Oct 24

UPDATE:  10/28/2010:  WE HAVE A WINNER… TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!!!

PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE INTRODUCTION AND INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING SCAVENGER HUNT!!!

INTRODUCTION:

The first ever Happy Stinking Joy Web Scavenger Hunt begins RIGHT NOW! The first (and only) prize is a t-shirt made with my semi-gay, semi-grotesque logo thrown on the front.  The t-shirt is available in a multitude of colors and sizes, including and limited to “white” and “X-large”.

The scavenger hunt is relatively simple. Further down in this post, you will find a list of 20 links to websites and questions regarding information that can be found on those websites. The first person to get me the correct answers to the questions I have asked will win the t-shirt. Pretty cool, huh?

INSTRUCTIONS:

Answers to the questions must be submitted via the “Tiny Contact Form” found on my website.  For example, if question #1 is “What color is red?” and question #2 is “What color is green?”, you would click on the links provided. When you scour the site and discover the answers to the questions, you would go to my “Tiny Contact Form”, type your name, your email address, and put “Scavenger Hunt” as the subject. In the message portion of the form, you would put something like the following:

“1. red” (’cause that’s the color of red)

“2. green” (’cause that’s the color of green)

…and so on and so forth, until you have answers to all of the questions. Some will be relatively easy and some will relatively hard.  Some of you may feel tempted to try to find answers to the questions at sites other than the sites found through the links provided: do so at your own risk! Although the answers on the sites I provide may be found in other places… or may be incorrect on the sites I provide… I am looking for very specific information from the sites provided, and only these answers will be correct for this scavenger hunt… period!  The first person who gets all of the correct answers submitted to me through my Tiny Contact Form wins the shirt. I will contact the winner via email to get his or her shipping address to ship the shirt to.  I will use the “time received” notification from my Outlook as the final determining time for awarding the prize. I reserve the right to eliminate any entry for any reason whatsoever, including, but not limited to: spelling errors, partially complete answers, and whatever else comes to mind now or later. Any owners, authors, or employees of any of the websites used in this scavenger hunt are ineligible from winning any prizes (but, feel free to participate in the hunt just for fun).  The winner agrees to let me publish his or her name and region of the country (for this scavenger hunt, I’m limiting it to residents of the United States only… international shipping isn’t something I’m interested in getting into at this point) on happystinkingjoy.com, and it would be cool if the winner would send me an email picture of him/herself wearing the shirt-prize to post as well, but I’m only requesting… not demanding…

I will list the results of the scavenger hunt within 48 hours of receiving the winning submission.  Thank you to everyone who is checking this out.  I hope you all have fun, and I wish you all the best of luck!

Okay, are we ready?  Let’s get set!  GO!!!

1. On this home school blog , there are some very useful product reviews… including one for The Handbook of Vintage Remedies. By what percentage is the immune system lowered by the intake of sugar products, and for up to how long?

2. Jokes are always fun, if not always funny. On this joke site , there is a bar joke about Sadar. He walks into a New York bar, listens to a conversation, and says something. What does he say? Yeah, I know… I don’t get it either :)

3. This NFL team sucks in almost every imaginable way, but they do have one thing going for them… and that thing involves pom poms 😉 The 2011 Swimsuit Calendar for these hotties was shot on location in Mexico; what is the name of the stretch of Mexican coastline where it was shot?

4. This website offers advice for the average schmo to gain control of his or her finances. Many people will testify as to the difference that this website and program have made in their financial lives. So, with that in mind, what did Pamela S. from Georgia find her credit rating at after implementing some of this program’s advice?

5. The poignant poem “Mullet Inspiration” by Jill and Nichole H. found at this site is not only a rhyming masterpiece (seriously, even though it doesn’t always make sense, it rhymes), but the love the narrator has for mullets cannot be denied. Since what year has the narrator been growing his/her mullet?

6. This bizarre site offers some interesting ways to look at life. The author of this site has some very stringent recommendations for a healthy diet. In fact, if you get your Chakras all in alignment and whatnot, you may not need actual food at all. The author of this sight states that there are humans living today who receive their sustenance entirely from what non-food? See, why couldn’t the person who wrote the Sadar joke have had a sense of humor like this?

7.  The site for our local library encourages visitors to become “friends of the library”.  How much would it cost an individual to have a lifetime membership as a “friend”?

8.  Who doesn’t think motorcycle racing is cool?  I think motorcycle racing is cool, and so does this site.  In fact, this site is so into motorcycle racing that it has an “Official Car”?!?  Really, I ain’t kidding!  What is the “Official Car” of this motorcycle racing site?

