My Iowa Caucus Experience in Photos

2012 Iowa Caucus

On another trip back to my homeland of Iowa, I thought I should take the opportunity of being here to document a little bit of history while the caucus[wiki] happened yesterday.
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The Geography of Rock & Roll and the World Around You

I got a posting on my Facebook wall about a band that was from Iowa, The Autumn Project. The question was about if I knew about them because we’re both from the same state and the person really hoped they would come to Vancouver.

It seems like I’ve seen their name float by me at some point, but it’s tough to say that I know a whole lot about them. Reading up on them a little bit, I found out that they’re from Des Moines, Iowa. And actually, they’re right in the middle of one of those “indefinite hiatus” situations.

But the thing that struck me is when I found on that they were from the central portion of Iowa, my first thought was, “Of course I don’t know who they are, they’re from the central portion of the state.” And it’s completely true.

A night out at Gabe's Oasis (2003)

My hub for a music scene was Iowa City for a number of years. There were those two or three hour road trips for a show on occasion, and that was often for acts from other states or countries on their tour route.

I think that once you start to get into a local music scene, your efforts of venturing out of your home base doesn’t seem as important. It’s not about losing connection with it. You just have the ability to have close proximity to something you enjoy while having plenty of friends who are able to tag along (or drag along in some cases).

In the last six months before I moved to Vancouver, we took one of our popular WSUI radio shows on the road to a coffee shop in downtown Des Moines, and the neighborhood in the area of the downtown core that I discovered really surprised me.

There was a feeling of creativity in the area we were in, and the amount of concert flyers I saw for local bands and musicians performing in the downtown area alone was impressive. I recall thinking at the time that I had never given Des Moines much of a thought for a local music scene. That’s almost a regret… Almost.

And yes, Slipknot came from that city and is one of the only bands that many people know from Iowa. They were the only ones I could actually name around that time, but my knowledge was more populated with artists from the eastern part of the state. You never looked west.

Photo with Troubled Hubble at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City (2003)

I became friends with a lot of bands who called Iowa City home or claimed it to be one of them. I’d get other friends to come along or have great nights out with those passing through town, sometimes to catch a good show.

Being in Vancouver, that’s what’s fun about finding a new music scene, and I’m still learning. Even brief excursions to Victoria, cover band or not, goes to show that getting out of your comfort zone is healthy more often than none. Even if you’re let down, that’s just apart of the education of learning what finding a diamond in the rough is all about.

Sparkler love on the 4th of July

Sparkler Heart

Going back to 2010, I took this shot while in Iowa during the 4th of July. When you have a camera, some sparklers, and low light around sunset, what else do you do than experiment with long exposure?

Rebecca is remarkably good at making shapes like this, especially reversing a word to make it appear correctly for the shot without horizontally flipping it after the fact.

A frozen Field of Dreams

Frozen Field Of Dreams

I’ve spent a number of family outings at this place, but never have I been to the Field of Dreams during the winter time, especially in the middle of one of the coldest cold snaps that the Midwest has seen in a number of years.

I shot this from the backseat of the car. My finger tips still got numb from the mere minutes it took to take this picture.

My last time here was the July 4th holiday of 2005. My family spent the day there in the summer heat, getting in to take our turns at the plate, playing catch in the outfield, and having a little picnic under the trees, just near the picket fence of the house that is still there. Being there in the depths of this Iowa cold spell makes it seem even more of a distant memory.

It’s certainly worth the trek to see this landmark in the summer. Nothing compares to the imagery you get with the corn in the outfield and visitors all over the place just taking it in.

Photowalking around the Iowa countryside

Rebecca and I are back in Iowa for the New Year celebration with my family. Even though it’s cold outside, and I mean really cold, we braved the elements to take a venture around the countryside to see what we could find and do a little photowalking.

Here are a handful of my favorite shots from the trip, all shot with my 18-105mm lens.

Iowa Countryside Photowalk/drive

Iowa Countryside Photowalk/drive

Iowa Countryside Photowalk/drive

Iowa Countryside Photowalk/drive

Iowa Countryside Photowalk/drive

Iowa Countryside Photowalk/drive

Iowa Countryside Photowalk/drive

The bridge in the above photo was built around the turn of the 20th century, and I’ve wanted to get some photos of it for a long time. It was so cold that I wasn’t overly happy with how a lot of them turned out, and you can see evidence of this in the photo below that Rebecca took of my while I was probably taking this exact photo above.

As cold as it was and as thick as my gloves were, it didn’t lend to a lot of time to mess around with any settings on my Nikon D90. In time, I hope to understand my camera more so I can plan ahead a little more. The -20F wind chills were just not the most ideal conditions to take the time to make such adjustments.

