Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Will be Your Wingman

A few years ago, my Mom and I traveled to Germany to help my brother and his wife, Eva, prepare for the arrival of their baby.  It was during this trip that I found out a few things about my Mom that sort of surprised me a little bit. She is fearless, funny and up for just about anything. Don't get me wrong, it needs to be within the limits of the law and there should be a degree of order to it, but if it is an adventure...she's game.

I've always known that my mom has a very good sense of humor  (I mean...she thinks most of my jokes are funny) and she really does love to laugh.  But, being away with just her really brought out a sort of carefree, wild side of my Mom that I had only seen glimpses of in the past.

It all started in the German countryside when our car broke down and not my Mom, my brother or myself had cellular service.  My brother turned to me and said "well, you are the marathon runner, get out and go find us a gas station."   While discussing what I would say once I found a gas station. (don't speak German), my Mom whips out her Kindle Fire and says, "I'm gonna get my Scrabble on."   Craig turns to me and says "how does she even know to say that!?"  Later I asked her why she was so calm when we had no working car, no phone and we were stuck on an off ramp on the autobahn. She said that it was an adventure and she was happy to have some time with her kids.  Personally, I like to take my kids to Starbuck's to corner them and catch up, but to each his own, right?

Here we are trying to figure out how to get my Mom and my phone service to work. My brother had a phone with cellular service, because he lives in Germany, but it died at about the same time the car died, because he forgot to charge it.

Earlier this summer, I drove down to Des Moines to spend a few days with my Mom while my Dad was on a fishing trip.  We decided we were going to have a ton of fun.  My Mom rattled off a list of places that she had wanted to check out. I was in. I told her that I was her wingman, her "yes man" and for the next few days we would go anywhere she wanted to go and we would document it with selfies.  Throughout the next few days, very kind people would ask us if we wanted them to take our picture. For the most part, we said no thank you, as we were on an exploration of selfie discovery.

I haven't really spent a lot of time driving around Des Moines in the past few years.  I have to say that Des Moines really is a beautiful city, especially if you really get in there and look around with a lady who is up for anything.

Our day started at the Market Cafe in the Gateway Market. My Mom had been wanting to stop there for coffee and check out the scene. So, that is where our adventure began.  Super cute. Great coffee. Healthy, fun food.

With a list of places in mind and no real agenda, we decided to take our coffee buzz on the road and start checking off destinations.  Next up...more coffee.  A few weeks ago, we had passed a cute little coffee shop downtown and decided that would be our next stop.  As we headed downtown, I was SHOCKED to pass by what once had been old buildings was now the beautiful John and Mary PappaJohn Sculpture Park.  Amazing!  Where have I been?  In case you didn't know about it either, you can read about it in the New York Times - right here.

We spent a little extra time at the sculpture garden.

Our next stop, was Scooter's coffee shop in downtown Des Moines.  Great coffee, very friendly employees and a great location to sit out on the sidewalk and people watch.

 As we sat and visited, a bus drove past and I suggested we just get on the next bus.  It struck my Mom as kind of funny and with a snort, she almost spit her coffee on me.  But, within seconds, she regrouped, looked up at me with a glazed, coffee bean induced smile and said "let's go".  So, off we went in search of a bus stop.

On our way to the bus stop, we stumbled upon something that screamed adventure.  Yes, the bus would have been fun, and especially funny with no destination in mind, but what we found next had the open road written all over it.  Freedom, with the wind in our hair.
Of course, my credit card wouldn't work and we had to call the help line, but that was an extraordinarily pleasant experience.  We were told to meet back at the bikes in 1 hour and someone would meet us to help with the credit card machine.  It was kind of weird.  I called a help line and a real live person answered the phone and then told me they would meet me in an help me.  In person.  The best customer service that I had experienced in a LONG time.

With an hour to kill, we ventured down the streets of Des Moines in search of the much talked about Des Moines Social Club.  I live in Minneapolis, but had heard about the Des Moines Social Club's opening through multiple friends on Facebook.  What a very cool concept.  Way to support arts and creativity in Des Moines!
Here we are in front of the Des Moines Social Club.  Look closely and you will see that our friend Cindi, CEO of the Des Moines Social Club, saw us walking down the street and photo bombed our selfie.

