When you’re, the only way to put it, STUCK!!!!

One of the most inspirational things I’ve heard someone say to me within the last year came from a drag queen named Violet Femme. Myself and three gal pals from work went up to Minneapolis last November for a two day shopping event with an overnight in downtown so we could go to a show at Gay 90s. That Friday night was just a couple of days after the 2016 election so the mood was a little grim and it seemed everyone around us was just trying to forget what had happened and have fun. Violet Femme, the MC for the evening, started to speak after the opening dance number and stated, ” I just want all ya to know, this is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done! I really mean that, I was once in a rock band called Faggidy Ann! Anyways I just want all of you to know if there’s something that you want to do, any dreams you have, just go on and do it!!” I can’t say enough how much I loved those words and how much they meant to me that night.

I have been lucky to work with two very amazing women who have inspired me so much and will continue on to do so. One of them is the picture of what happens when you work hard: your dreams really can come true. The other is just starting to live her dreams by spending a summer in Europe before attending law school in the fall.

I met up with someone in Vegas who was a part of my Girls Love Travel community on facebook, a local who has done work with her own marketing firm but now is pursuing a makeup and skin company she is passionate about. Living in a huge area like Vegas, it’s easier to be an entrepreneur and make a living that way than it is here in North Iowa where I live. Not impossible to do but a little more difficult. I hope that with more younger people populating the area, much needed change and growth can happen in our region. When I see new businesses and attractions pop up, it excites me and gives me hope for the future.

It’s a love and hate relationship with the area I reside: I love living here in the summer but not so much in the winter. I HATE THE COLD AND SNOW!! It’s an affordable area with two bigger cities a couple hours away with airports that can get me to anywhere in the world. I feel fortunate to have a job, it’s really hard to find employment especially in the town I live in. Its nice to have benefits and access to education, a discounted Y membership and vacation time. As a person who is passionate about anything travel, I love that vacation time.

I still have to work on my dream, I don’t know exactly what it is yet. Well maybe I do, I just don’t believe in saying I’m going to do this or dream of this, I just want to work hard and ‘just go do it!’ I have many more places to travel to, food to eat, even more writing to do. Maybe someday I can have the Carrie Bradshaw life, but more realistically. No one in real life who is a weekly column writer lives in that big of an apartment in NYC and has 40 pairs of Manolo Blahniks that run $500.00 +. Maybe I can travel to places and make a living writing about it and sharing it with everyone. If not make a living, I can just save like I usually do. The extravagant plan I had for this fall will not pan out as plan but maybe I can still plan a smaller trip anyway!

I feel like I’m stuck between what I’m doing and what I could be doing. I don’t want to (can’t either) quit my job but when it’s just not going well, how do you know when it is time to move on? Until then hopefully I can hop on a plane one more time across an ocean before the year is over.

Iowa: You won’t understand until you experience it!

This post was inspired by a question asked during my last trip outside of Iowa. My friend/trip companion Rachael and I cruised up to the bar at the Flamingo Go Pool and engaged in friendly small talk to our bartender while he was making our margaritas. After being asked where we were from and responding with, “Iowa” we got: “What is all there?”. I’ve gotten a variety of responses like this as I have traveled near and far but this one stuck with me. I tried my best to explain what Rachael and I do for a living and the town we reside in and how much there is to do in the summer. I think it worked? There’s a good chance this person was born and raised in the west coast and eventually made their way to Vegas and has never been anywhere else.
This one interaction inspired me to bring it to my writing and blog. I needed to emphasize The Vanessa Monologues highlights my life in Iowa when I’m not traveling the country and world. it goes back to my dream to be the female Anthony Bourdain; a world traveler but staying grounded in Iowa giving a glimpse of real North Iowa life to those who have never been here. It really is true to the rest of the world: you won’t understand Iowa unless you experience it and I hope to bring the experience to all of those I meet across throughout the states and globe.

It is summertime in Iowa and with the warmer weather brings more adventures and things to do. For this post I wanted to highlight this activity that my husband and I spend majority of the summer doing. I have been riding on the back of Tyler’s Harley ever since we started dating and it’s an activity we’ve always enjoyed doing together. Actually something we do with all of Tyler’s family. Sometimes we just get on the bike and go somewhere on a limb, majority of the summer though our destination(s) are determined by this book:

marble book marblestops

(Stops/locations are on the first page. The map located at the top of this post shows where all the stops are!)