9. Ahh… a fellow blogger.  This site is funny (some of it is adult humor).  A depressed chick making her way through life, what could be funnier… except maybe a dude dealing with a mid-life crisis, but I digress.  Her family includes a dog named Coco.  What kind of dog is Coco?

10.  Who can’t get enough of LOLcats?  Yeah, I’ve had enough too.  However, there is a site that not only has the disgustingly cute LOLcat pictures, but it has some pretty cool merchandise available!  There’s this t-shirt… hahaha… about Pluto… hahaha… that starts, “Silly Pluto”… hahaha…  what is the rest of the saying on the shirt?

Alrighty, boys and girls, you’re half way home!  Time to relax, maybe take a breather.  That first half wasn’t so bad, now was it?  Ten down and ten to go, right?  Go grab a soda pop and a slice of cold pizza from the fridge… except there is probably someone who has already moved on… and YOU WANT THAT STUPID T-SHIRT… SO THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE!  GET YOUR BUTT MOVING, SOLDIER!  WHAT ARE YOU: A SPINELESS JELLYFISH, DRIFTING SLOWLY IN THE OCEAN WHILE LIFE & OPPORTUNITY PASS YOU BY… OR ARE YOU A TRUE ADVENTURER ?  BTW, the links may be a little more difficult to find in the second half of the hunt 😀

11.  This next website is by another fellow blogger… but she has only written a couple of posts and her site seems (thus far) to focus on the “stinking” part of life that I attempt to make fun of in my blog.  Check out this butterfly’s blog, because her inspiration to start her blog (which she needs to write in WAY more often) is AWESOME!  She writes of the blogger who inspired her to start her own blog, and she writes that he and his blog are full of “_____, _____ and _____”.  Surprisingly, none of the answers begin with “s” and end with “t”, but filling in the three blanks is the answer to this question.

12.  Okay, on to a musical siren’s site.  Okay, she isn’t really a siren in the “musical” sense (’cause her singing isn’t really that good)… more in the “seductress” sense of Greek mythology, but whatever!  Whoever said “blondes have more fun” hasn’t, apparently, checked-out many non-blondes!  On this site, you will discover that the singer is going to be in a fashion show on November 30th of this year.  What is the name of the sexy fashion show?  Double whammy… second part of the question: what is the location where will she be performing live on April 5, 2011 (it’s almost like my hometown).

13.  This movie was okay… just okay… but I feel some sort of personal connection to the main character… probably because I’m a major stud… or not.  What is the main character’s full name (first name, middle initial, and last name)?

14.  WOW… talk about an ADVENTURER ! This Nebraska entrepreneur (the husband of a husband-and-wife team) holds a world record for traveling over 5300 miles in 43 days using what mode of transportation (manufacturer and model are part of the answer)?

15. I had this site commented as a suggestion on my blog post asking for suggestions for websites to use in this scavenger hunt… or some other such confusing, seemingly run-on sentence.  When I first visited the site, I thought ‘Way too chickie and feminine for me to admit I had read it and found some meaningless tidbit of info to use in the hunt’… then I noticed Charlie.  Charlie is pretty cool.  The blogger/photographer/whatever wrote a post about Charlie and had a picture of him in a bath of light.  She made a very profound statement about Charlie.  She says that there is this pattern for beings like Charlie… you have to, from time to time, be there and welcome them with open arms.  ‘Cause the Charlies of the world tend to realize that they’re __________ again.  Fill in the blank.

16.  This site is pretty cool.  A coworker of mine is a co-owner of this site (in fact, almost all of my coworkers have their own websites… we work at an Internet company, so we’re kinda geeky like that… and 4 of my coworkers’ sites appear in this hunt).  One of the DJs conducted an interview with the lovely Joy Whitlock.  In that interview, Joy discusses the meaning of the word “beautiful”.  In the interview, Joy states that when she thinks of the word “beautiful”, she immediately thinks of _______.  Fill it in.

17.  This blogger, in one of his posts, touches discusses exactly how fast we need our Internet to be.  If you really think about it, the Internet speed we actually need to increase the quality of our lives isn’t nearly as fast as one may think.  In fact, according to this blogger (who uses as an example the world class broadband connections of South Korea), ultra-fast speeds often are little more than an enabler for online-gaming addition.  In South Korea, there may already be an entire generation of kids turning into ______ _______.  Fill in the blanks.

18.  I like short stories.  So, here we go.  This particular story is one of my all time favorites.  The answer will be in three parts, and you can just separate the answers with commas on my Tiny Contact Form.  For the Lottery, who assembled first?  Who is the oldest man in town?  Who selected “… a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands…”?

