Jukebox Skipping

Friday, July 26, 2013

BAR-M Corral, Loma, Nebraska -- REVIEW

State Road W
Welcome...sort of
Loma, Nebraska 
402 545 2174

(Editor's Note:  Never in the three years of HitThatDive has one review ever stirred-up such a shit storm of comments! I've been called everything from an awful person to hilarious....from a horrible parent to "spot-on".  One comment said "Loma is fun, I see no harm in this article it is the truth"... to "We can tell that you have no respect for people.  Apparently there is no middle ground on this one)

I don't know where to begin?  Rarely, if ever, am I at a loss for the proper words to describe any variety of shit-holes, dumps, dives, juke joints or regular old neighborhood bars...but this one has me baffled. Usually this is where I give a little background on how I decided to review a bar in the first place...you know...the backstory.  So I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

In a recent conversation with HTD co-directors of research, Mark and Becky, they told me about an odd little bar in a small (like 40 people total small) "town" that is best known for being the fictitious Snydersville, Nebraska in the Patrick Swayze film "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.  Sounds fine enough to me...I'll have to get there some day because Mark and Becky are never wrong on out-of-the-way bars to review.

Bar-ish
Then last week I was catching-up with fellow dive aficionado, ace reporter, and all around good egg Cara Pesek from the World Herald.  Cara also mentioned the Bar-M, and painted such a vivid picture of a bar so dirty and gross, complete with a mean owner that once denied her and her friends the chance to shoot a game of pool because she (the owner) was folding her laundry on the pool table, that I KNEW I had to make the drive out there the second I had a chance.

PROS: It's a one of a kind experience.  Great afternoon road trip destination.  
CONS: Bad things happen in this place...I just know it!

First Impressions:  Turn off 92 onto "Road W" and go for, I'm guessing, six miles or so on a dirt road.  Pass the creepy little cemetery on the left and you're almost in "downtown" Loma. Originally, this was a Czech settlement in a region known as Bohemian Alps.  Mistake one...I didn't heed Cara's warnings about the place and threw "Scuba Jr." and one of my daughters into the car with me when I left the house.

Cash only
Have you ever seen the movie with Kirk Douglas called The Final Countdown?  At some point in the movie, an aircraft carrier enters a vortex and everyone in it is transported back to December 1941. Obviously, that vortex is now just before the cemetery in Loma, and it sends you back to the year 1909.

I park the car next to the bar, and we take a stroll down the main drag, my daughter quickly points out that there is "No Chance" 40 people live in this town.  We look at the few buildings that are still standing, including a church still in good shape, and ponder if the Bar-M Corral is even open.  A handmade sign in the front door, behind a dirty old screen door, claims that they are indeed "Open". I give the front door a try and it opens...dear God...this will give the kids nightmares for years.

The Bar:   I am using the term "bar" here very loosely.  Yes, technically there is a bar with roughly 8 rickety old stools and a few assorted beer signs and old bottles scattered about for good measure. However, other words that could have been used for this section also are: flea market, flop house, hobo paradise, vagabond vacation, or mother of all dumps.  It's hoarders meets the wild west.

Betty!
In all honesty, I was a bit unnerved by the lady sitting at a table reading and watching a western movie on a really old TV, that I'm not sure I really took in just how "unique" this place truly is.  Why so unnerved you ask?  I was sure that it was a set-up much like this place where the witch tried to bake Hansel and Gretel in the story by the Brothers Grimm.  Note to self...do NOT let the kids out of your sight for a second.  Oh, and I think all she sells is beer in cans...that's it.

The Crowd:  Let's see...there was me.  Scuba Jr. My daughter. And, the old lady owner (Betty). End of list.

Service:  How to best describe this one.  For the first minute we were in there, she never once looked up from her book or said anything. Awkward . Finally, I uttered the first of two things they were spoken the entire time we were in there.  Asking her for a beer was the equivalent of poking a hibernating bear with a stick...oh sure...she seemed too groggy to do much damage.  But, not unlike a half-comatose bear...there's just always a threat that something bad can happen at any second.  My biggest fear?  That's easy...that she was going to lumber over to the bar and out of nowhere she was going to just start cackling and saying , "You're all doooomed!! HAHAHAHAHA". Of note...that never happened.

