Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tripping to Ottumwa

When my second wife and I first met, I had weekends off most times. So we'd go for long drives to nowhere in particular. One 4th of July, she accompanied me on a quest to my dad's old home town, which I hadn't seen since I was 12 years old. When we got there, it looked like Elgin during the first recession of the 1970's....bleak, empty, old brownstone stuff (I heard once that Ottumwa had never truly recovered from the Depression of the 1930's) and here it was the 4th of July and not a damned flag, sign, streamer or firecracker to be found. Very sad; I could see why my dad left at 16 yrs old.

Anyhow, we found a Comfort Inn, or something, just outside of town and started thinking about dinner. (no restaurant at the hotel) We saw this place, called the something Corral Buffet (we have a Golden Corral Buffet here in TN) and felt that a buffet would be great for two hungry folks. Being in Iowa, farm country, I decided I wanted a cut of some of the local beef. No problem for these folks. Turns out they had two choices on their menu that included steak: 8 oz. steak with baked potato, bread and buffet, or 12 oz. steak with baked potato, bread and buffet. $9.95 for the former, $12.95 for the latter. Ever the carnivore, I chose the latter. Geez, the steak was huge, as were the potato and chunk o' bread, but the buffet!! Sheesh, it was probably four 8' tables long, with roast chicken, fried chicken, baked chicken, brazed chicken, smoked ham, baked ham, meatballs of a couple varieties, sliced this and that meats, fish of a few varieties, spaghetti etc. Then as you got to the end, to come back up the other side, they had baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, beans, corn....well, I think you may have the picture now. I won't go into the long list of desserts on the other long, long table. I don't think I got anything from the tables, though. I sat down and ate my steak, about 1/2 of the football sized baked potato and some of the 1/4 loaf sized chuck of bread and sipped a little of my drink. I think I was pretty full, by the time we waddled out.

The funniest part of the whole excursion, though, was that as we sat there chowing down, the people that walked by us were frighteningly huge. Charter-bus sized behinds on many of them. Don't get me wrong, they weren't just obese people like you sometimes see around Chicagoland; these were huge farm people. The gals were scary, in a biker-chick sorta way. I think the term "cow-puncher" applied. Before butchering, they probably just had one of these farm gals punch the damn cow in the head to kill it. These huge, wide-assed women, all decked out in Osh-Kosh by gosh, could probably pick you and me up at the same time and fling us across the barnyard without any effort, I'm sure. So, my sweetie and I were most definitely the skinny kids in town. Felt good.