Iowa Snow

Many people living on the East and West Coasts of America refer to the land in between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as the fly-over. The State of Iowa is in the center of the United States. The nearest big city is Chicago. Most of its residents are devoted to growing corn. The Federal government has been generous with subsidies for this crop. The vast majority is used to feed cows and a good 20% is contributed to the ethanol fuel program.

I have one friend in Iowa. Colonel Rockford lives outside of Iowa City, the home of the state university. His family farm has laid fallow for decades. His crop lies underneath the soil in subterranean bunkers. The entire process was governed by science. Twice a year his harvest of hydro was sold to the highest bidder. The coastal pot smokers like Iowa. It’s a green state.

Colonel Rockford and I first met in 1974. My good friend AK and I met him north of La Jolla during a hitchhiking tour of the West. He was a hippie musician with a following of three girls. We dropped LSD on Black’s Beach. The girls danced naked by the sea. AK and I spoke to a seal. He told us the secret of the ocean. His words sounded like barks. No one else could understand the seal, not even Colonel Rockford.

The three of us remained friends throughout the years and Colonel Rockford would visit AK and me in New York. We had a standing invitation to come to Iowa. Somehow our travels avoided the fly-over until in May of 2009 an English friend, Brock Dundee, asked for my assistance in the Brit’s filming of a famous sculptor’s pieces scattered across the Midwest.

“No one is better on a road trip than you.” The Londoner had heard about my gift for the highway from many of his friends.


The offer was more than tempting and I phoned Colonel Rockford about the possibility of hooking up in Iowa City.

“I’ll be waiting.” Harvest time was months away.

Brock and I rode from Chicago to St. Louis to Kansas City to Des Moines. We stayed off the Interstates. The police were looking for revenue on this roads. The two-laners criss-crossing the plains were straight-lines. Our rented Ford Taurus never dropped beneath 80.

Iowa City was a little off the route from our next destination, but we were running ahead of schedule. We pulled into a cheap motel and called Rockford. he couldn’t believe that I was actually there.

“I said I was coming.”

“Saying and doing are two different things, but I’m happy you’re here and have a special reward.” Rockford told us to rendezvous at a downtown dive.

The Deadwood Tavern had a long bar, pool tables, drunks, and a smelly men’s room. Brock loved the ambiance. The beer was cheap. College boys avoided the Deadwood. They preferred the sports bars. Co-eds frequenting the tavern looked like white trash. It was a good look. Rockford entered the bar without anyone saying ‘hello’. He flew under the radar. We had a good night drinking and retire to our motel to demolish the mini-bar.

“I told you I had something special.” Rockford pulled a small vial from his pocket. The contained substance consisted of a flaky pink-white powder. “Bolivian Blow 1978. I’ve been saving it for a special occasion.”

“Impossible!” Brock couldn’t believe that someone had held onto coke that long.

“Not impossible.” He pointed to me. “He has the last Qualludes on Earth. Four jars from 1975.”

“1974.” I had found the extinct muscle relaxants in 1997. They were still active.

“I have five jars of this left.” Rockford’s stash came from a deal gone bad. He had been arrested for weed, but imprisoned for trafficking in cocaine. The amount was small, but the state police never found the six jars in the cornfield. He poured a small mound on the coffee table. The flakes shone like smashed opals. The lines were thick. We were eager to huff them. The coke was gentle on our nasal passages.

“Damn, it works.”

“Of course it works. It’s pure.”

“No cut.”

Pure was a myth in New York. Most of the blow I had done over the years was cut with corn starch, vitamin c powder, or milk sugar. Rockford was speaking the truth. He had no reason to lie. His blow was as clean as a snowstorm sweeping the tundra.

“This is the real deal.” Brock was in love, but it was a one-night stand.

In the morning Rockford returned to his house on the prairie. Brock and I compassed north to Minnesota. Brock never did cocaine after that night. I was less eager for a cure and dreamed of driving to Iowa. It was only 13 hours from New York and 13 hours is nothing, when Bolivia was at the end of the line.

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