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Cedar Rapids Food Adventure!

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across this article about best places to eat in Cedar Rapids. As I read through the list, I had been to many of the restaurants, and would be the places I would put on my own list of CR good eats. However, there were a few places I haven't been yet. My goal for the summer is to make it to all 10 places and then by the end, make my own top 10 list. Here's a quick rundown of The Culture Trip's Top 10 and how many I've been to.

  1. The Irish Democrat: Been there! Delicious pub food (and a great reuben!) 
  2. Zins: Been there! More of an appetizer place, but very fancy and tasty.
  3. White Star Ale House: Been there! Took my family there during graduation and it was a big hit! 
  4. Oyama Sushi: Have not been, but I'm always up for sushi. 
  5. Cobble Hill: Also have not been.
  6. Granite City Food and Brewery: Been there! Was sort of surprised this was on the list because it's more of a chain, but their food is still delicious. 
  7. Cappy's Pizzeria: Been there! The newest addition to my been there list. The inside of the pizzeria has a great vibe and it's simple menu is perfect. 
  8. Flying Wienie: Been there! A cute place in the middle of Cedar Rapids with all sorts of fun summer food. It's housed in an old garage and has a lot of character.
  9. Croissant du Jour: Been there! When I'm feeling like I need some francais in my life, I can go here for some authentic French pastries. 
  10. The Lost Cuban: Haven't been...yet. 
Overall, a great list with so many different (and great options). I'll make sure to blog once I visit the three I haven't been to yet.  


Meet Me at the Market and Sarah Vowell

This past week was definitely filled with exploring Cedar Rapids. We had the balloon glow on Tuesday and then on Thursday and Friday, I got to experience some more CR fun.

As many of you know, I adore the Newbo Market. It's hip and fresh and there's so much great food (including those cupcakes!). From early spring to September, every Thursday is Meet Me at the Market. It's a time to get active with other people from the community and even get some food! I discovered this event a few weeks ago when Whitney was in town and we went and had dinner there.

During Meet Me at the Market, you can do all sorts of things like walk, run, yoga, salsa, or biking. This past Thursday, I decided to test my bike riding skills out. I had recently brought my bike back to Coe so was ready for a ride.

Pre-bike ride
We had a decent sized group, probably around 15 people. It was a long ride, longer than I expected. I was also a little rusty and especially at the end, lagged a little. So only progress can be made throughout the rest of the summer! 

My next CR adventure was the following day. While a little sore, this next event wasn't something I was going to miss. If you remember from last summer, Millie and I listened to and met the infamous Gillian Flynn. The Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha libraries sponsor authors each summer as part of their Out Loud! Author Series. On Friday, they brought author Sarah Vowell to Cedar Rapids.

From Simon and Schuster
Now, I've read some of Vowell's books, and they're excellent. On top of that, Coe's first-year common reading book is one of Vowell's, The Partly Cloudy Patriot. Thought it would be neat to hear her read, especially since I was finishing up the reading guide for her book. 

Vowell was great. She was funny and entertaining. She read from various books and it was hard to tell she was reading; it felt like she was just telling us stories. It was a fantastic turn out, which Vowell was pleasantly surprised with. After the reading, I stood in line and got her to sign my book. All sorts of winning going on!     


Cedar Rapids Bucket List -- Balloon Glow

The past two summers, I've seen aspects of the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival, but never really participated in various activities throughout the city. Claimed as the "mid-annual Midwest celebration of our nation's birthday," the Freedom Festival hosts a plethora of activities for the two weeks leading up to the fourth.

The one event I've wanted to attend for two years was the Balloon Glow. It happens on the lawn outside of Brucemore as the sun sets. There is live music playing, food vendors, and it always sounded like a nice way to spend a night.

So this summer was going to be the summer where I went to the Balloon Glow. Tuesday after work, I grabbed a blanket, packed a snack and a bottle of water, and walked with a few of my friends to Brucemore. We set up camp and it was a good thing we came early; it was packed by the time they lit the balloons.

It was a beautiful night and lots of fun.

A selfie attempt: L to R, Hailley, Olivia, Alexis, and Connor 

A failed selfie. But, we're having fun! 

