Alright, I'm caught up on sleep and spending time with the family. The novelty of having me home has worn off for the kids and they are back to hiding in their rooms so I can finally get the last of the Fat Boy Summer Road Trip posted.Read More
Day 12 started with us leaving the Palazzo headed North for Reno. It was coming up on lunch time, so we stopped by John Mull's Road Kill Grill in North Las Vegas for some award winning BBQ. Tucked back in an old North Las Vegas neighborhood it isn't easy to find the Road Kill Grill, but this place knows how to BBQ. Huge portions and great prices rule the day, and the friendly folks in this shop will have you coming back for more. Click the link to read more about this amazing spot and our 12th day on the road.Read More
Day 11 began in Flagstaff, AZ just south of Grand Canyon National Park and around 700 miles from our destination of Las Vegas. Before leaving Flagstaff we stopped for lunch at one of my favorite Southwestern restaurants anywhere, Salsa Brava.Read More
We started our day at Ye Olde Pancake Station in Amarillo, TX and you have to click through to see the review of this place. We made a couple of stops for gas, the first of which was at a truck stop that had an auto museum you will see pictures from, but otherwise drove all day to make it to the hotel by 9:00 pm.Read More
Today we had planned on hard driving getting us to Albequerque, NM. We got a bit of a later start, and when I realized that Route 66 passed through Joplin, MO we decided to spend some time exploring the Mother Road instead of pushing down the interstate.Read More
We woke up after far too little sleep in Nashville this morning with another long day of driving planned, but wanted to see a couple things in the daylight before we left town. We went by and snapped a picture of the Nashville skyline in the morning sun and a picture of LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. Our final stop was to the Nashville Farmers Market to grab a fresh lunch before hitting the road for Joplin, MO to hug an old friend and have dinner with her.
The Nashville Farmers Market is huge, with five buildings in total. Two "Farm Sheds" contain stalls for local farmers to sell fresh produce and feature everything from turnip greens to fresh peaches and heirloom tomatoes. In the middle is the Food Court, an enclosed building that is home to several permanent restaurants, an international foods market, and quite a few temporary food booths selling everything from handmade pastries and gelato to traditional Indian and Jamaican foods.
The final two structures are the "Flea Market", featuring booths from dozens of different vendors. Here you can find all kinds of thins from clothing to household goods and designer fragrances.
In the Food Court we decided on a crepe from Music City Crepes. They intrigued me with hot savory crepes filled with meat and cheese. I had mine with ground beef, cheddar cheese, olives, onions, and fresh spinach. It was a nice refreshing yet substantial meal to hold us through the 600 mile drive planned for the day.
From Nashville we headed out on our long drive to the Southwest corner of Missouri. Crossing the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and the Ozark mountains.
Our route took us to one of the biggest river joinings in the world. In the span of two miles Route 51 took us across the Ohio River from Kentucky into Illinois, then across the Mississippi River from Illinois into Missouri just a mile north of the point where these two mighty rivers join. You are in Illinois so briefly that the only indication is a sign saying you are on the Lincoln historical trail just before you leave while crossing the Mississippi.
We checked into the Holiday Inn in Joplin and then met up with Katie, a good friend who lives just west of Joplin for dinner at the Steak n Shake before calling it a night. It was a long drive but worth it to have a few hours catching up with an old friend and having a meal together before heading to bed for Sunday's journey.
With yesterday's delays we had some miles to make up today, but had a night in Nashville waiting as our reward for making the push.
We saw some beautiful scenery crossing the Smoky Mountains as we crossed Virginia, and driving through them in Tennessee as we logged almost 900 miles. We stopped in Bristol, VA/TN for a later lunch and found ourselves at Burger Bar, a downtown Bristol fixture since 1942 with a big sign advertising Bristol's Best Burger. We were greated by friendly staff and a 1940s style diner that I'm sure looks very much like it did the day it opened.
