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Bar & Grills

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(Note: This is the first in a two-part series about an Iowa Roadie adventure in Buffalo County, Wisconsin.) I recently celebrated my birthday. I must admit that once you hit a certain age, one really does not “celebrate” a birthday as much as “commiserate” it. After all, I already have my driver’s license, voter registration card and a legal ID. The allure of pinatas and ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ have diminished in direct proportion to my memory. And I’m afraid if I tried to muster the energy to blow out my candles, I’d pass out for lack of oxygen. (My husband would disagree and tell you I have enough hot air to assist a centenarian.) The only bright spot is the cake and ice cream…which is also a no-no, according to my doctor who recently classifed me as “mildly obese” following my annual physical. So all things considered,…

My husband and I still enjoy “date night.” Admittedly date night has evolved a bit after 25 years of wedded bliss. Now instead of dinner and a movie, a night out typically involves a trip to Menards. Seriously… what part of a large home improvement center does not scream “I love you?” Romance surely lives on in the aisles of paint supplies and power tools. In fact, I am convinced that without Menards, there would be no “date night.” We would instead be relegated to evenings at home eating frozen pizza and watching “Impractical Jokers” with the dogs. (I realize that some of you may PREFER an evening watching four lifelong friends embarrass one another at the expense of innocent onlookers. Or you believe that cardboard carbs deserve the distinction of its own food group. I, however, enjoy the experience of shopping somewhere I can purchase both drywall AND bacon…

I have lilapsophobia. I may not be able to pronounce it, but WebMD says I have it. (And who can argue with an Internet diagnosis?) You see, lilapsophobia is an abnormal fear of tornadoes or hurricanes. I understand that living in the middle of Iowa, the possibility of a giant ocean wave washing my home away seems unlikely…which is good because I’m also afraid of drowning. (I couldn’t find the scientific name for that fear however.) Tornadoes, though, are a Real Possibility. According to the National Weather Service, there were 69 tornadoes in Iowa in 2018. That is 69 times I was at risk of being sucked away in a big cyclone…and unlike Dorothy, the chance of me landing safely on a yellow brick road with magic red shoes and a scarecrow for a sidekick seem pretty unlikely. (Although the chance of flying monkeys and a wicked witch stalking me…

I believe chestnuts are underrated. For example, if you were on Family Feud and asked to name a popular nut, what would you say? Peanut? Almonds? Maybe even a cashew? When the top answers are on the board, I doubt that Steve Harvey will award anyone money for answering “chestnut.” Somehow, the chestnut lacks the popularity of a nut wearing a monocle, and has yet to cross over to the candy bar market. Until now, the chestnut has been relegated to a solo line in an old Nat King Cole Christmas carol. However my husband believes that chestnuts are the new cash crop of Iowa. (I suggested hemp will be an even greater money maker.) Still we recently found ourselves at the Iowa Arborteum attending an eight-hour chestnut growers workshop. (The question is not so much WHY we were here. Remember CASH CROP? But rather HOW could such a workshop…

It began with a moose mug. In fact, I like to think of it as my super power. That’s right…my super power. I might not be able to bend steel with my bare hands or climb buildings (namely because I’m weak and afraid of heights). And I will never look as good as Wonder Woman in her spandex costume (because that would mean consuming minimal calories and no wine). Nor can I swim like Aquaman. (Although I would like to keep the protagonist of the latest DC comics blockbuster around for eye candy.) I don’t possess telekinesis or invisibility or the ability to time travel. What I have instead is a magic cup. I purchased the Moose Mug off Amazon this December. In fact, I ordered a holiday boxed set of two for a total of $16.95 with free prime shipping. My plastic “safer than glass” mug is a replica…

Remember that scene in the movie “Pretty Woman” where the street vendor is calling out, “What’s your dream? Everybody’s got a dream.” OR perhaps you DON’T remember it because you were too focused on the scene where a bleach blonde Julia Roberts is unzipping her thigh-high pseudo-leather boots. If so, shame on you! At least have the decency to pretend your favorite scene was when Julia tried to eat the snail or when Richard presented her with the priceless diamond necklace. I admit…Pretty Woman is every girl’s fantasy (minus the fact that you have to be a prostitute first). But what female doesn’t want some rich guy to sweep them off their feet… and foot the bill of their personal Rodeo Drive shopping spree? My only complaint with this movie is the scene where Julia and Richard are sitting on a blanket in the park reading poetry. Supposedly this is…

Have you ever had an experience that you just can’t describe? Do you know what I’m talking about? You really can’t differentiate if it’s good, bad or just plain deranged? Like those “bean boozled” jelly beans. The package mixes pure deliciousness like juicy peach and chocolate pudding with horrific flavors like booger, barf and moldy cheese. It’s kind of like a candy Russian Roulette. Coconut…or canned dog food? And part of the fun is the element of surprise and repulsion you experience when eating a jelly bean that tastes like you dug it out of a sewer pipe. See what I mean…good, bad or deranged? Let me describe it another way. Do you know what an oxymoron is? (Who am I kidding? I blog about dive bars…perhaps my expectations regarding readers’ vocabulary are a bit high.) An oxymoron is a figure of speech that contradicts itself. Put another way..it’s two…

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia… No, I’m not referring to the eldest Brady daughter, but (is it possible?!) someone even groovier. This Marcia is the 81-year-old owner and bartender at The Pub bar in Menomonie, Wisconsin, the site of our latest Iowa Roadie adventure. While the above reference may have you reliving all those Very Brady adventures…Remember when Mike escaped the collapsed mine because he followed the sound of his wife singing Christmas carols? Or how the aforementioned Marcia was dumped after her nose was hit with a football? How about when the Bradys went to Hawaii and encountered the cursed tiki idols? (Bigger question… How could a family of eight plus Alice AFFORD to go to Hawaii…or the Grand Canyon… or ANYWHERE?! Anyway…Brady memories aside, your next question should be…Menomonie? Where is that, and why would anyone go there? Well, like the Bradys, we are about saving some money…and therefore drove…

The movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” is a modern holiday classic depicting Clark Griswald’s ambition to host a “fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.” The film has developed almost a cult following because who can’t relate to family dysfunction? We may not have a Cousin Eddie emptying his RV septic tank in our front yard, an Uncle Lewis setting himself on fire with his cigar or even an Aunt Bethany reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as the meal’s blessing. (OK, so maybe some of us DO have an Aunt Bethany.) “A Christmas Vacation” reaffirms that regardless of its quirkiness, a family accepts and loves its members unconditionally. And that is exactly how the Iowa Roadie felt at its latest stop…The River Bar in Dows. My husband and I visited the River Bar on a Friday night, and proceeded to fill the last two bar stools at the end of the counter. In…

There is a practice known as “bar hopping” that refers to visiting more than one bar in a single evening. This nomadic lifestyle is most common in college students on spring break. As I am seasoned well beyond the ramen noodle & wet t-shirt years, I prescribe to the more sedentary “bar plopping,” which is the nightlife equivalent to nesting. I find a place I like, plop myself down and remain there all night. I honestly do not know how loyal patronage can be a bad thing. But evidently it labels me as “boring” and “lame.” SO on a recent trip to Cedar Rapids, I decided to forego my stationary habits and just go with the flow. (My anxiety level went up just writing that statement.) Now if you recall, a previous Iowa Roadie blog described an afternoon luau at “Just Coz Tavern” in Cedar Rapids. Remember…potluck by the pool…

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