Further impressions of Iowa

This post could just as well been titled “Oh my heck, Toto, we’re not in Utah anymore.”

What is up with all of the tattoos everywhere? Call me old-fashioned, but unless it’s a part of your cultural heritage (Arab, Indian, Polynesian, etc), I don’t really find it interesting or attractive. It’s like someone vandalized your body.

Utah is pretty insulated in this regard. Sure, you can find people with tattoos, but only if you look for them. Here, every other person has a tattoo somewhere.

Is this part of a wider trend across the United States? If so, is it connected to the crappy economy? People with stability and security in their lives don’t typically get tattoos. Or maybe it’s all of my fellow Millennials who don’t know what they’re doing with their lives and are sort of just drifting.

I’ve probably got readers who are thinking right now: “dude, WTF? You’ve got a character in Sons of the Starfarers who has a full body tattoo, and doesn’t mind showing it off.” To which I would say: 1. it’s temporary (henna), 2. it’s part of her cultural heritage, and 3. it’s fiction.

The other big thing I’ve noticed (which again, is probably just going to show how insular Utah can be) is that no one has any concept of food storage. There’s a store out here called Mills Fleet Farm, which is kind of like a Home Depot swallowed a feed store and ate a Walmart for dessert. Asked three employees for foodsafe five-gallon buckets, and none of them had any idea what I was looking for.

In Utah, you can get foodsafe five-gallon and two-gallon buckets from any grocery store. At Macey’s and Winco, they sell the gamma lids. You can also buy 50 lb bags of oats or wheat, 25 lb bags of beans or rice, and twice a year they have case-lot sales where you can buy canned goods by the case upwards of 50% off. Freeze dried foods and can rotation systems are also a perennial.

Am I the weird one for thinking it’s a good idea to keep 90 days worth of non-perishable food in your pantry? Aside from all the prepper reasons for why that’s a good idea, it’s also a lot cheaper to buy in bulk. And it’s not like people don’t keep gardens around here. Though I do have to admit, there aren’t nearly as many home gardens as Utah.

But the people seem friendly enough, and aside from those two points, this place is actually a lot more culturally similar to Utah than other places in the country where I’ve lived. It’s more conservative than California, more churchgoing than New England, and a hell of a lot more honest than Washington DC. About the only other place I’ve been that comes close is Texas, but Texas is Texas. Nothing else compares.

I could see myself ending up in Texas someday, if I don’t move back to Utah first. Utah isn’t for everyone, but I love it there and wouldn’t mind putting down some permanent roots. California, on the other hand… you couldn’t pay me to live there. Same with Washington DC.

Iowa’s not a bad place, though. Time will tell how it rubs off on me.


First impressions of Iowa

It’s flat, but not as flat as I was expecting.

There are lots and lots of pickup trucks. The ratio of pickup trucks to other vehicles is probably higher here than it is in Utah.

There’s definitely a lot of aggressive drivers, but they all tend to be aggressive in the same ways, so it’s not that bad. Very different from Utah Valley, which has some of the worst driving I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been around!)

Why don’t the roads have suicide lanes or shoulders? Seriously, it would make the driving so much better!

Okay, enough about driving…

The weather can get really windy. On the highway, I’m almost always fighting a headwind or riding a tailwind (so much for no more driving).

Twilight lasts FOREVER. This is definitely big sky country.

The people seem friendly enough. A little self-depreciating, but not overly so. One of the things I hear from them is how “uncultured” or “stuck in the old ways” Iowa is, but I see little free libraries all over the place here.

People tend to have rounder faces or more Irish complexions. Most everyone is white, though there are a fair number of Asians and Hispanics.

I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this, but the young women in Iowa aren’t quite as attractive as the young women in Utah. That’s a very high bar to hurdle, though, and of course there are exceptions.

I’m genuinely surprised how much Mormon stuff there is out here. I thought it was mostly just in Utah. There’s Winter Quarters, Nebraska, which of course has a large historical site, but there’s also a bunch of smaller historical sites in Iowa proper, connected with the Mormon trail. Haven’t even made it out to the east either, which is right next to Nauvoo.

That’s pretty much it for first impressions. I’m looking for part-time work, but haven’t found anything yet, though I have landed a couple of interviews. Hopefully something works out. In the meantime, I’m working hard to build my writing career, especially the publishing side of the equation. I’m not that far off from writing full-time again; I just need to build things up into a sustainable business. More on that some other time.