Travelogue: One Man, Three States, The Midwest aka IaMinnesin

[Once a month we have a company member report to us about life on the road. This month, it's Greg Triggs sharing what went during our whirlwind tour to Iowa, Minnesota, and his homestate of Wisconsin.]

I'm always excited when we have a tour to the Midwest.  It is, after all, home.  I came from up in Wisconsin - Madison to be specific - the final bastion of bleeding hearts.  It used to set the tone for the state.  Now it's more of a lonely island where most people will refuse the final cheese curd and buy a hungry kid a school lunch.

This tour took us through smaller towns, subtle in their distinction. We flew into Des Moines and left via the Twin Cities.  In between, there were only farms, speed traps, and the open road waiting to be discovered.

We were there during the height of color change.  It was a beautiful drive.  Yet, before I remember the vivid reds, oranges, and golds, I remember the people we met and some of the adventures we had with a quirky memory or two along the way.

Oskaloosa, IA

Oddly enough my favorite memory of Oskaloosa - other than the great show and cool people we met at the theater - is of the hotel.  My room overlooked a beautiful and well-maintained farm.  There was a lovely red barn against grass so green it was almost Irish.  I found it hard to take my eyes away from the view; but when I finally summoned the resolve my eyes landed on a painting - of a farm.  The painting was nearly identical to the view.  Pride or geographical narcissism?  Who cares?  Whoever bought the art for the hotel found whatever he needed to find within the borders of that canvas and his or her beloved Iowa.

Winona, MN

Winona, guarding the shores of the mighty Mississippi, is a lovely town.  The university is filled with students that have no idea how lucky they are.  The campus of St. Mary's is filled with natural beauty.  As is my habit, I went for a walk to clear my head after our sound check.  The path I chose was full of energized students getting ready for the Halloween Haunted Walk that winds through the woods surrounding the campus.  I'd walk a few hundred feet only to encounter a graveyard or a throng of giggling zombies.  Crunching leaves and a severed limb or three keeping me company as I made my way.

At one point I encountered a fork in the path.  I stopped to ask the grim reaper which choice led to the waterfall I'd heard about.  In a surprisingly high voice the young man asked which waterfall I wanted to see, because there were two, one in each direction.

Minnesota - something to offer even the angel of death.

That's pure Midwest and I feel sorry for anyone who didn't grown up amongst it.

Ladysmith, WI

Ladysmith,  WI is named for a woman who refused to visit her namesake, preferring a fancier life.  Oh what she missed!  This is a hardworking town, where many wear a blue collar and sport a can do attitude.  We were hungry when we arrived and chose to eat at a Dairy Queen straight out of the 1960s.  I, of course, ordered a small turtle sundae Blizzard.  The clerk told me their vanilla machine wasn't working.  Was I okay with chocolate?  Certainly not.  You don't trifle with a classic.  Overhearing that, a sturdy gal - clearly the product of many Midwestern generations - said, "Give me a sec."  Before I finished my single Brazier Burger I had my dessert.  When I went to thank her I paused to imply asking her name.  She ended the encounter introducing herself as, "the freakin' Dairy Queen."  We applauded her efforts and all of us had a much better day for our brief time together.

As if that weren't enough, when we got to the theater, the arts committee was having a bake sale full of delicious treats baked in kitchens with white appliances and formica counters.  At the end of the show the ladies gave us FOUR PLATES piled with Ladysmith's finest confections.  There was a feeding frenzy when we offered half our bounty to the hungry crew.

Thank you Iaminnesin.  While it might be true that you can never go home again, a quick visit that reminds you of what you grew up loving is always appreciated.

Off to the next adventure!