg to speak of, so I made a reservation in Ogallala, Nebraska. That’s about three hours from Lincoln, but half an hour from Julesburg. We took our time again in Lincoln Tuesday morning before heading to Ogallala.

 

The scenery in Iowa and Nebraska is beautiful. Lots of corn. We crossed the Platte River many times. Several different forks of it, I think. According to our atlas, I-80 roughly follows the Oregon National Historic Trail, the California National Historic Trail, the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, and the Pony Express National Historic Trail. Do you see the theme there?

The details of our event in Julesburg were pretty fuzzy. We were told Colorado’s US Senator Cory Gardner would be visiting the trailer between 1:45 and 3, and the trailer would be open until 5. But we weren’t given a beginning time. When I asked, I was told, “umm, maybe, 11?” So we planned to get there around 10:30. We were given cross streets to set up at, but that was it.

When we arrived, we scoped out where we thought would be a good place of the four corners. Then two men joined us. Whew! Someone who knew what was going on. Except where they wanted us to park, there were vehicles in the way. So we compromised and ended up in front of the town hall, which worked just fine.

We got to work unloading the trailer and setting it up, then I walked to the local diner, had a quick lunch and brought a sandwich back for Dave. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it on the menu: A Rocky Mountain Oyster sandwich. I knew he would love it. And he did. I did not take a picture of it. You’re welcome.

Our RALI Cares consultants showed up then and took over the set up of the outside display tables and giveaways. A few people came by and we gave tours. Then the senator and his entourage arrived. I started their tour with my usual intro and showed the first few items. Then I started getting the hurry up signals. What!?!? I just got started. But I talked faster. Then I got another signal. Fine. I talked faster and skipped things. Then someone told the senator he had just a few more minutes. So then I was skipping lots of things and giving the highlights. But whew! I guess I finished in time, because then he stood around outside taking pictures, accepting a plaque, and then they left. On the dot of 3:00.

We gave a few more tours. I think we showed the trailer to about 20-some people total. Julesburg is a very small town of around 1200 people. We stayed until 5:00, then packed up. 

The building across from us is the home of the Sedgwick County Economic Development Agency. Several of us were given a tour by the director who has been restoring the building which used to be a bank. Now it houses his offices, as well as some other businesses and offers meeting spaces to local groups and houses a military collection. It’s a really beautiful and amazing old building.

 

When we were done, we were still three hours from Denver. Our new colleagues were arriving the next day around 11:20. We had reservations at a hotel about an hour and a half away. I thought that was a good compromise, rather than driving three hours after IMG_2771an event, or three hours the next morning. So we drove to Fort Morgan, Colorado, to a Comfort Inn, took a quick dip in their pool, and went to bed.

We were up early Thursday morning, and on the road to Denver. We have an event in Greenwood Village on Sunday and two events at the Capitol Monday and Tuesday, although we’re leaving on Monday. So I wanted a hotel midway between those events, and convenient to the airport, since we were picking up our replacements and leaving ourselves.

We got to the hotel in Thornton about 10:30, found a place in their lot to drop off the trailer and then hurried to the airport. We made it just in time to meet our new colleagues, Jeff and Katia. We’re training them today and tomorrow in the trailer, on setting it up, giving tours, hooking it up and unhooking it, as well as driving it. We’ll do Sunday’s event together, then we’ll set up Monday at the Capitol together. We’ll take a bus and a train to the airport and fly home and the trailer will be all theirs.

The adventure continues! Thank you for reading!!

Final Thoughts on the Iowa State Fair

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

We were ex.haus.ted by Sunday evening after the Iowa State Fair.

But there are some thoughts/people/experiences I want to share.