Is that you John Wayne?
Price:  Word on the street is that she will sell you a beer for $1 if you drink it outside...and for $2 if you prefer to drink in the luxury of the Bar-M.  I'm not quite sure what I paid, I handed her a $5 and received back two one-dollar bills and an odd assortment of dimes and nickels for a can of Bud Light. So, I assume the beers are a little more than $2 inside these days, but I never did ask about the outside price.

Food:  Two children to bake into gingerbread cookies is my only guess.

Entertainment:  Two old TVs, the pool table/laundry table, and enough items for a rummage sale that you could spend hours going through just one part of the boxes along the walls.  Here's an even better thing to do, dare one of your jacksass buddies to drink water from the sink in the bar that says "Do not drink this water."  I assume that water is used to make potions to turn people into toads...but again...that is only a hunch.

Or what?
Bartender Chat:  As I mentioned earlier, only two things were said while I was there.  I ordered a beer and the second was asking bar owner Betty (aka "Sweaty Betty from what I learned on Facebook yesterday) if I could take a few pictures.  I believe her response was "I don't care", but don't quote me on that one.

Restrooms:  I have failed you on this one.  There was no chance I would leave my ever-increasing scared children alone...even for a quick picture.  But, I did find a blog post from a woman that was born and raised in Loma, and she has a few good pictures of the bathrooms here.

How Far Did My $20 Go:  For the first time ever, I only made it through one beer.  As my children's blinks of S-O-S became more rapid as they looked at me with a pained expression, I knew it was a "one and gone" sort of afternoon.  My guess is, if you take your beer outside, you can get close to about 15 of them...not a bad deal.

Take. Us. Home.
Final Impressions:  Like I said, I made two mistakes.  One I brought my kids...and two...I was completely unprepared for what was behind the dirty screen door when I got there.  I guess that's my way of saying...I AM GOING BACK HERE AGAIN!  Yeah it's awful.  Yeah it's dirty, and yeah Betty is the opposite of friendly.  But where else can you go anywhere in this country for this sort of bar relic experience?  There can't be too many quite like this one.

My advice, get a group of friends to drive out here one afternoon...there is strength in numbers after all.  Leave the kids at home and send me an invitation to hitthatdive@gmail.com...I would love to tag along with anyone heading that way.

We hopped back in the car, drove back through the vortex by the cemetery and were given a cheerful wave by a farmer on a tractor. It was at that moment that I wondered was that all just part of a bad dream...or was I hallucinating from winning a five dollar bet from Scuba Jr. and drinking a glass of water from the "Do not drink the water" sink? I may never be quite the same.  In any case...HIT THIS DIVE!

DIVE-O-METER
A league of its own!


One of a kind!



79 comments:

  1. You could not have written a more dead on review of this bar but you brought a smile upon my face as I recalled memories of that bar growing up. My grandparents had lived in Loma... Still to this day when we go visit the farm, we stop for a beer and drink it outside.
    :)

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    1. Thank you. Next time I'm going with the "drink my beer outside" option. Great views of Nebraska from Loma.

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    2. Since your last visit, Betty has died a few years ago, and the bar has two new owners. They TOTALLY cleaned the place up, AND you CAN use the bathrooms and they're CLEAN! Live band and prime rib on Fridays and live polka bands and duck and dumplings on Sundays. You need to go back again :)
      Patti Popken

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  2. Your review was 98% accurate. However, cut "Sweaty Betty" a break, she just got out of the hospital. The old Betty would have at least gotten up to serve you without you asking.

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  3. You know, when we 1st walked into the bar, she asked us if we were in Loma because of the movie. We were perplexed and Betty proceeded to tell us about "To Wong Foo" being shot in Loma. It was an amusing beginning to a few minutes spent in the bar. Sorry you didn't make it to the facilities: they are everything you imagine they could be.

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  4. This is rude and I see your not a very good parent hence drinking and driving with your children.

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    1. One beer. Yeah...I think the law is still on my side.

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  5. I'm from Brainard. Been to Loma many times on the bike trail as it's just a few miles out. This was hilarious. And pretty spot on. When I would come back home and bring my Lincoln friends, I always made sure to stop by. I once brought a friend from south Florida, put on the "Walker Texas Ranger theme" and just parked in the middle of Loma and drank a beer. I think he's still wondering if that night actually happened. Also the church is in good shape because of rennovations that the crossing dressing movie brought on.

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    1. CLASSIC!! Ross, if you're ever headed that way again let me know...I'll bring the 12-pack!

