Yesterday I got back from a visit to Indiana. It was bizarre there.
Starting with the weather. On Saturday we were driving around in our (blessedly) air conditioned rental car. I glanced at the outside temperature display.
108 degrees. One...hundred...eight...degrees.
With high humidity. I felt like I was being waterboarded while standing straight up. At first it was difficult for my Oregon lungs to breathe. I kept thinking, "Is this air, or watery gruel I'm inhaling?"
Whenever the highly unusual heat wave came up in a conversation with locals, I'd mention global warming as often as I could. Indiana being rather (or a lot?) conservative, those two words seemed to pass through the brains of Indianans without leaving much of a trace.
I heard this year's corn crop is drying up. Maybe that will drive some climate change sense into midwest right-wing heads.
Bloomington, though, seemingly is the Indiana equivalent of Texas' Austin: an enclave of progressivism in a state that doesn't similarly lean leftward. We felt more at home in Bloomington, particularly at the Roots restaurant -- vegetarian and organic friendly.
But after we ate our lunch... coffee bizarreness ensued.
My wife, Laurel, wanted to get a cup of coffee and some sort of healthy muffin. How tough is that in Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, Ashland, Bend, or even here in less-cool Salem? Yes, we were in Indiana, not Oregon. Yet wouldn't liberal Bloomington have the same sort of caffeinated vibe?
We figured it would.
So after Laurel rejected the first coffee place we found after leaving the restaurant (it's muffins weren't organic, or whole grain, or something), we walked up the block in 104 degree weather, expecting that we'd soon run into another coffee house.
After all, downtown Salem has two Starbucks on opposite ends of the same downtown block. And across the street is the Beanery, another coffee house with healthy snacks. And a block or so away in one direction is the Governor's Cup, with the Clockworks Cafe a block away in the other direction.
Indiana, however, isn't nearly as coffee-addicted as Oregon is. My wife and I wandered on for several more blocks in the water-boarding'ish heat, looking for hot coffee, Oregonians that we are.
Laurel said, "Where's the nearest Starbucks?" I got out my iPhone and fired up the Starbucks app. Good god! None near downtown, where we were. I was starting to get freaked out. What kind of city doesn't have a Starbucks or other coffee house on every block?
A non-Oregon city, obviously. We ended up driving back to the resort where we were staying. Which, also bizarrely, daily supplied only one regular coffee packet and one decaf packet for the inroom coffee machine.
First thing we did after checking in was write a note for the maid service: "Please leave three packets of regular coffee, no decaf." That'd get us Oregonians through the morning. Barely.
Lastly, the chicken on a swing thing. I'd heard that tipping cows was a form of midwest entertainment, but putting chickens on swings? New to me. Here's video evidence that this is a hot Indiana trend.