The booth across from us. Farm Boy Garage. Super nice people over there. I’ve posted IMG_2680pictures of their dog, Cuda. She was just a love sponge. One day I was giving a tour and she sauntered into the trailer, looking for someone, or wanting some attention. The garage owner, Bryan, is a super-nice guy, as are his employees. He shared some stories with several of us that show his big heart, his work ethic, and his love of muscle cars. I also posted a couple of videos. Every so often Bryan would get into one of the cars he had on display, fire up the ignition and rev the engine. The sound was deafening. I’m not exaggerating. Many of you know I have a severe hearing loss in my right ear and my doctor has cautioned me to protect the hearing I have left in that ear and all my hearing in my left ear. So whenever Bryan fired up an engine, I’d stick my fingers in my ears, apologize to anyone I was giving a tour to, and wait it out. After about a minute, Bryan would turn off the engine. It was interesting to watch though. Whenever he did that, people would flock to his tents from all around us. It was like bugs to a bug light. (Also … Bryan shared with one of our team … a family member is going through a health crisis, and … it’s not going to end well. In fact, the end, is imminent and Bryan can’t bring himself to talk about it. So, my praying readers, please pray for Bryan.)

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Mid-Westerners: I’m a 2nd generation native Californian. Dave’s at least a 3rd generation. We know California missions. Yosemite. Giant Sequoias. The beach. But there’s much in this country we’re clueless about. And we don’t try to hide that. More than once we’ve tilted our heads and said, “Ummm … what?”

 

 

The Butter Cow. And the Sesame Street Characters made of butter. I do love butter. But not enough to sculpt with it. Or craft with it. And apparently they reuse the butter, so the cow is 19 years old.

Humidity. Californians don’t know humidity. Trust me. We only think we do.

Thunder. Until it wakes you from a deep sleep in the middle of the night, you haven’t

IMG_2717heard it. We watched the weather forecast every evening so we’d know how to leave the trailer and its accoutrement. If rain was forecast, everything went inside the trailer. If the forecast was clear, some things could be left outside. That worked well, until our last night … we left some popup shelters out, and some plastic bins and cardboard boxes. The bins and boxes held some of the drug deactivation kits the RALI Cares people give away as well as the tote bags. Well … thunder woke us up about 4:00 Sunday morning. We knew that was not a good thing. When we got to the fair grounds, our co-worker/consultant, Heidi, was already there. One of the popup shelters was a twisted, mangled mess. Several boxes of supplies were soaked. The only good thing was that we weren’t the only ones to suffer losses. Several other exhibitors nearby also had twisted popups. I guess, in addition to the rain, a weird wind swept through our alley of booths, leaving a path of twisted aluminum tents and poles.  

IMG_2696Scooters. We’ve seen lots of electric scooters taking people to see exhibits and booths. And this picture … The man is driving an electric scooter … towing his wife in a wheelchair. He rigged up a tow line with PVC pipe. Talk about ingenuity …

I work in the agriculture industry. But even my eyes widened when I walked past a huge piece of equipment with a sign that proclaimed Fair Special! $10,000 off Regular Price!!  Ummm …. How much is the regular price if the sale price is ten THOUSAND dollars off?? Dave thinks it’s about a half-million dollars piece of equipment and it’s something that contract harvesters buy and use. Not your average farmer/rancher.

Tomorrow … Nebraska and Colorado!

 

 

 

 

 

Fair Fare!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Finally, I got my food pictures from my phone to my laptop. I forgot to take pictures of a few things, but we have nine days of fair food to share and talk about!

The choices were overwhelming, truly. The fair website has a subsection devoted to the food only. Then there are pages listing what foods are new to the fair that year, as well as healthy fare, and food on a stick. Because of course.

We shared most of our meals and we walked a lot, which is why our clothes don’t feel any tighter. There was a preponderance of fried options, so every couple of days we needed something green and would track down a salad.

Our first fair lunch we wandered to one of the food thoroughfares and just took it in.

