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Iowa

Iowa is an increasingly diverse state. Technology is a growing sector. Writers love to meet up and hone their craft in Iowa City, and there are high-quality liberal arts colleges around the state. Gay marriage is now legal here. Topographic features include loess hills, formed by wind-deposited soil in the West. You can go to Waterloo to see how tractors are made. Check out the one and only Hobo Museum in Des Moines, where a National Hobo Convention occurs annually in August. The Des Moines Art Center has eclectic offerings such as works by Hopper and Georgia O'Keeffe, plus an IM Pei sculpture garden. You don't have to go far to get wild. Just a little way out of Des Moines in Prairie City, Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge offers a glimpse of a tallgrass ecosystem. Hike around to see buffalo and elk herds. In the Northeast, Pike's Peak State Park offers the tallest bluff on the Mississippi River and great panoramic scenery. It's not just about corn in Iowa. People also love pork, blue cheese, and almond-filled cookies called Dutch letters. You can certainly eat a big steak in many locations. Have a burger with the Iowan Maytag blue cheese in Mt. Vernon, or chow down on seasonal regional specialties in Iowa City. It used to be that ethnic food meant burritos and Chinese, but now you can also get Indian, Thai, and Middle Eastern cuisine. There are a good number of natural food stores and co-ops, along with juice bars, organic coffeehouses, Ayurvedic restaurants, and places with healthy, interesting sandwiches and pizza. There are even vegetarian campus dining halls that utilize organic and Vedic agricultural practices. What is this world coming to?