The reason I wasn't here to fix my server when it went down was that I was spending the weekend in Des Moines, Iowa for the Des Moines Marathon . I was going to run the half marathon but the real reason for being there was supporting my wife's business at the marathon expo. Many sunglasses and Sheddable Shells were sold because it was just the beginning of winter in Des Moines and there was just a chance of snow and temperatures in the 30s with lots of sunshine and wind.
I grew up in Portland, Oregon and have watched it change from a metro size of 500,000 to it's current two million. That changes a city. Des Moines is still a small town with 500,000 in the metro area. Downtown is not crowded (on Friday I had assumed it was Sunday because of the traffic downtown) and the people are friendly and close knit. The whole town turns out for a city event. There was not much new building downtown and there was a lot of office space for lease. What building was happening was a stadium (state/city money), the interstate through the city (federal money) and a new Science Museum of Iowa (state/federal money). If it wasn't for the government borrowing money like an insane person, there'd be nothing happening. Other than that, all in all a pleasant town.