19.  People often ask me why I’m so hard on the Craphandle of Nebraska.  What is it about the Scottsbluff, NE area that drives me so absolutely nuts?  Well, anyone who spends a little time at Walmart will be injected with all of the negative energy that this place puts off.  Don’t want to visit Walmart, then stop in the local Verizon store when it first opens in the morning and count how many f*bombs you hear come from the mouths of people waiting in line.  Many people in this area seem to feel a sense of entitlement, and when they don’t get exactly what they want exactly when they want it, they want everyone within ear-shot to know exactly how upset they are.  That kind of negativity tends to rub off.  If the negative energy isn’t enough, there is the fact that wages aren’t exactly stellar… which probably leads to the negative energy flying off of so many of the residents here.  The organization that offers this website attempts (very poorly, in my opinion)  to bring new businesses to the Craphandle.  On this site, the economic development association provided some census-style data.  Included in this data is a snapshot of data from Scotts Bluff County.  According to the snapshot from 2008, what is the per capita income for the average resident in Scotts Bluff County.  If you are thinking that this number cannot be right, this figure is about half of what the average individual in the United States made in 2008 (according to http://bber.unm.edu/econ/us-pci.htm)  Also, from this same 2008 snapshot, which household income level finds the largest number of households resting in its range?  Yes, this is a two-part question with two answers… and yes, it is a shock anyone wants to call this place home.

20.  Best blog on the Internet… PERIOD… or not.  Man Toes seem to be an issue for this blogger.  What is the name of the restaurant where preppy-boy-freak-long-toe and Mr. 65+ almost ruined the consumption of World-Class pizza?

That’s it… that’s all!  Thanks for checking it out, and I hope you had fun :)

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Oct 23

Alrighty, kiddies, The first-ever Happy Stinking Joy scavenger hunt is right around the corner! The official Scavenger Hunt will begin this Sunday, 10/24/2010, at 6:00 pm MST and will show up here as a post on this blog. What else do you have to do on a Sunday evening… church is over, no work until the next day, a free t-shirt up for grabs… you know you have time for this :)  I had a special t-shirt made with my semi-gay, semi-grotesque logo thrown on the front for the grand prize, and it is screaming to get out of my house (or maybe that’s my wife screaming to get the stupid t-shirt out of the house… whatever!) The scavenger hunt will be relatively simple. I will ask questions about specific websites, and within the questions will be links to the sites.  By “hunting” through the site, answers to the questions can be found.  The first person to get me the correct answers to the questions I have asked will win a Happy Stinking Joy X-large t-shirt.  Pretty cool, huh? Answers to the questions must be submitted via the “Tiny Contact Form” found on my website.

For example, if question #1 is “What color is red?” and question #2 is “What color is green?”, you would click on the links provided. When you scour the site and discover the answers to the questions, you would go to my “Tiny Contact Form”, type your name, your email address, and put “Scavenger Hunt” as the subject. In the message portion of the form, you would put something like the following:

“1. red” (’cause that’s the color of red)

“2. green” (’cause that’s the color of green)

…and so on and so forth, until you have answers to all of the questions.  Some will probably be relatively easy and some will probably be relatively hard. The first person who gets all of the correct answers to me wins the shirt.  I will contact the winner via email to get his or her shipping address to ship the shirt to. I will use the “time received” notification from my email client as the final determining time for awarding the prize. I reserve the right to eliminate any entry for any reason whatsoever, including, but not limited to: spelling errors, partially complete answers, and whatever else comes to mind now or later. The winner agrees to let me publish some form of his or her name and region of the country (for this scavenger hunt, I’m limiting it to residents of the United States only… international shipping isn’t something I’m interested in getting into at this point) on happystinkingjoy.com, and it would be cool if the winner would send me an email picture of the winner wearing the shirt-prize to post as well, but I’m not going to require that…

The scavenger hunt will appear as a post on my blog and will start, once again, Sunday, October 24th, at 6:00 Mountain Standard Time.  I want to thank everyone in advance who decides to embark on this adventure :)

