Nevertheless, small town life does have a downside.
- Limited fresh food year round. Big cities, especially those on the coast, get amazing fruits, veggies, fish and more. I almost cried the first time I went to our local farmers market, and the market season is very short comparatively.
- Poor public transportation. Say what you will about the dysfunction that is the CTA, Chicago has a pretty rockin' transit system. I-love-my-car-LA is shameful, but the Santa Monica bus is above average. Ben can't even take the bus home from campus because it stops running before 9 p.m. Major downer.
- Restaurants leave me craving more. Sure, Normal is home to a bar that serves cheese balls many worship and a no-frills Italian restaurant that people crave years after leaving ISU, but sometimes I need a great vegetarian dish (that doesn't rely on four different cheeses to be delicious), melt-in-your-mouth sushi or tasty French cuisine. Not going to happen here, unfortunately. This town can't support "eclectic, high-end" restaurants. They come and go time and time again.
- A huge downer for me is the total lack of shopping venues. It's shocking how bad the malls are here (nope, they couldn't get it right the second time either). Nearby Peoria even has a Banana Republic for Heaven's sake! Our Gap is an embarrassment to Gaps everywhere. Shoe departments consist of sad little corners full of unattractive, clunky messes. We do have a very small number of independent retailers, and I'm sad to say many of them come and go faster than our 10 minute rush hour.
- Did I mention shopping? Oh, yes...Well, that counts for two cons in my fashion-starved heart.