I recently invited you to join me on a road trip across Iowa. Surprisingly, many of you listened (I’m used to my kids ignoring me) and clicked “follow” on my last post. So now we are traveling en masse across the state, ready to conquer all things bacon together. However before we head out, I need to clarify a few things about the journey ahead.

First of all, my husband and I like to stop at dives. By “dive,” I mean a small town establishment full of local character. You know…it’s that place that everyone stops talking mid-sentence about grain prices to turn and look when you walk in. Understand that dives regularly serve one of two things: deep-fried food or homemade pie. Maybe both if you’re lucky. Most dives also serve alcohol, and so in most cases, my husband will serve as our official “beverage taster.”

Second rule on our road trip…If we stop at the aforementioned dive, it is imperative that we sit at the actual bar counter rather than at a table. This serves two purposes: 1. We get served faster and 2. We can join in the conversation with the locals. Realize it is not always easy to finagle oneself into these discussions. However if you wait it out, you can typically jump in by interjecting knowledge about hunting, fishing or how to best cook wild game. Even though the locals may not initially include you in the conversation, they are too polite to exclude you altogether.

Case in point: My husband & I (in conjunction with Rule #1) stopped at “The Dam Bar & Grill” in Troy Mills a few weeks ago. We were drawn in by their claim to serve “the best dam tenderloin.” As predicted, there was a group of 3-4 men all in camo sitting at the bar deep in conversation about that evening’s turtle fry. (I swear, I am NOT making this up!) We followed rule #2 (sit at the bar) and tried to ease ourselves into the conversation. As expected, they half-heartedly replied to my inquiry of what to order before turning back to their private discussion. We continued to eavesdrop, and they mentioned that besides turtle, buffalo and giraffe (fact!), fish would also be served at that evening’s event. This gave us the in we were seeking, as Jeff was able to share with them an ice fishing tactic he had recently used that involved bobbers and five gallon buckets.

Suddenly we were part of the camo clique. For the next two hours, we basked in the glow of redneck inclusion. By the time we left, I had programmed the number of some guy named Shoop into my phone, promising to call if we ever visited again. Shoop actually recommended that we visit a nearby dive that is frequented by a man riding a mule. (Again true story.) Sadly we were not able to drop by the mule bar, but promised to call Shoop when we were next in the area.

SO to recap the rules…
Rule 1: Visit dives.
Rule 2: Sit at the bar.
AND Rule 3 (but probably the most important): Keep an open mind. This applies to both new food (giraffe) and new experiences. Life is too short to be boring.

Three simple rules that will allow us to put the “fun” in dysfunction. (Because how else do you explain a mule as one’s means of transportation?) Fasten your seatbelts and loosen your waist belt. (We’re getting primed for all that bacon). It’s officially time for the Iowa road trip to begin!

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