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Oct 18

So other than the crappy places to eat, the first day of our Black Hills weekend-getaway was pretty nice.  Despite the the trailer trash at Tin Lizzie, the yuppies and horrible food at Deadwood Thyme Cafe and Bistro, and the stupid parking fees (seriously, Deadwood, you don’t make enough on the taxes on gaming… you gotta screw people out of money to park?  Deadwood city officials should all be duct-taped down to a booth at Tin Lizzie next to moo moo trailer trash lady while having a New York strip from Deadwood Thyme Cafe & Bistro shoved down their throats), we manage to have a pretty good time in Deadwood… and we didn’t even gamble away our life savings!  Gambled less than 10 bucks in like 5 hours in the casinos :)  Yeah, they weren’t tripping over themselves to offer us free drinks or anything, but I did grab a couple of bowls of free dirty rice at Bourbon Street… ’cause the steak at Deadwood Thyme Cafe & Bistro actually may have created a black-hole of hungriness in my stomach.  Bourbon Street even gave the wife and me some beads, like we were in New Orleans or something, and we didn’t even have to flash our hoo hahs… I kept offering, but the waitress told me she’d call security if at any point during our visit my hoo hahs joined the party.  Party pooper :(

We awoke on the luxurious bed at our Legends cabin  refreshed and relaxed and ready for a grand day!  We already knew where we are going for lunch, and we were excited.  See, I told you in the previous post that eating at new places is kinda our main reason for taking holiday.  Hahaha… “taking holiday”… all of a sudden I’m Harry Potter, ’cause eating good food is somehow magical for me or something :)

Breakfast was provided by the owners of Legends.  We had heart-shaped blueberry muffins and trail mix and orange juice and cereal bars.  All of this was awaiting us on our arrival in a cute little basket on the dining-table-for-two in our kitchenette!  Seriously, I can’t recommend this place enough… very romantic, very charming, and no matter how crappy the food in Deadwood was, our stay at Legends made the entire trip worth while (disclaimer: I am receiving no compensation in any way, shape or form from Legends for my recommendations… however, if the owners of Legends ever stumble across my blog and would like to throw a little sumthin-sumthin my way, I’m a greedy little person and would be more than willing to consider any and all offers :) )

After lounging around the cabin for most of the morning, we embark on the 1/2 hour drive to Rapid City.  We have a day full of activities planned for our Saturday (which means finding a good bookstore or two and losing ourselves in our true passion [besides each other 😉 ]: reading), and we are ready to get going.  When we arrive in Rapid City, we make our first mission finding our lunch destination… Philly Ted’s .

I’m a sucker for Philly-style cheese-steak sandwiches.  I don’t know if this love evolves from my love of sandwiches, steak, Cheez Whiz, or the Philadelphia Phillies; but I know I like a good Philly cheese-steak.  Thing is, I discovered I had never really eaten a good Philly cheese-steak until we actually found Philly Ted’s.

Now finding places when traveling, for the wife and me, usualy doesn’t go well.  I’m really lazy, so I don’t look at directions or maps or anything before setting out to a destination.  The wife is meticulous and knows the address of every place we plan on visiting… but she sucks at directions.  So we are driving into Rapid City on the interstate and I say, “Where is Philly Ted’s?”

The wife spouts off the address, “1415 LaCrosse Street.”

“And how do we get there?” I ask.

“We find LaCrosse Street,” says the wife.  “Then we find 1415.”

“And where is LaCrosse Street?” I ask.

The wife gives me that here-we-go-again-look and says, “You know how I am with directions!  Why are you asking me?”

We exchange a few more sentences, most of which looked like this:

me: “where is the map”

wife: “I didn’t get a map.  why didn’t you get a map?”

me: “do I have to do everything”

wife: “I can’t believe you didn’t plan better”

me: “do I have to do everything”

wife: “just stop and ask for directions”

me: “so you’re saying I’m weak”

wife: “I’m not saying anything, I just think you should stop and ask for directions”

me: “you think I’m an unfit husband”

wife: “just take the next exit, stop at a convenience store, and ask for directions”

me: “you don’t trust me. you wouldn’t want to be lost in a forest with me because you think I couldn’t hack it… you think I’d let us both die!”

wife: “I’m just saying that asking for directions would probably help us find the restaurant, and I’m hungry.”

me: “so you think I’m worthless and you’re wondering why you ever married me… that you’d starve if your safety depended on me… that you can’t count on me when the going gets tough!”

wife: “just take he next exit.”

So, I take the next exit… which happens to actually be LaCrosse Street, and drive south for a couple of blocks… and, what do you know… there’s Philly Ted’s.

