I not-so-recently broke it off with a long time bow, and while usually my grandpa gives me grief about not being married in my old age of 26. Assuring me that all the good men are taken by my age and I’m going to grow old as an old maid. For whatever reason he had a change of heart while I was visiting last weekend. On my last night in Iowa, my grandpa calls me into the back room where he’s listening to his right-wing radio program and playing solitaire. He tells me he has news for me. As we sat there talking, he told me he had a vision of me working my second job, waitressing, and this guy comes in “he’ll be 33 or 34 with dark hair, with some prematurely gray poking through. He has a thin mustache. You are going to see each other and…boom (makes a shooting arrow jester) that little guy will poke you both with the arrow at the same time”.
As I said goodbye the next morning he gave me a hug and kiss and ended his goodbye by saying “he might not have a mustache, I haven’t decided yet.” Hmm…I’m not sure how accurately that story will pan out, but I will tell you one thing, it makes me more excited to go to work tonight! Who knows, maybe the old man is right, and my next trip to Iowa won’t be alone 😉
One thing that is very important to me is family. A couple things to know about my family. 1. My family isn’t very big compared to most; 2. That doesn’t make it any easier to see and keep in touch with everyone. My immediate family lives in CT, but my extended family ranges from Ohio, to New York, to Texas and Iowa. I try to see, talk to, and write letters to my family as much as possible because if you dont make the effort to get to know your family while they are around, when will you ever get to know them?! (Slid logic, right?) I was able to make it out to Iowa this past weekend for a long weekend to visit with my grandpa, grandma and uncles, and it was awesome because I also got to celebrate my grandpa’s 83rd Birthday!! My grandpa kept saying he was glad I was there to celebrate his last birthday, but he’s been saying that for about 10 years now. So at this point he’s really not foolin anyone.
When I arrived on his birthday-eve we celebrated with his first cake. Yes, there were multiple cakes. I ate more care this weekend than I have in the past couple years…huh? What diet!? Then,the next morning, on his birthday we got up and left for breakfast at Sunshine. Sunshine is his Cheers…but better. He walks in and everyone knows his name. No, not just his name, also his order, down to the the nitty details of his strict diet and the fact that he drinks cola, not coffee, even at 9AM. We met up with a couple of his friends for breakfast, but even had we gone alone, we wouldn’t be lonely. Just about every table in the joint got up and came over to say hello at some point during the meal. Seriously, the man is a small-town celeb!
After breakfast we came home, watched some old-timey black and white movies and later in the afternoon my uncles braved the ice storm happening outside to come over for a birthday pizza party and, you guessed it, more cake. Having everyone together is a riot. My grandpa brings up for the millionth time “ok just tell me, who stole my car”. He’s talking about something that happened about 45 years ago, FYI,…then cracks himself up while quoting Hillary “after all this time, what difference does it make??” It really is quite entertaining!
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!