During one of our walks this week, we discovered that wineberries were growing along the trail. Wineberries are considered to be an edible invasive. I know invasives are considered a bad thing by many, but this one is delicious!
I probably should have named this post, ‘Rocky Mountain Oysters, High School Sweethearts, Naked Men, and what happens in South Dakota, stays in South Dakota!’
I stayed in the town of Torrington, WY for two weeks for work, and while I was there, I was able to sample a lot of the local offerings. On the day I rolled into town, I was told to head over to the ‘Bronco Grill House.’ I asked the waitress for a recommendation, and without hesitation she replied, “Try the peanut butter burger. It’s so good!” I momentarily hesitated, but I went with her suggestion, and I’m glad I that did—it was really good in a weird and wonderful way! I’m happy that she didn’t suggest a side of Rocky Mountain oysters, because I would have had to politely decline!
Later in the week, I was told to go to the ‘truck stop’ for dinner. I must admit, that originally, I wasn’t overly enticed to head over. However, after several people encouraged me to try it, I decided to give it a chance. The real name of the place is the ‘307 Bar and Grill.’ Except for the bar part, it reminded me of some of the diners that I’ve been to in New Jersey in the past. I wondered why it was called ‘307,’ and someone eventually told me that 307 is the local area code!
I ended up going twice, and the second time I had macaroni & cheese. I cringe thinking about the calorie count, but I have to admit that it was delicious!
Admittedly, if it weren’t for one of my participants bringing me a spiced apple cider and a gingerbread cookie from AJ’s, I probably wouldn’t have ever thought to try this place out. AJ’s sits on the far end of town in an unassuming, little turquoise blue building. They offer ice cream, all sorts of mix-and-match flavored sodas, coffee, tea…and delicious cookies! You can park and go inside, or you can pull up to a little window on the back of the building, and order from your car.
I tried their mixed soda called, ‘High School Sweetheart’ and I fell in love with it immediately. It’s made with Dr. Pepper, raspberry, and coconut cream. Oh, be still my beating heart–your first “crush” is always the hardest to forget about, and I thought about this drink concoction all week! Their spiced apple cider was delicious as well, and their gingerbread cookies….Oh, I had to control myself! I was gifted one, and then I allowed myself to a get 2nd one, during the 2nd week I was in town. If I lived in Torrington, AJ’s would definitely be problem for me!
One night, after dinner, I was invited by a co-worker to go to a local bar called, ‘Bitch’s,’ and of course I accepted. We laughed a lot and were having a great time, but as the evening wore on, I eventually needed to go to the bathroom. As I got up from my chair, I was ‘warned’ that there were pictures of naked men in the restroom.
I didn’t think too much of it, because I was imagining something more along the lines of what you would see in the ‘Hot Men of 2019 Firemen Calendar’–partially clad hot bodies. Oh, the pictures were hot alright, but not like my PG musings, they were straight out of old issues of Playgirl. Collages of fully naked men in all of their glory, erections and all, covered the bathroom walls! After I got over the initial shock, I have to admit that I’ve never laughed so hard in a public restroom before. I’m glad that I thought to bring my camera in with me–sorry to disappoint, I’m not posting any pictures, you’ll just have to trust me on this one. It was eye popping!
I was grinning as I came out of the bathroom, and as I rounded the corner to head back into the bar, a funny thought crossed my mind. The old timers at the bar had seen me leave the room to head to the bathroom, and now I wondered if they were thinking, “We know why she’s smiling!” With that thought, I actually started to laugh as I re-entered the bar! I didn’t look, but I was told that the men’s room had a similar decorating style, but of course, of the opposite sex.
Toward the end of my stay, I had tried all of the restaurants that had been suggested to me, so I decided to go to Pizza Hut, because it was close to my hotel and I hadn’t gone to Pizza Hut in at least 15 years. The funniest thing happened while I was there. When I walked in, there was only one other table that was occupied, and I was seated right next to them. Another group came in a few minutes after I was served, and the man in the group stood a few feet from my table and said loudly, “Hey—you were in South Dakota this weekend, right?”
I had in South Dakota, so looked up with disbelief. I was about to answer, and the guy at the next table said, “Yeah, we were!”
The first guy said, “I knew it! I saw you at the rest stop!”
After spending most of the day at the LxFactory, we decided to head back to our hotels to relax for a bit before heading back out again. Christina dropped us off, and then picked us up again when we were ready.
Christina asked if we liked gin, and when we told her that we did, she told us that she knew the perfect place to take us. She had already made dinner reservations for us, and she thought we could have a before dinner drink at the Gin Lovers Bar & Restaurant. When we arrived, we found out that a special Fado event was happening, and that the bar was closed until the singing was over. It was scheduled to conclude at 8:00 p.m., the exact same time that we had our dinner reservation at a different restaurant.
We were disappointed, but Sussie sweet talked the guy at the door and she convinced him to let us into the bar, which was located behind the Fado room. We had to wait until the end of a song before we could enter, and as we waited we could hear the Fado music through the closed door. Fado is traditional Portuguese music that typically consists of a solo singer and a guitarist. The theme of the music is deeply nostalgic, often focusing on the harsh realities of life.