Every summer we participate in the Find Your Marbles Run: Purchase your book for $10. from Ernie Williams or Okoboji Harley Davidson (proceeds from book sales go to charity, MDA) and stop at as many of these stops listed in the book as you can. When you go to each stop, you draw from a bag of six different colored marbles. The color of the marble you draw is recorded in the book along with a stamp of the establishment or a signature of an employee who witnessed you draw that color. No one knows how much each color of marble is worth until the end when all books are turned in and they draw each marble randomly to see which is worth more points. When the colors are given point values, each book is tallied by how many of each color they drew. Top 10 Winners receive cash and gift certificates to Harley and other participating establishment on the run. Even if you don’t place in the top 10, if you show up for the awards dinner in late September you could still walk away with a gift certificate and a free meal too! So if you don’t win anything, you still got a meal out of it. Above all this run is set up to give the money it raises for charity. It’s fun and for a good cause.

We’ve found so many cool little hole in the wall places to eat and drink at that we didn’t know about until we did the ride. Several of these stops as a matter of fact will have their own posts from me in the future. Sometimes just the ride from each place to another is the best part. This past weekend, Tyler and I rode to Clear Lake, IA to pick up some marbles then decided to get another one farther away: in Marble Rock, IA. It only took us about 45 minutes to ride from PM Park in Clear Lake to Whitetails in Marble Rock. We both had the steak sandwich! Other than this place, I can’t think of any other reason why we would have traveled to Marble Rock, IA. A nice little stop with a mini golf course next door!
The Dodens at Whitetails in Marble Rock
tyler vanessa

This post was the background information needed and also a preview of what is to come throughout the summer. Iowa seen on the back of Harley Davidson Night Train is fun and enjoyable even though my ass goes numb if I have to ride a long stretch. There is much good eats and beverages to share each stop along the way so if you want a random adventure to a town in Iowa you haven’t been, stay tuned!

One coat of sunscreen is never enough. Always reapply!!
sunburn

VIP- If you haven’t figured out where I go on Wednesday nights…

A dive bar, the local watering hole, the only bar I go to in town, the Best Shittiest Bar in Forest City (stole from the show Shameless), whatever you call it, without a doubt there’s no place like the VIP Lounge. Nestled on Highway 69, this establishment has been serving the wide variety of locals and surrounding population that make up the town of Forest City, IA. Long time regulars, the hard working class working at the motorhome plant a mile down the road, office professionals, local business owners, young, middle aged, old, almost literally everyone.
When you first enter, there’s a feeling not much has changed about this bar since Linda Gannon opened 37 years ago and honestly I think that’s one of the major reasons why all who frequent here love it. For me personally I love how the bar is sunken down so you are at eye level with the bartender which makes it more unique. This has given it more of a personal touch and more of a “at home” and relaxed feel.
Speaking of home, Linda makes the best home cooked meals around! The food is the bomb!!!!! Every night there is a spread out on the table which is at free will donation. I recommend $5.00 minimum or more depending on how much you take. Don’t be stingy, Linda makes delicious meals and works hard on them so donate well!! On Wednesday nights there has been a variety of: pork roast, ham, roast beef, barbeque ribs, meat loaf, home made mac n cheese, fried chicken, etc with potatoes fixed in all variety of ways. Linda’s mashed potatoes and gravy are the best I’ve ever had. Also paired well with veggies and garlic bread. (BTW Thursday is Mexican night, come in on those nights too for another great meal!)
Pictures of spread with my plate of meat loaf:
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Did I mention Linda bakes? Every day as a matter of fact! There is always some type of cookies, bars or pies on the bar to accompany dinner. Her specialty is picture below: home made toffee! Before I tired Linda’s I didn’t think I liked it but hers is like crack in dessert form!
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Obviously when you come to the VIP, you get a VIP drink: A good pour at a good price! It’s hard to stay for just one with good food, atmosphere and a bartender like Linda! (We can’t forget Madonna or Carolyn who also serve you!)
There’s also this nice little space: What would the VIP Lounge be without the feel of a VIP space?
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Every bar needs something that no other bar has; here at the VIP that something is Seizure shots! Even if you don’t like Bloody Marys, like myself, you will love these shots of awesome-ness!!!
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What’s any experience at the VIP complete without the main lady herself, Linda?!? I’ve heard her say many times, “This place is like home to many people”. So true. 90% of all who enter are more like friends and family members to Linda rather than customers. Forest City is such a close knit community where this is possible but it’s also not too small where everyone is in everyone’s business at all times. It sounds simple and stupid but this town is just the right size and the VIP fits right into that niche. Then again what do I know, right? All I know is since I started coming here, there is no other place that can compare. I don’t want to get all mushy and sentimental, we have fun down here and Linda knows how to make everyone have a good time.
I will conclude with a sign she has above the bar: “Everyone brings joy to this bar! Some when they enter and others when they leave!” Well someone has left and I can NOW play some tunes on the jukebox! An 80’s playlist it is….
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Thank you Linda for letting me take a picture of you!