The American ex-pats who live in Oz will greatly appreciate this picture. It was taken at a Kohl's in Coralville, IA, where V., Will, and I had a spontaneous orgy of shopping after discovering the store directly across from the gas station where I was filling up the rental car. It was nearly 6:00 on a Monday, and I said, "I bet that store is open until at least 7." Of course, we nearly went crazy when we saw the generous opening hours--and it was only Monday night! Back in Brisbane, there's usually only one evening any store is open (Thursday, in our neck of the woods), so we don't even think about shopping after 5 anymore.
My friend Diane will want to kill me when she reads this entry. You see, she lives very close to the location of this photo, and I had just told her a few days before that we weren't planning to drive through Iowa. Well, I had a very sudden change of plans, as I was really desperate to see Iowa again. We stopped briefly in beautiful downtown Iowa City for a cup of coffee at the Java House and a loud tantrum next to the Englert, and then we drove out to the City Park so that Will could have some time at the playground. And then we were off again...a total of 60 minutes in I.C., maybe, until we were detoured in Coralville. After saving nearly $250 there, by the way, we drove to a Des Moines surburb to stay at a Holiday Inn Express (how utterly luxurious!). Today we proceeded south on I-35 through Madison County (home of the "Bridges Of..."), across the border to Missouri, and straight on to Kansas City. Unlucky for us, we endured severe weather, complete with tornado watches and warnings, for the next six hours. We briefly stopped off in Lawrence, KS, to see the University of Kansas, and then it was on to Topeka (where there's actually a National Historic Site for the Brown v. Board of Education decision), and south to Wichita, and finally Ponca City, Oklahoma, where we rest now. There were moments during the final hour of the drive that were utterly terrifying as the visibility dropped to about 10 feet in blinding rain. V. said it was the scariest 10-minutes of her life.
Next time, Diane, we will definitely stop by your ranch, I promise!