The whole crew! Hailley, Olivia, Connor, Alexis, Amy, and Rachel


The Studio Life is Pretty Sweet

The past two summers, I've been able to live in a four person Coe apartment. I loved having my own room, sharing a bathroom with just one other person, and then having a great kitchen and living space to share with three other girls. The apartments were just the right amount of public and private, and I knew I could always escape to my room if I needed some space.

These were also the apartments I lived in during my junior and senior academic years. These apartments are heavily loved and were showing some wear and tear. So this summer, our housing got switched up so these apartments could receive some tender loving care. 

Instead, I got to move across the street from Coe in the Hampton Court apartments. 

Fancy, right? Because I can totally say I'm summering in the Hamptons. 

What is extra nice about these apartments is that there are a handful of single, studio apartments. I was lucky enough to get one and while I do occasionally miss having roommates, having a space to entirely call my own has been GLORIOUS. 

My family came down a couple of weeks ago to help me move from space to space. It was definitely bittersweet to leave my apartment. While heading to a new space is exciting, leaving good old Schlarbaum is only another reminder that yes, I have graduated, and yes, life is moving forward at what seems like lightning speed. 

The Hamptons are lovely. The studio is classic Hailley, in the sense it's organized, filled with books, and has just the right amount of quirkiness and charm. It's comfy with a clear sense of thought in terms of colors (aka lots of red, the color I picked out my freshman year). 

And so far so good, in terms of living alone. I've learned I really enjoy having a space all to myself. I keep it pretty clean and like that if there's a mess, it's all mine and it's up to me to clean it up. I don't have to worry about fridge space (it's all mine) and can make as many cups of coffee as my heart desires. 

Things are shaping up to be a good summer. Have lots of friends either on campus or in the surrounding area. I've got a to-do a mile long (so nothing new there), and so much excitement for the next chapter of my life starting in August. The next two months will be my final months posting on this particular blog, so get ready for all sorts of Hailley adventures. It's time to go out with a big bang!  


The Busy Summer Life

In many ways, I shouldn't be surprised by the fast-pace that my summer has taken since I arrived back on campus. At the same time, I was hoping for a slow down (you know, as a "thank you" for all the busyness and general crazy schedule I gave myself during my time at Coe).

It didn't happen.

I'm on week two of my official, working-at-Coe-one-last-time-summer. It's been a lot of fun; I've got great co-workers and many great projects coming up. I'm still giving tours in Admission and helping prep for the first-years to come to campus in August. When I'm not at work, you'll find me at the Clark Racquet Center getting a solid (and sweaty thanks to Cedar Rapids humidity) workout in, in my apartment (see post later this week about my new digs), or be-bopping around Cedar Rapids. I've dubbed this summer the summer of all summers aka the perfect opportunity to do all the CR things I haven't accomplished yet. Last weekend I brought back my bike, giving me the chance to see Iowa's second largest city via two wheels and a bike helmet.

This will also be my last summer blogging on this particular blog. Don't worry, you can't get me to stop blogging yet. Once I move into housing to start grad school, I'll put together a new blog (in case you're interested to see where I end up and what I do).

So stay cool, and get ready for a great summer of blogging and adventures!


The Bottom of the Ninth..the Final Class

Last week, instead of hopping in a car and heading back home to Wisconsin, I was getting out of a van after traveling from Kansas City to Cedar Rapids. It was nice to stretch my legs and know I wouldn't have a long car in the near future. As I unpacked, did laundry, and finished packing up my apartment, I couldn't help but feel like something was missing. I switched on my TV and stumbled upon WGN's coverage of the Chicago Cubs. Instantly, I felt better and went about my business, being both productive and enjoying seeing the Cubs win.

Apparently I was far from "baseballed" out.

Saturday rolled around and we had our final class period. In the Writing Center, our class held group conferences. It was nice to hear what my classmates had been writing and also to share my own writing with them. With suggestions and ideas bouncing around in our heads, we headed to Xavier's for our final class meal.

Our pizza was delicious and the entire time we shared inside joke after inside joke. I loved being so comfortable around the group. We laughed until our abs hurt and our pizza was gone. Once the meal was over, the group parted ways. It was bittersweet for me. I was ready for my summer of work to begin, yet still not ready to leave the group. Lucky for me, I'm on campus this summer and many of my classmates are as well. It will be nice to see them on a regular basis and play catch every once and a while.

