I had a lovely relaxing few days in Cedar Falls with family; great company, good food and time to chill out and get to know family, some of whom I have not seen in years, others who I have never met. Rather than give a blow by blow account of the time I spent in Iowa, I will summarise a little, mainly because I am so very behind. Unfortunately, a large chunk in the middle of my first day was taken up with checking in with Alamo, but we did have a great family breakfast first. Jim came with me on the drive to Cedar Rapids (about 1 hour) to show Alamo that we have not broken or sold their car. The whole affair was somewhat “entertaining”; the manager at Boston had just gone to lunch and the idiot left behind was supremely unhelpful, the rental is in Lizzie’s name and not mine etc. etc. After waiting for Monica in Boston to return from her lunch break we finally got everything sorted. Only to discover that I was not listed as an additional driver on the new contract, or indeed on any of the contracts since February 5th… cue panic. Finally we found a clause in small print referring back to the original contract for names of additional drivers on both the February and the March contracts, but it was not on the new contract, keen to rectify this I handed over my driving licence so I could be added (again) as an additional driver. You see? Fun all round. The afternoon and evening was much better, we played outside with the kids and then had a cookout to celebrate Sophie’s 10th birthday. Sunday started with the most amazing brunch, complete with freshly squeezed orange juice, an omelette bar and a mouth watering array of desserts to mention a few highlights. (Disa and I sampled all the desserts between us and agreed that the cheesecake was the best, although our opinions differed after that.) The rest of the day was spent recovering from brunch and none of us felt ready to eat anything until dinnertime, but the weather was good and we spent most of the day outside. On Monday I had the first of two tours of the University of Northern Iowa, today of the sports facilities and Performing Arts centre. I cannot begin to describe how jealous I am of anyone who gets to use them regularly. After lunch with Disa she gave me a tour of her office before taking me to meet with the Assistant Provost for International Programs. This was very interesting as he explained how UNI’s various exchange programs worked and also gave me some useful insights into where to go with my own career plans. The remainder of the afternoon and evening were quiet, with one notable exception… Disa took me with her to her Zumba class. Now, those of you who know me well will know that I am not known for my coordination skills, this was no exception. It was however, great fun and I am planning to look up a local class when I get home. Tuesday morning was quiet, a good chance for me to catch up on the blog, and in the afternoon Jim took me round UNI’s Art, Drama, Music and Speech Pathology departments which were really interesting. Once again, I left green with envy, particularly after touring their theatre. My final night was marked by a trip to a local barbeque restaurant, where I was persuaded to sample the ribs, which turned out to be an excellent idea. I spent the rest of the evening at Disa’s watching a film and painting our nails. (Eric and Eli did not participate in the nail painting aspect.) My final morning came around all to quickly and after a last family breakfast, I went with Disa to take Eli to daycare before she went to work. Karin and Jim generously took me to the supermarket to stock up our cooler and food bag with supplies before I started the drive to Chicago. After a quick lunch, it was time to hit the road. Hopefully we will be back on our way back east in a few months.

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