Sunday, January 1, 2012

Iowa on the Radar; Caucus Puts Small Iowa US Route 6 Towns On the National Map

Today, I opened my New York Times to read this op-ed post by Frank Bruni; Iowa Caucuses' Bitter Harvest.  To me, the piece was not so notable for its content (a rather standard NY Times position on outside-of-mainstream, sometimes nutty sometimes self-defeating Republican campaign antics), but for its dateline; Coralville, IA.

My very friendly 7:30AM Audience in Coralville, IA
Most raised their hands when asked if they'd like to come along with
me on the remainder of my US Route 6 Cross-Country Trip

An Ideal Meal; the Perfect Steak Salad
Iowa River Power Restaurant
Coralville, IA
CORALVILLE!!  Not only do I know where Coralville is (adjacent to Iowa City) - but I have some newfound friends there - all because that's where US Route 6 took me on my journey across the country. Newton, IA, former home of Maytag Appliance Co., and where the Maytag Dairy still churns out phenomenal Maytag Blue Cheese -was also mentioned by Bruni.  It, too, is a Route 6 town.

Hand-Wrapping Maytag Blue Cheese - The Way it's Always Been Done
Newton, Iowa

First Maytag Washing Machines
Jasper County Museum
Newton, IA
Between election years, to those who live on the coasts of the US, Iowa is just that flat place in the middle of the country, studded with barns and silos, where farmers grow corn and pigs.  But every four years, our nation is fixated on this Midwestern state.  Iowa makes headlines in major newspapers, media flock there to follow the candidates, and it becomes a focal point of the national political scene.

Drew's Chocolates, Always Individually "Fork-Dipped"
Dexter, IA

The Friendly Gas Station Man Greets Visitors
to Menlo, IA
But as I discovered on my transcontinental road-trip, Iowa is so much more than just corn, pigs and even politics. It is a hardworking, sometimes surprisingly sophisticated state full of friendly people.  I  never would have discovered this had I not traveled the longest contiguous federal highway in the country -  US Route 6 - from end to end.

Downtown Atlantic, IA

Stay tuned for my book: Stay on US Route 6; Your Complete Guide to All 3,652 Historic Miles of The Country's Longest Road, which will be available in late winter/early spring.

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