Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Really Bad Photography of Our Really Beautiful Neighborhood- Southward Edition

I'm getting the ugly picture out of the way first. It isn't essential, but here it is anyway. We are on a street that has one of the only neighborhood routes under the interstate. For me, afraid of heights with three kids in tow, this is the only way to get to the other side of the interstate on foot. The kids call the passage underneath the interstate "the tunnel." I turned back and snapped a shot of it today after we went through because Elspeth thinks it's so great going through it. So there it is. Be amazed.

St. George Square Quality Shops. I like that. The next picture turned out really well. It's one I took from across the street. This one was taken as I approached the shops from the side.

See what I mean? Cute! Beehive Salon? Who wouldn't want to go there for a trim?!

This sign may as well say "more cuteness ahead."

I want this house. No, really, it's for sale. Lots of things would have to happen for me to have this house, the biggest of which being George having a job here next year, but Oh my goodness, it's adorable. I picked up a flyer. It's adorable inside too! Lots of the houses in this historic district look similarly cute, but this one is the cutest. I'm in love with a house...

I'm kind of just in love with everything right now actually. Yes, this is a picture of the grocery store. But y'all, I walked there. I'm in love with a mile to the grocery store.

First, I'll take you around the corner to the east. There's a yummy smell just beyond the grocery. It's this cigar shop! They look serious in there. It'll definitely be a stop when it's time to look for stocking stuffers.

Across the street from the cigar store is this big coffee house. I have never been to a Caribou Coffee, but I have seen them in Buckhead in Atlanta. Evidently, it's more of a northwesternly chain? I don't know. I haven't been there yet, but I have a friend who works there. Caribou Coffee, it can't be as bad as Starbucks! Just kidding, I love Starbucks, but I have to get the swanky stuff because their regular brew tastes burnt. We've had this conversation before.

Here's another place I was itching to try. We ate there last night after I met some guy on my (before dinner) run and George and I ended up talking to him in our driveway about the Church until 8:30! Mexican food is my favorite. I was hoping this place within such an easy distance of our house wouldn't let me down. Margaritas on the patio? It was too hot. But we received HUGE portions. I couldn't even eat half. However, it was pricier than we expected. Maybe next time we'll just split.

Ah, another place I've actually been. I picked up a yummy, freshly baked baguette from this little "market" last week. It's not much of a market, but almost completely a deli/restaurant. Still, yummy bread!

Speaking of yummy bread, my friend Beth Ann used to love some sort of rolls from Great Harvest in Kirkwood. Then, one day a month or so ago, I had stopped in my hair guy's salon and some man came in searching for the Great Harvest Bread that used to be next door (the one Beth Ann got the rolls at). I had forgotten all about it. The man seemed sad about the loss of cookies that he was able to find there- until I pointed him to McArthur's around the corner and told him about their kamikaze brownies. Anyway, now I have a Great Harvest Bread store I can walk to if I want. (But sadly, no more kamikaze brownies...)

However, there are two homemade candy shops on the street right near Great Harvest. Perhaps I can find something as good as a kamikaze brownie at one of those places? Is there such a thing? If there is, it seems like this is the place to search: Fine European Chocolates- Amsterdam- Des Moines. This sign makes me laugh. I'm so used to seeing Dallas-Chicago-New York or something like that, Paris-London-Milan. But nope, Amsterdam and Des Moines. I wonder how that happened. I'll let you know if the chocolates are as special as they sound. Don't you love the trim around the roof?

I didn't get a shot of the other place, which also has an ice cream parlor in it because the sun was making a glare, and I couldn't get a picture without avoiding it and my reflection in the window. It had the kind of window display that all my children were delighted with- colorful and whimsical as all candy store windows should be. Perhaps we'll venture there soon, during business hours, and get better light for a picture (and some sweets too, of course).

This is pretty much the end of the line in terms of walkable fun. After this, the road gets to be more like a highway until it reaches downtown. There is a tattoo parlor and a couple of convenience stores, but that's nothing to blog about. However, just past here, there is a little coffee shop that I tried out this morning. I didn't get a picture of the outside because it's totally nondescript. However, when I went inside, it was WAY too cool. There was no way I could take a picture of all the huge burlap bags, each full of coffee beans from somewhere around the world, loafing around the edges of the store. It had that hole in the wall that everyone loves to know about feel with its hand written menus and signs, posters and displays of photography/paintings/music supporting local artists, old wood floors and counters, and a mishmash of everything from mugs to chairs.

People who come here pride themselves on knowing about coffee and the world. They're very progressive. They're totally above Starbucks. Seriously, "a regular coffee" was a confusing order. I was asked if the Kenya was okay because the Peru was really dark today. Whatever. I felt like I was in college again, and the know-it-all (all, except what I mean by coffee- "like a drip coffee?"- ya think?) barista combined with that table of ridiculous but condescending looking group of grunge-y artists (you know, the one with the one blonde chick who is in solely because she wears no bra and no makeup and some sort of hippy garb) was intimidating all over again. The grunge-y artists, they always thought they were so cool. I didn't want to disturb their discussions about the finer points or Woody Allen films or obscure band name-dropping by being the chubby soccer mom taking pictures of bean bags that they just had to comment on- how my life is so prosaic and "unoriginal." Little do they know how unoriginal they are. But really, aren't we all? All in all, a hilarious experience! If I were gutsy enough, I'd just be my weird, picture taking self and have these clever paragraphs running in my head while I'm there. But, as we all know very well, I am just sorry to be in the way of most folks, even if they are twenty year old guys in serious need of haircuts (and the token blond girl in spaghetti straps and no bra).

