But before there was Saturday, there was Friday. And Friday was so good.
We had lunch in a gorgeous restaurant on the river. We watched boats and barges go by and ate the famous local fried chicken while Gracie kept sneaking her foot onto the table.
After lunch we grabbed an iced coffee at a local coffeeshop. This place looks straight out of Portlandia and not something you'd think you'd find in small-town Iowa, but let me tell you, I don't even think my favorite coffeeshops in Columbus could compete with this place. I don't know what any of it meant, but apparently my coffee was triple filtered and infused and blasted with nitrogen, and OH WAS IT GOOD. Science is delicious. I nursed that baby all afternoon and I can't stop thinking about it.
We drove 20ish miles down the river to Le Claire, Iowa, the home of ANTIQUE ARCHEOLOGY AND AMERICAN PICKERS AND MIKE AND FRANK. I've been watching Pickers since college and I LOVE IT. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be in Iowa, let alone Antique Archeology. I was probably more excited than I should've been, but it was just SO COOL. My dad teased me that I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. It was blazing hot and I had to change a gnarly diaper in the back of my mom's car. Someday I'm going to have Gracie watch American Pickers with me when she's older, and I'm going to point to the parking spot near the white van and tell her that's where I changed her diaper.
Every single customer asked the employees where Mike and Frank were. On the road, apparently, and if you happen to be in Eastern Iowa at the end of August, they'll be there too. You're welcome. One of these days I'll track them down. There was a giant reindeer head on the wall that Gracie kept pointing at, wanting to make sure we all saw it. My dad bought her a onesie, and I walked away with a coffee mug and a guitar pick for James. If only I could figure out how to fill up my mug with some more of that nitrogen coffee.
We drove home bright and early Saturday morning. I knew things were going to be dicey when I took a wrong turn 5 minutes into the drive. An hour later, a lady with severe road rage pulled in front of me and slammed on her brakes for reasons completely unknown to me. I had been minding my own business, staying in the same lane for miles, and going the speed limit--maybe even slightly over. After nearly causing a bad accident at 70 mph, she then got next to me and rolled her windows down, flipping me off and screaming obscenities for miles. I tried to lose her in traffic but she insisted on taunting me. Maybe I ran over a Pokemon she was trying to catch? Is that how it works? I don't know--if you try to talk to me about Pokemon I'll instantly be annoyed with you.
She finally merged onto an exit ramp, her middle fingers high in the sky and her mouth full of insults, but I finally felt a safe enough distance away so I blew her a kiss and hit the gas. I was too scared to look back for her reaction.
An hour later, in the middle of Illinois, Gracie threw up. I should've known it was coming since she had been crying and screaming, but there hadn't been a good place to stop. I found a McDonalds and pulled in to clean her up. It was 110 degrees outside, perfect weather for scrubbing barf out of a carseat. Once I got the car and the baby cleaned up, I hauled us inside for my reward--an iced coffee. As we were getting ready to leave, I realized I lost my car keys. I found them a few minutes later, in my purse of all places, but I cried anyway.
There wasn't any more puking or lost car keys, but there was another 6 hours of crying and fussing and screaming and the lingering smell of vomit from the backseat. I guess her perfect behavior on the way there bought me the drive back. I can't blame her, though. She was such a trooper. I got home so ready to wipe the smell of vomit of me to find that our shower had broken while I was away.
I think I have a crush on Iowa. No one is more shocked by this than I am. I feel...homesick. I miss the rolling hills, the wildflowers, the wild turkeys, the scary storms with wind that nearly blows the house over, the Mississippi River. My parents, obviously. And of course the nitrogen coffee. Whenever I travel, I usually breathe a sigh of relief when I cross state lines into Ohio again. But this time, I didn't. I mean, I felt relived that I only had about 2 more hours of crying to endure and excited to see James. But man, I left part of my heart in Iowa. I guess that just means I need to go back and visit it.