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09/30/2011: Day 1: Saint Louis to Fairfield, IA
We got on the road before noon, heading out I-64 to US-61 North (The Avenue of the Saints) passing around Hannibal, then continuing up Iowa 27, west on Iowa 16, then north on Iowa 1 and landing in Fairfield, Iowa.
Roughly straight north from Saint Louis we find Hannibal, MO. One of these days, we'll actually do the tourist thing there. This time, we just drove around it.
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As we approach the northern border of Missouri, one of the few states in which one can buy Chinese fireworks, I saw this building. What amused me in particular is the six foot red lettering just over the door: "No Smoking"
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Sign on entering our first foreign state, "The People of Iowa Welcome You"
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As a city boy, I was excited to see the first tractor of the trip. I saw many more as the harvest and tilling season draws to a close.
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I found it frustrating that I had no 3G service from Troy, Mo until Fairfield, Ia on my new Verizon Droid.
We were told to turn onto a gravel road off of highway 1, and look for the sign for the farm on the right. Here is the view of the sign, after we already turned onto the driveway.
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One of the greeters at the Hamilton farm
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As we wandered around, waiting for our host to materialize, I noticed this interesting equestrian warning posted on an old trailer being used as a shed.
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We arrived at the Hamilton Farm just south of Fairfield about 4:20. The dogs were attentive, and the house was open, but there didn't seem to be anyone around. Our host didn't respond to calls by voice or phone, or by knocking. I wandered around for a while. Just as Karen felt a great urgency to enter a stranger's house, Jennifer appeared. She'd been in a back room working and didn't hear us. So we unloaded and set up in our room. Then we went to town to look around and let Jennifer do some more work.

Fairfield has a nice square where Iowa 1 meets old US-34. It is a new age mecca of sorts, home to the Maharishi University of Management, center of studies in Ayurveda. Karen had warned me, so I was unsurprised when ordinary looking people would suddenly stop in the middle of the square and meditate. I saw this happen several times in my short time there.

We also spent some time in the Chocolate Cafe, run by a Netherlander named Mario who rides a Harley to work. We noticed that they sell salty licorice, and asked about the true Dutch salty licorice, and he let us each have a sample from his private stash. Then we sat out and watched the leisurely rush hour for a while before going to Gupta's vegetarian cafeteria to wait for our host for dinner. We had a longer than expected wait, but the food was genuinely Indian, and we ate too much of it before the dance.

Downtown Fairfield, Iowa strongly resembled a college quadrangle.
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We had chocolates and coffee at the Chocolate Cafe on the right, then dinner at Gupta's on the left, and finally went upstairs for English Country Dancing.
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I saw this alley, and liked it. Maybe it was the light. Maybe it was the network of wires. But I still like this view.
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However hard I try, this is not the image that comes to mind when I think of southern Iowa. But maybe Fairfield should put it on a postcard?
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The Fairfield dances run by the Fairfield Folk Arts & Dance Co-op, are held upstairs from the aforementioned establishments. John Stimson runs the dances for the love of it. He grew up in the folk community, and impressed me with his ability to run the sound, teach and call, and participate in dances all at once and without anything written down. He let Karen call a couple, too. The group was small, but able. It was a good time.
John B. Stimson has a vast repertoire of English Country dances in his head. He ran the sound, taught and called the dances, and danced along as he did all that.
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After the dance, it was back to the sprawling farm house, an bit of sitting in the kitchen and schmoozing, and then to bed. I'll show you more about the farm with the next post.
Next: Day 2: Fairfield, IA to Lincoln, NE

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