Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hoover High School Reunion

Last weekend we traveled to Des Moines for my high school reunion. It was a big one - the 40th. I can remember when I was in college and someone would mention that they were attending their 20th high school reunion. I would smile and say "How fun!" while inside I was thinking "Man, you're old!" And here I am at double that. I have attended the 10th, 15th, 20th and 30th reunions in the past, and I have always had a good time. This year was no exception. I am lucky in that two of my husband's fraternity brothers also attend these events - one who was a classmate of mine (and in fact is responsible for Jim and me meeting at Iowa State), and one who married a classmate of mine. Add in the classmates that Jim met while we were at the same university, and that equals a spouse who doesn't mind going with me as he always has people to talk to as well.

Another fraternity brother and his wife put up two of the reunion couples, so we got to visit them as well. Friday night was at Saints in Beaverdale, where we had an air conditioned room (thank goodness, as the St. Louis heat and humidity traveled north with us) and also the patio to gather in. I had invited my advanced placement English teacher to come, and he and his wife made it to the Friday event. I was thrilled to see him, because even though we have been corresponding via email, I have not set eyes on him since I graduated. Because he instilled in me a deep appreciation of the (well) written word, he is largely responsible for me being a published author today.

Jerry Wadden and me
Saturday morning I had coffee (or tea, in my case) with two neighbors who lived across the street from me in Des Moines. I used to baby-sit for both of them, and we had reconnected on Facebook. What a fun time reminiscing about Bel-Aire Road! They both look amazing, and I am so glad we had a chance to catch up.

Ann Melton, me & Mary Ann Crawford
Darlene Sloan & me
Next I met back up with my group for lunch at the Tavern so that I could order a grinder. It used to have a name that is now considered a racial slur, so I call mine the Iowa grinder. Essentially it is a finely ground Italian sausage sandwich. I have tried to replicate the recipe, but something is off so I wanted to see if we could detect the difference. I had been told that it might be the Italian sausage I buy here, so we later made a trip to Graziano's grocery store to buy some to take home. But first I went down the street from the Tavern to see another mom from my street. Her son graduated with me, and I just loved her and her husband so I popped into her store to surprise her. More walks down memory lane!

Saturday night's reunion event was held at Legends in downtown Des Moines. At this location we were on the outside patio, and it was a little hot out. It was a good thing we had stopped across the street for a drink first. The concoction we were all drinking was called a Blue Motherf*cker - no kidding. It was a blue Long Island Tea. Yum! But it was also good that I stopped at one, and then drank ice water at the reunion.

Some of the same people from Friday attended Saturday night, but there were some new faces as well. I guess that is why a two night event makes sense. Eventually we headed inside to a room at the bar where we could watch the movies that were made by some of our film students back in 1974. I even had a cameo in one of them. Several more of our teachers attended, including my speech teacher. I also learned a lot about presentation style and being comfortable in front of groups from him, so I appreciated the opportunity to tell him that.

Sunday four of us drove up to Ames to see the changes to the Iowa State campus, and then our friends drove on back home to Minneapolis. We went back to Des Moines to spend one more night with our hosts. Monday morning we took off for Brooklyn, Iowa where Jim was born. We drove around the town and had a wonderful pork tenderloin sandwich before going on to LeClaire, Iowa. We are fans of the History Channel cable show "American Pickers", and this town is where Mike Wolfe of the show has a store called Antique Archaeology. While it was not exactly on our way home, I am so glad that we stopped. It was fun to see where some of the items on the show end up to be sold.

Antique Archaeology

a few of the treasures inside
Overall, a great trip and one that proves you can, indeed, go home again. Till next time, Hoover Huskies!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Family Time

Our daughter was in town the weekend before last for the first time since August. Her best friend from high school was getting married on the 6th, so she flew here for a few days. She had an appointment in downtown the afternoon she arrived, so I picked her up at the airport and took her to the meeting. While she was doing her thing, I was able to go and photograph three of the cakes I had been unable to get a few Saturdays ago because they are inside of buildings. Getting the one at Wainwright building was a piece of cake - pardon the pun. And the one at America's Center was no problem either. But the one at the Edward Jones Dome? Well, that was a different story. I had read on the Facebook page that there were only two ways to photograph that cake. One is if you have a ticket to attend an event at the Dome. (The next event I see scheduled is a Rams game in August.) The second is if you can find a sympathetic guard to let you in. I tried pumping the security guard at America's Center for information, just in case there was a way to get into the Dome from the Center. No such luck. I decided to walk over to the Dome anyway, and I spied two security guards outside directing a couple of delivery trucks. I hurried to the window where the cake is on display, and put on my most pitiful face as I attempted unsuccessfully to photograph the cake through the glare of the glass. Sure enough, the male guard came over and gestured for me to follow him. Success! Two swipes of his security pass and I was standing in front of the elusive cake. He was even kind enough to move the barricade out of the way so that it would not impede my shot.

