Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What I Did On Christmas Vacation - By Flamingo1

What I Did On Christmas Vacation
(or GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE)

By Flamingo1





Welcome to Iowa and welcome to 1986. Above, I have posted a typical Iowa landscape; a scrubby field full of some sort of long ago harvested vegetation. Ugly patches of snow can be found trapped between the dried stalks of whatever sort of plant this might have been during the summer months. It ain't pretty. It isn't exactly the snow capped Rockies of Colorado.


We snapped this picture out of the front window of our Toyota Solara two door rental car. By the way, a two door Toyota Solara is not exactly the car I would select for a family of 5 traveling 60 miles with luggage. Consider that before purchasing one. Additionally, consider this when renting a car from Hertz - a two door Toyota Solara is considered a "Full Size" car - who would have thought?!?! In any event, this photo was taken within 4 blocks of "downtown." The skyline of the Greater Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Area is dominated by Quaker Oats and a variety of corn sweetener plants including the Cargill plant shown here. Massive amounts of corn are trucked into this city every year and are "processed" into corn starch and corn sweetener products. Check the back of virtually any sugared product and one of the primary ingredients will be "corn sweetener." Chances are it came from right here!

Now corn sweeteners make your food taste better (provided you are into processed sugar products). The process to make them does not make the air smell sweeter. Quite the contrary. Please note the gaseous emissions belching forth from the smoke stacks. This is one of the smells from the City of Five Smells.

Cedar Rapids is actually the self-described "City of Five Seasons." Cedar Rapids The Five Seasons are Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and....the time to enjoy the other four seasons (yes, clearly lame, but it wasn't my idea!!) However, what is missing from these glamorous images that I have shared with you as well as the shiny photos provided by the Chamber of Commerce are the smells. It actually used to be worse when I was a lad, but the smells never stop. As I mentioned, Quaker Oats is the 500 pound gorilla dominating 1/2 of the downtown skyline. Yes, it is right downtown. See photo evidence provided.

Oh, sure - it's pretty. This is the place that brings us Cap'n Crunch and Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries. You can often smell these products as they are being made. The proximity to the foregoing corn sweetener plants make the production of sugary ceareals quite easy! MMMMMM...the smell can make your stomach queasy. I did not take this picture as you can see. I pulled this picture from the internet. Surprisingly, there are several pictures of the downtown Cedar Rapids skyline if you are interested in viewing more. I was tempted to post the photo showing the Quaker Oats plant at night. It is a wonder to behold.

To add to this olfactory adventure, just south of "downtown" Cedar Rapids you will find the city landfill as well as the city sewage treatment plant.

To provide a quick recap:

Smell No. 1 - Corn Sweeteners (and lots of them!);
Smell No. 2 - Quaker Oats;
Smell No. 3 - city landfill/dump;
Smell No. 4 - city sewage treatment plant.

AND SMELL No. 5 is the "time to enjoy the other 4 smells." It actually used to be the giant meat packing plant that is just south of downtown on the river right across from the sewage treatment plant and the dump, but that meat packing plant closed long ago. Accordingly, I ripped off the City of Five Seasons motto for my own evil purposes.


Another little tidbit of which you should be aware is that Grant Wood was from the general area and actually spent quite a bit of time in Cedar Rapids. During his time in the area, he painted American Gothic - the American Mona Lisa. I love this painting.

The house in this picture is still standing in Eldon Iowa. I have never been there, but the next time I am in Iowa during the summer, I intend to drive out to Eldon and take a picture of the house. I might even pose just like this.

The couple portrayed in the picture is comprised of the town dentist shown holding the pitch fork and Grant Wood's sister. I love the juxtaposition of the unsophisticated rural farmer in the foreground with the intricate gothic window in the background. The expressions on these faces are stern...but they somehow remind me of the Mona Lisa smile. There's something behind those dour expressions. And I can't help but wonder what the female in the picture is looking at - Mr. American Gothic is looking right at us - but Ms. American Gothic seems to be distracted by something. Probably two dogs humping in the front yard - but who can tell for sure?!?!

American Gothic was actually on display at the Cedar Rapids Art Museum recently. We missed it because it returned to Chicago on December 4. Otherwise, I would have gone down to the museum to see it in person. Culture in Cedar Rapids...who would have thought?!?!

As it was, I experienced no culture during my time in Cedar Rapids. When I wasn't gorging myself on obscene amounts of mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey and sweet potatoes, I mostly hung out at a bar, drank beer and played an electronic bowling game...and that is what I did on my Christmas vacation.

16 Comments:

Blogger Femi-mommy provided this enlightening comment...

this could be a new gig for you - offactory (sic?) travel agent! do kansas city and jersy next!!

6:53 AM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger MsAmber provided this enlightening comment...

Boy am I cruel. I was actually smiling at all your bad luck.
I'm so sorry. Um. No I'm not.
MsAmber

8:19 AM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger The Phoenix provided this enlightening comment...

And when you get back home, you'll reek of corn sweetner. Watch out for hungry Canadian geese.

10:38 AM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger FLAMINGO1 provided this enlightening comment...

I am home!! I made it home VERY late Monday night. Then I had to work all day on Tuesday. I am just starting to recover. The weekend can't come quickly enough.

11:02 AM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger honeyhive provided this enlightening comment...

I've never been to Iowa. It doesn't look like I'm missing much.

11:21 AM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger PDD provided this enlightening comment...

honeyhive, it appears that you are missing something.

Pinky, Cedar Rapids seems glamorous, but I'm glad you are back. Now, never do that again, or I'll shoot you. What's the point? (this question comes complete with family dwelling in Iowa) There is none.

I do like that painting as well. Grant Wood's sister clearly looks disgusted. So I think you may be right regarding the two dogs humping in the front yard.

What's next? Doing anything for New Years?

I missed you Pinky. I have been prolific in the baking muffins dept., to your heavenly viking image. It's getting tired. You gotta post another pic, please!

Love ya love nuts.

12:25 PM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger FLAMINGO1 provided this enlightening comment...

I usually stay home on New Years. Too many amature drunks on the roads. Too dangerous. I'd rather be drunk at home than wearing Joe Arpaio's pink underpants at the Maricopa County Jail.

12:53 PM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger PDD provided this enlightening comment...

Yes, last year I went to bed before midnight. This year, I'd like to go for dinner and then back home to drink some fabulous fine red wine.

I agree with you Pinky, there are too many amature drunks on the road on New Years. Home does seem to be the best option.

Getting laid, you think?

1:22 PM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger FLAMINGO1 provided this enlightening comment...

I would say that my "Getting Laid Batting Average" is about .250. I have less than a 25% chance of scoring on New Years eve.

One of two things will happen - she will drink too much or she will just be too tired by the time we make it to bed.

I did score a couple of times in CR however - nothing better than a strange room in a hotel...including the nasty sheets that probably have more milage on them than a city bus.

2:22 PM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger David Amulet provided this enlightening comment...

As for the painting, I always imagined that the woman was looking over at the poor soul who just got impaled by the man's pitchfork in an act of dental illness.

-- david

6:58 AM, December 30, 2005  
Blogger The Phoenix provided this enlightening comment...

I'm glad you're back home safe and sound. I bet you still long for the sweet smell of corn sweetner.

10:31 AM, December 30, 2005  
Blogger crallspace provided this enlightening comment...

Looks... like fun.

Iowa never seemed like a place I'd want to end up. i applied in Davenport and never heard back...for good reason I'm sure.

9:11 PM, December 30, 2005  
Blogger crallspace provided this enlightening comment...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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