Location: Des Moines, Iowa
The crazy man got everyone up at some ungodly hour – I’d tell you what it was, but I haven’t been wearing a watch and I’m not sure what time-zone I’m even in. He was anxious for us to be on the road by noon or so, but not before we went into Chicago proper and ate some Polish food. Anastasia also mentioned that we should go to Millenium Park and visit the giant silver lima bean that lives there, which seemed perfectly reasonable to me.
Drove around downtown for a little while, dad flapping his arms that there was no place to park until we picked some place at random and just settled in an underground lot like a gopher tortoise, right next to where we had to be by some weird coincidence. We walked out along the waterfront of Lake Michigan, clear and beautiful, then looped around to the “Park District” which had a gigantic fountain of frothing sea-horses and other nefarious creatures spitting cool water into the clear air. Very relaxing. A big thing, apparently, are Segway tours in the area, and we asked a Segway Tour Guide, obviously a king among dorks, Rex Regnant Dorkus, where Millenium Park was and he pointed a laser pointer at where we wished to be.
The giant silver lima bean, a.k.a. the Cloud Sculpture, was a beautiful mathematical toroid of burnished silver, and you could walk through it and watch your reflections waving madly at one another. There were students there with mirrors, as well, counting the number of times they were reflected on the surfaces, flashing light into one another’s eyes via complex and instantaneous calculations of angles of incidence and reflection – the math boggled my mind.
From there we went and played in the big fountains at the tail end of the park – mom ran through the waterfall and I had to follow suit, lest I be showed up by a girl of all things. This made for a somewhat wet ride to the Polish section of Chicago, but we were dry and happy by the time we arrived at Bobak’s Sausage Company and gorged ourselves on kielbasa, pierogi, and other … things … so good. Later I would burp in the car and the effusion of garlic and god knows what else forced the other adults in the car to unroll the windows lest, like little yellow canaries, the cave gas killed them.
We returned to the hotel to get my car, and mom and I rode together to Des Moines – roughly a 5 hour trip, complete with singing “Old Man River” as we crossed the Mighty Mississippi and much discussion about the past and future. Dad trucked along at a decent clip, and even stopped briefly once or twice to allow the other mortals to stretch their legs and for god’s sake go to the bathroom. I think he eats fetuses or something when we’re not looking, they give him an unholy strength. He was absolutely amazed at the amount of corn there was. Conversations went something like this:
Dad: Did you see all the corn?
Us: Yeah. Yeah, we did.
Dad: That was a lot of corn.
Dad: I mean, a LOT of corn. Really a lot
Dad: There must have been a thousand square miles of corn! So much corn. Corn, corn, corn, corn, corn, and corn as far as the eye could see. I think I have corn oil on the car.
Me: You’re a goddamn dork.
We checked into the hotel and drove around briefly trying to find a “steak”, figuring some corn-fed beef would do us all right. No luck there – like Omaha, Des Moines is a dead city – so we ate at the restaurant attached to the hotel, a place called Doots or Dooties or Sam’s or something like that. I ordered something called an Iowa Tenderloin, figuring it to be a local favorite – the recipe is easy:
- Take one gigantic fucking slice of pork, fried
- Place on bottom of tiny potato roll, so pork ends flop off like a flounder on a frisbee
- Spread dollop of mayo on top
- Place top of roll on pork
I laughed to myself, believing this to be a mistake of some sort, but no – the Iowans like their tenderloin just this way, I discovered; I have been unable to wrap my brain around it.
After dinner, we returned to the room and drank scotch. I am off to bed to dream of the State Fair, and the adventures that wait inside.