The Iowa State Fair has lured several visitors our way this summer – this weekend it’s my stepdaughter E. and her boyfriend from Chicago, plus our houseguest from Israel. Next weekend, my son is coming from Northwestern with three or four (he wasn’t sure last we talked) of his friends – from Oregon, Colorado, New Jersey and maybe California.
The weather is perfect today – Sunny, 80-ish, no wind – so the fair is bound to be packed and in its full glory. We got a glimpse of what we may be in for this morning at the jam-packed downtown farmer’s market in Des Moines. And last night, our visitors reported lots of people hanging out downtown at bars like the High Life Lounge , designed to look like a 1960’s tavern, complete with formica, shag carpet and wood paneling…plus Miller High Life beer, of course, (see photo above) and El Bait Shop…
We’ve been at Northwestern off and on this weekend to see our son during parents’ weekend and to, alas, watch Iowa lose, narrowly, to Northwestern’s football team. A few finds:
– Not bad sushi at the student union
– Very good hot chocolate and an enormous tuna melt sandwich at Clark’s – an unassuming good-value coffee shop on Clark street near campus. Great place to warm up after you’ve been sitting in the rain and cold watching two teams of young men bang into each other for hours while middle-aged men shout nasty words from the stands.
– We followed Northwestern’s instructions and didn’t bring our car – and were glad of it. The El took us directly, if not swiftly, to Evanston. Free shuttle buses (the buses were labeled “Positive Connections”) arrived quickly to transport us from campus to the field which was so much smaller than Iowa’s (or Michigan’s) – really a treat. Our seats were in the 11th row so we could see the football game just yards away, up close and personal. It was like being at a high school game.
– Earlier in the trip, we went to Nightwood in the Pilsen neighborhood which alas was disappointing. My $15 hamburger – the least expensive thing on the menu – arrived medium rare (I ordered and was promised rare). I sent it back and the new one was about the same. (At which point, I split it with my brother – who didn’t eat most of his chicken because it was undercooked.) Too bad because there were good things about the place – a very attentive waiter, welcoming ambiance, some good entrees and hors d’oeuvres, tasty deserts (including a free one the waiter brought me as “a gift” because of the hamburger problem.)