However, class wasn't quite over yet. We still had our final portfolio to turn in. I worked hard on it Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before I turned it in. We were required to write three essays and I was pretty proud with how they turned out. I also finished up the class blog, so if you haven't checked that in a while, you should. I'm quite pleased with the final posts (there are even some summer reading suggestions if you're interested!).

Overall, this was a great May Term. It's hard for me to compare and rank this one with the other two that I've been on. They all have been out of this world and unique in their own ways. Per usual, I've learned so much during the month of May, both about baseball and myself. I know there are many more games for me to watch (and keep score) and lots of catch left to be played. Going on this trip was an excellent way to end my academic career at Coe. It was an unforgettable trip and I'm glad you were here to read all about it!


The Final Game and the Return to Kauffman

With the trip drawing near a close, the group was ready for our return to the Midwest. We packed our bags Thursday morning and made the drive north to Kansas City. It was a long drive but lucky for it, it was a beautiful day. Dr. Bob let me drive through part of Oklahoma and I was so happy that the west Texas wind had disappeared. The roads were pretty empty and it was a lovely drive.

We made it to our hotel a little bit before the game. For our final night, we got a little fancy, staying in the infamous Muehlebach Hotel, which had been visited by every president from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan. Today, it has not only expanded into another building, but also serves as spot for famous people to stay. Upon our arrival, the hotel was getting ready for many Republicans to arrive for a convention. The place was a buzz and we were swept into an elevator to the 13th floor. Changing out of our driving clothes, we jumped back into the van headed to Kauffman. After a few wrong turns and quick stop for dinner, we arrived, only about 10 minutes before game time.

This Kauffman was much different from our first two times at the K. The Royals were taking on the Cardinals, a long time rival and also a fiery one. The place was packed, groups of red or blue seen on every level. The game was great, both sides doing their best to nab that victory.

For the first part of the game, I was lucky enough to spend some time with my great aunt and uncle, Jim and Marilynn. We had a nice time catching up and rooting on the Royals.

The second half of the game was spent with the class, having the most fun at a game I think all trip. Don't get me wrong, we've had oodles of fun, but for this last one, it was just perfect. A super nice family sat in front of us, the grandparents having gotten the family tickets as a Christmas gift. The children were no older than 10 and it was so awesome to see their excitement at their first MLB game. The family was a die hard Cardinal family, the kids having no choice about who to root for. They knew their players and their knew their stuff. It was fun to talk to them. 

In the end, the Royals pulled out a win. It was an exciting, yet quick game. We left the K, side to side with all the other fans, feeling bittersweet. Sure, it was going to be great to be back at Coe, with a full summer ahead of us, but at the same time, I think we all wished we could just stay at the stadiums and keeping watching baseball.  

We got back to our hotel and I was lucky enough to have a friend in the area, Luke, who came by for a quick visit. Again, similar to seeing Krista in Illinois, I hadn't seen Luke in several years. It was nice to catch up and share my travels. I went to bed, knowing it would be time to head home in the morning. 

Texas Rangers in the Arlington

In typical fashion for this trip, we slept a little after the Astros game, woke up early, and hit the road for Arlington. We saw night game in Arlington, watching the Texas Rangers take on the Baltimore Orioles. One of the girls in our group, Katie, is an avid Rangers fan and it was fun to watch her get giddy as we approached the Globe Life Stadium.

It was a beautiful day in Arlington and since we arrived two hours before game time, there was ample opportunity to explore. I wandered around the concourse, ending up in the left field bleachers watching batting practice. It was one of those great moments where time kind of stops. I jotted some notes down, writing a little bit of my segmented essay from my spot in the outfield. I wished for a practice home run to land near me, but I was a little too far away for any action.

Our seats were on the concourse level and we had a decent view of the game.

Globe Life was an enjoyable ball park. Lots of Ranger fans and they not only cheered on their team, but were also respectful of the Orioles' fans in attendance. However, our seats were in a spot where it was quite distracting to watch the game. We had the group that sang the national anthem behind us (high schoolers being high schoolers, aka loud and annoying), a marriage proposal that happened a few rows down, and some fans that just liked to move around the ballpark.

