Sunday, July 14, 2013

A day in Ottumwa
Spring Vacation 2013, Part 1

Friday, May 3

On the road to Ottumwa, riding shotgun, trying to beat the early May snowstorm bearing down on central Iowa. I and my hostess pull into town late, but not late enough for me to knock down a few glasses of Bulleit bourbon neat. After the family goes to bed I raid the kitchen for a midnight nosh.

When staying overnight with my friends in Ottumwa I usually take on the task of eating the dated but potentiality edible stuff in the fridge. Usually they're good for some unopened Hebrew National franks, but this night I had to settle for greasy, wiener-style Johnsonville kielbasas a month past its purchase date from a not-well-sealed bag. And for whatever reason my hostess threw a palm-sized gob of homemade baked beans in the sink. I scooped them up and ate them. That's how I roll with a fair share of whiskey on an empty stomach. That said, an unopened brick of cheese in the fridge with a big patch of mold is where I drew the line.

The next morning I was lucky enough to move my sleeper accommodation on Amtrak a full day ahead, leaving that night from Ottumwa instead of the next day. Giddy, it was time to go for the gusto!

First stop was at the Little Bake Shop for pastries and coffee. A blueberry scone was delicious, lightly sweet with a tender, defined crumb. A raspberry-cream cheese filled pastry was quite tasty but pretty moist to be called a croissant. Still worthy though. A cup of coconut-flavored coffee was a nice surprise.

For lunch I tried the spinach enchiladas with a chile relleno at the Tequila Grill. The spinach was clearly from a can, but acceptable in this application; the relleno was appropriately cheesy, and tasty enough despite the presence of scorched seeds. I'll stick with Taqueria Juquilita just east of downtown [see blog post] for a Mexican fix when in town. After lunch I walk back uphill to the house for a few hours rest before departure.

The afternoon quickly turned sour when I found myself lacking a ride down the hill in the pouring rain. Sensing a lull I haul my luggage the half-mile downhill to the train station. Despite packing an umbrella I still got soaked.

Once the station opened I was able to dry out and relax somewhat. Realizing a fantasy of mine: I ordered up pizza delivery to take with me on the train. This being Ottumwa I had to settle for a chain pizza. Once aboard and nestled in my sleeper, I sat down for dinner with a view.

Waking up in Omaha, I step out on to the platform to get some air and stretch my legs. One thing I forgot to pack on this trip was a pack of Tums. I blame the garlic dipping sauce.

The Little Bake Shop on Urbanspoon Tequila Grill on Urbanspoon

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