I had a pretty basic bacon and cheddar burger made extraordinary by the hand formed fresh beef patty, high-grade bacon, and perfect seasoning. When I eat at this type of diner I try the burger the way it is served before I add condiments, and for a burger to be "Fat Boy Approved" it has to stand on its own. This burger did with no problem at all. The beef perfectly cooked, juicy without grease running all over, high quality toppings, and a great bun that held up without being too crusty.
After completing our meal we found out that Joe Deel, one of the owners was there and when our waitress handed him the card I left with the check he came out to talk with me for a few minutes. What I wish I had known before I ordered is that much of what they serve every day isn't on the menu. Regulars know to ask what they have fresh when they sit at the counter, and it has been known to range from fresh organic produce to venison. If I make it back I'll be sure to ask Joe what he wants to cook me instead of even looking at the menu. This is hometown hospitality and tradition done right, and Bristol's Famous Burger Bar is earning a permanent place in Fat Boy Heaven as a result. Whether you are in town for races at the Bristol Motor Speedway, or traveling through to learn more about Bristol's role in country music history make sure you stop in and see the Deel's and tell them the Fat Boy sent you.
As we left Bristol a torrential thunder storm hit out of nowhere, not an uncommon occurance this high in the Smoky Mountains. Visibility was so bad that traffic on the Interstate literally pulled over to wait it out or crept aong with 4-way flashers helping fellow travelers see them on the road. It passed almost as quickly, and we made the trip the rest of the way into Nashville without issue.
We checked into our hotel and quickly changed out of our travel clothes to go out and explore Nashville. Coop had never been here, and was blown away when we got down to Broadway, where the majority of the honky tanks in town sit side by side in a three block stretch near the Ryman Auditorium and the Nashville Convention Center. After walking the strip we decided nothing special was going on anywhere else, so we might as well hit the oldest of the bars. On Broadway, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. The place was packed and we waited on line for about 20 minutes before getting inside. Once there we got drinks at the bar from the friendly and efficient staff and found a spot to stand and enjoy the performance of Anthony Orion and the Goodfellows.
It was a great night at an amazing bar, and even after a long day on the road we couldn't pry ourselves away until last call. Now we can't wait to get back to Nashville with more time to explore.
Today started of OK, then got bogged down for hours before a great finish. We got moving this morning, checked out of our hotel in Towson, MD and planned to get to the Port of Baltimore around 1300 for Coop's appointment to ship his Jeep before a six hour drive to Raleigh, NC. Unfortunately, what we hoped was going to be a quick process dropping off the Jeep ended up keeping us there until after 1800, making getting to the Raleigh area and Ft. Bragg impossible.
what it did do was have us ending the night just south of Richmond, VA after a great meal and evenin catching up with an old friend for Coop and meeting a new friend for me when we met Art at Honey Whyte's.
When Art found out we were coming through late hetold us he had just the place for us to get the best burger in Richmond, and he was underselling what we found.
Located on Historic Tobacco Row in the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond, VA Honey Whyte's boldly proclaims on assign out front "best burger", and they back it up convincingly. The only entrees on the menu are burgers. They have turkey burgers for the healthy eaters and even a black bean patty for the vegetarians in the crowd but what they really do is beef. You start by choosing either a 1/4 pound or 1/2 pound patty and then the type of burger.
Fried pickles, the perfect appetizer
We started with an order of fried pickles, and they were perfect. Thickly battered and evenly coated, they were crispy and delicious. Back home fried pickles often are cooked at too low a tempature and end up a soggy mess, it's good to be in The South again.
The signature burger at Honey Whyte's is the 1/2 pound Heart Attack. A 1/2 pound fresh beef patty between two grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. Presentation was simple, a giant burger in the center of a clean white plate with a knife stuck in the center. No sides like fries to detract from the mountainous burger. The individual sandwiches were grilled crispy and perfectly browned, and the beef was one of the best burgers I've ever eaten. This goes in my top 5 list along with burgers like The Boncat Bite's Green Chile Burger in Sante Fe, NM and the Hot Brown Burger from Wallace Station in Versailles, KY.
