A little more than a month ago, a friend asked me what I’d be up to the weekend of Nov. 21. Since the answer was, “Nothing,” I found myself invited along on a weekend trip to Iowa City.
Of course, when I agreed go to Iowa City, I didn’t expect to come down with the plague the Tuesday before. (I never got an official diagnosis on what beat me up last week, so I’m going with the plague.) My friend wanted to leave on Friday, which was fine with me and my boss, but then I ended up staying home on Wednesday and Thursday due to feeling lousy. I still took the day off work on Friday, but I felt bad about it I had already taken a half day on Monday due to a totally unrelated doctor appointment, so even though I technically worked four days last week (I worked from home when I was sick), I was only in the office for 1.5 days last week, and that didn’t set well with my rule-following self.
But regardless, my friend showed up at my place at 9 a.m. Friday, and west we went.
We actually spent Friday in the Quad Cities, which, for those of you not from the area, are four cities (duh) on the Illinois/Iowa border, with two cities in each. One of the Quad Cities is Rock Island, IL, and that was our first destination. My friend went to Augustana, so we wandered around campus a bit and visited professors (my friend’s, not mine. I didn’t go to Augustana, and even if I had, I certainly wouldn’t have spent much time with chemistry professors haha.). I had never been to Augie before, but my alma mater is fairly similar to Augie in the sense that they’re both small, liberal arts, DIII schools, so it was fun to see a college campus that kind of reminded me of my own.
We spent the night in Davenport with the intention of carrying on to Iowa City early the next morning for the Iowa vs. Purdue football game. The snowstorm that rolled through Friday night/Saturday morning but a damper on those plans, however. We ended up hanging around Davenport until 10:30 or so, and since the game started at 11:00, we definitely didn’t make it to Iowa City in time to meet up with my friend’s friend who had the game tickets. The highway was fine on our drive over, but I bet we saw at least two dozen spinouts in the 45ish miles between Davenport and Iowa City, so I’m really glad we waited to go.
Instead of watching the game in person in 20-degree weather, my friend and I posted up at Vine, a bar right by the University of Iowa’s campus that makes no secret about its allegiances.
I’ve never had much of an opinion on Iowa. I’ve always been a Michigan fan, so my strong negative feelings in the Big 10 are reserved for Ohio State. I did feel a bit of a poser cheering for Iowa since I knew absolutely nothing about the school, the football team’s history, or, true life: the fact that the University of Iowa is in Iowa City (I knew that before the game, of course, but I thought Iowa State was in Iowa City until I Googled Iowa City a few weeks after I agreed to go. Oops.), but no one seemed to care, so for the day, I was an Iowa fan. I also held down the Michigan fort at the bar, since someone had to cheer for the Wolverines when they beat Penn State, thus preventing Ohio State from clinching a spot in the Big 10 Championship in a few weeks. Michigan State also helped out that cause by beating OSU on Saturday as well – God bless you, Spartans. Michigan’s hope of a championship game berth live on!
After the game, we met up with my friend’s friend and a bunch of her friends (so many friends of friends of friends this weekend) and went to the mall of all places, where I realized that I have definitely become an urbanized asshole, because I was so scornful and superior I could’ve punched myself. Haha. I honestly don’t remember the last time I went to a mall before Saturday, and I’ve gotten so used to city living that the concept of anything remotely suburban, including a shopping mall, makes me turn up my nose. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the corner hating myself for having so much ‘tude.
My throat, which had been my biggest plague-related problem since my fever broke (I couldn’t swallow without wincing, and for three nights in a row, my throat hurt so bad that it woke me up.), began to seriously act up while we were at the mall (maybe it was disgusted by suburbia too? 😛 ), so we ended up just going back to our hotel instead of going out in downtown Iowa City with my friend’s friend and crew like originally planned. We were both really tired too, so not going out was just fine by me. Plus there’s the whole issue of driving, which didn’t even occur to me. I didn’t drink in college, but even if I had, all the bars anyone went to were within very easy walking distance of campus, so no one ever drove to go out, and of course no one drives to go out in Chicago – they walk, or take the CTA, or take a cab, or take an Uber, but never once in my entire Chicago life have I ever known of anyone who drove to a bar. I wasn’t all that interested in drinking, so I could’ve DDed, but the idea of driving a car that wasn’t mine in a city I had never been after dark when I can’t see anything wasn’t particularly appealing, either. So bed time it was!
We came back to Chicago Sunday, listening to the Bears lose the whole way. Granted, I didn’t see all that much of Iowa, but I have to say, I did enjoy being out in the country again. Don’t get me wrong: I love living in Chicago and very much enjoy city life, but I grew up in the country, and seeing rolling farmland feels like home in the most wonderful way.
Have you ever been to Iowa?