“See, we didn’t need to ask for directions,” I say.  The wife just gives me a side-ways glance and rolls her eyes.  She loves me :)

Philly Ted's,Cheese Steak,Rapid City

okay… so these two chicks didn’t actually greet us… but we could feel their love…

Inside Philly Ted’s is… uh… well, an order counter; that’s about it.  There are all kinds of really cool signs on the wall, like “If you want a kid’s meal, put on your big-boy pants and go down the street… they have it for you under their heat lamps.”  Hahaha!  No kids meals at Philly Ted’s, but I doubt there are many “kids” who would not love one of these sandwiches.  I ordered the “Viking” (’cause I love the Minnesota Vikings… and they have sandwiches named after every good NFL team), with consisted of cheese-steak and bacon.  The wife had a cheese-steak with mushrooms.

The wait to get the sandwiches wasn’t too long, and we thought we would eat in the “dining area.”  We discovered that the dining area consisted of about three tables resting right beside the kitchen, and it was full. We opted to eat at the outside dining area, which consisted of a couple of plastic tables… and we had to pull our chairs from a stack-o-chairs resting against the building.  Even with the effort required in setting up our own dining-area, Philly Ted’s was an awesome experience!  The sandwiches were kind of like Arby’s Beef & Cheddars… except with real meat and tasty cheese… so they were nothing like Arby’s Beef and Cheddars, but they were very AWESOME!  They had to be close to a foot long and were loaded with thinly sliced steak and Cheez Whiz on a hoagie-style bun.

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I finished mine in a matter of minutes, and the wife couldn’t finish hers.  Needless to say, I had to help the wife out by finishing hers.  What a great place to eat.  Philly Ted’s will definitely be a place we have to stop every time we visit Rapid City 😀

After the feast, we scoured the city for some cool bookstores.  We found a neat little place downtown called Again Books & Bazaar . This was a pretty cool little new/used bookstore and we had a pretty good time here, but I like my used book stores to have a little more selection and to be a little cheaper. There are some pretty cool used book stores in Estes Park, Boulder and Ft. Collins that far surpassed Again Books, but it was worth checking out.

After downtown, we made our way out by the mall and spent most of the remainder of the afternoon at Borders.  Now, Border’s ain’t no Barnes & Noble (’cause it isn’t nearly as big), but it was close.  Isle after isle of book after book containing multitudes of ways to escape reality and lose oneself in an adventure were to be found at Borders.  The chain stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble are a good way to waste a couple of hours on any given afternoon.  The wife and I prefer more intimate, personal bookstores.   The Tattered Cover in Denver is one of our favorite places to “lose” ourselves.  In fact, this past summer we made a special trip to the Tattered Cover, driving four hours with the entire family in tow, just so that I could get the newest book by my favorite author  signed by the man himself.  I am a huge Christopher Moore fan.  The wife had never read any of his work.  I have read almost everything he has written.  I asked the wife to read Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story and You Suck: A Love Story, because they were the prequels to his newest release: Bite Me: A Love Story.  The wife, who is more into the Twilight crap that she is into funny stuff, reluctantly obliged.  She read Christopher Moore, she liked him, and she agreed that a signed copy of Bite Me would be cool… and this is the reason we have been married for over 16-years :)  Needless to say, having Christopher Moore write “Rich & Kim… OMFG… CM” inside a first edition copy of Bite Me was one of the coolest experiences of my life… but back to Rapid City…

For supper, the wife and I found ourselves up against a conundrum.  We wanted to have a classy meal with good food, but we didn’t want to bust our budget.  We had asked our Facebook friends for help in choosing a good supper place in Rapid City, but none of the suggestions were working out.  One friend had recommended Alpine Inn in Hill City… but Hill City was too far away to meet our hunger needs.  A second friend had recommended the Fireside Inn, but we couldn’t find a website for it, so we backed out.  We settled for a quaint little place on our drive from Rapid City back to Deadwood called the Pirates Table.  We were not disappointed.

When we first walked in, I was amazed at all of the young hotties dressed as bar wenches and female pirates in tight-fitting pirate gear.  I knew this place wouldn’t disappoint!  We were seated and told that our wait-person would be with us shortly.  I was already drooling 😉

pirate,black hills,pirate's table,restaurants

The wife seemed hesitant as we awaited the arrival of our wait-person. We glanced over the menu and our mouths watered over the vast selection of bovine and aquatic selections that awaited our ordering! The wife decided on the coconut shrimp, and I had arrived at the conclusion that scallops (deep fried, not sautéed) would be my choice. We were both ready to have our appetites tamed when our wait-person arrived…
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“Good evening,” the pirate dude said, “my name is Stephen. Are you ready to order?”

Needless to say, the wind in my sail departed and I truly focused on the food. The wife ordered her shrimp and I ordered my scallops. The hairy guy left and I got kind of pouty.

