Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Country Girl in the City- wait, what?

I thought I'd be a city girl my entire life. Turns out that after nearly four years in The Little Lake House I am a full-fledged country girl. Don't get me wrong, I do love the city. I love the resources, the variety of places to eat and shop, especially the specialty stores like tea shops, cooking shops, and spice stores. I love dressy clothes, designer shoes and handbags and making sure I never leave the house without makeup and styled hair. What I don't like- the crowds, the traffic, parking lots, the mall.

A drizzly gray winter day in Des Moines.
Seems I have exchanged grocery stores the size of shopping malls for a teeny tiny six lane grocery store with three checkouts and kids who still cart your groceries and load them in the car for you. 

The whole TOWN of Dexter could fit in the city's
supermarkets!! Crazy!!
I don't have 47 types of pasta shapes and an entire six lanes of organic only groceries, but do I really need that? I don't think so. I don't teeter down the aisles in sky high designer heels and I don't need to anymore.

If you time it just right- almost no traffic even on a weekday
Main street nearby my house is one lane each way, rather than four lanes of one way traffic that screeches to a halt at the precise moment "rush hour" starts.

No raincoats or umbrellas needed downtown!
We don't have fancy skywalks where I live now. We don't need them. All of our buildings in town are single story. We don't even have a traffic light.

Our movie theater features all the latest releases, on one screen. One. Not twenty. You can park right in front of the door, not what seems like the next county! A chain restaurant on every corner? Not at home. The chains are all up on the interstate exchange, and they aren't very interesting at that.

Heading back to the city I did get to experience all the things I do sort of miss- the cool urban lofts that people live in. Downtown Des Moines is a residential hot spot these days. 

Modern lofts fill what used to be warehouses and old office
Lots of trendy restaurants that are not chains are all over. Those skywalks? They link most of downtown in an endless loop of climate controlled perfection. You can go from your uber cool loft to work to a fantastic restaurant and a hip club for after dinner drinks without ever stepping outside or having to deal with parking your car. 

Inspired by the skywalks of Minneapolis, Des Moines began constructing skywalks in the 1970s as a convenience to downtown workers and continues today as new construction expands the downtown skyline. Every parking ramp is attached to adjoining buildings, and the rest of downtown, by skywalks. Stores, restaurants and offices line the skywalk level and during the workday hours is as busy as a shopping mall!

My neighborhood where I grew up seems unchanged.
Sure, the usual tall buildings and parking ramps are everywhere but so are very trendy breweries and brew pubs, wine bars, a park filled with art- giant sculptures cover several city blocks of green space, several cool places to see a Broadway show, a concert or the symphony and some very luxurious hotels.

Exile Brewing Company
The Exile Brewing Company is one of several breweries in Des Moines. They recently released their 100th batch and have a huge following. They have four regular brews and a large variety of rotating seasonal brews with something for everyone. Between the brew house and the fermentation room is the Beer Hall- the perfect place to stop in and sample a couple of their handcrafted brews. Exile has a beautiful restaurant in the former warehouse of the Fitch Soap Co., and showcases the steel trusses and original wooden ceiling from the 1920s. The kitchen is open-style so diners can see the hustle and bustle behind the scenes, and the menu is modern and inventive.

The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park graces the far west end of downtown Des Moines and has a wonderful collection of large scale art pieces for visitors to experience, and touch. It's a favorite location for photography and in the summer is home to the annual Des Moines Art Festival.

In the country we have a lot of narrow bridges that aren't much to look at, and a few old metal truss bridges that look like they have been there for decades (and they have), and in the city they have bridges lined with arty lighting, arched with sweeping blue metal arches and paved with brick.

Ahhhhhh, Heaven!!
Huge apartment complexes occupy huge parcels of land, the airport anchors the city on the southwest edge, a lake in the middle of the city, lots and lots of residential streets, neighborhood business districts, the millions of fast food spots and convenience stores- just the typical city landscape. Most importantly, my trip to the city is never complete without a trip through the drive thru at Starbucks. THAT is the one thing I truly miss about city life.

At the end of the day, and in this case several days, I'll be happy to see the rural sunset, be the only car on the road for a change, and get home to my own Little Lake House.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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