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Can’t take the Ames out of the girl

Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013 12:00 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, June 21, 2013 10:17 a.m. CST

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So it’s been said time and time before, you can take the girl out of Ames, but you can’t take the Ames out of the girl.

No? Never heard that one before?

While I suppose I might be the first to pioneer that specific phrasing, in my case it’s true — in a week, I’ll be heading back north to my college town for good.

While it’s with a heavy heart (and an ever heavier packed-up Hyundai) that I leave you folks here in Jasper County, your cities and towns and gravel roads have taught me countless things about life in, well, the smallest town I’ve ever called home.

For one, I’ve become incredible at parallel parking along East Second Street South next to Dairy Queen — a far cry from my pathetic attempt to swing a minivan into a parking spot seven years ago during my Indiana driving test.

I’ve learned you don’t walk into Maid-Rite and ask for a hamburger. Well, unless you want to be laughed at.

I’ve learned that the snow ordinance does exist through April for a reason, and just because there’s snow doesn’t mean there won’t be snow ordinance parking tickets.

I’ve learned that, when searching for an ideal place to take photos of deteriorating Class B roads (ahem, Mission Road), one should probably wear tennis shoes or boots or basically anything but ballet flats, and should probably bring along a strong companion to push one’s car out when it inevitably gets stuck.

I’ve finally learned to navigate around town without the help of a GPS. I was averse at first, but naming system for streets here in town actually makes a lot of sense once you get the streets and avenues and norths and easts and souths (and don’t forget places) straight.

I’ve yet to find better peanut butter frozen yogurt than Worth the Weight or a better sandwich than the bagel club at PJ’s. I must admit, my kudos for flavored coffee is a toss-up: Uncle Nancy’s and the Newton 66 both do a fine job.

I’ve learned you guys not only take your motorcycles very seriously, but also your karaoke on Thursday nights.

I’ve listened to stories of triumph, bravery and loss from veterans like Verle Kooistra and Steve Bookout. I’ve had the privilege of documenting stories of determination, such as Mark Stiles’ journey to recovery. I’ve celebrated at Cowboy Church, shed tears at the Wall That Heals and shared my thanks with those participating in this year’s Freedom Flight.

While my time here at the paper might be through, I have to admit there’s still a list of things I wish I’d done — and still plan to do.

I’ve yet to catch a Friday night football game at H.A. Lynn, grab a soda from Weirick’s in Colfax or sled down the hill at Sunset Park. I’ve yet to catch a movie at ... well, either the Capitol II or the Valle Drive-In (cue jabs from the newsroom about my cluelessness when it comes to movies), a performance at the Maytag Bowl or a concert on the square during Thunder Nites.

Most of all, I’ve yet to order correctly, malt included, from Maid-Rite.

And for all of those things, Jasper County, I promise not to be a stranger.

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