Adrienne Cohen

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In Search of Food and Words in the Heartland

Posted on October 11, 2015 at 11:55 AM

Six days and 2,000 miles later, we returned to home base in tandem with a glorious sunset.

Road trips can be tiring, but they are compelling nonetheless. Getting out to the countryside, feeling the miles slide past under the wheels, meeting new people and finding unexpected treasures -- it all makes a few sore muscles and "sitting aches" worthwhile.

This particular trip began early one October morning. My husband and I departed our suburban driveway just as the orange orb of sun was clearing the eastern horizon, with the intent of making it through city traffic and onto slower-paced roadways by mid-morning. We were headed to a food writers' conference * sponsored by the Edible Institute of Iowa City, Iowa. 

* (I first wrote about this particular road trip in an October 10, 2015 post in Good Food and Faraway Places.)

The belly of America seeming a fitting site for a seminar entitled "Eating Words," and I held to the notion that going to the Heartland was akin to returning home for someone whose family roots reach deep into this part of the country. Actually, I have not lived in a single one of these states! But there was ample justification for a freelancer with specialties in travel, healthy food and alternative agriculture. The prospect of endless vistas of food-producing fields and a few days of respite from normal routine was too good to miss.

Still there's something about road trips, no matter where they lead. 

Turning off the interstate can mean unexpected pleasures; even driving into a city can morph into a discovery adventure. We booked a Kansas City motel based solely on the convenience of its location. The bonus was that it is only steps away from the oldest organic foods market in the entire area, with aisle upon aisle of farm-fresh produce, and a friendly, informative owner.

He directed us to the National World War I Memorial, located just a few blocks away. We had no time available for a visit to the museum itself during this particular trip, but we stopped at the site, mesmerized by its soaring Art Deco tower and awed by the pair of huge Assyrian sphinxes whose wings shield their eyes. We vowed to return.

We plan to do just that later this year, to mark the centennial year of the armistice that ended the conflict in November 1918. It seems appropriate somehow. I'm also looking forward to revisiting the Heartland. Road trips are like that -- they open new options and lead to return visits at the same time, but every experience is different.

I'll have the words to tell new stories when I return.




Categories: Travel, Food, Commentary

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