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    2. I live in Detroit now working as a business reporter. But I should be around again in November. But the Loma bar is good times as are pasture parties and whatever else can be done around Loma. It is like a time machine in some ways, and I like to crack jokes myself, but hey I've never had a bad time around Loma. Although I guess around Loma is a relevant term seeing as my hometown is closer to the Loma cemetery than my house now is to my bank.

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    3. Look me up when you're here next time...for real! Sounds like it would be a blast.

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    4. Thank you for that reply, RB!!! I know Loma, have eaten goat in the Bar M Corral, and have been as terrified of the surroundings as anybody, but I treasure the experience ... "Betty Bones" is now gone to the great Bar M in the sky, God Bless any one that has ever graced her amazing bar ...

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  6. Loma is a ghost town just waiting to happen! I don't think there is a paved road for miles and I'm surprised they (still) have working telephone service there.

    Oh well ...

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  7. Loma is fun I see no harm in this article it is the truth. Betty is a nice lady has lots of storys. No I have never used the bathrooms or even seen them. As for one drink with the kids no harm this made me laugh....

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    1. I encourage everyone to go to Loma. It's a part of the world most people assume, even those in Nebraska, does not exist anymore. Yeah...one beer with the kids is doing no harm for anyone. Now...if people want to get pissy...do it because of all the Zesto ice cream I let them eat in Wahoo!

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  8. Drank my first beer in Loma!!! It was a great bar,love betty a great women!!I will have to go back soon.

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  9. Believe it or not but I have been in this bar when it was packed and there was hardly any room to move around. We spent quite a few hours there after a close family friend was buried in the cemetery. I think they managed to drink everything that she had in stock.

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  10. Its a great pit stop, (for me a destination) for someone pedaling the bike trail from Valparaiso,
    park your vehicle in Val and pedal on up there, its almost all downhill coming back

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  11. Ha, I had a better picture of the sink, it had brown water sitting in it. Did go into the bathroom and it had many cleaning supplies in it(with dust on them). We got a six pack to go and it came in a Walmart bag. It is an experience! We hit every road not to be driven on finding Loma!

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  12. i appreciate anybody's opinion but it would sure be nice if you would explore the history of this bar and the things they've done to get were there're at. and i can assure you that your children will be safe in this community. would you be comfortable letting your kids be unintended at your local drinking establishment? yeah loma might not be a time bar but loma is welcome " if you can find it"

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    1. I tried to do some digging online but didn't find much. Thought all the comments and emails that I've received, I've learned A TON about the history of this place.

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  13. Grew up going here all the time! Back in the day she would have pot lucks and we would play pool.....things have changed a lot! When we are home we all love to go sit outside and see Betty at the good ole loma bar! Bring friends and go again!(maybe let her know your coming she will carry more beer on hand! Haha) NOTE: she does have an active liquor license(believe it or not!) and she is one heck of a tuff old bird she is grumpy to the "out of towners" bring Cara (or another local with you)back home with ya .....once Betty makes the link your beer may be on the house!

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    1. A trip back a this point is not a matter of if...it's only a matter of when!

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  14. As a member of one of the Family's living in this "Ghost Town" waiting to happen I first want to say, People that live here choose to do so, to get away from the headaches and ratrace of the bigger towns. You can get to Lincoln,Omaha,Columbus with in a 45 minute drive. This is one of the safest places to live, why? Because everyone here knows everyone and they watch out for one another something that doesn't happen in the bigger cities. Bar M has been a part of Loma for several years and will continue being so when the novelty of going there for some wears off. So if you are out roadtripping and happen to stumble upon our awesome lil town make sure you stop in have a beer and be respectful to the wonderful lady running the place.

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    1. I highly encourage anyone that reads this to make a trip to Loma. A place where a stranger still got a friendly wave from a farmer on a tractor...the way people once treated everyone.

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  15. Went there last night with about 20 people, I left early but word is when they went outside Betty turned out the lights! Guess that meant get the hell out of there.

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    1. Or, perhaps, just a friendly way to say..."See you tomorrow"?

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  16. You must have hit Betty on a bad day. My friends and I go to the Bar M every year after the Nebraska Spring game, she's never been anything but nice to us! We always grab beers and go sit outside in the gazebo, great place!

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  17. I love this! My mother in law is from Loma. Been there several times and I love the serenity the place brings. So glad you got the experience!

