Maria and I loaded up our bikes on the back of my Saturn on Friday and headed up for our annual 70 mile bike ride in the Brainerd Lakes area, organized by the Paul Bunyan Cyclists. A friend of mine, Megan, and her hilarious family are nice enough to allow us to stay at their Gull Lake cabin every year and we all wake at the crack of dawn (or 6:00am, but that's close enough) and head out on what I consider to be a very hilly course. But when Maria and I arrived early Friday evening, we found that we had beaten Megan and her family to the cabin, so we felt we had no choice but to hit the Quarterdeck, a bar and restaurant on the same lake, for a beer or two while we waited.
The Quarterdeck is a quaint little place filled with decor I'd describe as Country Fishin'. Lots of hand painted plaques adorned the bar with pithy sayings like, "Fishing...A Jerk on One End of the Line Waiting for a Jerk on the Other." The bar was separated from the dining room by a row of cabin screen doors and the pine walls were covered in oars and bobbers. You know what I'm talking about - my kind of place. Maria and I ordered Blue Moons and the bartender went on and on about how everyone is crazy for this "new" beer. I didn't have the heart to tell him Blue Moon isn't even remotely new, but I was happy that more people were able to enjoy it now that it had reached outstate Minnesota.
While we chatted we asked to look at the menu, just for future reference. Chicken, nachos, sandwiches and a Friday Fish Fry made up pretty typical offerings. But a few unusual things did catch my attention. The best part of the menu was the section entitled "For the Lighter Appetite." Here one would usually expect to find perhaps cottage cheese and peaches, a hamburger patty, a light tuna salad, or maybe an open-faced sandwich served with fruit. Not at the Quarterdeck. Here on Gull Lake, "For the Lighter Appetite" means Roast Beef w/Gravy, 8 ounces of Chopped Steak, and my personal favorite, Beef Stroganoff. Don't fail to notice in the photo that items from the "For the Lighter Appetite" section of the Quarterdeck's menu all come with baby red or mashed potatoes, vegetables du jour, cole slaw AND popovers with honey butter. I can't imagine what you'd get if you were feeling more than just a bit peckish! And don't even get me started on the incorrect use of the word "Calve's" when referring to the liver dinner.
The second best part of the menu was called "The Best of the Land and Lakes." I get it, a local riff on Surf & Turf. Cool. Except that crabs and scallops don't come from lakes. I couldn't resist giving the super nice and fun bartender some guff for these menu gaffes. I called him over and pointed to the shrimp selection on the menu and asked him what lake they pulled the shrimp from for their Shrimp Scampi. He laughed and said he doesn't write the menus and Maria told him not to listen to anything I say because I'm a jerk. But not the kind waiting for a jerk on the other end of the line, just a flat-out jerk.
The joke was on me because yesterday's 70 mile bike ride was fraught with cold and wind and hills and I ended up with a raging, phlegm-filled cough that hurt my lungs along with extreme muscle aches that continue today. It's true what they say, karma is certainly a bitch.