The American Douchebag’s Guide to America: …Iowa?

What the fuck, Iowa?! How the hell, in all the thousands of other, far more interesting, places I could have chosen, did I come up with fucking Iowa as my next place to visit in this series? Can anyone even find Iowa on a map anymore?

Is it the one that kind of looks like an oven mitt?

Is it the one that kind of looks like an oven mitt?

You know what, whatever. It’s fine. I’ve got some goddamn journalistic integrity, and I’m going to talk about Iowa because the media is afraid to, and fuck you if you think you’re going to stop me. Good luck with your time machine dickmite, I’ve already written and posted this shit. Boom!

Overview

So, Iowa is apparently a state in the Midwest. “America’s Heartland” if you will…. Believe that America’s heart pumps out in the middle of fucking nowhere.

The Territory know known as “Iowa” was originally controlled by a bunch of beret wearing, baguette eating douchebags (No, I’m not talking about Modernist painters). The French sold the territory, which back then was part of the larger Louisiana Territory, to The Spanish, or more commonly known as the  tanner French with a fetish for getting impaled by bulls.

In 1803, the territory was bought by the U.S. during the Louisiana Purchase, which didn’t make the Native Indians living on the land too thrilled. By the end of the Black Hawk War in 1832, The Americans were able to force all the natives out of the Iowa territory and subsequently name it after them in the native’s honor because, let’s face it, the settlers were total pricks to the Indians.

In 1846, Iowa was officially named a state under President James K. Polk, a real president, not just one I made up because I didn’t actually feel like looking up the answer. He did exist.

Now, the state is mostly known for its agriculture (despite agriculture being only a small part of its economy, falling far behind manufacturing somehow) and for the fact that World’s Greatest Punk’der, Ashton Kutcher is from there. So yep, those are pretty much the two things you really need to know about Modern day Iowa: tons of corn and the spawning place of Kelso from That 70’s Show.

This is what the gene pool in Iowa looks like.

This is what the gene pool in Iowa looks like.

Also, I guess State fairs are really big there too.

Initial Thoughts

What the shit, I have to cross a goddamn moat to get into Iowa? Is Iowa some kind of fortified Bastille of a state that must protect its borders at all cost? Oh wait, that’s the Mississippi River. That’s cool I guess…. What’s with all the fucking hills?! I thought this was supposed to be part of the great plains! You lied to me, Iowa, you lied to me.

Accommodations

I stayed at the majestic hotel named, “Paul’s Apartment.”  Paul, as you probably don’t remember, was one of the many friends I made when I terrorized Europe for a month. Paul is actually a New Jersey native, not that we should hold it against him (too much), and is currently attending Grad School in Ames. So as one can expect,  the accommodations were that of a student going for his Master’s Degree: The apartment was relatively small and always fully stocked with beer, I slept on the couch, and within a day, my shit was everywhere (figuratively. Unfortunately, my literal shit got everywhere on day 3).

There were a couple of things that I genuinely loved about his apartment. First, Paul lives in a gated community, so I was able to keep my car door unlocked without worry. Secondly, he was on the ground level, which made it exceptionally easy to get in and out of his apartment when the need arose. Then there was the community gym. It wasn’t a big gym- definitely not what I’m used to using, but it had enough equipment that I was able to get in solid workouts whenever I went to lift. As a part-time muscle head, that’s important to me, bro.

They also had really nice bathrooms in the gym area, which is good because when I was there, Paul’s toilet was broken, and also without toilet paper. That means that my end of night ritual (which involves me squeezing out a fudge log) meant a quick little jaunt to the gym. Let me tell you, however inconvenient walking for three minutes in the middle of a cold, windy night to give birth to a mud dragon in a different building sounds, it’s nice to know that once you taint that building with your unholy colon stink, you can just leave and not worry about having to explain yourself to anyone. Clearly, people with outhouses have the right idea.

Sites

Des Moines and Iowa State were pretty much the only two sites I could find. I’m fairly certain that their state fair was over by the time I got there. And even if it wasn’t it probably would have been somewhere far from where I was staying. I guess the University of Iowa could also be considered a site if I’m going to consider Iowa State one, but the Univeristy of Iowa doesn’t have Paul, and is therefore inferior.

