Peace Frog went to Wisconsin at the start of summer (Memorial Day Weekend) and then to Iowa at the end of summer 2017 (Labor Day Weekend)
I arrived home late Monday night, saw that I had gained 4 lbs over the weekend and got to sleep around 1130PM. I had returned from Dale and Anne’s house and home to 12 cats. 5 indoors and 7 outside. I came home to just 2 and was swarmed all night and all the next day when I worked from my home office. My adventure began 4 days earlier at 4AM the previous Friday.
Up and in the shower at 4A I had 65 minutes to be out the door and hail a taxi which was easy and I had a nice ride and chat with a friendly Ethiopian driver. Then I set off for several hours of hell which began when I walked into the Chicago Greyhound station. It was loud, crowded and filthy. Luckily for me not many people were headed to Iowa at 6AM. I was able to take all of my bags on board to store overhead and took a place at the back of the bus where nobody was seated. That didn’t last long. A couple sat across the aisle from me and another passenger sat at the very back and spread himself out with his feet propped up on the arm rest in front of him thus blocking the aisle to anyone that would need to use the restroom. It didn’t get too bad until my first stop in Naperville when I got out and bought 2 waters and a black coffee.
When we got on our way the woman half of the pair across from my broke out a bag of fried chicken. It was 7A and that’s not too bad, I’ve done it, at home, but not on a bus where it funked up the entire rear of the coach. If I didn’t have so many bags I would have moved. When she finished her deep fried breakfast her male counterpart took the bag and whatever was inside of it discarded along with it and in one swift swoop tossed it into the aisle of the bus. Nice. I was disgusted at their lack of respect.Then she stretched out and slept across him till we got to Moline IL. About 15 minutes later we were dropped off across the river in Davenport where I had approx. a 15 minute wait to take another bus into Iowa City. The person who sat in front of me smelled like he had bathed in buttered popcorn. These are the kind of things that you experience on a bus. Also a good 50 % of the passengers had their belongings in trash bags as opposed to luggage of any sort. I can’t imagine what that would be like. They were obviously going one way.
At 1130 I arrived in Iowa City, was met by Dale and we had a great lunch at The Mill which has now become a rite of passage. We ordered the same thing again. I had an order of fried pickles and grilled shrimp Po Boy and he a calzone. The Po Boy here is unique being it’s grilled and not batter fried. It makes all of the difference in the world. It was perfect, hit the spot and after the waitress gave me the poster for their Karaoke event that had a creepy clown on it we were on our way to “Dirty” Johns Grocery, a place rich with history which we were given a tour of by the current owner.
TRUE FACT: Iowa City’s John’s Grocery, also known as “Dirty John’s,” is the last totally independent grocery in Iowa City. For that reason alone it is a very unique place and well worth a visit or worth being added to anybody’s “must visit” list. But it is the sale of alcohol in all of its various forms for which John’s Grocery is best known. John’s Grocery is known nationwide as one of the best places to buy beer. Why is it called “Dirty John’s?” Their own website says that it is because they were one of the lone suppliers of Playboy back in the 1950s. John’s earned its infamous nickname when a group of boys stole an entire stack of freshly delivered Playboys and passed them out to their classmates. The principal, not knowing the entire story of why his school was inundated with these magazines, dubbed the store “Dirty John’s.”
Being a family business, John’s seven children grew up in the store. Starting the day they could see over the front counter, the children worked alongside the rest of the Alberhasky family.
Throughout the years of changes, the first, second, and now third generation of Alberhaskys have given their heart to the little corner grocery to ensure its place in Iowa City’s rich history.
I bought a bottle of Patron Cafe, a bottle of Deep Eddy’s and some cheese curds which would come in handy on my ride home 4 days later.
From there we hit up a couple thrift stores where I bought some books. On the way back to Dale’s house in Stone City we stopped at a grocery store called Lucky’s where we got food to grill over the weekend.
When we finally got to Dale’s, I took my bags down to the guest room which I refer to as “the vault” because it has no windows and set up my laptop in his dining room. Ahhhh, time for a drink.
Thrift Store Clowns
La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant 1304 E 3rd St, Anamosa, IA 52205
Anne, Dale and I sat around for a bit and then since I had mentioned I was craving a good margarita so they took me to dinner at La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant 1304 E. 3rd St. Anamosa, IA 52205. It was a nice small and charming place that had an outdoor patio but we sat inside. The 2 hrs. went by in a breeze as the conversation was good and the food was great. I told my Traci Lords story circa 1983. I had seafood enchiladas after sharing a big plate of shrimp nachos. Dinner and lunch was on me since they were kind enough to host me again. When we got back I was exhausted and with the TV still set to Ch. 7 from my stay a little over a year prior fell asleep hoping to wake up to the pleasant voice of Lauren Moss.
