I’m just going to come out and admit it – I have a wildly excessive love for Thought Catalog. I love their streamlined blogging format, and the content of every single one of their posts is phenomenal and almost always relatable.Continue Reading…
Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that I am a tremendous nerd, and among the many things that make me geek out is American history.
So at the end of the semester, during a trip to Philadelphia for our rowing conference championships, I found myself with a completely free Sunday to explore the city. I’m pretty sure that “excited” was an understatement.
We started the morning off at the Liberty Bell with a tour of Independence Hall – cue “National Treasure” flashbacks. And, per a friend’s recommendation, ended up at the Franklin Fountain, an old-style ice cream counter and soda fountain. Literally my two favorite things: history and ice cream.
Now that I’m planning an adventure out to Washington DC in a few weeks, I’ve been soaking up any recommendations I can get and reveling in the amount of nerding I’ll undoubtedly be doing. Have a must-see spot? I’d love to hear it!
Thanks to the oppressive summer heat that has been sweeping across Iowa for the past few weeks, I’ve spent the bulk of my free time indoors or near some large body of water. But last night a few friends and I decided to venture out into the evening for Blank Park Zoo‘s weekly Zoo Brew event.
If you haven’t been yet (and are of legal drinking age) I highly recommend going – because, as one of my friends put it, “Who doesn’t love drinking beer and gawking at animals?”
The answer is no one.
A ticket only costs $11, the same price as regular zoo admission for non-remembers, and doesn’t include drinks, which were between reasonably priced between $4-5. We we lucky enough to have scored a Groupon guaranteeing us six tickets for only $25, making the night significantly less expensive.
I hadn’t been to Blank Park Zoo in almost three years so roaming the zoo at night was even more fun. Especially since I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to furry and/or adorable animals (ie. giraffes, monkeys, penguins).
In all seriousness though, if anyone has connections that would allow me to pet a baby wallaby, I promise my reaction will be something like Kristen Bell’s sloth meltdown.
Blank Park Zoo, 7401 Southwest 9th Street, Des Moines
I’m not going to lie – I was devastated to see Iowa Bakery Cafe, once located near the 42nd Street and University Avenue intersection, close. Their bagel sandwiches were to die for and the frozen yogurt with chocolate chips was easily one of the best afternoon treats around.
So when Louie’s Wine Dive opened, I was reluctant to fully embrace the change. On the other hand, I really, really love brunch and a few weeks ago when some friends suggested we check this new spot out I couldn’t refuse.
I ordered a much needed mug of coffee and the stuffed French toast, which was absolutely phenomenal. The waitstaff was fantastic and the colorful patio chairs are the perfect decor for a quiet morning catching up with friends. I’ll definitely be heading back soon – maybe even for wine this time.
Louie’s Wine Dive, 4040 University Avenue, Des Moines
Since I can remember my family has spent a sizable chunk of our summer vacation at a cottage in Michigan. Many of my early summer months were spent catching frogs, subsisting largely on popsicles and staunchly refusing to wear shoes of any sort. Michigan is my summer escape from any sort of responsibility or expectation.
Our tiny cottage is just outside of Glenn, Michigan – population…not too many. The tiny city is affectionately known as “The Pancake Town” – for a fairly infamous snowstorm decades ago when all of the town’s residents were stranded and for some unknown reason only had pancakes to eat. There is still a functioning one-room schoolhouse and a hardware store that doubles as post office. Think of Stars Hollow, a la Gilmore Girls, and you’re on the right track.
Michigan is my perfect escape – especially after a summer of 40+ hour weeks and a fairly full social calendar. So I spent my Fourth of July on the beach with a beer in one hand, good book in the other. I even fit in a trip to Sunset Junque, my favorite antique store – though “antique” seems a little too kind a descriptor. Sunset Junque is a resting place of sorts, full of discarded window frames, church confessional booths and assorted knick knacks. And while the majority of these “treasures” are left outdoors, exposed to the elements, it’s always worth a visit.
Of all of the events that occur in Des Moines throughout the year, the Downtown Farmers’ Market is by far one of my favorites.
Even before I worked at the market, I always made an attempt to attend each Saturday morning, even if it meant waking up early and heading out alone. With my coffee – preferably from Iowa Coffee Company – in hand and a freshly baked Austrian pastry (usually raspberry) from Strudel Haus there isn’t much that I can’t handle.
Even if you’re not big on early mornings or large crowds, the farmers’ market always proves to be a phenomenal combination of adorable babies and puppies of all sizes. Who doesn’t love babies and puppies!? Am I right?
Now that I have an apartment I take full advantage of the expanse of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers for sale throughout the market. And I’m never wary to try something new. One of my favorite newcomers this season is by far Thelma’s Treats – a local business that sells homemade ice cream sandwiches. Can’t make it to the market? They also have portable freezers set up at Mars Cafe and Gateway Market so you can the perfect summer treat any day of the week.
Baseball games, Saturday mornings at the Farmers’ Market, late night expeditions to explore the capital & sunny summer days.
A glimpse into the past few (crazy) weeks courtesy of my iPhone.
The library has always been a place that I feel at home. Regardless of my age or geographic location, I’ve always felt much more at ease and able to think surrounded by towering rows of books. When I was in elementary school, I was allowed to check out more than the generally allowed number of books each week – most likely because I was averaging two to three trips a week. Then in high school I worked at a public library and essentially got paid to do what I would have done for free: hang around, peruse books and put them back on the shelves.
Though I probably should be, I’m not ashamed to admit that I am the proud owner of not one, not two, not three but four library cards. So naturally during my first semester at Drake, I found myself on a DART bus, headed to the Central Branch of the Des Moines Public Library.
Now that I’m spending the summer in Des Moines, I’ve already made half a dozen trips to the library. My “must read” list has always been a bit eclectic but I love recommendations. Read anything good lately?
Steelroots by Steve Tobin
Morton Arboretum, 2010
While cleaning my apartment this afternoon I happened to come across a pile of old photos, most of things I had completely forgotten about doing. So, in an effort to relive past adventures and be inspired for future ones, I’ve decided that once a week I will post a photo flashback – some snippet or random moment of a previous escapes.
This photo was taken two summers ago at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL, on an afternoon that was much too hot for hiking, in wildly uncomfortable shoes no less, with one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.