I was quite surprised at all the happenings taking place over the seemingly quiet weekend. My first clue should have been that the last hotel I stayed at, mountain man/western themed spot The Stoney Creek Inn was sold out. Friday night kicked off with some Moscow Mules, you know, the famous from the 40's and 50's cocktail of vodka, ginger beer and lime served in a copper mug? I normally abhor beer but the ginger variety mixed with vodka is excellent. I'm not sure why more drinks aren't served in copper mugs as they keep the temperature of the drank down from your grubby, near 100 degree heat emitting hands. I didn't know it at the time but Moscow Mules would soon become a theme for the weekend...
Saturday was the big day as downtown was hosting no less than a farmer's market, a world food fair nearby and a couple of concerts. We hit up the Historical Museum as they were hosting an exhibit on film as well as others about the Civil War, cycling and a Wooly Mammoth.. Film? In Iowa? More or less conjures up images of cornfields and Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams but the exhibit was a nice mix of highlighting films lensed there like Field and The Bridges of Madison County as well as actors from the state like John Wayne, Ron Livingston, Brandon Routh and Ashton Kutcher. It's free so there's no excuse not to pop in and learn some stuff. Post Iowa culture it was time for some pop culture in the form of RAYGUN, Des Moines' local version of an American Apparel complete with dozens of Iowa themed shirts, can coozies, magnets and the like. It gets a little kitschy with the mid-western motif but all in all it's good fun and makes for some funny and proud Iowans. Next door is Zombie Burger, a full on burger joint with, you guessed it, a zombie décor. Artwork adorns the restaurant and the menu is of course, zombie themed with specialized names for burgers, shots and shakes. It was time for another Moscow Mule and I experimented with drinking from a straw (too much lime taste) and from the copper cup (better, smooth taste). Food wise it was on to Jethro's, a GQ magazine and Food Network recognized bbq joint also known for their ridiculous eating challenge seen on Man VS Food where contestants confront 4 pounds of meat and 1 of fries and only have 15 minutes to take it down. Only one person had defeated the challenge at this location, a woman who killed it in 5 minutes! I opted for a dinner plate of brisket, sausage and pulled pork with a side of mac n' cheese and fries clocking in at just about a pound. Woof!
Night time festivities included a return trip to Up-Down, the badass barcade downtown located underground. A few new games popped up and we got in on some giant Jenga, X-Men, Lucky & Wild, NBA Jam and Tetris among others. It got a little crowded but not to the point you were waiting to play something. There's tons of other cool spots around the area like The Hessen House where you can get a giant glass boot stein of your favorite brew and dive bar The Miller High Life Lounge. We wound the weekend down Sunday by hitting a corn maze a few minutes outside the city. It was surprisingly fun as the place had half a dozen attractions before the maze like yard games, a giant slide, pedal go-carts and a pumpkin patch. The maze was cool as you were given a map and had to find up to 20 checkpoints throughout. We kicked it's ass.
See ya next time when the John Wayne birthplace museum is finished and for the Field of Dreams field!