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Well, after a day’s total of nine hours of driving we just got back from the Harkin Steak Fry. As a surreal experience it certainly exceeded expectations.

When we arrived into town at Highway 92 – heading east toward the balloon field – we encountered one of the slowest moving traffic jams I have ever experienced. It took us 45 minutes to get the three miles from a highway junction to the balloon field.

As we finally approached the vicinity of the balloon field we could hear the distinctive voice of Barack Obama over a public address system at the park shelter south of the balloon field (this was the same location for the Dean rally I attended in 2003). The crowd looked to be twice the size of the rally from four years ago – I estimate their number to be be close to a thousand. And the signs – large “Hope” signs everywhere at the rally site. Apparently the Obama campaign had also arranged to bus a large number of people into the rally and the site of the steak fry. One of our number who left our vehicle in the traffic jam walked to the rally – he later told me that at the rally individuals were given t-shirts and that if one wanted, they could get tickets for admission to the steak fry from the Obama campaign.

On the drive in on Highway 92 there was a huge number of Hillary yard signs planted along the right of way. Other campaigns also had an impressive “visibility”.

Once we got past the rally site we got to the parking area and the parking staff got us efficiently to a spot close to the main entrance.

Near the parking entrance to the balloon field there was a huge Edwards banner hanging from a lift.

I walked up to the press tent past several groups of campaign staffers for different campaigns acting as cheer leading squads. I waited in a short line and told the nice twenty-something staffer that I had blogger credentials. I found my name on a list – he had me initial next to it, then he handed me a red press pass on a chain.

I walked through the gate into the world of the Harkin Steak Fry

The weather was near perfect. Mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the 70s.

[More on the Harkin Steak Fry tomorrow]