One of my goals for this year was to travel as much as possible and spend next to nothing. I’m very fortunate that I moonlight with a telehealth start-up that brings me to places I would not make the effort to travel to for any reason. My travel and accommodations are paid for and any miles and hotel points accrued as part of my travel or stay are for my own personal use. Added to that the fact I love telehealth, they also pay me, and I get to hang out with friends and it feels like I’ve stumbled into the most perfect side gig. Hashtag blessed.
Last week I traveled to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, a small factory town along the Mississippi River bordering Iowa. I’d only been to metropolitan areas of the Midwest, never Wisconsin or Iowa, so even though this was a sleepy area, I was looking forward to it.
Yes, I took my first trip to Culvers and had fried cheese curds, but I learned that the way to go is ordering a Kid’s Meal: burger, fries, drink, and ice cream all for $5! Remember that for your next trip to Culvers. Game changer.
One of the nights I was there, we ventured over to McGregor, Iowa, a town that looked like it was built for filming Westerns and then painted brightly colored so as to say “THIS WAS NOT USED TO FILM A WESTERN.” Thanks to heavy rains that flooded the Mississippi, some of the restaurants were closed and water pumps were set up all along the main road. For dinner we stopped into Old Man River Brewery, a brewery so new they had to obtain their own brewing license, but served local brews (I had the Pivo Brewery Elkader Apricot Wheat) and your usual crowd pleasers. Our bartender kept giving us shots because it was someone else’s birthday and took the opportunity to take the piss out of us on multiple occasions. I loved her.
While there we made friends with a mother and daughter out celebrating the daughters recent college graduation and foray into her first nursing job. They ventured across the street to Pocket City Pub with us, where we met Harvey, a 15 week old shih poo with bad knees who loves kisses. I loved him.
After chatting with the mother and daughter for a while the mother, Jane*, introduced themselves as “The Joneses!” with such enthusiasm and familiarity, but it was lost on us. We came to find out that there are two Jones families in the area. Jane’s family was known as the “Iowa Joneses” while another family in Prairie du Chien were known as the “Fighting Joneses” or “H Joneses” given every member of that family has a first name that starts with H. True to their name this family loves fighting and will often fight each other if there is no one else to fight.
The only other man in the bar chimed in “I knew Jane Jones! She was crazy!” to which Iowa Jane Jones responded “No, not blonde Jane Jones, I’m IOWA Jane Jones.” The bartender was familiar with these families as well. Somehow I am following along with this discussion.
The next day at work one of the employees I’d been out with the night before started asking people at the factory if they knew the Joneses. The conversations pretty much mirrored the ones from the night before.
“You mean the H Joneses? Did you have a run in with them?”
“No, we met Jane Jones last night.”
“No, Iowa Jane Jones.”
“Oh, she’s really nice. The other family will fight anyone.”
This subject was broached again while we were checking out of the hotel.
“Do you know the Joneses? We hung out with Jane Jones last night.”
“Jane Jones is crazy.”
“No, not blonde Jane Jones,” I said. “IOWA Jane Jones.”
“Oh, she’s really nice. The H Joneses will fight anyone.”
I left feeling like I’m part of it now and slightly disappointed that I did not fight an H Jones. Then, I would’ve felt as though I’d had the full Prairie du Chien experience.