July 29 - Eating in Small Towns: Rathbun Lake to Creston IA

Recently, we decided to taste the experience of eating lunch in a small town restaurant. Normally, we eat lunch with known fixings in the RV. Occasionally, we go to McDonalds. McDonalds is safe, no surprises. Each one is a variation of almost exactly the same thing. So, to make this cross country experience a true adventure, we took ourselves out to eat.

We drove the rig right to the middle of town where we were told we had several choices of dining establishments. Our first choice, the Bluebird Cafe, was closed because the owners were on their own family vacation. The pizza parlor was also closed for reasons unknown. What was left was a rather dreary appearing place which met our qualifications,ie. it definitely wasn't part of a national chain.

Annie was beyond hunger when we settled on this restaurant, so I sent the troops forward while I stayed behind to help Annie put herself together. By the time Annie and I had arrived, orders had been taken. As soon as I sat down, Shaine spoke out of the side of her mouth, "Mom, I can't really tell if our waitress is a man or a woman. And she's not very nice. AND... (I'm expecting the worst), they don't even have any ICE CREAM!" Al almost simultaneously reported on the lack of ice cream. Now the importance of this last fact needs to be understood in the context of a long distance biking trip. Ordinarily, our family (except Cody) has willingly and happily switched to frozen yogurt for creamy treats. However, Al has gone on a veritable ice-cream rampage. A daily malt is usually required, if not pie a-la-mode.

I nodded sympathetically, perusing the menu for my selection. "Hmm, a baked potato sounds good, or maybe soup," I thought to myself. The waitress approached the table. She was rather crusty, past middle age, and appeared resigned to the disappointments of her life. I looked around the diner. The other hard-working waitress was much younger, with several large tattoos visible on her calves.

I asked our waitress hopefully about the potatoes, "I suppose it may take too long to cook?"

"Oh yeah. You don't want that."

"OK," I replied. "What about the soup of the day?" She had started to walk away, probably to fill some patron's coffee cup. She looked over her shoulder and stated matter-of-factly, "Oh no. We don't have any soup."

She soon came back, her pad in hand poised to take my request. "I guess I'll go for the salad bar." She looked stern, "Oh, you don't want that! I haven't had time to keep it up!" I queried, "Then why don't you tell me what I want?!!" "How about a cheeseburger?" I didn't want to tell her I don't eat red meat.

"No, that's OK. What about the cottage cheese and fruit plate?"

"Yep! I can do that!"

The table was soon filled with our order: gigantic burgers (twice the size of the bun), macho-looking french fries, grilled cheese sandwiches on white bread that came with half a dill pickle (Annie polished off three, a bargain at $1.35 each). Piled on top of my cottage cheese were canned peach slices dripping in "heavy-syrup," accompanied by two neat packages of saltines. We scarfed down our meal like the biking pigs we have become.

At the end of our feast, Shaine and I exchanged hopeful glances and murmurs about pie (another mid-west tradition we have almost come to expect.) I caught our waitresses attention, "Excuse me, what kinds of pies do you have?" She gave me that look I had come to expect, almost a false chagrin of disappointment,"Pie? Oh, we don't have any pie!" I answered with a smile, "Well, at least you're consistent!" She managed a smile back.

We had come more for the experience than the food anyway. We got what we came for. When it comes to "deserving a break today," we'll go back to McDonalds.

-Cheryl Bikrutz

Ride Report: 80 miles; 15 mph tailwind; avg. speed 16 mph up and down Iowa rollers. Top speed for Annie on the Tandem: 38; top speed for Al on single: 40. Air temp 75-80 F. Sky filled with puffy white clouds. Humidity near 35%. Reminds me of "Field of Dreams"; Shoeless Joe Jackson, walking out of a corn field, to Kevin Costner, "Is this heaven?" Kevin, with that half grin of his, coupled with a half a laugh, "No, it's Iowa!"

Miles: Will, 79; Al (Tandem&single) 79; Cheryl (Tandem&single) 49; Shaine (Tandem) 16; Ann (Tandem) 10.

Total Miles: 1712

**Next Day's Journal**

-Al Bikrutz