When the food actually arrived, the fact that our server was a dude crept to the back of my conscientiousness (didn’t disappear, mind you, just crept to the back). The food was AWESOME. The wife claims it was the best coconut shrimp she had ever tasted (and the wife knows shrimp). As for the scallops, they were AWESOME! And they came with a side of FRIES! The night in Rapid City ended with a bang. We drove back to our cabin at Legends and were sated!

The next morning, we packed our getaway stuff and prepared for the trip home. We were going to have one final feasting experience before we headed home.  We had scoped-out an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet in Deadwood while we wandered the casinos a couple of days previous.  “All-you-can-eat” + “brunch” + “casino” seemed like it had to = AMAZING!  Apparently, in Deadwood, they use fuzzy math.

We went to the Silverado, headed to the dining luxury of the basement, and were overcharged for a buffet that looked like a couple of breakfast items had been thrown in with some crap from the evening buffet the previous day.  There were scrambled eggs and dried-out looking meatloaf and link sausage and really tough fried chicken and bacon and a green bean casserole  and really tough biscuits with a really watery gravy.  Stinking Golden Corral would have been better… and would have cost less that $10 per person.  Plus, they had stupid announcements going over the intercom about who had won what and whatnot.  Not a good dining experience… which would have been acceptable if the buffet had been cheaper, or had included drinks, or the waitress hadn’t acted like we were a pain-in-her-ass just for deciding to eat there… or SOMETHING.

We drove home and lamented our miserable brunch experience the entire way.  Overall, the trip was a blast.  The food in Rapid City was wonderful.  If there was one thing to be learned from our weekend away, we learned… STAY AWAY FROM THE FOOD IN DEADWOOD!!!

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Oct 11

Okay… I’m gonna be completely upfront and honest about my idea of a vacation.  When I travel on business or pleasure (and the wife feels almost as strongly about this as I do), my one rule is that I do not eat at any place that I can eat at in the Craphandle of Nebraska.  Even if the kids are screaming bloody murder ’cause they are “starving”, we will not stop at McDonald’s while on the road.  If our only choice is between Applebees and the scary looking place with all the Harley’s parked outside and the two fat dudes with leather vests and ZZ Top beards duking it out in the parking lot… well, I’ve discovered that drunk bikers will usually leave you alone if you’ve got kids… and you don’t touch their bikes nor look them in the eyes.  At least 50% of the fun of a vacation is trying new places to eat!

Eating at new places is an adventure of a sort.  There is little chance you can be hurt by trying a new place to eat (as long as you keep your eyes off the biker’s babe… no matter how short her shorts are, or how low-cut her t-shirt is…) and the potential reward is humongous.  You may just discover a favorite place that will become a necessary stop every time you visit a certain local.

The wife and I just celebrated an anniversary, and we spent the weekend in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We love the Black Hills, but on our few visits over the past 12 years or so, we have had kids in tow.  When you have kids in tow, your sense of adventure is diminished by the fact that you have to go somewhere that serves something that the kids will actually eat.   TGI Fridays, Burger King, Red Lobster, Olive Garden… these are the kinds of places you are stuck going when you travel with kids.  These places all are not available in the Craphandle, and they all have kids menus.  Thus, the wife and I decided we were not going to go anyplace that we would have chosen had the kids been with us.  We were so excited!

For our anniversary, the wife and I usually go to the Estes Park, CO area.  Estes Park has all kinds of cool places to eat and all kinds of fun things to do… and if you tire of Estes Park, you can always go on an excursion to Boulder or Longmont or even into Denver for restaurants and excitement.  We usually stay at a little place right outside of Lyons, CO called Shelly’s Cottages .  Shelly’s cottages is an awesomely romantic place to stay.  They are like rustic little apartments right on the St. Vrain river.  If you go in the fall, you can pick apples and pears right off the trees growing by the river.  If you get one of the cottages with a hot tub (which I highly recommend), you can sit in the hot tub and (if the time of year is right) bask in the warm water as snow gently floats around you.  Awesome!  However, we thought that this year, we would try something new.

Because we really like the Black Hills, and because we really like the hot tub/cottage vibe of Shelly’s Cottages, we looked for a place like Shelly’s in the Black Hills.

Enter Legends .

Legends is AWESOME!  We stayed in the Lakota Suite, and to say the decoration was radical would be a major understatement.  This cabin was all hardwood, from the floors to the vaulted ceilings.  We could actually smell the wood when we walked in.  The Native American decor was really cool and… was… everywhere.  In fact, there was Native American music playing on the CD player when we arrived.  I could go on and on… but that would detract from the fact that I wanted to write about how much food in Deadwood sucked!