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  18. Spot on except did the dog with cataracts die? She used to have a dog in there too. Creepy dog, but friendly. it was old and its eyes were all bulged out. Its much better to go there at night. Spooky roads and pretty much a ghost town. We went on Halloween one year all dressed up. Betty didn't think much of that. I'm from Prague and its one of my favorite places to take people from Lincoln or Omaha. We go at least once a year. Write up!

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    1. No dog spotted...but sounds like the dog could not even spot itself in a mirror either!

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  19. Teresa LaRose....KansasJuly 29, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    Betty is one of the nicest people you will ever meet in your life. She would do anything for anyone. Next time, take your kids and stay awhile, they could learn a lot from her. I would trust her with my kids anyday. How do I know this ? She is my aunt and I love her to death.

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    1. Next time I will for sure...knowing what I have learned from my first trip there of course.

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  20. My grandmother was born in Loma. My grandparents often attend the church services. I have been in there several times over the years. I also had the pleasure of knowing several of the wonderful people resting in the cemetery. If I am correctly informed the cemetery used to be part of my great grandfathers farm. The surrounding ground is still in the family. I can remember playing as a child on the merry go rounds that used to be on the south side of the bar. There used to be a back portion of the bar that was Bettys home. There are now some restrooms for the bike trail just north of the bar.

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    1. A trip back to Loma is already in the works.

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  21. Myself, my husband and triplets have been here! My kids weren't even 3 years old when we buried their great-grandma, my grandmother in that cemetery and had a drink after to celebrate. You say the cemetery is creepy but there is so much history buried there, you should talk to someone to find out!

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    1. I plan on doing that. "Creepy" was my first impression, over the past few days, I have learned more about Loma than I ever imagined possible.

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  22. The pickles are thee best, you have to get one!! & betty is amazing!

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  23. Dennis and Bambi LaPageJuly 29, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    Betty is a wonderful person. She has had so many things stolen from her bar. As for the water you can't drink the water in town. She runs out of water when the farmers water their cattle because the town sits so high up. And for the dog. She was a freindly dog and she is buried at our farm along with some really good and wonderful pets from around. You discust me for what you have said and have realy hurt her. We can all tell that you have no RESPECT for people.

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    1. Read the other comments in this thread from people in this area...

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    2. Dennis and Bambi, thank you for speaking so fondly of Betty. Next time you see her, please give her a hug from me.

      Priscilla Krehbiel Clark
      Deanna Krehbiel's daughter

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  24. Betty is a precious lady! As a child I loved going to her house in Newton, Ks. to visit her and see our cousin's, Jimmy and Shelly. One of my fondest memories is she would put a straw in an orange and we would drink the juice out!
    Until we are given the privilege to hear someone's life story, we should never judge or assume the worst. As a young woman, Betty worked in an orphanage, this proves how tender hearted she is.
    She has had a hard life. She has had to stand strong on her own two feet.
    Instead of trying to get a free beer, I challenge people to over pay her. After all, this is her only means of income!

    God Richly Bless You Aunt Betty-

    Priscilla

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    1. ^^^^^^^^THIS ONE^^^^^^^^^^^^

      I'm all for organizing $5 a beer day on here to help Betty out. I bet we could pack the place on that day.

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    2. Thank you, she deserves to receive instead of always giving!

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    3. Would be more than happy to do it, if you think it's a good thing to do.
      Of course, according to some I apparently have no "respect" for people...so maybe it's not a good idea to help her raise some extra cash.

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    4. I think lack of respect comes from the numerous rude comments you made about her. I promise you she wouldn't eat your kids, we are all still alive to prove it! I understand you are here to make people laugh, but at what expense?? Your comments brought tears to my eyes…
      As for the dirty bar…well, why clean? It's nice to know not everyone needs to join a Country Club to be happy! There's more to life than the all mighty $!

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    5. Yes. I am "Mr. Country Club."

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    6. Well said Priscilla. Can't wait to go there again for our next GNO. Us girls really had alot of fun there, and Betty was so pleasant to us.

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  25. I can assure you that you are not "Mr Country Club" because if you were, you wouldn't be taking your kids to a bar. Next time you feel the need to run someone down, look inside yourself first....that's where the problem originates.

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    1. Wonder why, then, so many people have commented and said my observations were "spot on"? If anyone would like to take the time and write an article about their observations of the place...I will gladly post that on here too. Name must be included.

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  26. I remember when I was a kid, my old man wouldn't let me play pool because her cat had kittens on the table. Yet they always could have pot lucks on the pool table. I am from around there, and she is nothing short of a very nice lady. I even went out of my way to take my wedding party there for a beer on my party bus.