I came upstairs as I was up earlier than Miss Moss took to the airwaves and had some coffee with Patron Cafe and sat in front of the TV. Anne had already gone off to work at 5AM. I walked around the big back yard and took pictures and hung out with the cats. We had a big day planned and it would end with us at a Drive in Dale found for us to go to. After a very big breakfast and a lot of coffee, we watched lauren host the morning news and then we took to the roads heading toward Cedar Rapids where I only wanted two things: BW3 for wings and Half Price Books. First I’d have to tag along with Dale and hit every Goodwill and Salvation Army in and around Cedar Rapids and Marion Iowa.
We did make a quick stop at a very nice bar owned by one of his friends called Uptown Snug (760 11th St, Marion, IA 52302( in a historic Marion building that originally served Civil War veterans reopened as an Irish pub and gathering place. I was impressed. The front of the space is an art gallery and quiet, classier cocktail area. There’s an electric fireplace surrounded by couches centers the backroom. Guinness signs and paraphernalia are tucked around the room, in keeping with the Irish pub theme as warm and inviting and cozy as an Old World pub should be. The beer garden behind the bar sits next to ongoing work on Marion’s ImagineArt in the Alleys project. I ordered a double Templeton’s Rye on the rocks and enjoyed the artwork and atmosphere of the place which I told Dale I’d like to return on a weekday for their after work crowd to mix. After a couple of stores we finally got to Half Price Books where I would hit the money load. I first bought a book for my brother and then my personal hunt began. (see the bounty listed at the end of this confession) We were there for a while and I filled up a cart without even making it 1/4 way back through the store. They also had a 20% off sale that day so I ended up with what would cost me anywhere else over $300 in books for only $85 and it included a first edition of Leonard Cohen’s “Book of Longing”. It is by far the best book of poetry I’ve ever owned. And funny in parts too.
As always a day with Dale involves a day of shopping. I bought so much I had to bring an extra duffel bag on the way home.
The Girl Next Door
Lonesome Dove 4 DVD Collection
5-DVD Collection gift for my brother
A 600 page MARVEL COMICS Essential Graphic gift for my brother
Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir
(gorgeously illustrated, full-color graphic memoir, Stan Lee—comic book legend)
Leonard Cohen Book of Longing
(Leonard Cohen wrote the poems in Book of Longing—his first book of poetry in more than twenty years after 1984′s Book of Mercy—during his five-year stay at a Zen monastery on Southern California’s Mount Baldy, and in Los Angeles, Montreal, and Mumbai)
Taschen The Best of American Girlie Magazines
(A facsimile reprint of some of the most famous American girlie magazines, this volume contains a compendium of the covers and contents of 250 magazines)
Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone by Marky Ramone
Clint: A Retrospective Hardcover
(A richly illustrated retrospective celebrating the life and films of Clint Eastwood—written by renowned film critic, and acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Richard Schickel)
Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir Hardcover by Frank McCourt
‘Tis: A Memoir Paperback by Frank McCourt
Teacher Man: A Memoir Paperback by Frank McCourt
Train Wreck: The Life and Death of Anna Nicole Smith
Blank Dia De Los Muertos: Day of the Dead and Sugar Skull Book (blank journal)
Gonzo Tapes: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (5 CD audio book)
Enigma – McMxc a.D.
On the shopping excursion I also found an antique radio which would be too big to take home on this trip and picked up 3 items for Ashley. Afterwards Dale dropped me off at Buffalo Wild Wings (1100 Blairs Ferry Rd NE #101, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402) while he continued to shop and I ordered 24 wings and 1 big beer. It wasn’t fun doing wings alone that’s for sure and I never want to do that again as most of the enjoyment comes from conversation. It’s a ritual to me.
When we finally got back to the homestead we packed up for the drive in. The movies for the evening I was not the least bit interested in and it was a double feature. The ride there reminded me a lot of the ride to the drive in I went to a year before in central Illinois. We went the highway and country roads to our destination The 61 DRIVE IN THEATRE 1228 Hwy 61Delmar, IA 52037. The movies showing were RANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT [PG13] beginning at 8:00 pm followed by THE DARK TOWER [PG13].
True Fact: The 61 DRIVE IN THEATRE had recently converted their old 35mm film projection system to the newest state-of-the-art digital projection including digital FM stereo sound and have bragging rights as they were the first drive in theatre in the midwest to have made this conversion.
We parked 2 rows back and sat our chairs out in front of the car which was parked backwards with the hatch open so we’d have good stereo sound. I was more interested in the experience than the movie and I had every intent to indulge. I had a mix of vodka in a Sports Plastic Bottle With Straw. At the concession stand I ordered a hot dog, a burger with jalapenos and a big pickle. Not as good nor is any pickle as good as those Original Bob’s Pickle Pops that I discovered in 2016. (actually just looked them up and I can order online!) I think by now if not a very long time ago that I’ve established that I’m a sucker for nostalgia.
The movie began and I was amazed at the clarity of the digital projection. It was crystal clear. Dale loves the Transformers movies whereas I loathe that kind of cinema. When I finished my food I went back in for nachos and was being much too chatty for Dale as he was taking in the film and looked at me and ordered, “Shut the fuck up and go get some Dippin Dots.” Which I happily obliged and for the first time I ever had Dippin Dots was unimpressed. There is no such thing as the “ice cream of the future.” At least never again in mine.