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Dave left it up to me to choose and I had literally no idea. Until I saw:

I’ve seen poutine on television, and even had it once, several years ago, but needed to try it again. It seemed like a safe choice for a first meal. I forgot to take a picture of the actual poutine, but for the uninitiated, it’s french fries and cheese curds with gravy on top. This poutine stand offered toppings on the fries, like garlic parmesan, bacon, pulled pork, sour cream, sriracha, or pork belly. We stuck with the original on the premise that you have to know what the original tastes like before you experiment.

There’s also a brochure that lists all the some info from the website, so for dinner Dave listed some of new to the fair choices. He thought it sounded weird, but I wanted to try the pickledawg. It’s a hollowed out pickle filled with a hotdog, then dipped in corndog batter and deep fried. It does sound weird, but also intriguing.

He went on the hunt and returned with the pickledawg and deep fried deviled eggs for a starter. The eggs were good, but the sauce to the left was really good. It was almost a tartar sauce, but with a kick of mustard that made it special. I enjoyed the pickledawg and even Dave said it was better than he expected. The salty tang of the pickle stood up nicely to the sweetness of the corn batter and the hotdog wasn’t lost in the corn.

Since I have 9 days to cover, I’m going to post the pictures with captions and only talk about the highlights. Hover your mouse or click on the pics below to read the captions.

I neglected to get a picture of one of our favorites. I’m ticked at myself, because it was amazing! It was called a Berkshire Bacon Ball. It had a cheese ball center, surrounded by seasoned ground pork and bacon, wrapped in bacon, smoked, dipped in BBQ sauce. It was wonderful! So many layers of flavor, sweet, smoky, savory in every bite.

Aha! Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I found a picture of it in the fair’s new food brochure: IMG_2753

Another food I neglected to take a picture of was a piece of pecan pie on a stick. Yes, pie on a stick. It had a really thick crust. Dave can’t eat nuts. I can’t eat much sugar. So he had a bite of crust and gooey sauce. I had a couple of bites. We gave Steve a bite, then we threw out the rest. It was fine, but we’d rather use our calories for meat, cheese, and more meat and more cheese.

Also undocumented but delicious: deep fried garlic cheese curds, crab fritters, and fried mac & cheese bites. The fried cheese curds were a perfect combo of creamy and crunchy with the added bite of garlic. Same for the mac & cheese bites, but without the garlic. The crab fritters were like a crabcake, but in a ball. Really really yummy and the sauce was amazing. A remoulade, not a tartar sauce.

Okay, back to my own pictures and captions.

I should note here that Iowans are very, very proud of their pork. Lots of people walking around the fair wore shirts proclaiming them to be proud pig farmers. And truly, the pork was the best we’ve ever had. The pulled pork sandwich above and the pork belly on a stick below were from the Iowa Pork Producers building/booth/take-out/restaurant.

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The pork belly on a stick is just what the sign behind it says. Brown sugar. Yumm. Pork belly (basically thick cut bacon) on a stick. What’s not to like love?

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Burnt ends on fried onions. A definite highlight. I thought they were delicious! They were $13, so definitely on the pricey side. And when the server handed it to David, he told her to put more meat on. The serving was pretty skimpy for the price. But with the “enhanced,” portion, we felt full. He said she kind of glared at him, but she did as he asked.

Final pictures are of the random people Dave chased down to ask what they were eating.

I know Iowa is also very proud of their corn, but besides nuts, Dave can’t eat corn, so we didn’t partake of any sweet corn or popcorn. We also didn’t get a funnel cake although we intended to since Steve wanted one, but didn’t want a whole one by himself. What can I say? 9 days at the Iowa State Fair just isn’t enough to try all their offerings.

We’re now in Ogallala, Nebraska. We have an event in Julesburg, Colorado tomorrow. I hope to blog again tomorrow evening about my final impressions of the Iowa State Fair, the people we met and talked to, and whatever other random things occur to me.

Then I’ll catch us up to current days. Thanks, as always, for reading!