So first, we have Iowa State University. It is a college, so they have things like a stadium:

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I snuck into the stadium for this pic.

I snuck into the stadium for this pic.

A quad:

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A Student Union that overlooks a lake:

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And a Farmhouse Museum because, you know, Iowa:

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They also have a crazy amount of statues of people scattered about the campus, so you know I got all artsy with those pics:

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What the hell is with all the reading?

What the hell is with all the reading?

However, probably the weirdest thing about Iowa State is how secluded you feel walking around in parts:

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I took this pic on a path right behind the Student Union. Literally right behind it. If you were to turn to the right, you would see a path that would lead up to its parking garage. But the thing is, I had no clue it was the union at the time.  The path I was on was so deserted, that I figured that I had wandered to some remote corner of the campus, not the center, and especially not less than two football fields away from the main part of Ames.

Then, there’s Des Moines. The main three sights in Des Moines (By which I mean, the three sights I saw, and therefore, the only ones worthy of being talked about) are The John and Mary PappaJohn Sculpture Park, East Villiage, and the State Building.

The John and Mary PappaJohn Sculpture Park, which unfortunately does NOT serve free pizza with every tour, is located only a couple of blocks west of downtown, right between Grand Avenue and Locust Street. Their sculptures range from the charming:

Sings "Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting!"

Sings
“Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting!”

DSC00422

To the bizarre:

I spent 20 damn minutes looking at this damn thing, and I couldn't find a single damn word on the list.

I spent 20 damn minutes looking at this damn thing, and I couldn’t find a single damn word on the list.

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To the inadvertently sexual:

They say that isn't a boner, but then what is that all I see when I look at that statue.

They say that isn’t a boner, but then why is it that all I see when I look at that statue is a dick?

To full on, land of 1,000 horrors creepy:

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Holy shit. Did I just stumble upon something from the novel "John Dies at the End?"

Holy shit. Did I just stumble upon something from the novel “John Dies at the End?”

This one is my favorite, and probably the creepiest. The spider one is pure horror.

This one is my favorite, and probably the creepiest. The spider one is pure horror.

On the other side of down town, and just across the river is Des Moines historic East Villiage. Over here you’ll find a series of shops and restaurants geared towards the younger population. There is an arcade bar that is pretty popular (it was closed when I was there), as well as several well-known hipstery clothing shops that also sold pot paraphernalia. Then there were these couple of headless, nude, department store mannequins  that oversaw the goings on of this section of town:

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Even farther east is the Iowa Capitol building, where state legislation is written and world food prizes are awarded, apparently. As you can tell, the Capitol building is surprisingly extravagant for something in Iowa, a state pretty much only known for its corn, but then again, they must have had a lot of extra cash once the rest of America started sucking on the sweet corn syrup teat.

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As you walk up to the capitol, you’ll notice a series of cannons, probably used to ward of pirates and lost French Settlers:

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But if you go around to the side, you’ll find yet another sculpture garden, this time all centered around the state itself.

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OK, I actually don't have a clue what this means.

OK, I actually don’t have a clue what this means.

So, all in all, Des Moines is actually a beautiful city, and small enough that a motivated person can walk around and explore in a day. Now, obviously there is more to explore in Des Moines than what I saw: Their Botanical Gardens, The Birthplace of John Wayne, The State of Iowa Historical Museum, which Paul and I happened to walk past twice, but didn’t even think to check out. There are other things you can do in Iowa too that you can find on your own. What am I, their tourism board?

Food

I ate a shit ton of Buffalo Wild Wings while I was there. I think I’m addicted now. I’m getting the shakes just from thinking about their Parmesan Garlic wings.

I really didn’t eat a lot of food that would be considered “Iowan.” I had some barbeque for lunch one day, but apparently it was a Texas style barbeque. Damn you Texas. I ate at a Mexican Resturant, an Irish pub, and cooked dinner at Paul’s place, and I doubt anything I ate was considered classic Iowa cuisine. I’m sorry, I failed you all.

