New Friends in Unsuspected Places

One of the items on my 2013 Bucket List was to visit Iowa, and not for nothing either! My mom grew up in Dubuque, Iowa and my grandparents and uncles are still out here, so I try to make it out once a year to visit with the Fam. I flew out of Hartford on Saturday morning and flew into Chicago, which is about 3 hrs from Dubuque and rented a car to finish off the trip. (Dubuque does have their own airport, however it has about 2 terminals and it takes about 3 layovers and 10 extra hours to get there…so obviously, flying direct to Chicago and driving in is a MUCH better option!!) Along my ride I decided to stop off for lunch in Rockford, IL. My options were KFC, Denny’s, McDonalds, or Taco Bell…but since I don’t eat fast food and have a fascination with hole in the wall townie type places, I decided to make an adventure out of it. I was only about 1/2 a mile off the highway when a small brown building with nothing more than one sign saying “OPSAHL’S Home of the Big Kahuna” It caught my eye and immediately I was sold.

I pulled into the parking lot and started walking towards the building, but noticed there was no “open” or “enter” sign…in fact, the doors and the building were actually the same color, so I decided to just try one and hope for the best, while at the same time wondering if I was walking into a speakeasy or some other under the radar establishment. I walked in, and immediately felt out of place. It was about 2:30PM and the place was almost packed with middle aged hillbilly-looking folks, who I instantly pegged for “the regulars”. Everyone: the patrons, the cooks, and the bar tenders all seemed to know each other. When I walked up to the bar, the tender just stood there and after about 10 seconds of awkward silence I asked for a menu. I could see the shock in her face. I could tell, without her saying the words, that she thought I was lost and looking for directions.

I sat at the bar, ordered an Old Milwaukee and a Bacon Cheese Burger and some Onion Rings…hey I am on vacation after all! I made small talk with many of the regulars, as they we all vey interested as to how a young girl from Connecticut landed at a dive like Opsah’s in the middle of no where. Though everyone was MUCH different from the people i normally associate with, everyone was super nice and by the end of my lunch i had seen dozens of pictures of peoples wives, children and pets. I finished off my burger, beer, and rings and was on my merry way. This is one reason why traveling alone is fun…even by myself I’m never really alone because its all too easy to make new friends!!


Stay tuned for more Iowan adventures!


About erinHasThoughts

I just started eHT in January of 2011, and I'm shocked and humbled that people read it! For some reason it seems like I am always in the most ridiculous situations and witness things only seen in movies, so I like to share my experiences with all of you. Thanks for reading! xo

Posted on January 29, 2013, in Bucket List, Iowa and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Crystal and the Nicoles

    I love that on their sign, they actually call their ribs “awesome.”


  2. I am a little bummed you didn’t try the Big Kahuna. Next time you should drive all the way but, call me when you are in Indiana. I can show you some hillbilly places to hang out.


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