After spending some time visiting and looking around, we headed back to meet our guy at the bikes.  As we walked back, we laughed wondering if it would be obvious who was meeting us or if we would have to sort of ask random people if they were our guy.  Well, it was obvious.  Once back we got back to the bike station, there stood our guy with a huge smile on his face.  For the record, it wasn't my credit card, it was the machine.  But, in seconds, the problem was fixed the problem and we were rolling down the street on a set of sweet wheels.  Honestly, I didn't think my 71 year old Mom was going to follow me, but these were the moments of surprise I spoke of earlier.

Our next stop was the Des Moines Botanical Gardens.  No problem, we just had to ride through downtown traffic, cross a bridge over the Des Moines river and make our way toward the plants.  Ok, I was a little concerned that we would fall off our bikes.  I was in for yet another surprise, as we made our way to the river and came up to the bridge. Seriously, the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge!  I had no idea.  Now, that was pretty cool.  We decided to skip the selfie for this one and get a real photo.
A stop on our way to the Botanical Gardens at the John Deere Chinese Pavilion within the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens at the Chinese Cultural Center of America.

I hadn't been to the Botanical Gardens since I was a little girl.  It was warm and tropical and beautiful inside, just as I had remembered it.  This was a definite on my Mom's list of places to visit, as the word on the street was that the restaurant (Trellis), inside the Botanical Gardens is spectacular.  hahah!  Funny enough, it was Monday and Trellis is closed on Mondays.  So, we just drove back and had lunch at Trellis on Tuesday...because it was open.  Yes, it was delicious with beautiful, fresh ingredients.

Well, after biking around the city like a couple of pros and missing out on lunch at Trellis, we were kind of hungry.  Our next stop was La Mie Bakery off of 42nd Street.  DELICIOUS.  I had been there before and was happy to hear it was on our list.  My Mom was so excited to be there that she forgot to put the car in park, so I had to sort of yell at her in the parking lot as the car was in a full roll backwards.  La Mie has patio seating out in back by the parking lot, so everyone got to see that happen.  Once we made our way in and ordered, we joined our new friends outside for a lovely lunch.
 A little sweet treat after a hard day of bike riding, sight seeing and chasing cars?  Ok.  We made a quick stop at our friend Tommy Coleman's cute little candy shop (Beaverdale Confections) in the heart of Beaverdale.  Tommy has everything from Picket Fence ice cream (something new to me), gourmet marshmallows and hand made candies.

Tommy and my Mom whopping it up.  I am more reserved, so I just took the photo (cough).
Since my Dad was out of town and picked fishing over spending time with me while I was in town, we decided to stop at one of his favorite places.  We took this photo and sent it to him immediately to make him sad that we went to Cooney's without him.

Cooney, my Mom and myself (Dad not pictured because he was on a fishing trip)

My Dad also loves George the Chili King, so we stopped there for a photo.  I am not a huge fan of the chili dog, so this is merely a prop.  Because I am not one to waste food, we stopped back by our friend Tommy's and he helped us take care of the chili dog.  I captured his first bite in a photo, but I know better than to post a photo of Tommy taking a huge bite of a chili dog.  My 8th grade photo from Holy Trinity would be floating around the internet within moments.  I like to call my 8th grade school photo "the awkward years".

 We headed back downtown to check out the Gramercy Tap.  Highly recommend.  Very tasty and fun to sit on the sidewalk patio surrounded by the buildings and busy people walking by.

 Because the night was young and so are we (71 and 41), we picked up our friend Mary and headed to Prairie Meadows for slots. It was kind of late, so we took bets on how long it would take to talk Mary into going with us.  We basically called, asked and she said yes.  So, we picked Mary up and hit the slots on a wild Monday night. As you may notice, I have on my new hat that I got at Cooney's (Cooney actually sent it with me to give to my husband, but it has a shamrock on it, so I thought it would be good luck).  It wasn't.
 To prove that my Mom and I know how to stay up late, gambling and carrying on, we documented the time on the clock on her car.
 With a little less steam than the day before (1am is super late for both of us), we were back at it.  We kicked the day off with coffee at Smokey Row. 
 We ended our adventure of Des Moines looking around the East Village and checking out the grounds around the State Capitol. 

Again, just like the Botanical Gardens, I hadn't been to the State Capitol since I was a little girl.  My Grandma used to take us on "field trips" to the State Capitol, always followed by a stop at KFC.  The Iowa State Capitol and grounds around it are so beautiful, especially when you get up close and look around.

What a fun few days with my Mom and what a very fun city to explore.  By far, my favorite moment of our adventure was when my Mom took off on that bike.  Not too shabby for a 71 year young lady!  So, here's to more adventures in our future.  Thank you, Des Moines!!!

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