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 may not be totally out of the realm of possibility.)

In Iowa, there are two responses to a wailing tornado siren. One involves grabbing a Busch Light and running outside into the path of a deadly tornado to scan the skies for the horrific funnel cloud. The other involves wearing a bicycle helmet and crawling under a sink in the back corner of a basement, all the while crying hysterically because you know the end is near. One of these is a rational response when faced with a deadly twister. The other response is Just Plain Stupid. (I will leave you to determine which is which… knowing that some of you would rather be blown away clutching a can of Iowa’s Beer than to ever wear a bicycle helmet.)

I also realize that Hollywood tends to glamorize tornados. Admit it…how many of us weren’t secretly jealous when the munchkins serenaded Dorothy and showered her with gifts of giant lollipops? And perhaps the scene in Twister where the cows went flying by lacked the true terror that flying bovines should incite. Irregardless…lilapsophobia is real, and you beer drinking adrenaline junkies (like the Iowa Roadie’s husband) should be a little more supportive when your loved ones are cowering under heavy basement appliances. For the record…taking a picture and posting on social media is NOT supportive.

Now after all that, I know you are asking… what do tornadoes have to do with the latest Iowa Roadie? Remember the movie Twister? (Hint: Flying cows!) Anyway that final tornado scene was filmed by Eldora, location of our latest Iowa Roadie adventure. And fortunately this adventure did not involve dangerous natural phenomenons…or airborne farm animals.

What it WAS supposed to involve were frog legs. You see, we invited our good friends J & A on an Iowa Roadie adventure last weekend. Unfortunately we could not decide where to go, so J got on his phone and discovered that The Firehouse Saloon in Eldora served frog legs. What screams fun and excitement more than that? Certainly not a “hamburger and french fries” (unless the hamburger came from one of those flying Twister cows, of course.)

And as with any Iowa Roadie adventure, one simply cannot go straight to the main destination…which is how we found ourselves at the Stumble Inn in Bradford first. Bradford is an unincorporated town whose last census boasted a population of 99 people (many of which appeared to be in the Stumble Inn). We found ourselves a table, and ordered drinks and a large appetizer platter.

While waiting for our drinks, a jovial fellow with white hair stopped by to check on us. His name was Alex, and it turned out that he was the owner of this fine establishment. Alex joked that his hair used to be red before he bought the bar. Prior to purchasing the Stumble Inn, Alex owned a hydraulics business. That business was profitable enough that he retired and could have purchased property at the Lake of the Ozarks. Instead he bought the bar. (Not going to lie…I began to question Alex’s sanity a bit.) Turns out Alex is also a trained chef and thought it would be fun to return to his culinary roots. We enjoyed our visit with Alex, who bid us farewell and advised us to “Stumble in, but don’t stumble out.” (And while we did not stumble, we may have slipped and slid a bit on the ice…Ice that is currently non-existent at Lake of the Ozarks.)

Our foursome arrived at The Firehouse Saloon ready for some frog legs. (I must confess that I had never eaten frog legs before. In general, my diet is amphibian free.) So when the waitress came for our order, it was with great disappointment that we learned that The Firehouse Saloon was SOLD OUT of frog legs. Evidently there were three wedding parties there that evening, and the bridal parties decided that frog legs were a more festive choice than other appetizers on the menu like mozzarella sticks and onion rings. (Personally I do not put any faith in a marriage that is not built on cheese balls.)

To counteract our dismay, we ordered drinks. I chose a Firehouse Kiss. What is unusual about the Firehouse Kiss is that one of its ingredients is milk. (MILK…Like from a flying cow!) I had never had an alcoholic beverage that built strong bones and teeth before. I even wondered if it would be socially appropriate to bring in a box of Captain Crunch and pour a Firehouse Kiss over it. Imagine the jump start to my morning that bowl of cereal would provide!

In the absence of frog legs, my husband and J both ordered the Firehouse Tenderloin, and I ordered the Firehouse burger. A ordered an appetizer trio that included…are you ready…FUNNEL FRIES!! These are like strips of funnel cake and much easier to eat that the real funnel cake you get at a fair. (Seriously…who does not end up with powdered sugar coating the front of their shirt when attempting to eat a regular cowpie-shaped funnel cake? There is nothing unassuming about a ring of powdered sugar coating your lips and nose.) Funnel fries, on the other hand, are a simple finger food that can be delicately consumed…kind of like carrot sticks, if they were fried in grease and contained empty calories.)

While enjoying our funnel fries, A and I visited with our bartender who ironically was also named Alex.  Alex #2 was 27, did not have white hair and was an Air Force veteran. He also performed a series of illusive card tricks, that perhaps were even more magical because of the effects of the Firehouse Kiss. Alex #2 was also very easy on the eyes, which meant the card tricks might not have worked but I would not have noticed.

While not staring into the eyes of Alex #2 (God Bless the USA), A and I had a lovely conversation with another bartender named Sonya. Sonya confessed to leaving California and coming to Iowa for a guy many years ago. Recently she left an abusive relationship, and is rocking the Firehouse Saloon as a strong and courageous mom. You go girl for finding the strength to get out of an unhealthy relationship! (By the way, Sonya also makes a mean mojito.)

While A and I were becoming BFFs with the bartenders and enjoying Alex #2’s card tricks, the Iowa Roadie’s husband and J were playing a few tricks of their own. The Firehouse Saloon has one of those TouchTune jukeboxes that can be played either by inserting money directly into the machine…or by downloading an app and playing music from the comfort of your barstool and funnel fries. AND when you play music via the phone app, those songs jump to the front of the playlist. This meant that when J and my husband played ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ for Sonya, it superseded the bridal parties’ horrible rap song selections. They could not understand why Air Supply was playing rather than their requested hip hop music. (In all honesty, we could not understand why Air Supply was playing either, other than the guys wanted to totally mess with the junk box junkies…and distract us from Alex #2.)

All in all, our foursome had an UDDERLY delightful evening at The Stumble Inn and The Firehouse Saloon. J and A were not scared off and declared that they would like to go along on another Iowa Roadie adventure. Rather than plan something out, we have decided to just see where the wind takes us. I only hope that wind is not a tornado…as I can’t find my bicycle helmet.

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