I Return – With Souvenirs

I’m back from my relaxing vacation in the middle of nowhere, Iowa. It was the busiest I have ever seen the place. I will share with you some amusing anecdotes, including some artistic lessons learned.

  • Laurens, Iowa had its 125th birthday this year. We celebrated all weekend.
  • Laurens is the home of the Straight Story, a movie about an elderly local who rode his lawnmower to visit his sister in Wisconsin. The mower was in the parade.
  • It is difficult to take good photos of a parade.
  • Laurens, Iowa is a sister city of Laurens, France. 11 French people, including the mayor of the little Provencal town, came to Iowa for a week.
  • I thought they’d be bored. Instead, they enjoyed themselves way more than any of the Americans did, even though we fed them burgers and beans twice a day for three days. They really loved drinking Budweiser and riding lawn tractors. They brought a bottle of wine for every resident of the town.
  • The Sister finally found a post-graduate use of her French degree by translating all weekend. She was a hit.
  • I did not even know Tractor Square Dancing existed. It is the coolest thing ever. EVER!
  • It is difficult to take good photos of tractor square dancing.
  • I got to hear both my 89-year-old grandma play honky-tonk piano and an outdoor swing band and a church choir sing patriotic songs on the same beautiful 80-degree summer day. Doesn’t get better than that.
  • RAGBRAI came to Laurens last weekend, too. When a town jumps from 1,500 people to 15,000 and back in one day, it is quite a show. Lance Armstrong was there. We followed him down the street while munching on ears of sweet corn.
  • They strung a wire between two huge tractors on main street for a bike rack. It was overflowing, as were the gutters and storefronts.
  • It is difficult to take good photos of 15,000 people and their bikes.
  • If you leave your 400mm lens and camera on a tripod, it will be top- and front-heavy. Do not leave it setup near anything, especially small children and cats.
  • If you do leave it out and it gets knocked over, face first, into the concrete, you will learn well the protective value of lens caps, UV filters, and vigilance.
  • Three hour airport layovers are good opportunities to draw random things. However, people will look at you funny.

5 thoughts on “I Return – With Souvenirs”

  1. Good to hear that you had fun…and aren’t small town country hoe-downs a hoot! One of my favourite things to see is when the city closest to us has their Agricultural Fair and they have lawn tractor races.

    I can feel my neck getting redder already.

    What really got me was the image in my mind of an 89 year old woman playing honky-tonk piano…well, that’s worth paying money to see in person!
    Welcome back!

  2. Sounds like you had fun. Tractor squaredancing? Now I thought I was from a small town, lol.
    My Hubby would have LOVED to see RAGBRAI. Actually he would have loved to ride in it.
    He’s nuts about cycling.

  3. Rita, thanks! Small towns *are* awesome! They’re even better when they have big parties all weekend, and then quickly cool down to their usual selves.

    Kasie, I know! Tractor square dancing seems so obscure, but I found a bunch of websites and some Youtube videos of it! Who knew? And invite your hubby to RAGBRAI next year – you can all join him for a week of fun in Iowa. It looked so fun, my sister and I are thinking of doing it next year, even though I don’t even own a bike yet!

  4. I luuurve your little mama squid with baby squid. Perhaps inspired by the newest addition to the family?? I got to hold a new baby yesterday and thought about Baby Cousin the whole time. Awwww.
    Best family vacation ever.

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