This was my attempt to get some pictures of all the quaint little planters along the sides of the road. When there's no median, put the flowers on the side! The pictures didn't come out so great- something about cars and telephone wires, I guess (to say nothing of my total lack of skill as a photographer). But imagine how much uglier the pictures would be without the plants- that's the point I'm trying to make.

Back around the corner with the grocery store and to the west, past Walgreens, and across the street is a Breugger's Bagels. Nice! I can already imagine some autumn mornings where we'll load up some books in the wagon and head over for breakfast, morning lessons, and a nice change of scenery. All those homeschool days on the hill could've been easier with a few places like these to escape to every now and then! There was no way to put pictures up of all the little restaurants and bars that intrigue me when I'm over this way. These are just a few places that I've been to or I'm betting I'll make my way to sooner or later. The French Bistro and the posh looking restaurant with the sleek table settings (which I was pretty embarrassed to be strolling by, huffing and puffing, sweating, and looking all around disgusting right at the dinner hour that evening!) are the sort of places I may not make it to, but if I do, I'll be sure to put up pictures.

This place looks like it could turn out to be interesting too. An article I found on The Des Moines Register dot com says, "Copa Cavana will specialize in Cuban foods and will have a lounge with Latin American dancing such as salsa, tango and merengue with live and DJ music. Live shows, theater groups and free dance lessons will also be on the venue." Yeah, I probably won't ever go there either, but I thought it was kind of a cool looking place. It's not open yet, but a lot of folks were outside taking a break from what looked like a lot of work when the kids and I walked by that night. They talked like they had a plan and were excited. I sort of felt like I was intruding on a business meeting taking place right there on the sidewalk. In order to discreetly snap the picture, I had to take it from across the street at this last cool stop before we turned back into the residential section of the neighborhood.

This place is really pretty cool looking, but I am not too happy with how the pictures turned out- except that Elspeth stuck her silly head in! It's a flower shop and a cafe combined, and it has some interesting old design elements in the architecture and the lettering. I sort of tried to get too much in one picture and got nothing, so I decided to stop inside sometime soon and get some better pictures. I went this morning. That's right, I went here first, got home, spilled George's coffee all over the sidewalk and my shirt, changed clothes, and went back out to Zanzibar's, the place with the big bags of beans and hilarious people. Anyway, this place is called "Java B Good" which I didn't realize when I first thought it looked cool. Ha! It was run by a guy, who I presume is the owner, who didn't seem at all interested in making my acquaintance even though his shop was all but empty at eight o'clock in the morning. He had buckets all over collecting drips from the ceiling. Hmmm... not what I expected. His setup was sort of small and thrown together in the back of the flower shop, almost like church coffee tables. I didn't take any pictures here because it was surprisingly uninspired. My expectations were too high, I think. It's right next door to the Junior League of Des Moines, you see. However, I'm working on my coffee right now, and it's not bad. All in all, atmosphere wise, I'll probably keep looking for a favorite spot. I also realized that I need to carry more cash as I had to ask both coffee shops for the favor of letting me use my check card (and the second place made me buy $5 worth to do so- so I brought the kids some cookies). But anyway, all of this, plus Blockbuster, Bank of America, and all manner of local small businesses are about a mile south of us. And that is exciting to me. Once it cools off and we aren't just dripping sweat when we get there, we'll try to combine our walks and our patronage into one!


Our family said...

I am excited for you about all your fun places to walk. I love the flower boxes too!

I think you should go in and take a picture of the grungy kids--maybe have the coffee bags in the background:) I was always intimdated by that crowd too--and I still am--I never have been and never will be cool. I'm okay with that now and embrace my dorkiness:) Probably on my way to some mom jeans!

Yay for being able to be out and about and see people on a regular basis. And, margaritas on the porch sound fabulous when the weather cools off.

Thanks for sharing the photos--it was fun to feel like I went on a walk with you around your new town:)

Abby said...

I love the idea of you in mom jeans! That's hilarious! I feel the same way about coolness. Never have been, never will be That's okay, I think you can't be very nice if you want to be cool. You have to be sort of aloof or something. And anyway, maybe cool is in the eye of the beholder? If so, then I declare you to be very cool :)

Brittnie said...

You should try Caribou! I don't drink coffee and if we didn't have Caribous I'd never venture into a coffee shop. People in the midwest tend to favor Caribous over Starbucks bc of the bitterness.

They do have great smoothies (I get the passion fruit green tea smoothie with a shot of raspberry) and wonderful hot chocolate. Yum!

Anonymous said...

what fun posts with all these pics. Des Moines looks super charming. I want to come visit! I'm so glad you are within walking distance of such fun places. That was one of my favorite things about Belvidere. I used to walk to the local market with Seth in the stroller if we needed just some milk or bread or something. It was a nice outing when we needed one. Y'all have lots of fun options of where to walk to...that is so nice especially for homeschoolers :)


jennifer h said...

Very fun pics and commentary. Glad you have landed in civilization! Praying for all your adventures there to be good!

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