Every four years Iowa is inundated with presidential candidates and the DC and New York City-based journalists that follow them.

Invariably we will see “observations” like ones offered by Sally Goldenberg, the City Hall bureau chief at Politico NY. Not sure why she’s covering the Iowa Caucus, but on Saturday she tweeted this:

I want to first state that I’m amused, not offended, by Ms. Goldenberg’s tweet. Let me correct the record about Iowa for some reporters who may not know better.

1. Iowa is not flat.

If she means not mountainous by “flat,” then guilty as charged, but that is not what “flat” means. Iowa is “rolling.” Iowa is very hilly, especially in the northeast of the state. Then you have the Loess Hills in the west. Are there flat spots in Iowa? Yes. Is Iowa flat? No.

If she thinks Iowa is flat she should try driving in western Kansas or Nebraska. This is what flat looks like.

Kansas Hwy. 156, Photo Credit: Doug Kerr (CC-By-SA 2.0)

This is not flat.

2. Driving anywhere can be monotonous.

If you drive long enough anywhere, it can be monotonous. I suspect Ms. Goldenberg feels this way because living in New York City she rarely drives. I enjoy driving in Iowa, especially two-lane roads, particularly in parts of the state I have not been before. Do you know what kind of driving I find especially monotonous? Grid-lock, bumper to bumper traffic that we rarely experience here.

There are a lot of beautiful places in Iowa. I hope Ms. Goldenberg has the opportunity to come to Iowa in the fall.

Loess Hills in fall near Missouri Valley, Iowa. Photo Credit: Rich (CC-By-NC 2.0)

Perhaps she will have the chance to enjoy our spectacular sunsets.

Outside of Mount Vernon, Iowa. Photo Credit: Rich Hermann (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

You just don’t see stuff like this in New York City.

3. About that unbuilt land.

Much of that unbuilt land that you see in Iowa is where Iowans grow your food. If we did not have lots of unbuilt land Iowa would not be able to feed the world.

Farm in Northwest Iowa. Photo Credit: Don Graham (CC-By-SA 2.0)

We also do not live on top of each other, even in town. There are exceptions of course, but we do have things called yards and gardens. Should Ms. Goldenberg venture out of New York City she’ll find that is the case in the suburbs and upstate New York as well.

4. There’s not much reason to drive on dirt roads.

Yes, Iowa has a lot of gravel roads. Unless a candidate is visiting a farm off the beaten path there is little reason for journalists to drive on them. Usually if you end up on a gravel road it is because you are lost. You can get to almost every campaign stop via an asphalt highway. I rarely drive on gravel roads and I live in Iowa and that’s the case for most Iowans who do not live in the country (which is a vast majority of the population).

If you find yourself on one if you don’t drive like a crazy person and watch your speed you’ll be just fine.

Rural road in Des Moines County between Mediapolis and Morning Sun, Iowa.

5. Hy-Vee has almond milk!

There are plenty of places in Iowa to find Almond Milk, like our most common grocery store chain, Hy-Vee. They even have pecan milk, er, malk.

We even have coconut and soy milk here as well.

I’m sure you can’t find it at gas stations, but I suspect that’s true for most places.

5. Caucus-goers are well-informed.

I agree with Ms. Goldenberg that Iowa’s caucus-goers are well-informed. We take our first in the nation status seriously. As such, the grassroots of each party are informed about the issues and we expect to get to meet the candidates, sometimes several times.

We can ask them questions that they may never hear from journalists.

Press conference on then candidate Donald Trump’s jet in Des Moines, Iowa – 4/8/15.

Anyway, if you have the opportunity to visit Iowa prior to the Caucus, I hope you see all that Iowa has to offer, even alongside the road.

Update: Sally Goldenberg provided a statement about her tweet. “I intended to write a light-hearted, self-effacing tweet about my time in Iowa, which is a beautiful state, but my humor did not translate. I in no way meant any offense to Iowans and apologize to anyone I insulted. Indeed, Iowa caucus-goers do have a unique and impressive knowledge of the expansive field of candidates,” she told Caffeinated Thoughts.

3 comments
  1. If you think Iowa is flat join RAGBRAI this summer (Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) and then tell us Iowa is flat!

  2. Super article Shane! If Ms. Goldenberg would like compsny or a driver the next time dhe comes, I am volunteering! I would love to show her some of the charm and magnificent landscape and people of Iowa!
    Iowa Lifer

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