Midwest Summer Storms

This was published originally on Miss604.com as apart of Blogathon 2009.

Lightning

Hanging out at WorkSpace today for Blogathon, Rebecca snapped this great picture. It’s one of many, many streaks of lightning that filled the sky in the late afternoon, and these things aren’t that common. I don’t think I’ve seen a storm like that in about four years, which is when I moved here from eastern Iowa.

In the Midwest, you expect these things, and that’s because you have to.

As I watched the wall cloud come in over Mt. Seymour, that was a site that would strike a little fear into your gut as it came out of the horizon back home. What followed that was anyone’s guess. Intense wind to bust up trees, torrents of rain that could sweep your car off the road, baseball sized hail that would lead to cheap new car prices on damaged stock, or the ever friendly tornado that might knock on your door as an uninvited guest.

Watching the lightning zap the holy hell out of the mountains, it reminded me of those times when it was, “Get to the basement!” And it always seem like at that very moment, you’ve got to pee. The adrenaline kicks in and you do what you’ve been told over and over to do in school, but you still have this worst timing hit you at the same time.

That’s because tornadoes are pretty damn scary. They are additively fascinating to try and catch a glimpse of, but you just don’t want it to get too close because I’ve driven through towns that were ripped apart on a direct hit. I’ve grasped onto my mother under a blanket while the wind thumped against our house, sort of saying good-byes to each other through mutual I Iove yous.

That was one of my first times being on the radio when WMT called our house to speak to a witness. I barely had my nerves together enough to say my name correctly yet alone recount all the trees and power lines down in our neighborhood.

Everyone seems to have a personal story or knows a story of someone else with experiences like this. You can never be too careful when it comes to any storm, but the one that reached downtown today was fairly impressive in its own right. Like I said, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen something like that.


Photo credit: penmachine on Flickr

Comforts of the Hamburg Inn No. 2 in Vancouver

My Hamburg Inn No. 2 coffee mug

This has to be one of my favorite coffee mugs that we added to our collection when we were back in my old stomping grounds this past January. Just a quick shot while doing some client work for sixty4media on a Saturday.

Sadly, I never went to the Hamburg Inn No. 2 as often as I probably should have when I lived in Iowa City. Breakfast was never something I really regarded as important to me until I moved out of the downtown area of IC, and then it got to the point where I never wanted to bother with the pains of parking in the area or waiting in line for a table or booth to open up. That all seems completely insignificant now, but it’s nice to have this memento at least.

What tornado damage looks like from the inside, as it happens

The Des Moines Register posted this video on their site of the security cameras from inside of a bank that was destroyed during the tornado in Parkersburg, Iowa over the recent Memorial Day weekend. The video is astounding. You can see what the wind can do as the windows are blown out, and then the tornado hits the building dead on, eventually taking out the cameras.

Update: The Des Moines Register also posted this video footage from the same storm that destroyed much of Parkersburg, Iowa. It’s truly shocking.

Tornado that hit Parkersburg, Iowa destroyed all city hall records

It’s been a tough few weeks in the Midwest of the U.S., and some might say a year if you consider the tornado that nearly wiped Greensburg, Kansas[wiki] off the face of the earth almost a year ago.

Over the past weekend, storms have been hitting close to home back in Iowa, and the reports keep painting the picture clearer as to what happened in the small town of Parkersburg, Iowa. Growing up, you know about these things and understand what they are capable of. This is a bit different.

Rescuers continued picking through the wreckage in search of possible victims, but officials said they were hopeful no one else would be found. In addition to those killed, about 70 people were injured, including two in critical condition.

The damage in this town of about 1,000 was staggering: 222 homes destroyed, 21 businesses destroyed and more than 400 homes damaged. Among the buildings destroyed were the city hall, the high school and the town’s sole grocery store and gas station.

“There’s so much hurt here, I don’t know where to start,” said U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who owns a farm near New Hartford. [myway]

What is even more astounding is that not only was the city hall destroyed, but so was all the data records.

All records stored at Parkersburg’s City Hall were lost in Sunday’s tornado, officials confirmed this morning.

Backup computer information might be available, they said, but the first order of business will be the massive cleanup effort that awaits.

At a community meeting this morning, officials announced that a system has been established to let property owners inform crews when they have finished trying to salvage belongings. Resident were instructed to register at the Veterans Building community center for special green and tan lawn stakes that signify when property is ready for demolition. [desmoinesregister]

I’ve been through my share of storms and seen the damage these things can do, but I cannot fathom what it would take to have damage on this wide of a scale. Houses and barns are what you expect, and it never feels typical when it happens. No matter how small the town is, it’s still a town, and it’s hardly a town now.

If you would like to help out with the cause, please consider pledging to the Red Cross who is helping out with the disaster recovery.