Iowa City, Iowa
Flew into Iowa City to see the Josh Allen hype train in person. Was looking forward to seeing what all the excitement was about - not a great game for guy draft insiders see as a top-5 prospect - 170 yards, 2 INT, 0 TD. But the most memorable part of the game had nothing to do with the Pokes or the Hawkeyes - at least their players.
You don't hear about new traditions in college football very often. The oldest programs have been playing for well over a century after all. But Iowa decided to start a new one Saturday afternoon. After the first quarter, every fan was directed to wave at a tall, nondescript building across the street from the stadium - the UI Children's Hospital. Opened in December 2016, this was the first time kids who were there for a variety of ailments would be able to see an Iowa game in person - or at least as far as they could see from the top floor of the hospital. Knowing that Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz had a special and personal relationship with that hospital - he and his wife made a $1 million donation this summer in their late granddaughter's name - made it even more of an emotional moment.
On my way out of town - I made two stops. One, I'm trying to visit every presidential library - and Iowa has one native president - Herbert Hoover. All presidential libraries are a little self serving and this was no exception. They spent a LOT of time on his international philanthropy and relatively little time on the national crisis that unfolded on his watch, the Great Depression. That said, I was glad to learn more about Hoover's post-presidential life. Throughout his life, he seemed like someone who never stopped believing in free enterprise, "rugged individualism" and the ability of Americans to get it done on their own. He lived another 31 years after serving one term in office where he was known as aloof and socially awkward - and as best as I can gather, he spent his life after the White House working and trying to improve the country as a public servant, but not a politician, which he seemed ill suited to.
My second stop on the way out of town: food. Here's a little secret about small towns - it is, in my experience, infinitely easier to get a good taco on Main Street, USA than it is in New York, New York. I lived in NYC for 6 years and found an ok place for tacos at the very end of my stay. It took 6 years. I got to West Branch, Iowa around 6 pm. By 6:05 pm, I yelped my way to handmade tortillas con lengua con onion con cilantro con pico de gallo (kisses fingers chef-style).