The Rangers and Orioles put on a good game. The final score ended up being 6-5, Orioles. They scored first in the first and the Rangers came back in the bottom of the first and scored two runs of their own off a homerun from Beltre. Scoring didn't happen again for the Orioles until the third; they added three making it 4-2 and then a homerun in the fifth brought the score to 5-2. 

Yet the Rangers weren't out of it yet. They came back and Beltre had his second home run of the game, bringing in three runs, tying the game up. In the sixth, the Orioles were able to put one more run on the board and take the lead.

The Rangers did their best to make a comeback, but it wasn't in the cards for that night. However, it was a good game, we saw some good plays, and even saw Beltre hit two home runs.

What was interesting about this game was seeing how dedicated Ranger fans were. One of the Orioles' players, Cruz, had been on the Ranger team before. However, due to some deals and disagreements and general MLB drama, Cruz left the team. Whenever he came up to bat, he received boos from his once dedicated fans. At the same time, we did see fans with Ranger tshirts supporting Cruz's number. The other player who was discussed was Josh Hamilton, who we had just seen the day before in Houston. He was another former Ranger who was then placed/exchanged/moved to another team. The woman sitting in front of us actually had a 34 Hamilton authentic jersey (and those are pricey) but she informed us that she had the Hamilton removed because he had "betrayed" them. It was fascinating to see first hand the dedication fans have and their inability (perhaps) to understand that while baseball is something fun to watch and support, there is an underlying capitalistic/money-making foundation that drives MLB along with the fact that teams and individual players have strategies to try to be on the best team possible and be the best player possible (and probably make the most money too). 

This game was almost four hours long, one of our longer ones. We headed right back to the hotel, well aware that we had a nine hour drive awaiting us in the morning to get to Kansas City for our final game.    

Another Dome: Minute Maid Park and the Astros

Our long drive from San Antonio put us in position to reach Houston at a reasonable time the next day. When we got to Houston, we discovered the humidity had returned to us, much to our dismay. Lucky for us, Houston also has a dome and for the second time in a row, we saw "inside" baseball.

The Minute Maid Park for the Astros was quite unlike any dome we had ever been in before. Many of my classmates remarked upon entering, how the stadium felt more like a mall as opposed to a ballpark. One of my classmates, Ryan A. and I, wandered around and found ourselves behind the dugout of the Astros, watching the Angels warm up. It was neat to be that close and per usual, Ryan A. had plenty of facts to help me be informed.

Our seats were up in the third balcony, behind home plate. It was a gorgeous view, especially because we could see the glass windows that make up part of the dome.

The Astros struck first in the third when Angels' pitcher Wilson ended up walking four batters. Add this to three singles, and you have some runs. The Astros scored five runs before the Angels brought in a new pitcher, Morin to help nab the last out. This was the first time in our trip when we saw a team go through the batting line up a full time (10 batters in the third inning). 

The Angels tried to mount an attack, but were unable to do so until the eighth inning. Both Cowgill and Hamilton hit home runs, creating some excitement in the crowd. 

But the home run show wasn't over. By this point, it was night enough and the temperatures had cooled to open the dome. See panorama below. 

Beautiful, isn't it? 

The Astros answered with two back to back solo home runs of their own. The first came from newly signed and making his MLB debut, Singleton. I had read about him earlier in the newspaper on the way to Houston so it was neat to see the man on the paper in the flesh. He hadn't had the strongest of debuts, committing to errors as the Astros' first baseman and striking out twice and getting on base via a walk. He stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park. The crowd went wild and the Astros' home run celebration began. On the far side of the dome, is a train and with every home run, the conductor hops in the train and drives it down a track. It was exciting to see the train move. 

After Singleton was Carter and he also hit a home run. The crowd went wild. The momentum had fully shifted and when the Angels came to bat in the ninth, they couldn't pull together any more runs. 

Post game, it was back to our hotel and right to bed. We had to drive to Arlington the next day. The baseball trip was nearing its final inning! 


The Whirlwind End

The end of this trip came fast and furious and it's hard to believe the group is packing the van one final time to drive from Kansas City to Cedar Rapids. I have much to write about and will do so once I get back to campus. Never fear, you'll soon hear about the final games of this trip!


