February is here and winter is 1/2 done!!! Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, Football, and Miles on the Bike...

The glass is 1/2 full - or is it 1/2 empty?

Today is the 45th day of Winter.  Counting today, we have 45 more days of winter to go.  1/2 way there!!!  This Winter officially began on December 21st, 2013 and officially ends on March 19th, 2014. 

February was ushered in this weekend with about 3" of snow during the night.  And we needed it.  We need more in fact.  The drought has zapped this part of Iowa and we fear a poor growing season this year.  I got up on Saturday morning and shoveled the driveway and walks before taking the dogs for their morning walk.  Coffee and a bowl of cereal with yogurt got my pump primed for what was to come...

We had tickets to the 2014 Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival being held at the Iowa State Fair Grounds.


The event was to be from 10 AM to 5 PM and we decided getting there at 11-12 would be about right and fit with our hunger plans.  The roads were in good shape and we arrived at the fairgrounds about 11:45 to snag a parking spot way out on the northern edge of the parking lot.  The line to get in was about a mile long, but moved pretty quickly.  Luckily the wind was non-existant and the sun was shining, so the 30 minute stand in line was not too bad considering we left our coats in the car.  We went through the check-in area and got our Blue Ribbon gift bags which contained a t-shirt, 2 drink tickets, 5 food tickets, a beer koozie, a jar opener, and some coupons.

Entering the Hy-Vee Hall it was clear that not only was the line outside long, but the 9000 of us that did manage to score tickets for this event meant it was a large, and crowded stand around...


Wow!  Even at my height, I found it difficult to see things and figure out where to go for the food booths.  Not the sort of event anybody that is claustrophobic should be attending for sure!!!  Tara, with her broken hand, tucked in behind me and allowed me to "block" as we cut a path from section to section of the event.

Our first line was for a bacon slider.  Finally, as we approached the table, the lady said they had to send the last pan back to cook longer and it would be about 10 minutes.  Great - 15 minutes wasted standing in line.  We moved on for a free sample of bacon.  Then on to a wonderful treat from La Mie Bakery in Des Moines:  croissant filled with bacon, and a chocolate covered coconut macaroon with bacon!!!  Yum.  Next was a beer from one of the drink stations.  Then, we had some bacon wrapped jalapenos.  Yum.

Since the theme for the event was "Viva Las Bacon", no surprise there were quite a few spottings of Elvis.  We ran into this trio and they were lubed up pretty good from beer and posing for photos with all takers.  So Tara jumped in...


Then they decided to do a pre-Superbowl football formation hiking something to Tara which turned into a twerking move!!!


We ate, drank and made our way to the other building where we snagged a pair of seats to sit and listen to some music and view the huge crowd...


We saw fellow BikeIowa.com team member Sam Auen's food stand selling his famous taco and nacho delights.  No bacon - just his normal delicious goods.  So we said hello and grabbed a generous portion of nachos.  Sam - you had the best food at the event this year that we ate!!!


Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival 2014

It was loud.  Crowded.  Overwhelming.  And by 1:30 PM, a lot of things we wanted to buy to take home were already long sold out.  No more macaroons.  Cookies were gone.  Food booths were sold out.  WTF?  Did they plan their day so incorrectly to run out of food 2 1/2 hours into the event with 3 1/2 hours to go?  Hmmm....so we scrounged around for a few more things to finish up spending our food tickets and decided at 2 PM to bag it and head home.

It was fun, but we can now say "been there, done that".  It's simply too crowded, not enough food was available, and what was there was all more on the "junk food" side of using bacon.  It's too loud and oversold in terms of tickets and the sheer number of people in such a tight and crowded space means the only way through the crowd was literally to push and part the people like Moses.  If they expanded it to at least 4 buildings for the same amount of people, had some interesting food items that really utilized bacon with more items outside of the junk food realm, provided more seating, and lowered the ticket price a bit - we might reconsider.  I guess that sounds like I'm knocking it, but I'm just saying it would take some changes to get me to attend again.

We stopped by Whole Foods on the way home to stock up for dinner and my Superbowl salad ingredients.  We came home, took a bit of a nap, and then I dialed in 90 minutes averaging a calm 165 watts to burn off some of the eats and drinks.  We ate some baked halibut and fresh vegetables for dinner to counteract the bacon festival treats.

Sunday was a house cleaning day as it needed it.  Zack was having students over to watch the football game after their opera rehearsal, so we cleaned and set up the basement for that.  Tara and I were headed over to join our usual group for the annual Superbowl potluck.  Before that, there was a lot of laundry to take care of, floors to clean, and general things to do before the big game.  I think I was at it non-stop from about 6:45 AM until we left at 4:45 PM.  Including, burning off a lot of calories doing a big Zone 2 ride with some Zone 3 segments of 3 minutes each thrown in here and there for a 2 1/2 hour grind.  It felt good and the calorie burn was needed.  I made a big spinach salad, with dry cherries, bacon, blue cheese, baked walnuts, red onion, red bell pepper, and a raspberry vinagrette dressing to take to the potluck.  Then I hopped in the shower and got ready for the big game.

Fun was had by all at the party with the food, the beer, watching the game and commercials, etc... .  Too bad the game was a total blowout.  C'est la vie.  In spite of all the food consumed on Saturday and Sunday, I managed to come out on this side of the weekend with enough of a calorie deficit from the training to shed 1/2 a pound through it all.  I'll take that!!!

Looks like a winter storm is headed our way for Tuesday/Wednesday bringing enough snow that will require me to fire up the snow blower for only the 2nd time this winter.  Tara, with her new cast, decided to try and drive herself to work today since it is sunny and the roads are dry.  Starting the car, shifting, and everything with her left hand only. 

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