Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving in Iowa: Part 1: Clinton, Thai, Veggie Dinner and RiversideTrek

It has been a while since my last post, because the Monday before Thanksgiving we loaded up the car and made the drive from warm, sunny Texas to Iowa. The long way. Through Little Rock, Arkansas (a five hour drive in itself) where we stopped for a quick view of the Clinton Library. Though we only had an hour before the museum closed, it was quite fascinating, entertaining and well worth the trip. And the building itself is very striking, with the second floor stretching out toward the river, invoking the phrase, "Building a bridge to the 21st century."

R and I
in front of the Wm. J. Clinton Presidential Library
photo by Edward McGuire

Several hours later we stopped in Fayetteville, Arkansas, a college town, for some of the best Thai food I have ever put in my mouth, amazing, in the old downtown area. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, but go there! Really. The town isn't that big; you'll find it. Rowan even devoured hers, ordered mild, one star out of five. My green coconut curry with lots of veggies and tofu, ordered at 3 star heat, was perfect.

After dinner we were lured by hints of shining light to stroll down the street to the town square, which was an amazing Christmas wonderland of lights, festooning every tree, arbor, bench...just everywhere...with carols playing and families and couples walking around in the late night cold, looking up and being as amazed as we were.

As a woman who had never made a complete Thanksgiving dinner in my life, this year I was a little anxious about making two, for other people who are not vegetarians. On Sunday my grown children gathered at my house before our trip and had dinner, with a vegan roast of tofu, wheat gluten and other "weird" veggie stuff, plus traditional seasonal sides. But I knew these guys were going to go to my mom's on Thursday for the full traditional turkey and dressing meal.

My in-laws, however, hadn't really been exposed to vegetarian cooking AND this trip was the first time I'd be cooking for them. In addition to veggie "meat" I made a lot of very traditional things like mashed potatoes, gravy (no giblets), dressing (no giblets), green bean casserole and the fresh cranberry relish that I take to my mom's every year. Edward and R made pumpkin pies (I made the crust but made Edward roll it out. He claimed I was welshing on the deal, but I was feeling a little overwhelmed at that point.) Everything was very well received
and complimented, and they were happy to eat leftovers the next evening before heading to Des Moines for the ballet.

Edward's mom and dad/step-father live outside an Iowa town on a Christmas tree farm. The busy season started up on Friday, and R lent Grandpa Fred a hand and learned how to make wreaths from fresh tree boughs they gathered.

R and Fred intent on their work

Friday Edward, R and I went on a little road trip to the small town of Riverside, Iowa.

Yes, really.

Across from the town park, the Starship Enterprise was parked alongside an equal sized shuttle craft.
Edward did a great job when I looked down the block and yelled, "Quick, you've got to get a picture of this!"

Modes of transportation?
The past and the future meet in the present in Riverside

After picking up our tickets for the ballet in the Civic Center lobby, we were startled by loud cracking sounds and hurried see a spectacular fireworks display just a few blocks away at the tree lighting. Our spot on the chilly sidewalk was a perfect viewing place. That has to be one of the most delightful joys in life, coming upon unexpected fireworks. Our busy Friday ended with an enchanting performance of The Nutcracker. I love that magical moment when it begins to snow.

And here is our own little worn out princess, dreaming her Christmas dreams.

All photos, except the sleeping beauty, by Edward McGuire.

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