The Joys of West Texas

Well it's been a couple of days since my last post and boy, has it been a couple of days. Since I last wrote, the group had just been to two Diamondback games at Chase Field and were about to hit the road for Houston.

If you're not familiar with the Tucson to Houston route, it's a long drive, over 18 hours with two time changes. Obviously we didn't try to tackle the entire route in one day, deciding to reach San Antonio the first day (15 or so hours) and then tackle the final three or four to Houston the following day.

We left Tucson around 7 AM. The drive started off well. Clear blue skies, good weather, not too hot, and not too humid. Once we were a little ways into Texas, Dr. Bob had me drive for a couple of hours. Since I've been focused on perspective during this trip, sitting in the driver seat was without a doubt a new perspective. West Texas spread out before me, a beautiful, dry landscape. It was very windy which made driving the van a unique experience, but I did it and Dr. Bob got to take a little nap.

As we got further into the drive, tensions began to rise and patience levels dropped. Don't get me wrong, all the people I'm traveling with are great, but being stuck in a van with them for long lengths of time can get trying. We hadn't done this long of a drive in a while so we were still trying to get back into the swing of things. With two time changes, we lost two hours and suddenly it was no longer 3 PM but 5 PM.

With the hopes of a quick dinner so we could get back on the road, we pulled off to a Sonic around 9 PM or so (this allowed Dr. Bob as much daylight driving as possible). Unfortunately, the Sonic wasn't too fast and the mosquitoes were nasty in the Texas humidity. Once we finished dinner, it was back on the road, knowing we wouldn't reach San Antonio until midnight or so. About an hour or so from our hotel, we ran into an accident. We think a truck trailer caught on fire and they blocked off the road. Our van sat in standstill traffic for about two hours and forty five minutes while the local fire department took care of the fire and removed it from the road. This was not part of the plan and to past the time, we either went to sleep, wander around the immediate vicinity of the van, or looked out at the traffic.

We finally checked into our hotel around 3 AM. The group was beat and I think those beds were the comfiest beds we had ever slept in.

Well, there's more to the story, but the van is loading up and hitting the road. Once we get to Arlington, I'll post again!  


"Dome" Forget to Bring a Hat: Chase Field & Diamondbacks

Our group is in Tucson, Arizona. We've just see two baseball games in less than 24 hours. The first game was a night game, with the Diamondbacks taking on the Cincinnati Reds. Chase Field is a unique place. It is a dome, but during night games or when the temperature isn't too bad, they open the dome up. When we first arrived, the dome was up. After batting practice and before the first pitch, they opened it up. What's cool about the stadium is that it is air conditioned, so despite the temperature outside, it can be about 30 degrees cooler inside.

Our Saturday night seats were in the bleachers. Although we've sat in the bleachers several times, I've discovered each set of bleachers is different. We were pretty close to the field and for the most part, the fans were mellow.

This mellowness might also be because of the Diamondback's lack of success this season. They haven't been doing too hot, not scoring a single run in the night game we saw. The Reds scored in the fourth inning (3 runs) and followed up with two more in the fifth. Surprisingly, this was the first game we saw that a home run did not occur. While the game moved quickly at first, it seemed that the last several innings really did drag on. 

We also saw a fellow Coe student (well Coe alum now), Mitch. He has a job on the west coast this summer and happened to be in Phoenix when we were. It was nice to see him and catch up a bit! 

The group returned to downtown Phoenix and Chase Field this past afternoon to see another match up between the Diamondbacks and the Reds. It seemed to be a more even match up today, the final score being 4-3, Reds. Unlike the game the night before, home runs made up most of the (wait, all of the) Reds' runs. The Diamondbacks answered with three runs in the fourth (no home runs). They tried to launch more offense throughout the rest of the game, but failed, especially when the Reds brought in their infamous closer, Chapman (I think I talked about him earlier, he can pitch 100 mph fastballs consistently, making him an excellent closer). Our seats were on the first base side and our seats were actually angled towards home plate (the first time we have seen that).

Tomorrow we begin our long trek to Houston. It will be a long ride, but we only have three games left. Crazy! More to come, as usual. Need some sleep now before the drive!