I don’t know if you know this, but right below us is Iowa. It’s just sitting there, waiting for someone to visit. So, on Friday, as soon as I was off work and packed, Holli Gregg and I made the 1hr45m journey south to Hawarden, IA.
Of course, it was a Friday in Lent, so when we stopped to eat, we got cheese pizza and a cheesy garlic breaded thing. I think Villa Pizza’s goal with those things is to kill you with garlic. It could be a weak anti-vampire tactic, but it’s really quite harmful to mortals as well. I will admit that I was nervous on the trip down. I felt this strange anticipation rising up as we neared Iowa. The sky grew dark, and my breath smelled like a Mafia reunion (because it was garlic:ee and Italians eat a lot of garlic and most Mafia people are Italian).
First stop: the Hawarden War Memorial. It’s not a memorial TO WAR; it’s a memorial ABOUT WAR that is TO THE SOLDIERS IN THE WAR. This is an important distinction. It’ll come up later in the post. My dad has been down there a couple times to add names to this impressive memorial. It looks neat at night because of the lights they have on it, but those same lights make the trees behind it look scary. Almost vampire scary.
Finally we headed to her house. She gave me an extensive tour which included an arguably inaccurate height chart, an arguably homosexual basketball sculpture, and some arguably indecent pictures. It was quite exciting. Her parents and sister weren’t home yet, so I wasn’t quick in a panic yet. Then they did return, and I did panic.
It wasn’t nearly as bad as all that. When I’m afraid, though, I don’t talk much. This made conversation a little quiet and awkward when Holli would leave the room. I tried to not do any of my man-this-is-awkward noises like “Sooooooo…”, “Yup, yup…”, or any attempts at whistling. The key to the whole thing was that Holli’s dad, Larry Gregg, loves Arrested Development. Her dad is a quiet, thoughtful man. Speak softly, and all that, and bringing Arrested was the way to his heart. We popped that baby in and began to watch.
The next morning Holli had a chiropractor appointment, so I woke early enough to eat breakfast with her, then I showered and dressed and found her dad watching some more Arresteds, so I brought up a little project I’ve been working on, and I watched with him. That was a long sentence. Holli returned (and bit flushed, and dribbles of blood on each side of her lips) and we waited for her mom, Carol Gregg, to call us when she was done working at the bank. Then we were going to eat.
We ate at a cafe place downtown. I’d never been, but the Greggs were regulars. There was a minor incident where I ordered a root beer float, and I pushed the ice cream down into my glass using my spoon, and suddenly the root beer foamed up and spilled all over the table. Marissa Gregg, Holli’s sister, joined us near the end.
From there, we got Holli’s car so she could wash it, I met Sam, and then she gave me a tour of the town. First we saw her dad’s parents. They have a nice house. Then the tour. We saw all kinds of interesting sites and renamed buildings. Apparently, when people think of Hawarden, IA, they think of McKenny Furniture. So, okay. I learned of friends’ houses and the like. The old college, her mom’s bank, and the cemetery (of course).
Then it was time for mass. Holli and I went to St. Mary’s and enjoyed the service. The priest had a strange sermon. He sounded like he didn’t really know what he meant to say. It was a sort of rambling, on-and-on kind of homily. There were Asian Lady Beetles everywhere.
That night was Dance Night. Marissa was dancing in it as a member of the West Sioux HS B-Squad. It was a nice time. I got to see a lot of dancing. I also spied Jeff Gabhart‘s brother, Tim. Tim goes to Sioux Center’s high school, and their drum line and dance team were both part of the Dance Night, as was Akron and some other surrounding communities as well as West Sioux High School (which is in Hawarden) and some children. They did a light show at the end that was pretty neat.
Then Holli gave me a tour of the school. We looked through the window of nearly every classroom door, and we looked in the theatre. Afterward we headed back and watched video of the dance routine we’d just seen, the Senior Video that Larry made for Holli when she graduated, and some Arrested Development.
The next morning we (all of us) went to the United Methodist church. Remember that thing I said about Hawarden’s monument not being devoted TO WAR? Well, that’s important because it shows just what a peaceful community this is. So peaceful, in fact, that the cops don’t even care what side of the street you park on. Anyway. The service was nice. I’ve only attended one previous Methodist service, and I was just as confused as I was this time. I guess, being Catholic, it’s unusual celebrating Christ in such a relaxed, town-council-meeting fashion. Also, no kneeling. How do you tell who is strong enough to be welcomed into heaven if no one has to kneel? Sounds vampire-fishy to me.
After lounging a bit, packing up, arguing over who was really taller of the three Gregg girls, Holli and I packed up for the return journey. We decided to leave Arrested Development with Larry so he could finish Season One. His face lit up. I think that alone was enough to make him like me. Let’s hope my “personality” helps keep things going. There’s only so much Arrested Development. Before we left, however, we had to complete the tour. This didn’t include much, but Hawarden does have a new hotel, if you need a place to stay while there. I tried to take some decent pictures of the Farmers State Bank.
Once back in Sioux Falls we hit the mall where I bought the biggest book on mythology I’ve ever seen, and we also hit Ernie November where I bought an ELO record and a Phantom Planet CD. Then we ate at Applebee’s with Grandpa Miles, Grandma Miles, Aunt Karin, and Erin. It was a good time. Karin was telling Holli and I a story that the priest at church had told in his homily, then Grandpa leans foward and says, “No, you’re telling it wrong.” Then he retells what she just said, and says, “There, now you can go ahead.” It was funny.
I drove us back, and Holli took a nap. Once back we watched some Office at her place before going to sleep and starting or Spring Break of working at a job. It’s this thing that you apply for and they pay you to, uh… nevermind, I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Tonight: the Lady T’s play in Sioux City. Guess who’s Huffing It back to Hawarden? Holli, Jennifer Sixta, Jen’s sister, Kendra Weisser, and me. Pictures to follow.