So by now, you should know that I can't drive more than 45 minutes without having to pull over and take a nap. Or something. Getting to Iowa was no exception. I'm driving along, through lots and lots and lots of corn, when I come across some pretty exciting stuff.
Namely, Belmont, population 871 is kinda eerie. Not in a small town "you're a stranger" kinda way so much as in a I'm sitting here in a park in ride all alone and I need to get to gettin. Saw a beautiful sunset and lots of gorgeous farmland then bam...I hit the Mississippi.
Now. I'm no Miss South Carolina but color me clueless. I was all "wow--the Mississippi runs this far north??" when I crossed it just outside of Dubuque. It is the littlest thing that will fascinate me on a trip. So Dubuque is the farthest north I've crossed it...Memphis the farthest south. Neat.
Iowa City was Iowa City. For this trip, I was looking forward to meeting Angie and stopping by Reminisce and then going to dinner.
So. At the fair, of course I had to buy a post card and get it sent off on campus. But this is plotted BEFORE I know I'm the last rep to leave because all of a sudden everyone wants to go to Seattle University. Kinda neat actually. But when I finally hit the road, I with my no sense of direction and no GPS cannot find this very obvious store on this very obvious strip to save my life. 40 minutes later, patient Angie is STILL waiting for me and I make it to Reminisce.
Which is yet another of those "You have to go to" stores. They had lots of items within brands that I love. I love Heidi Grace stuff and they didn't just have the red and white of anything, they pretty much buy wide and deep. I loved that I could find all of a line there. And they had some GORGEOUS minis ala bind it all spread throughout the store. Lots of really great samples and a great newsletter too.
I spent way too much time here, but picked up the last tidbits for my mini book that I started collecting for way back in Chicago at Windy City. Snapped some pictures with Angie and Cindy (Cindy is the manager) and then we headed across the street for dinner.
Mondo's Tomato Pie (which, evidently, they have a few restaurants in town) has the hands down absolute BEST tortilla soup I have EVER had. I so need them to ship that to me. And that is coming from a Tx-Mx girl out of El Paso who has never said no to trying some tortilla soup. Oh goodness it was good.
Managed somehow (mostly because Angie and Cindy are punctual folks) to get out of there at a respectable hour. Two of the nicest people you will EVER meet in this world. Good luck Angie with your first class!
Pulled up to the gas station next door to gas up. Now. When you see a red circlish thing with white writing...would you not think that that symbolizes "stop"? yeah...not so in Iowa at that gas station. I was scraping the bugs off the windshield when I realized the gas had not started pumping. I can read. But I also take shortcuts (no no on the LSAT). That shortcut had me thinking the red stop sign wouldn't be necessary to START the flow of gas. Got that figured out, printed out a receipt and ended up taking half the paper roll from the receipt printer with me. Right.
When I finally DID hit the road again, guess what I came across? That would be West Branch. You know...Hoover? I stopped (late of course) at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and took a gander at his birthplace. That was really neat. Then I drove some more. And at dark, I managed to find myself in Illinois finally. At a really dark rest stop. But I had to get the picture (and the map) so I stopped. I've never been so scared in my life. No one, nothing was there. Exactly. Finally arrived in Urbana and I'll be DAMNED if at check in, I still couldn't get into my room all over again. At least on this drive, I didn't see like 13 or so pieces of significant roadkill on the way to my hotel.