Sunday, October 16, 2011

American Gods and Roadside Attractions Tour: Familiar Territory

As Acr0nym and I laid drifting off to sleep that night in Milwaukee at the Embassy Motel where the sink faucet turned on every time one of us flushed the toilet, we talked over what we'd seen so far and what we were in for the next couple of days.

Perhaps it was because the Embassy was such a dive, we mulled over just how much we'd enjoyed our stay at the Crest Motel in Williamsburg, IA the night before. I suggested, if our route was in its path and the timing was right, that we return to the Crest Motel the next night.

So, it was with the intention of returning to a familiar place with relatively nice accommodation that we would leave House on the Rock and Wisconsin all together after stopping to fill up our 34-oz cold drink cups at a roadside convenience store and saloon. We'd been in the state for just over 24 hours.


Hans and the (not-so-crazy) cow
We'd pick up US 151 out of Dodgeville just southeast of Spring Green and would follow it through some spectacular Wisconsin hill country, the sun beginning its descent toward nightfall in earnest. The highway would take us, once again, to the Mississippi River - this time, its berth not nearly so wide and I, distracted by an opportunity to take photos of the motorboats racing along its course, hardly noticed we were traveling over another dreaded bridge and back into Iowa - this time, Dubuque.

Mississippi River Boat Races

We didn't stop in Dubuque but, just based on what I saw of the town, I think it's somewhere I'd like to poke my nose around in for a few hours sometime...particularly around the river. There was a quaintness about it - likely designed with tourists like me in mind - that fit in with my mood just so.

US 151 would carry us south at a diagonal as the sun set over Iowa farm country...

Clearly I was becoming more comfortable taking pictures in a moving Intrepid
And we'd drive on into the dark to pick up I-380 at Cedar Rapids, picking up I-80 just west of Iowa City and on just a bit further to our night's destination...the Crest Motel, Williamsburg, IA.

It was just about 8 p.m. when we'd pull up at the office this time. The motel manager, I believe his name was George Fred, remembered us and was tickled when we told him we'd enjoyed our stay so much we'd made a point to come back. I think he was even more tickled that we weren't waking him up in the dead of night to get a room this time.

We were particularly pleased to discover "our" room was available again so it was truly familiar territory that greeted us when we unloaded and then set out to discover what culinary delights rural Iowa might have in store.


We'd find ourselves pulling up in front of what was clearly the town's tavern - the Sundown Bar & Grill.  Not much else seemed open that time of night and we were satisfied that we'd be able to get some somewhat palatable pub food and, more importantly, a cocktail.

We were only slightly startled by the sign telling us to leave our firearms outside the door. That did not deter us. It seemed rather obvious that we were safe enough if all the firearms were outside and we were inside.

Besides, we were starving. The White Castle we'd had much earlier in the day had left us long before (thanks be to Jeebus) and we were both hungry enough not to care what we ate. I don't even remember what I ate. I remember Acr0nym tried to order their broasted chicken specialty only to be told the broaster was in dis-repair and there was no chicken to be had.

But hey! My gin and tonic was good. My food, whatever it was (uh...chicken fingers maybe?) was tolerable enough not to be memorable so that was something. We were clearly outsiders - not from town - by the looks we were given but, by then, we were just plumb tuckered out and not interested in the interest shown us.

The meal was, for all intents and purposes, barely worth mentioning...except for the fact that it was exactly what Small Town, America should and did offer us for a "late" night meal and drink. Isn't that what we (OK, I) was looking for?

The rest of the evening would be spent in our pajamas, drinking wine out of the wine kidney and poured into plastic cups, surfing the web, Acr0 editing photos, me blogging for the first time since the trip began, and just generally luxuriating over a comparatively early, lovely evening...

In preparation for what would, perhaps, become my most favorite day of all.

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