However, there is a food story that I would like to share with you, and it’s pretty hilarious and awful at the same time. On Tuesday morning, I decided that Panera sounded like a great place to have breakfast. It was a crisp, early autumn day, and I wanted a warm sandwich to keep me full and happy as I wondered around Iowa State University for the day. I cannot really remember what the sandwich was, it was hot and had eggs on it, that’s all I remember, but I do remember what kind of coffee I had with it. See, I always drink my normal, homemade, straight from the coffee pot, gussied up with sugar and flavored creamer, coffee. This week, however, I decided to splurge right the fuck out. Every day I had a Café Mocha, and I sucked on that sweet caffeinated nectar like I was being nursed at the bosom of the gods. Tuesday was no different, and I bought my coffee at Panera. I finished my sandwich and took my coffee with me as I drove back to Iowa State to see what there is to see.

I hadn’t been walking for long before I started to feel a rumbl’n in my intestines. I casually wrote this off as “coffee poops.”  For those of you who don’t drink coffee (freaks), coffee has the tendency to make you want to poop. I, a mere mortal, have no clue why, but it happens. I’m sure Google knows the answer. Anyway, I am able to suppress the poop, and usually only have to deal with a cramp until my innards calm back down. This is a process I am both familiar with and accepting of.

I ignored my bowels plea for help and I continued around Jack Thrice Stadium, up the hill to the Alumni center, down the street to the fitness complex, then across the street and through a maze of buildings to their quad, my stomach growling and cramping more with each step. By the time I took the pictures of their bell tower, My innards were demanding relief, and I decided to call it quits for the day and head back to my car. Unfortunately, my digestive tract was impatient, and I only just made it to the men’s room inside the food sciences building.  After I had finished the dark, unholy deed, I decided that I had had enough exploring for the day and I decided to go back to Paul’s apartment and recuperate.

I hurried away from the Food Sciences building and the evil stench I no doubt left in my evacuation’s wake, and made it to the parking lot my car was in. That’s when I saw Paul. He was just getting back to campus and asked if I could drive him to his building. I obliged, but I began to feel the dark unsettled rumble in my bowels once again. I dropped him off, drove through campus, got lost, but eventually found my way back to his apartment complex. As I was driving past the complex gym (the one with the working toilet and toilet paper) I decided that I was probably well enough to stop at his apartment and drop my camera off before I drive back.

I was wrong.

As soon as I stepped inside his apartment, my emergency evacuation valve was turned. I waddled into his bathroom (the one with a broken toilet and no toilet paper) and I pretty much exploded. The sudden pressure change both inside and outside my body caused my ears to pop. Basically it was just like this scene from Dumb and Dumber, only less fortunate and without an attractive redhead.

My Lloyd is Panera’s coffee.

My Lloyd is Panera’s coffee.

Alcohol

I pretty much just drank beer in Iowa. Sure I had a couple of Jack and Cokes, but beer is what I consumed the entire trip. I didn’t even think to look to find local beers (they’d probably be made out of fermented corn anyway) so I either got high quality craft beers that will get you drunk quick, or the kind of piss water that will really make you evaluate your life choices. You know, Like Natty Light.

Natural Light: If you drink us, it’s because you don’t know any better.

Natural Light: If you drink us, it’s because you don’t know any better.

People

Well, there was Paul, but he doesn’t really count since he’s from Jersey. There were a couple of really friendly baristas in a Des Moines coffee shop that gave us a map of the city, and while I didn’t talk to many people at Paul’s school outside of his circle of friends, everyone seemed to be relatively nice there, and Paul’s friends and coworkers were pretty cool as well. Good Job with the hospitality, Iowa. And no, that wasn’t sarcastic.

Overall Atmosphere

Honestly, Iowa has a slightly-more-country Central Ohio feel to it, like if all the more rural parts of the state grew like weeds and were strangling out Columbus and Ohio State of their precious sunlight and space. But on the bright side, it doesn’t take long to walk from one  interesting place to another. Not like Paris.

But they do have a lot of Sundials. What the hell is up with that, Iowa?

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These are the two that I saw, but I bet I could find more.

These are the two that I saw, but I wasn’t hunting for sundials, so I’m sure there’s more.

Paix

That’s French for “Peace” motherfuckers.

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