I fell in love with Iowa, which I never expected. It wasn't that new-romance-can't-sleep-sick-to-your-stomach-roller-coaster love, more like I met a new friend with whom I instantly clicked and couldn't wait to see again. The landscape is rolling hills with trees and creeks, and yes, plenty of corn, cows, and hay bales. The sky is enormous, laced with delicate clouds that did nothing to insulate me from the sun. Wildflowers spilled from every culvert, while grain silos perched on the edge of vast fields, dwarfing the homes nearby. I stayed with my friends Tina and Jeff, had dinner with my friend Chad (all former colleagues from my previous job, and one of the great takeaways from that time in my life), drank a fig-infused cocktail that actually came with a slice of maple bacon happily bathing in it, got two tours of Des Moines, and explored the Bridges of Madison County on the way south the next day. My time in Iowa was a sweet pause in the midst of my crazy, looping traverse of the prairie; I'll be back sometime to apply proper time and attention to that place.