Below Zero on the Pentacrest

Bitter, Cold Day on the Pentacrest
A yearly visit back to Iowa City isn’t complete without a shot of this gorgeous, gold dome

When you go to the University of Iowa, this is a central point of many undergrads. If it’s not on your tour route, you have classes on the Pentacrest at some point.

I crossed this area many, many times. Some good memories, some not so much.

The one mantra that always comes back to me is my 20th Century Crisis professor that would often say, “Sometimes it pays to be a nerd.”

It took a number of years, but once you grasp that ideal, you block out the naysayers and carve your own path. Be a nerd about what you love to do and everything else will follow.

An Iowa IPA

Millstream Iowa Pale Ale
Enjoying a Midwest “I”PA

Every visit back to Iowa, the numbers of craft beers and spirits being made in the state never fails to impress.

Millstream still makes my favorite IPA, a wonderful play on the name but not on my affinity for hoppy beer. A visit to their brewery in Amana introduced me to their pilsner and stout, but it’s the Iowa Pale Ale that keeps me coming back. A wonderful play on the name for my favorite style of beer from my home state.

Winter Time on the Ped Mall

Iowa City Pedestrian Mall
Cold, breezy day in winter on the Ped Mall

I used to spend a lot of time around these parts. 8 years in Iowa City, and this is the place that everyone always wanted to hang out. I took this picture yesterday, looking down there at a lot of fond memories.

One 4th of July during Jazz Fest, I was here helping with a full KSUI broadcast from the center of the Ped Mall when the clouds rolled in. I tend to remember saying to someone that “this doesn’t look good,” and suddenly the skies started pouring down. As the winds roared in, someone jumped on the microphone to say a hasty signoff and that we were ending the multi-hour broadcast rather early and quite abruptly.

We moved fast. Everything was piled into a four-door sedan, we crammed in, and were gone within 15 minutes. Not a piece of equipment was left behind or damaged.

Good times.

The Coldest New Year’s Day

The Coldest New Year’s Day
-13F (-33F Windchill) in Iowa

Without a doubt, this has been the coldest morning of the New Year that I can remember. I do recall days of going to elementary school and being held inside for recess because the weather was unsafe due to the subzero windchills outside, mainly because there was always some kid who would lose his stocking hat on the bus ride in from the country or not bring gloves that day, but you never really grasp how frigid, cold weather can cause damaging effects that can last a lifetime.

Last night, as 2018 struck in the central time zone, windchills dipped to -34F, which is nearly at the point where subzero temperatures between Celsius and Fahrenheit are the same. Once -40 is reached, reference or calculation is no longer needed.

Today will certainly be quiet.

Two more through the gates of my high school alma mater

@anthonykinley on Instagram

Anthony told the people in the row ahead of him and a few of the people around him that he was going to do it. He was going to do a selfie. And he was true to his word.

I had two nephews graduate from high school recently. They’re in the same grade and same school. Ben was born in the fall. Anthony in the spring.

They didn’t go to the exact, same high school I went to, but we’re all still from the same hometown. I’m proud to be their uncle. And as much as I would have loved to be there as they went through the process of becoming men, at least I was there on the day that childhood ended and real life begins.

To the next chapter in life. Here, here.

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.

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.

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