The Pizza Shack

I went to college in a small Iowa town called Lamoni (pronounced LUH-MOAN-EYE).

In that town are maybe 6 places to eat, but everyone in the town knows of the Pizza Shack.


Named the Best Pizza in Iowa (in 1981), the Shack, as it is affectionately known has been owned and run by the same family, the Hamptons, for a few decades now. The Shack was there when my parents were at Graceland in the late ’60s and it is still there now, ten years after I graduated.


I worked there during my freshman, sophomore and junior years at Graceland and during those lunch shifts, I met and got to know the woman who would become my wife. I was a cook and she worked the front of the house. We got to spend a lot of time laughing and talking as we would get ready for lunch service.

I lived next door to the Shack for a year too. That was the year that Alli and I started dating. Coincidence? Probably. I remember how I used to come back from work smelling of pizza. I never tired of that smell of dough and sauce and pepperoni. The old oven, the linoleum floor, the stop light and jukebox and the old decorations all are a part of the wonderful experience and make the memory all that much richer.


If you’re ever on I-35, headed from Kansas City through Des Moines, be sure to stop in Lamoni. Just watch out for the Amish people.

Do Nothing Day

Alli and I had one of the very few days on a weekend that we have absolutely no plans. Sunday is going to be a madhouse, so we thought we’d take today to do nothing.

We did nothing and it was everything we hoped it would be.

Armed with Season 3 of How I Met Your Mother (seriously, if you aren’t watching this show, there’s just no talking to you), we rolled out of bed around 9:30, picked up Starbucks and Mollie B’s muffins and started on disc one of three. About 2/3 of the way through disc 2, I made a decision to accomplish one thing today: mowing the lawn. I figured that I probably won’t have to mow again this year and I haven’t in several weeks…it was long, but it only took about an hour.

After I got done, it was about 3:00 and we were hungry, so I called the Original Pizza in the Great Mall. The Original Pizza is the only reason to go to the Great Mall.

When I got home, we finished up Season 3 of HIMYM by about 7:00. We’ve been puttering around since and made a short trip to Michael’s so Alli could pick up some inexpensive pre-made canvases for her business.

It’s been a glorious day. No expectations, totally relaxing… everything that we intended with absolutely nothing on the agenda.

Also, this is my first post for NaBloPoMo. I doubt I’ll be able to keep up a post a day for a whole month, but I’m willing to give it a shot. I am not really qualified for Chimpotle’s Movember because I refuse to cleanly shave my face EVER because I look ridiculous.

California – PART ONE

Last Thursday night, we left for California to attend the memorial service for my late Uncle Larry. It was quite a trip. We found some amazing tickets on Midwest Express ($218 round trip at the last minute…REALLY?…REALLY.) and were able to be out there with my Aunt Paula and the rest of our family on my mom’s side that we rarely get to see. (One caveat of those cheap tickets was that we could not return until today…no problem in my eyes.)

Anyway, we got in late Thursday night and were picked up at LAX by my dad who arrived from Thailand early that morning. Let me just say that LAX (at least the Midwest/Frontier/Alaska Airlines terminal) is absolutely BOOTY. When we departed the plane, I felt a little like Stillwater in the movie Almost Famous after they get off of the plane and are walking through the terminal. It was almost abandoned and extremely boring. Check it out:


Don’t the three of them totally look like Stillwater?

Anyway, not much doing that night. We got up the next day and drove to Laguna Beach for breakfast at The Beach House, a restaurant that Alli and I visited about 8 years ago when we went on one of our first vacations together to visit my family back then. The food wasn’t as great as I remembered it, but the ambiance was just as spectacular. It’s a small restaurant that overlooks the ocean, the kind of out-of-the-way place that you’d probably find some celebrity at, but alas, we didn’t find anyone. We drove down to the Dana Point Doubletree Hotel and bought tins of cookies. Why? Because everyone loves cookies and these cookies were absolutely incredible.
Saturday was an open day, but it was also my dad’s birthday. We went CD shopping with him and tried to go to places that he would want to go to eat (of course, it was darn near impossible). It was a pretty lax day after that. We went to my Aunt and late Uncle’s house and were joined by a lot of other family members, including my two older cousins, Cindy and Stacy, my other two uncles, Monte and Byron, as well as Byron’s wife, Robyn and their youngest son, Sid. Check Sid out:


On Saturday night, we went to California Pizza Kitchen, a nationwide chain that I’d actually never been to. I had an awesome, totally unexpected pizza. Since I was there, I thought I’d try something different…the California Club Pizza. It had freaking LETTUCE on it. It was incredible.

We also talked briefly about what we was going to happen the next day at the memorial service and then everyone dispersed (other family members arrived that evening as well). A side note…we TRIED to go to the Olive Garden (I’m glad we didn’t, or should I say COULDN’T), but there was a 3 hour wait. Thus, we went on to CPK. Yum. And we have one in KC on the Plaza!

California Club Pizza

Sunday and Monday…to be continued…