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    1. There seems to be no bar in Nebraska that has more stories than this one...I've been shocked at all the responses.

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  27. Seeing the picture of your son and daughter, I can assure you that Betty would have thought they were much too cute to make cookies out of. (Oh, and they look sooooooo traumatized and frightened!)

    I just hope you did not instill in your children your great "gift" of judging someone by their looks and "two words".

    Say anything you want about the bar, but please do not hurt a very kind and loving person with name calling and snide remarks.

    I'll bet you a beer at the Bar M Corral that you won't print this.

    Kathy Herold, Betty's Sister

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  28. Seeing the picture of your son and daughter, I can assure you that Betty would have thought they were much too cute to make cookies out of. (Oh, and they look sooooooo traumatized and frightened!)

    I just hope you did not instill in your children your great "gift" of judging someone by their looks and "two words".

    Say anything you want about the bar, but please do not hurt a very kind and loving person with name calling and snide remarks.

    I'll bet you a beer at the Bar M Corral that you won't print this.

    Kathy Herold, Betty's Sister

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  29. I'm thinking the 10th...high noon. Isn't that when people meet at Corrals?

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  30. I think they meet in the middle of the street at high noon.

    The date works...but the time will have to be 3 pm or after.
    I golf on Sat. mornings at "The Country Club".

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    1. I have "Bad Parenting 101" and how to be an awful human being training that day...but I should be able to make that time work.

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  31. I don't think you need anymore training.

    I'll verify that the Bar M will be open.
    Betty has some health issues & procedures this coming week,
    So I would advise you to do the same.

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  32. Of course I can...too many people agreed with me. I can do far better than that.

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  33. I am from the area as well, loved your article, hilarious and spot-on! Of course Betty is endearing to those close to her but she definitely comes off a bit intimidating to those she doesn't know, and I don't think that's being unfair. If you do organize $5 beer night or head up there with Ross Benes (I've known him since kindergarten) I would love to join!

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  34. Tried to go in the Bar M in Loma and the lady said she was closed. It was only 8pm. Also, there was an old man peeing outside. It probably didn't help that I was an Asian girl with a Venezuelan guy and three Caucasian friends. One of my friends suggested it because of the awesomeness that is Bar M. Surprised we didn't get in. Too bad...still hear great stories about the place.

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    1. Since I posted this article, I've had several people tell me to always call ahead for that very reason. It's worth a trip back...when it's open. Trust me.

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  35. Janae, here. I wrote the blog post with the nasty bathroom photo. :) Love your post. I've been meaning to comment for a while now.

    Yes, definitely always call in advance. Once on a Saturday at 9 PM she was closed but she was open Christmas day at noon! I agree with your assessment of the bar but I must say, I usually have very friendly experiences with Betty.

    Also for those asking....the dog DID pass away. Super sad.

    Thanks again for linking to my Loma post. It's seen a resurgence in popularity since the bar made your site.

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    1. Janae:

      Hey there...it was your post that reassured me that I did not, in fact, dream the entire experience. For whatever reason, this review really hit a nerve with A LOT of people.

      Do you ever venture back to Loma? If so, let me know when, the Bud Light is on me!

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  36. I just went a couple of weeks ago, but I relocated to Denver last week. It'll probably be Christmas before I get back there! But I'll be sure and let you know.

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  37. My first impression was similar, but no doubt about it, Betty is good people. Next time you're there, ask if anyone has brought their horse up to the bar for a drink lately.

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  39. We had much of the same experiences you did (although we did not venture to bring the kids). We went out about 9:00 one Saturday night. Betty was none too eager to jump up and serve us, but all in all it was a good time. Atmosphere Oddly Uncomfortable. When you're the only ones in there and Betty isn't up for chatting, you feel very odd getting loud as we generally tend to be. We will hit you up if we ever add Loma to our Saunders County Dive trips.

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  40. Loma is one of my favorite "ghost towns" in the USA. I remember first time I went there, I thought to myself "Why would anybody want to live in a place like this?" haha. Tell you the truth, I was a bit hesitant to walk into the bar but I will make sure I do it next time. A very unique place for sure.

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  41. sorry to say but betty passed away and this bar is closed

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  42. The bar now has a new owner and has been remodeled big time. It is very civilized and nice now! The new owner is nice and does a great job. Good food and live music

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