True Fact: Dippin’ Dots were invented by Southern Illinois University Carbondale graduate Curt Jones in 1988.
When Transformers ended we drove back to his place where I had a night cap and crashed down in the vault with Ch 7 on the TV.
It should be noted that when I had arrived at Dale’s Friday afternoon my allergies were raging and luckily I carry allergy meds with me n my backpack these days. KWWL even reported that high pollen and ragweed levels across eastern Iowa were high and that many people were suffering. Around mid-August into September is when they usually see the spike of the allergies. Ragweed is one of the most prominent out there across eastern Iowa and the mid-west. The particular OTC I brought along caused me some serious drowsiness and Sunday it would be the worst. I had been experiencing fatigue and till I realized it was from the meds and not my travels I had been drinking energy drinks and taking Mini Thins which are still legal to buy and sell in Iowa.
Sunday morning after watching the news and another hearty breakfast we made our way to Wapsipinicon State Park and checked out The Ice Cave and Horse Thief Cave and started to make our way to Painted Rock State Park. First we drove through Riverside Cemetery Anamosa which is where Grant Wood is buried which I paid a visit to a year before. It is also the final resting place for the founding fathers Col. William Shaw and Edmund Booth.Then we stopped at Gary’s grocery on the way and picked up some snacks. By the time we got to the park which has some awesome hiking trails that I did in 2016 I was haggard. The Red Bull and Mini Thins did nothing to counter the allergy meds. I was dozing off so we went all the way back to Dales and I took a long nap.
When I woke up and came upstairs Dale had begun preparing for grilling out that evening and invited his mother Ruth, her boyfriend Dean and his sister Kelly for dinner. Dale’s grill which was a gift from Anne inspires GRILL ENVY with its solid fame and 5 burners. In all it was a great time and we had lively conversations but I was exhausted and had to excuse myself to go to bed by 9PM. This would prove to be a hefty mistake.
I woke up, wide awake around 2AM. There was some news on and then to my dismay, wrestling. I got something to drink and my sinuses were raging. I tossed and turned wishing I had a fan in the room. I went up and checked my email, there were some newer warm correspondence to and from Kimberly aka Jessica Rabbit who moved away about 2 yrs ago to Ohio. That was it. I went back and tried to sleep. Finally when I heard Dale up I came upstairs and then began to pack. I had purchased so many books we had to find an additional duffel or suitcase to take home with me. It was still very tight. Anne went for a long walk at the State Park and Dale and I watched Bad Santa 2 and drank coffee and had a light breakfast. My bus wasn’t due to leave Iowa City till 540P so we had a lot of time to kill.
Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp Iowa City
On our agenda as the Endless Shrimp Fest which began that day at Red Lobster in Iowa City. We got there around 230P. I couldn’t even eat the 4 portions I had ordered I was also dragging as I had been awake at that point for 12.5 hrs. I was dreading the ride back home. After we ate shrimp we hung out at the Java House in the heart of the University of Iowa campus. This was by far the largest and nicest looking coffee house I’d ever been to and it was unique in many ways. I enjoyed a cup and the temps had dropped by at least 10 degrees since the day before. We were 3 blocks from the bus depot and as we parked the bus pulled up. It was about half full and I got a seat near the back. We only had 2 stops going back and it was running on time. This was when I wished I had taken some sort of booze with me and is a first but I’ve been cutting back significantly. At our first stop we had 15 min and I only bought a beverage. I wish I would have got some food or some booze but I was exhausted. A lady behind me talked non stop on her cell phone almost the entire ride. (she need to go buy some Dippin Dots) Another woman in the seat behind me, go figure, had bought some fried chicken and I not only had to smell it again, but had to hear her slurping and sucking on the bones. Did I ever wish I had a drink more than ever. I got hungry so I ate some cheese curds and that hit the spot.
We got back into Chicago by 1015PM and I had no problem getting a taxi. It was nice going back as the streets were empty and there was barely any traffic. We got to my door and I walked into my building. There were 2 large boxes and two smaller packages waiting for me. My arms were full so it could wait. The cats were in attack mode after 4 long days without human companionship. I didn’t bother unpacking and checked my email, set my alarm and went to bed. I’d work from home the next day and slowly unpacked.
It was a great trip spent with two of the very best people I know. I fall in love with Iowa more and more as I continue to fall out of love with Chicago. But it’s home now for 19 years, my apartment has been my home for 10. I’ve been in my current career for 12 and with the same firm for the past 6. As my friend Adam Becvare advises, “You need an exit plan bro.”
and waiting for me at home, 3 boxes from Amazon
T-fal C112SC Signature Nonstick Expert Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Dishwasher Safe Cookware Set, 12-Piece, Red and Pyrex 3-Piece Glass Measuring Cup Set
Coonskin DVD a 1975 American animated film written and directed by Ralph Bakshi