The Iowa State Fair Ends

Saturday, August 17 – Monday August 19, 2019

Given our busy Thursday, we expected the final weekend of the fair to be even busier. But it was more like earlier in the week. We’d have busy times, then slower times.

We were visited by a local television station Saturday morning and I gave a tour to the reporter and his cameraman. In a bit of poetic irony, the privately contracted sound-man IMG_2706who’d followed me around earlier in the week with a different cameraman for publicity videos, happened to be at the trailer so his wife could tour it. He tried giving sotto voce suggestions (“Turn around so the trailer is in the background!”) to no avail. But because Dave was giving his wife a tour when the news guys arrived, she ended up being the “random parent” interviewed during the news story. And really, the news guys had no idea she had any connection to the trailer at all. Which she really didn’t, except for her husband working there for a few hours earlier in the week, but it just all seemed to come full circle.

A storm blew through Saturday night, so we arrived Sunday morning to find one of our IMG_2714pop-up shade covers mangled and destroyed, despite having been lowered and secured. At least we weren’t the only casualty. There was a “graveyard” of twisted aluminum by a dumpster.

Sunday passed in a blur of busy and slow. Busy and slow. We packed up everything around 7:30, and headed to our hotel around 8. We were absolutely exhausted. We’d put in 9 days of 12 hours. Our friend Steve did 11 days. Everyone was dragging, not thinking clearly, snappish. We’re 68, 63, and 60 years old. I’m not saying who’s which age, by the way, LOL. We need more recovery time than we used to. But–we survived!

Steve’s flight home was at 6:00 AM Monday morning, so Dave drove him to the airport at 4 AM, then came back to the hotel and slept a few more hours. When we woke up at a sensible time for an August Monday, we had our Holiday Inn Express breakfast of sausage, bacon (yay!! Thank you for bacon!), folded/manufactured omelets, and coffee. Dave headed out to buy some supplies for the new trailer and truck. This was that combo’s maiden voyage. It needed spare tires and a few other things.

I’d been saying my reward after all this was going to be a pedicure. I normally get one every 3-4 weeks. But we’ve been so busy, I haven’t had one since the first of May. Yes. May. Three months, not three weeks, ago. David left for his errands and I worked for a bit, then did a quick search for salons/spas in Des Moines. Found a highly rated place. Poked around their website. They had an opening for a pedicure at noon … My finger hovered over the mouse … I clicked Book Now.

I finished packing, summoned an Uber and enjoyed a wonderful pedicure with Rian at Salon W Spa in downtown Des Moines. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend it! Dave picked me up after and we headed back to the fairgrounds to hook-up to the trailer and head out.

This is a new and different trailer than what we pulled in Indiana, so we weren’t sure what to expect. Hooking up was definitely a bit different. The hitch seemed to be lower and everything seemed to be just a tiny bit … off from what we had with the first trailer.

But we got it all hooked up. (A big thanks to the young guy from the Jeep/Dodge corporate site nearby who helped/advised/hydrated us.) We said good-bye to Bryan from Farm Boy Garage whose booth was across from ours. I got to give his dog, Cuda, a last cuddle and scratch and get a little doggie-love from her. Anyone who thinks Pit Bulls are vicious has to spend 30 seconds with Cuda. She’s a love.

Finally, we hit the road. We stopped at an RV place that also had a booth at the fair. Dave bought a few more supplies. We hadn’t eaten since the fake eggs at breakfast and it was after 3:00, so I searched for restaurants. We found Kue’d Smokehouse and even though it was a bit out of our way and we had to backtrack, we went there. It was wonderful, worth every extra minute and mile.

We pulled into Lincoln, Nebraska a bit before 8:00. Tomorrow, our destination is Ogallala, Nebraska. Wednesday, we have an event in Julesburg, Colorado, which is about 30 minutes from Ogallala, just across the Nebraska/Colorado border.

I’ve written way too much and still haven’t talked about the most important things: the fair food! Iowa! the people!

Tomorrow …