An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa

My plan was to swim in Clear Lake and have a picnic on the beach. I imagined a game of Laser Tag or going through the Clear Lake Fire Museum, which is in walking distance to the 9/11 Steel Memorial crafted from an artifact salvaged from the World Trade Center after September 11, 2001. I thought we would cruise the lake on the Lady of the Lake, a picturesque paddlewheel.

David planned on sleeping in!

He may or may not have dreaded our last stop in Clear Lake, Iowa. He compromised by taking me shopping in Mason City and eating lunch at Pasta Bella. You can tell I am all about the bread!

Pasta Bella "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

I learned a painful lesson at Pasta Bella. When the waitress asks you if you want a few minutes, take her up on it! They had 2 specials and David ordered one of them but I am a salad girl. I ordered the salad that had artichoke hearts and other ingredients I don’t normally have at home.

The waitress asked if I wanted to add meat to my salad: chicken, salmon, or shrimp. I cook with chicken all the time and I do not care for salmon. I ordered the shrimp. It cost $8.00 extra. Yikes! I regretted spending that much money on 6 grilled, jumbo shrimp! It was very good. (After lunch we went back to the hotel and relaxed.)

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Our first destination in Clear Lake was “The Landing.” It was on the lake next to the pier where the boats dock. You could eat outside or in the shade.

The Landing "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.orgClear Lake Pier "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

David ordered the “Fish and Chips” and I ordered the “Hawaiian Chicken with Parsnip and Carrot Fries.” I love trying new foods when I eat out. (Now I know, I am not a fan of parsnips.) The food was excellent and they have live music on Friday nights.

Fish and Chips "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

While we waited for our food I took a picture of my jewelry. I was wearing a ring that was a copy of Princess Diana’s wedding ring. I remember that royal wedding. I was jealous of all the pretty things but she died so young and so tragically 20 years ago. I am glad I did not have her life.

Memory Jewelry "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

The bracelet was a gift from David’s cousin. His wife died from cancer and he shared all of her jewelry. I may not have a lot of money, but I have my health and that is everything!

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

After dinner, we went to the beach and took pictures. We enjoyed watching the antics of the kids who were there.

Clear Lake Beach "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

Then we headed to the highlight of our trip –

The Surf Ballroom!

This is where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” sang their last concert. There was a marquee that had autographed guitars all along the top of it. I took several pictures and sent them to the guitar players in our worship band – just to make them jealous.

Memorial at the Surf Ballroom "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

Surf Ballroom "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

The pictures don’t do justice to all the posters, memorabilia, instruments, and autographed photographs of all the musicians who played there over the years. You just have to go see it for yourself! Don’t miss the outside display where you can hear Buddy, Richie, and The Big Bopper each singing their top hit. (Note: these were all before my time.)

Ready for Ballroom Dancing "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

The Jan Graber Orchestra was there that night for ballroom dancing. David and I don’t dance. We shuffled through our first son’s wedding and I wanted to do better at our second son’s wedding next year. I figured in 4 hours we would figure out how to get around the dance floor without going in opposite directions!

David was not enthusiastic. We sat through the “Rumba,” the “Samba,” and the “Two-step.” (I posted updates on Facebook for my friend Paula who does know how to dance.)

When they played the song, “New York, New York,” they called for everybody to dance. We got halfway around the room when David said, “Oh, I twisted my knee!” We sat back down. He rested it for a little while and I did get to dance four more times. I think we only made it around the room once!Ballroom Dancing "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

There were couples the age of our parents and three couples in their twenties. They knew what they were doing and it was fun to watch them. We found our own rhythm and enjoyed ourselves in spite of our lack of lessons.

The couples in the booth next to us were from Ottumwa, Iowa which is about 30 miles from our home. We talked with them most of the evening. One lady was the first bookkeeper for the Area 15 AEA. We told her our daughter-in-law worked for AEA when they first married and I was a bookkeeper at a local preschool and daycare for 18 years.

At 8:30 p.m. some of the older couples started going home. That was all the excuse David needed. It was starting to feel like Saturday night at Mom’s watching Lawrence Welk. (Who also played at the Surf Ballroom.) We snuck out because I had a cannoli calling my name. We bought desserts at Pasta Bella and saved them for after the dance.

Cannoli and Italian Cake from Pasta Bella "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Monday, on the way home, we filled up the van and used our reward money from our BP Credit Card, 20 gallons for $2.18. That made up for the shrimp!

Thanks BP Rewards Card "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

Of course, if you make your husband go ballroom dancing, you will have to make one more stop before going home – “Guitar Center.”

David in Guitar Center "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

My Frugalfish tips are:

  1. Be flexible with your plans; you might miss a few attractions.
  2. Take your time ordering. That last-minute addition could really cost you.
  3. Schedule in times of rest. It is a vacation, not a marathon.
  4. Enjoy what you do have and don’t compare yourself to others.
  5. Cherish your good health.
  6. Dance to your own steps and enjoy the music.
  7. Take time to get to know the people around you.
  8. Always get dessert!
  9. Save your rewards for your vacation.
  10. Be sure to stop at places your spouse would enjoy.

I was lucky, my husband made the weekend all about me! He’s a keeper.

Next week, on the first day of fall, I will give you a “Frugalfish Fall Home Tour.”

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2 thoughts on “An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa

    • Lesson learned! I try to order things I don’t normally eat at home. We are careful with our food budget at home and then we can splurge when we are on vacation. (My last week long vacation was in 2012.)

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