It was great to meet Art and a great chance for he and Coop to catch up, but it was also an amazing burger experience. Serendipity to be sure on this Fat Boy Summer Road Trip.
Today took us away from the beach and back to the road. We passed through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and into Maryland for tonight's stop in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD.Read More
Day four brings us to Atlantic City, the storied "King of the Shore". To many of us, the streets were familiar long before we ever heard of Atlantic City. From Boardwalk and Park Place to Ventnor and Vermont Avenues the streets of downtown Atlantic City became the backdrop upon which Monopoly was built.Read More
Our second day on the road started with brunch at Granny's Pancake House and Diner in Hamburg, NJ. It looked like my kind of place, and was packed with cars, a sure sign of great food in any part of the country.Read More
Coop and I hit the road a bit after Noon headed south toward North-West NJ and dinner with my cousin Carol and her son Christopher.Read More
Day 4, the last on the train I woke up somewhere in central Ohio, just west of Elyria. I got up and around, took my last train board shower (not an easy proposition for a Fat Boy, let me tell you) and then headed up for breakfast.Read More
Day 3 of the Fat Boy Summer Road Trip of 2014 found me waking to an awesome view of the Mississippi River west of Red Wing, Minnesota. Most of the day was the same as the last, with places and views the only real difference.Read More
Breakfast is the one meal with little chance for variety on board a train. I started my morning just outside of Shelby, MT with pancakes and pork sausage. The pancakes were cooked through and not undercooked as sometimes can be the case with quick prepared breakfasts, and the sausage while obviously coming from under a heat lamp was still juicy and flavorful.
Service was quick and easy as you would expect in a small space with many passengers to feed quickly. A good breakfast and great start to the day.
Today's Lunch Market special was a stir fry chicken but had way more sauce than I consider normal for a stir fry.
Very spicy, with big chunks of peppers and broccoli. Served over a rice pilaf. I should have gone with something else, as this was not a good meal.
Service was slow. Painfully slow, and even more so given how quick it normally is. A couple who was seated at my table after I had ordered my drink was finished with lunch and ordering dessert by the time my entree arrived. Hopefully it was an anomaly and service will be up to par for the rest of the trip.
Dinner I decided on the Catch of the Day, which was catfish tonight. It could have been seasoned better, and while others said it was great mine was a little muddy. The seasoning is just personal preference and the muddiness is dumb luck with catfish. I should have had the steak I guess. Dinner was served with a rice pilaf and green beans, both of which were great. In all a good but not great day dining aboard the Empire builder. The service anomaly from lunch thankfully proved itself just that, and dinner was a great time once again meeting new people and harassing the staff.
For my whiskey selection tonight I opened the first of two interesting new whiskeys made from already brewed and DRINKABLE beer.
Tonight's selection is Pine Barrens Single Malt, distilled from a single malted traditional barley wine by the folks at Long Island Spirits in Baiting Hollow, NY. They start by brewing from scratch a traditional English Style Barley Wine Ale and then double pot distill the conditioned Ale.
The result is very aromatic, with hints of nutmeg and allspice on the nose. The first taste gives Pine Barrens it's name, as the very floral note has a pine tar hint that quickly faded to cinnamon and nutmeg giving it a very smooth and sweet finish. The sharp floral notes make this feel almost more like a cordial or digestif than a whiskey, but from ingredients to process a whiskey it is. A very nice taste that goes perfect after a meal.
With my wife and son out of town for the Holiday weekend I had the chance to take our daughter out to dinner tonight. We decided to try something new and settled on The Thirsty Lion's newest addition to the Streets of Tanasbourne.Read More
I was looking for a place to meet up with an old friend for a beer and was intrigued by Stickmen's website so we decided to give it a try. Located right on the East side of the lake in Lake Oswego, in a historic building next door to the Lake Theatre Stickmen is a brewpub that features a full menu, but specializes in Japanese skewers called Yakitori.Read More