Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dear Iowa Visitor,

Thank you for asking me what there is to see in the western part of our state. I like knowing that you want to experience more of what our fine state has to offer as you climb into your Winnebago to head back to California. I trust you will enjoy the cities and sights I suggested experiencing as you make your way to Omaha by tomorrow evening.

I also hope the restaurant owner and I have convinced you to return someday to enjoy the eastern side of Iowa, particularly the northeast section of the state. The bluffs along the mighty Mississippi tell stories of Native Americans who navigated the waterway in birch bark canoes, and fur traders and river boat captains who did the same with similar skill but much less grace.

The scenery along the highways and byways as you head east is lush. You joked about it likely being "just field after field of corn." Yes, there will be cornfields, but I think what you'll see most as you ride the ridges in northeast Iowa are the coulees and deep, rolling meadows that are tucked in-between the fields of corn and soybeans and alfalfa and hay. And you'll be enchanted by the cows that graze the hillsides in poised, artful poses. And you'll find your gaze wandering across the horizon connecting silo to silo, barn to barn - amazed at the number of farms, the number of families, who claim this beautiful land for their home.

When you return, you will again experience the "uncommon kindness" that you said has impressed you so much about our "clean and friendly" state.

One last thing: I regret that I forgot to encourage you to begin driving west about 30 minutes before sunset tonight so you could see the incredible purple, pink, and peach hues that paint our evening sky. The sun becomes a red hot ball, irresistibly inviting to look at through muted treetops and corn stalks and silos. Its fading haze diffuses and blends the last rays of the day's color. An Iowa sunset is virtuous. An Iowa sunset is honest - an invitation to another day, only hours in the making.

Iowa Visitor, it was lovely to talk with you today. I hope our paths will cross again, perhaps at the intersection of roads that separate cornfields in the middle of NE Iowa. Safe travels as you venture to Omaha tomorrow, and then across the Great West to California. You'll see incredible sights and journey through incredible places to be sure. But nothing like quite like Iowa.

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