Edward Jones Dome cake
On the way back to meet my daughter I came upon the "cakery", the abandoned storefront where many of the artists decorated their Cakeway to the West cakes. Through the filthy glass I could see some naked cakes, as well as a number of them that appeared to be complete. At that point in time only 234 of the 250 cakes had been placed throughout the metropolitan area. Apparently there are some snafus at several of the locations. At any rate, it was fun to see where the cakes were baked into works of art.

the Cakery
Once I met up with my girl, we went up to Three Sixty, the bar on top of the downtown Hilton. My niece joined us after she got off work, and we had such a nice time catching up.

On Friday, her friend's wedding went off without a hitch, with the added bonus of the fact that Rod Stewart was having dinner in the same location as the reception. Once he heard the bride's name was Maggie, he agreed to a quick photo with her before heading off to his performance at Scottrade Center. I wonder how many people in attendance actually knew who he was?

We had a nice weekend together, and before we knew it we were putting her back on a plane. Hopefully it will not be that long before she is able to come back for a visit.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Birthday and Some Cakeway to the West Cake

My sister had a big birthday yesterday and because I am a nice baby sister, I will not mention how big. I took her out for lunch on Monday because I had a class at the Missouri Botanical Garden yesterday, and she has breakfast with friends every Tuesday morning anyway. On the ay to pick her up in Union, I stopped at the Endangered Wolf Center to snap a few photos of their cake. The facility was closed, but the cake is located outside their gates so that wasn't a problem. This location is one of the fifty that was selected for a cake by public vote, and the artist is Maura Pusateri.

Endangered Wolf Center
The Endangered Wolf Center was established in 1971 by Marlin and Carol Perkins. The mission of the organization is to preserve and protect Mexican gray wolves, red wolves and other endangered canids. The 63 wooded acres just west of St. Louis, Missouri off Interstate 44 provides the wolves and other canids the opportunity to thrive and hopefully be reintroduced back into their native habitats.Tours and special events are offered at the center, as well as opportunities for scouts to work on their badges.

Shaw Nature Reserve
My second stop was at Shaw Nature Reserve, located in Gray Summit, Missouri.   The property was purchased by the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1925, and  currently consists of 2,400 acres of land. There are numerous hiking trails, and bicycles are allowed as well. With the ever changing landscape of native plants, the reserve is a photographer's dream and beautiful in every season. Artist for this cake is Elaine Taylor.

Purina Farms
Located near Shaw Nature Reserve is Purina Farms. I have to confess that I have never been to this destination, despite having raised two children who both went through the scouting programs. I am not even sure they ever went there on a field trip. And that is really too bad, as this free venue offers wagon rides, dog agility performances, cow-milking demonstrations, and a baby animal petting area. I can't wait to have visitors this summer so we can check it all out.

On this trip, however, I neglected to follow my own advice and I didn't look at their operating hours. I assumed (you know what happens!) that since it is June they would be open. Wrong! They are closed on Mondays. However, a very nice security guard let me enter after extracting a promise that I would grab a quick shot and leave. The website for indicated that the cake is located in the arena by the Visitor's Center. I drove around a bit, and did not spy the cake. My hero showed up in a golf cart and offered to take me to the cake. Evidently it was not where it had originally been placed, as he didn't see it either. While walking around he said that no one told security they were getting a cake, and all of a sudden people were showing up at the gate saying they were there for the cake. "I was pissed off for two weeks because no one offered me any cake!" Ha, ha! We eventually saw the cake at the bottom of some stairs, and I took a couple quick pictures and then took off after thanking him for his assistance.There is no artist listed for this cake, so perhaps someone on the staff designed and painted it.

After I picked up my sister we stopped in downtown Union to capture the cake at the Franklin County Courthouse, designed by artist Paul LaFlam before driving to Washington for the Washington Historical Society's cake, by artist Gina Harmon.

Franklin county Courthouse

Washington Historical Society
Old Dutch Hotel & Tavern
We had lunch in Washington at the Old Dutch Hotel & Tavern. The original hotel opened 80 years ago, but this remodeled facility just re-opened a couple of years ago. Our waitress was great, though the food was slow coming out despite the fact that they were not crowded. It didn't matter to us as we were busy catching up, and both of us thought our meals were great.

So it was a good day, with five more cakes off my list (which brings me to 145 cakes) and fun times with my sister celebrating her birthday. And hey, I even got her a cake!