Although Legends has a Sturgis address, it is way closer to Deadwood than it is Sturgis. Our check-in wasn’t until 2 pm, so we thought we would stop at one of the casinos for lunch before checking in.  One of the great things about Deadwood is how they get your money at every opportunity.  Parking anywhere near any of the casinos costs money.  As we were driving down the main street, we noticed that Tin Lizzie had free parking… for their guests.  Well, we weren’t going to be forced to spend our money at a place just to get free parking!  So, we drove all the way to the other end of town into a residential area.  We parked in the first free parking spot we could find, and we proceeded to hike.  We walked and walked and walked, popping into every casino that had a restaurant, in an attempt to find something that sounded good.  After like an hour, we found ourselves standing outside Tin Lizzie… and we were “starving”… so we went in to have lunch.  Hindsight, huh?

So we go in and the lady at the food counter tells us that the special of the day is the shrimp dinner.  That sounds great and all, but the shrimp dinner comes with baked potato and I’m kinda craving fries, so I order the shrimp basket (which is the same thing but it comes with fries).  The wife orders the same.  We sit and wait and finally the little light-up-thingamajig that they gave us goes off and I go get the plates.

After I sit back down, the wife says, “Didn’t you order a basket?”

Sure enough, where the fries should be sitting is resting a baked potato.  Damn it!  I get up and start toward the order counter to get my fries.  I am not going to let our anniversary weekend start like this!

Directly in front of me, I see a severely overweight lady of about 30 in a moo moo walking with a cane.  She is with an older lady who looks very similar to her.  The two are obviously sisters or mother and daughter.

“What’s that over there?” the older lady asks of the young gimp in the moo moo, pointing at the salad bar.

“That’s the salad bar,” says the gimp

The older lady looks at the gimp, confused, and asks again, “What’s that over there?”

“It’s the salad bar!” screams the gimp.  “Put in your f#%&ing hearing aid, you stupid b#@ch!”

I immediately turn around and sit back down with the wife.  “Baked potato sounds kinda good,” I conclude.

After we finish our shrimp dinners with the stinking baked potatoes, we are forced to walk by the hearing impaired lady and her very disrespectful gimp-sister/daughter/gay lover or whatever.  I happen to catch part of the  conversation going on between the gimp and the unfortunate lady that chose to sit at the booth beside her.

“Yeah, I spent some time working at the Hampton Inn,” says the gimp.

“Oh, and how are things going over there?”  Asks the other lady, and you can tell by the meek way that she asks it that she really is looking for the conversation to end.

“Wouldn’t know,” says the gimp.  “The son of a b#@chs wouldn’t let me come back after my fifth surgery.  I’m gonna sue the s%*t out of them b%#*@$ds!”

As we were leaving Tin Lizzie, I came to the realization how much of a resemblance there is between a casino and Walmart.  Needless to say, this was actually the best meal we had in Deadwood.

So the wife and I go and check out our awesome cabin up in the hills.  We are so impressed with the cabin that lunch is soon forgotten.  The owners of Legends leave all kinds of personal little notes all over the cabin in a welcomed attempt to make your stay more enjoyable.  In one of their notes, they make some recommendations of local restaurants.  The place that they point out as their favorite is a place the wife remembers seeing very positive reviews of online before we left.  It is called Deadwood Thyme Cafe and Bistro, and we suddenly know where we are going for supper.  Now, all of the reviews that the wife remembers reading were for breakfast and lunch; and even on the menu that is in the binder of menus of local restaurants in our cabin, there is no mention of dinner.  But, hey, we figure if the place is that popular for breakfast and lunch, they have to serve a killer supper, right?

A sign by Thyme states that there is parking in back, ’cause there definitely ain’t no parking in front.  We drive around back… and find parking meters at every parking spot.  Crap!  So, we fork over some change to park, and I’m already thinking, “This had better be good.”

We walk in and the waitress… the only waitress in the entire place… brings us our menu.  The menu is on one side of one piece of paper.  Every meal on the menu is around $20, and most of it looks like fancy crap that is not going to fill a guy up.  The waitress tells us of the special, which is a New York strip with starch and vegetable for $19.  The wife orders the special, and so do I.  Turns out that starch means either rice or broiled potato… no fries.  Damn it!  We both order the potato.  The meal doesn’t come with any soup or salad… those are extra.

The wife ordered a Sprite, to which the waitress says, “Uh, we don’t have Sprite.  Would you like a… (and this is the point where one would expect the waitress to say something like ‘Sierra Mist’ or maybe ‘7-Up’, but instead she comes back with)… lemonade?”

