So same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa and has been for a more than year now. Efforts to ban same-sex marriage in Iowa have stalled and many Democratic politicians and candidates are sticking their necks out for us. Seems to me that teh gays should reward Iowa by—I hope you're sitting down—visiting the state and spending some of our big gay tourist dollars there. Yes, yes—I know. Iowa. No beaches, no big cities. But the Midwest in the summer has its charms. There are lots of pretty little towns along the Mississippi. (Check out Clinton, Iowa, sometime.) And if someone wanted to organize something big—well, big for Iowa—this story in today's New York Times suggests one possibility:

Perry’s fortunes dived in the late 1970s, when the Milwaukee Road, the last of the rail lines that sustained the town from its founding in 1869, was shut. But rather than trying to land one big project or employer, in the 1990s Perry embraced a development strategy based on adding recreation, lodging, education and clean energy to its traditional strength in livestock agriculture.... From the corner of Second and Otley, Perry’s multipronged efforts are apparent. The Raccoon River Valley Trail, a 89-mile bike path that ties downtown Des Moines to Perry and, farther on, to Jefferson, runs down Otley Avenue. The last half-mile section in Perry will be paved this month at a cost of $100,000, financed by the state.

Across the square is the Hotel Pattee, an elegant 40-room, full-service hotel where rooms are modestly priced by big city standards, typically around $140. The hotel closed for two years in 2006 after a renovation in the late 1990s financed by Roberta Green Ahmanson, a wealthy native daughter, that city leaders said cost an estimated $20 million. In 2008 the hotel was reopened by Steven C. Olson, the chief executive and president of Leisure Hotels... Mr. Olson said in an interview that the hotel had indeed lost $400,000 over the last two years, but that he expected to break even by the start of next year. Part of the reason is that the completion of the Raccoon bike trail should encourage more of Des Moines’s athletic young professionals and couples to spend summer weekend evenings in his hotel. “We see the trail as a marketing opportunity,” Mr. Olson said.

Des Moines—where I was once briefly incarcerated—is an interesting city with corn-fed gay boys (and a couple of actual gay bars) and tons of straight people who are thrilled when people drop by in between the Iowa caucuses. If teh gays got together and booked a block of rooms in a hotel in Des Moines on a Thursday night and bought out the Hotel Pattee for the rest of the weekend, I'd fly in—instead of over—for that. Ride the Raccoon River Valley Trail from Des Moines to Perry on Friday, spend the night (and some money) in Perry that night, ride to Jefferson on Saturday morning, have lunch, ride back to Perry, spend the night (and more money), ride back to Des Moines on Sunday morning, fly home. The Midwest—the warm, green, flat Midwest—is a lot more scenic than folks who've never been assume. And Iowa deserves our support.

Anyone else interested? (By which I mean: anyone interested in doing all the work so that I can blow into town and enjoy a nice bike ride through the cornfields? And spend my gay tourist dollars, of course.)

UPDATE: There's a website, and a video...

Looks pretty—not a single pig-manure lagoon in sight.