Warm Friends in Cold Places

We’d just pulled into a casino parking lot in Altoona, Iowa, and were setting up inside when a security guard knocked on the trailer door. We brace for trouble: After having driven around the huge casino several times, we’d chosen a quiet lot over by the horse track instead of the designated (and full) RV and trucker lot. And here comes some dude with a badge to kick us out.

What a joy—in so many ways—to instead see the familiar face of our buddy, Ron! To have a friend drop in is a warm rarity for us.

Yeah, we were in that town to see Ron, but Tracy and I both had sent him several texts with convoluted planning suggestions about how to hang out together, seeing as how it was snowing, so our usual hosting outside was nixed, and maybe people don’t want to sit inside our tiny little trailer.

Instead of negotiating his way through our messages, the guy just comes on it and sits down and treats us with his casual, charming company for the evening. No planning, no prepping, no feeling of guilt that he’s crammed into our cluttered space with us. And so much better than a security guard.

Our next stop on the Midwest Friends and Family Tour (our third since we hit the road!) is Tracy’s hometown, Cedar Falls, which is in the middle of an unusual cold snap that has us seriously bummed out. Extensive bike trails, lots of breweries with patios, hiking in prairies, all off the table as we try to keep the tanks in the trailer from freezing in this deserted campground with the water turned off.

Sunshine has made the afternoons bearable outside, and friends inviting us over in the evenings has reminded us again why the heck we’re nowhere near where the climate suits our clothes.

We spent last night in Mike and Tanya’s home bar, tasting every kind of beer they had in the house and trading stories to bridge the long gap since we’d seen them last.

This afternoon we head over to dinner with Tracy’s father’s side of the family. If the night goes as the last ones have, I will be too busy soaking in the goodness of a large family together (and many stories about John Deere) to take photos, so I’ll end this here. We have one more stop in Iowa, where the springtime is below freezing, but we’re certainly not here for the weather.