“Uh… I guess that would be fine,” says the wife.

I order an iced tea and the waitress is off to fulfill her duty of waiting.  The waitress pops her head out of the kitchen and says to me, “Uh, it appears that we are out of iced tea.  Would you like some hot tea, or perhaps some coffee?”

“Uh, how about a Coke?”

“Fine, coming right up,” smiles the waitress.

So she brings out the lemonade for the wife and she brings me… a very expensive looking glass bottle of Coke.  Apparently no fries… and free refills on the cola are out.  Crap!

“Heh heh, make sure you keep that water coming,” I smile.  I don’t think the waitress heard me, or if she did, she wasn’t amused.

As we are waiting for our food, the place starts to fill up.  Of course, right next to us, they seat a young couple… and that young couple’s three toddlers!  We drive for over four hours for a relaxing weekend away from our kids to spend an expensive evening next to someone else’s noisy, can’t-sit-still kids.  C’mon!  At least we like our kids!  At least I’ve already seen the menu, and I know there isn’t a kids meal in sight.  The yuppies are going to be forking over some major cash to feed the toddlers.  Sometimes, life can be a little sweet!

Our food arrived.  I wish there was a way to de-emphasize the typed word… you know, like how you can emphasize a word by italicizing it.  If such a de-emphasis existed, I would have definitely used it when I typed “Our food arrived”.  A few thin slices of carrot, four or five very small chunks of potato, and a small steak that appears to be at least 1/5 fat.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I say to the wife.  She just starts to laugh.  “What’s so funny?”

“This whole thing is funny,” she laughs even harder.  She is having a hell of a time cutting through her New York Strip. I try to cut mine and see exactly where she is coming from.  It’s like trying to cut a rope in half with a butter knife.  “Maybe we just need sharper knifes.”  She takes a bite and chews… and chews and chews and chews.  By now we are both laughing and chewing and laughing and chewing.

“No, I don’t think it’s the knifes,” I say.  “I think they served the wrong part of the cow.  I don’t believe a New York Strip is usually cut from the hide.”

I take a bite of potato.

“Tastes like cardboard,” I say, and the wife laughs all the harder.

“The carrots are good” says the wife, and she’s right.  Best thing on the plate is the stinking vegetables… you know, the thing you usually don’t eat when you get a steak dinner… and there are only four or five thin slices.

I hear a grunt come from the yuppie table next door and I see the young wife, near tears, attempting to cut up a steak to divide amongst her toddlers.  The husband is working on his own steak, his face red, beads of sweat on his brow.  The kids are relatively quiet.  They look hungry.

“Here, you work on this for awhile,” says the yuppie wife as she shoves the partially shredded steak-on-a-plate at her husband.

The husband mumbles something under his breath and starts working on the children’s steak, as the smallest of the three children, crying, says quietly to the mother, “I’m hungry, Mommy.”

My wife and I look at each other and we stop laughing.  We both realize that if we distract the young parents from the cutting of their children’s food, a child may die.  This steak is the kind of steak that your parents warned you about when they said, “You might choke on this if you don’t chew it all the way.”  Well, there ain’t no chewing this crap all the way to anywhere, so the wife and I stop the laughing and let the yuppies concentrate.  Quiet weekend away from kids or not, no one wants to see a child choke on cowhide.

When the waitress comes and asks us if we are interested in desert, we start the laughing all over again.  The waitress, somewhat confused, walks away.  I notice the yuppies again.  The young wife is weeping openly, the husband has his head in his arms on the table, and all three hungry children are crying.  My wife and I stop laughing and leave.

Before going back to the cabin, we decide to get some snacks.  We’re both still hungry as hell and know we won’t make it ’til morning on what we just ate.  Just a couple of warnings to you if you ever decide to go to Deadwood:

1.  Deadwood does not have a grocery store.

2. Expensive convenience stores in Deadwood close at 10:00 pm… at least on a Friday night… and even though many of the casinos are open 24 hours a day, aside from the casinos, there is no where in Deadwood to get food after 10:00 pm.

We ended up driving to Lead a few miles away to find an Exxon at which to grab a couple of bags of chips and some pop.  Like $30 later, we went back to the cabin.

This is only the first day of our adventure.  Day two actually went much better… and I have a couple of really cool places to recommend for you to eat in Rapid City… but this post is already way too long to hold the interest of the average reader, so I’m calling it quits for today.  Consider this “Part 1”.  “Part 2” will follow shortly :)

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