Last week, the Iowa Roadie took a little fishing trip up north to Leech Lake in Walker, Minnesota. (Although to be considered a fishing trip, one actually has to catch fish.)

According to the last census poll, Walker boasts a population of 941 people. That is its WINTER population. In the summer, the population multiplies like an amoeba, and the town swarms with both tourists and mayflies. (In all honesty, if I lived in Walker, I might prefer the mayflies! My limited experience with the tourists is that they meander. Meander means “to walk VERY VERY slowly and take up the entire sidewalk.”)

So rather than run down the slow amoebas (anyone know the plural for amoeba?), my husband and I decided to have a drink in Cafe Zona Rosa where happy hour was just beginning. This was a terrific find, because all drinks are ½ off. So our chips, salsa & queso dip, margarita and two beers totaled…(are you sitting down?), a whopping $9.50! I have had a single margarita that cost that much!

Anyway the charm of Zona Rosa (besides half-price drinks) was its young bartender, who initially appeared to be kind of surly (or still coming off a late night hangover). The positive with the surly bartender is that he looked like country singer Kane Brown. If you do not know what Kane Brown looks like, I suggest you google him…and then use that image as your computer’s home screen. SO…in an attempt to un-surl Bartender KB, I decided to pry into his personal life and ask him where he was from. However, instead of asking if he was “born and raised” in Walker, what came out of the Iowa Roadie’s mouth was a faux pas as big as that giant walleye we didn’t catch.

Me to Kane Brown-look-alike bartender: “So…were you born and bred in Walker?”

Yep. Born and BRED. Like a prize cow or pig at the State Fair! I equated our bartender to livestock! Fortunately Bartender KB did not appear offended (again, effects of the late night hangover) and instead shared that he was a transplant from a neighboring town a few years back. We then had a very pleasant conversation, devoid of any further farm animal lingo. After paying our $9.50 tab ($9.50!!), we bid Bartender KB farewell, and ventured on.

I confess that the next stop on our self-created Walker Pub Crawl was supposed to be the Lucky Moose. (This was mainly because I thought that with a name like that, they might have cool t-shirts.) However on our way, we passed the American Legion Post #134; and upon the recommendation of our resort owner and Iraqi veteran Jeff (proprietor of Grand Vu Lodge, home of the free Monday night adult social), we decided to make an unexpected pit stop there.

I confess that we would never have thought to stop at an American Legion. However Jeff, in addition to operating a large family-friendly resort, also serves as commander of the local Color Guard. He told us that the local legion had been voted “The Best Legion in Minnesota,” and we should check it out as it was open to the public. He assured us it was not a “stuffy legion,” as they host karaoke Thursdays through Saturday, as well as special events like the popular “meat raffle” and “Paul Bunyan costumed bingo.”

(Caution: Despite the Iowa Roadie striving to maintain a PG 13-rated blog, the following entry may contain some sensitive and graphic language.)

Immediately upon entering the Legion, we were warmly greeted by a table of older male veterans. This table is affectionately referred to as “the penis table.” (There went my PG 13 rating.) Sitting at an adjacent table were the older women. (I did not ask what THEIR table was called.) Per Iowa Roadie rules, we sat at the bar next to an older couple by the names of Dave and Nancy.

Now Dave and Nancy were extremely friendly, and Nancy shared a detailed story about how she had recently had shoulder surgery (going so far as to show us an x-ray picture of the screw in her shoulder bone). And Dave was getting ready to help pull pork for the weekend’s pig roast fundraiser. However under this couple’s facade of goodwill and cheer lay an evilness that was only revealed when they convinced me to order a can of “Purple Hooter.”

Important clarification… Dave and Nancy themselves are not actually evil. However the Purple Hooter that they urged me to try could only be described as Satan’s nectar. It came in a big 3-serving can, and tasted a bit like grape Crush. (Not one of the better Crush flavors, in my opinion.) The Legion had purchased the purple drink to celebrate the Vikings during the NFL playoffs. But when the Vikings lost, the appeal of the purple drink vanished like the Vikings’ Super Bowl dreams. Consequently the Legion was left with a surplus, which they were now selling for $1… which may actually be $1 too much. I consumed about a quarter’s worth of the anti-drink, before passing it off to a young fellow at the end of the bar who was already drinking his own Purple Hooter. When I asked him if he liked the taste, he said no. But for a buck, he said he’d drink anything. (PR Tip…Perhaps the Purple Hooter would be more marketable if instead of linking itself to the Vikings, it was linked to the Purple Heart Award.)

To counteract the distastefulness of the Purple Hooter, I ordered my favorite “dirty girl scout” drink. Now it is embarrassing to order this drink anyway, but it felt especially awkward to do so in an establishment filled with honorable veterans. As if I was defiling one American bedrock to another. (I need not have worried. This is the place that boasts a “penis table.”) Once the minty green drink was placed in front of me, several of the older ladies came over to inquire what I was drinking. I offered them a taste, and my dirty girl scout became a community cocktail. In fact, I would not be surprised if the dirty girl scout became the next official drink of the Legion ladies…but with a new less scandalous name like “Army Green Soldier.”

It was at this point that a gentleman from the “penis table” approached. However, this was not just any gentleman, but the Legion’s Commander Chuck. He personally welcomed us, and then proceeded to tell my husband that he looked like Brett Favre, former Super Bowl MVP quarterback. Commander Chuck even posed for a picture with my husband, and then proceeded to buy us both drinks. (I must admit that this was very humbling, as it was us that should have been buying him a drink.) Thank you Commander Chuck for your service to our country…and for inflating my husband’s ego.

We were also visited by a veteran named Jim Thompson, who was a former fastpitch softball player. Jim told us that he had dealt one of only six losses to fastpitch legend Eddie Feigner. I told Jim that I did not know who Eddie Feigner was, but that I would google him. When Jim further stated that he had once struck out Mickey Mantle in a fastpitch softball game, I told Jim that I was going to google HIM. Unfortunately what came up was not Jim Thompson, veteran and Minnesota fastpitch softball legend, but Jim Thompson, American businessman who revitalized the silk industry. Time to update wikipedia.

It is noteworthy to add that the Legion also sold t-shirts that proclaimed “Getting Tanked at Spencer-Ross American Legion Post #134.” Nancy urged me to purchase the women’s pink camo design (admittedly a better recommendation than the Purple Hooter). But unfortunately I forgot to buy one before leaving…I will blame my forgetfulness on the aforementioned drink. The Legion also sells vodka-infused gummi lifesavers which taste, well, like candy.

A final thank you to all the veterans of Legion Post #134 for your hospitality. It was an honor to visit with each of you, and I thank you for your service to this great nation where I was “born and bred.” God bless America!

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