We were escorted to the back, and the gal behind the bar greeted us and began by asking which was our favorite gin, and about whether we preferred citrus, juniper, etc. She asked several other questions and then began making our drinks. I am by no means an authority on G&T’s, but she knew what she was doing! Our drinks were delicious!
I was actually disappointed when it was time to leave for dinner. Next time, I would plan to stay here longer. We headed out and walked about 7-8 minutes before arriving at our restaurant. The streets were filled with people, both walking and dining at little outdoor restaurants, creating a really nice vibe.
We shared an appetizer of fried fish cakes and we all ordered Bacalhau (salted cod), which is a typical Portuguese dish. Ours was roasted in olive oil and garlic, and served on a bed of cabbage with roasted potatoes on the side.
I wasn’t a fan, and it was the only dish that I had during my stay in Portugal that I really didn’t care for. I won’t rule Bacalhau out in the future, but this restaurant didn’t win me over. We had great wine, the fish cakes were good, and we had a wonderful evening in spite of the fish!
After we finished lunch, we decided to take a Tuk Tuk tour around the city. Several were lined up at the edge of the plaza and we arranged a ride with with a guy named David. He was born locally and was a lover of history and art, which was lucky for us because he told us so many interesting tidbits as we were driving.
Before getting in the Tuk Tuk, we asked him where we should try Ginja. He pointed to a narrow road off the back of the plaza, and he offered to walk us to a little place that he knew. The side streets were too narrow for vehicles, so we took him up on his offer. We walked up and down a few streets before he stopped in front of a teeny tiny store front where we stepped into a very small room, about the size of a decent walk in closet. Including the store clerk, there were five of us in the room, and it was a tight squeeze.
David told her that we wanted to try a shot of Ginjinha, which is a Portuguese sour cherry liquor. Ginjinha, or sometimes referred to Ginja, is often served in a little chocolate cup. Okay, sour cherry and chocolate…doesn’t it already sound delicious? It was!
After our Ginja tasting, we zigged and zagged our way down several narrow streets until we found ourselves back in the plaza where we had first started. David pointed out that the watering trough on the back end of the plaza was from the Roman occupation of Lisbon.
We opted for a 1 1/2 hour ride (which actually turned into two hours) because we wanted to catch the flavor of Lisbon on our first day. I’ve always felt that if you do some kind of touristy hop-on-hop-off kind of thing toward the beginning of the trip, it gives you an idea of the city layout.
The Lisbon Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church built it 1147, making it the oldest church in Lisbon. It survived many earthquakes over the years, but what makes this structure so interesting is that as it was rebuilt and renovated so many times over the years, several distinct building styles were used including Romanesque, Gothic, and many others. The architecture was magnificent and I could have easily spent a few hours here looking at the details. However, there were hoards of people inside (which is an instant turn off for me) and David was waiting for us.
It’s virtually impossible to capture the wonder of these Roman ruins in photos because (obviously), you can’t get close enough to get detailed pictures. David told us that the unofficial mantra of private property owners in Lisbon is, “Don’t dig!”
There have been countless cases of people who have bought and old home or apartment, and during the renovation process discovered an archeological site. Anytime something is discovered in the city, it needs to be inspected by the local government. If the find is deemed important enough, it can lead to huge delays and possible loss for the property owner. Don’t dig!
Next, we headed to the Portas do Sol which provides a beautiful view of the Tejo River and the surrounding area. The São Vicente statue, the patron saint of Lisbon, can be found here as well. It’s a lovely area to walk around to capture the feeling of the city.
After stopping for a brief look at the Panteão Nacional, our Tuk Tuk tour was over. We asked David to drop us off at a nice place to have a glass of wine. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the plaza where we stopped. The architecture was stunning! We enjoyed some wine, laughed and talked, and did a bit of people watching. It was such a relaxing way to end our first day together.
For those of you who know me, you know that one of my favorite non-alcoholic drinks is an unsweetened iced tea, preferably with extra lemon. I’m definitely not giving up that habit! Instead, I’m trying to re-train myself to not rip open the plastic straw that seems to be automatically brought out to the table at every restaurant all across America.
I know that not using a straw seems insignificant, but it’s an easy place to start. We all know that we have too much plastic clogging our landfills and littering our roadways, open spaces, oceans, and beaches. We have to change, and we can begin—one straw at a time. When you break the straw habit, move on to cutting back on other types plastic packaging.
It took me FOREVER to read book #10 entitled, Salt—A World History. It was incredibly interesting, but it was a deep read with lots and lots of details. It brought up a memory from years ago when my friend Kym and I went on a salt mine tour when we were in Austria. We donned “miner outfits” and slid down a wooden slide into the mine. This tourist experience was mentioned in the book, and it was a lot of fun.
The new book that I’m reading is called, A History of the World in Six Glasses. The author attempts to explain the history of the world through beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee, and cola. You should read that as—How Alcohol & Caffeine Changed the World!
My brain has just exploded—while reading the chapter about the history of beer, I found out that the history of bread is closely linked. In fact, archeologists argue over which was developed first.
“The two were just different sides of the same coin: Bread was solid beer, and beer was liquid bread.”