Saturday, July 30, 2011

Alligator, it tastes like turtle...and my visit to Bass Pro Shop

I spent the evening of the 27th at Bass Pro Shop.  It was all about geocaching for me.  Ted had multiple purposes for his visit.  When we arrived at the Portage, Indiana store we headed directly to the Marine section to look at the GPSs.  It was time to finally replace my ancient Magellan eXplorist 200.  Yes, I've been caching with VERY old technology.  It gets the job done, usually, but it was time to upgrade.  We are not retiring my little yellow friend, just not using it so much.
Before our shopping trip I read reviews on units and narrowed my search based on the amount of money I wanted to spend and what features I had to have. Once we started looking at the display all of that went out the window because Ted decided he wanted more, more, MORE! He wanted the Oregon 450 because of the screen size and the DeLorme PN-60 because of the accuracy and the marine maps(he fancies himself a fisherman). What reigned him in was the prices. The Dakota 20 at Bass Pro Shop was cheaper than the Dakota 10 at Dick's and the Dakota 20 was my choice. So, we decided to walk away and make the GPS decision.
Off to Islamorada Fish Company for dinner. We opted for an appetizer which is rare for us. I let Ted choose and he knew what I wanted, alligator. It's something I've always wanted to try. My husband is so wonderful. He would never have picked that for himself. The alligator was served deep-fried in a spicy breading (I'm guessing it was cornmeal) on a bed of field greens surrounded by a neon-green sauce (a very, very mild wasabi wannabe). With my first bite I felt that this alligator tasted like turtle. Some of the pieces were rubbery and not pleasant to chew. Someone needs help with their prep skills. Ted said, with the completion of that course, we were officially swamp people. Yay! From that point forward my meal was just okay. I wanted something light and their menu was not really light. Their salads are full of bleu cheese (Yuck!) and I wasn't seeing anything else I was drawn too. I ended up with less than exciting (dry) grilled lemon-pepper tilapia. Ted chose the popular Islamorada Portofino, blackened tilapia topped with grilled shrimp in a rich, creamy lobster sauce. He liked it until he ate his last shrimp and it had the vein. Our waitress was attentive and nice, she brought drinks and warm bread (a bread with sugar on top) right away. But, we'll probably never eat there again and I wouldn't recommend the restaurant. It's just not great. Our meal totaled $40 and change.  Surrounding the Portage store are a few other restaurant choices including Quaker Steak and Lube, Deli in Your Belly/Egg on Your Face, and Starbucks. 
As we ate we hashed out the GPS issue.  We quickly eliminated the DeLorme PN-60.  The screen was smaller than my eXplorist and Ted wanted something bigger.  The accuracy and marine card wasn't enough to keep him  interested.  The price was also the highest of the three we were looking at also.  So we were left with two choices,  the Garmin Oregon 450 and Dakota 20.  Both devices featured triaxial compasses, micro SD card slots, paperless geocaching capabilities, touch screens, and the availability of free maps (among their many features).  The Oregon had a bigger screen and cost $100 more.  We really had to decide if the bigger screen was worth paying $100 more.  I didn't think so.  I could see Ted wavering and I pointed out to him that he was already used to the smaller screen of the eXplorist.  We decided that we would purchase the Dakota 20.
With that, Ted headed out on his next mission...metal detectors.  I went to look for new hiking shoes.  I want Keens but they didn't have what I wanted so I went to find Ted.  I was lucky to find a bench on which to rest because I knew I could be there awhile.  Unfortunately, I felt like I was in fishing jail.

So, I waited and waited and waited a bit more. In the end we left without a metal detector. He will have to continue to use the one he has for now. I don't believe he'll suffer...too much.
We also saw some great fish at Bass Pro Shop. Unfortunately, I did not get great photos.

This fish really creeped my out.  There were several of his kind in the tank.  Those lips were really something to see.  Before we went to pay for our new toy Ted had one last item on his agenda.  He needed to visit the shooting gallery.  Now, I'm thinking that a place that must make as much money as Bass Pro Shop could have a free game for "kids."  But no, Ted needed 50 cents (several times).  Too bad I didn't have much change and they didn't have a change machine, boo hoo.

We had a great visit to Bass Pro Shop.  Hmmm, what do we need from Cabella's?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Laura Days in Burr Oak, Iowa

We were in Burr Oak on June 25 for Laura Ingalls Wilder Days. The weather was beautiful (although a little sun would have been nice). It made for a great day spent outside. The morning was spent shopping and spending a lot of money in the visitors center. Burr Oak's visitor center is located in an old bank. Not only will you see information about Laura, but also a display about the robbery the bank. I'll be honest. I didn't look at the display. There were too many people and it is a small area. The robbery was in 1931 and was the first bank robbery in the county. The bank robbers locked the employees and patrons in the bank vault before they left.
Next we attended a presentation on one-room school houses by Sarah Uthoff, a fellow member of The Laura Ingalls Literary Society. Sarah has a wealth of knowledge to share on this subject and did a great job making her presentation interesting to adults and children. Listen to Sarah on her radio show: or follow her on Twitter @Trundlebedtales.
After chatting a bit with Sarah, Ted and I had a quick bite to eat at the food tent. For less then $5 we each had a hot dog and a drink and I had a brownie. It tasted great, too. While eating we listened to The Bread and Butter String Band. They played classic fiddle music. Pa Ingalls would have been proud. It was great to listen to some of the older people enjoying the music. When a new song began there was always a happy murmur throughout the crowd and someone always said, "I love this song."
As soon as lunch was over we moved on to tour the Master's Hotel. This is the first home the Ingalls family lived in upon their arrival to Burr Oak. The entire family also worked in the hotel. Our tour guide was a 15 year-old girl from the area. She had a great personality and made the tour enjoyable. Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum
The tour ended in time for us to see the end of the pie auction and then the highlight for many, the announcement of the Little Laura and Little Almanzo winners. It was great to hear the kids read their essays and see all of the girls and boys in their costumes.
Throughout the day I was struck by the "small town feel" of Burr Oak. I loved being back home in Iowa. I truly believe people are more welcoming there. Or, is it there that I am more receptive of the kindness of others?
This was actually our second visit to Burr Oak but Ted didn't remember being there before which made it entertaining for me. He kept looking at me and saying, "Are you sure we've been here before?" No amount of reassurance helped. Nothing I said triggered memories of our first trip through with our nephew Brad, maybe, seven years ago.
Hopefully, before the summer is over we will return to Iowa. I'd like to slip in a trip to West Branch and the Herbert Hoover Library and maybe the Amana Colonies.