Tag Archives: License Plate Game

Tying up Loose Ends…or Eating at Waffle House and Dairy Queen.

I love Waffle House!!

Almost immediately after starting this whole road trip I realized that we would be driving through a lot of Waffle House country. That may gross some of you out, but I, for some reason, am obsessed with Waffle House. I don’t even normally eat sweet breakfast, but if I see a Waffle House all I want is a waffle. And their hashbrowns, which are sooo good. (If you’re me). Lucky for us, on our last morning the Super 8’s breakfast buffet was lacking, and I convinced mom to hit up the Waffle House that was conveniently located right next door. She said she liked it even better than Friendly’s (I obviously do, Friendly’s is gross, except for their ice cream treats).

After breakfast, and now fortified with all the vitamins and minerals we would need, we were off!

Somehow the GPS lead us to a backwoods dirt road. At least it was pretty.

We headed out to Newport News, Virginia. Why? So we could visit my Uncle and stay on his boat. That’s right, a boat! It was my second time ever sleeping on a boat, and it was very different from the ferry crossing from Croatia to Italy. Much homier.

Before dinner we went out on his friends boat for a little cruise around the bridge. The guy made his boat all by himself. With his two bare hands. Walking uphill in a blizzard! (I made that last part up, but it was pretty neat to be on a homemade boat). I got some nice shots of the bridge, sunset, and the navy yards.

Compass at sunset.
Bridge and power lines. Looking very pretty, despite being designed for function over beauty.
Sunset in Newport News, VA.

For dinner, we got some nice fresh fish, some food and beers from the market, and headed back for a little grill time. Man, was that fish tasty! And probably the lightest thing we’ve eaten this whole trip! It was also nice meeting the other people who stay at the marina in the summer. A nice bunch of characters, and I think we fit right in.

Transporting our groceries to the grill from the car in the Marina’s trusty wheelbarrow.
Grilling the fish, vegetables, and corn. Converted me into a corn eater again, it was so good!
Uncle and Mom enjoying the feast.

Next day we headed back to New York City. We went over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Anchors away, baybay! It was a beautiful drive. After I kept seeing signs for the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. After checking the map, and determining that it was indeed feasible for us to go that route, we thought, why not! Plus, it’s only fair that if we get to go out on a boat, our car should too. So we reserved our spot, and got there just in time.

Driving into the belly of the beast.
We weren’t really in the belly, you can see our car right there! (middle, left side). It’s probably enjoying the breeze as much as we were.
Here I am, enjoying the breeze on the top of the ferry. Maybe even happier than the car.

Part of the reason that I was so happy on the ferry ride, and one reason we were almost late, is that as we turned our last corner I spotted our last chance to visit a DAIRY QUEEN! I’ve been nearly as obsessed with Dairy Queen as I have been with Waffle House! It was fate. We had to stop! Since I can get a blizzard-type desert most anywhere, I chose to go with the golden-hued butterscotch dip cone. It was magical. After we ate our desserts I asked mom how she liked it. Her response was along the lines of ‘you’ve really been wanting to go here this whole time?’. I sure had! It’s like childhood, except none of the ones I used to go to are open any more, so if I’m in Massachusetts I’m rarely near one.

Dairy Queen. Last chance for childhood! Or, open everyday…depending on how you look at it. 
As beautiful as a setting sun. And almost as bright.

Now I’m back in the NYC. Enjoying the heat and humidity somewhat less without the A.C., but happy to have spent the last two weeks out on the road seeing the country. Every place I saw had something amazing about it, and I can’t wait to see the rest of the country! Someday…

As for the License Plate Game, I can’t do a map because I don’t have my mom’s computer any more. But, we didn’t see any of the elusive plates on our last day of driving. I did, however run into Washington D.C. and Rhode Island licensed cars parked practically right next to each other the day after I got back, in Brooklyn. Too bad that street wasn’t on our route! I also saw each plate hanging on the wall in one of the bars near my house, but one of the rules is, if it’s not on a car, it doesn’t count!

One last picture that sums up our trip. Maybe next year we’ll take a western route and see some national parks? If I can convince the mom to do another trip!

Frugal MacDoogal’s Liqour Warehouse. In Nashville, TN, I believe. Sums up the essence of the trip.
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Super 8 is Super Great!

Super 8!

By far the motel we’ve frequented the most is the Super 8 Motel. It’s one of the more affordable motels, and usually there is a mini fridge and microwave as well. They are better at keeping the smoke-free rooms smoke free, and they offer a decent continental breakfast. I can usually grab some fruit to snack on throughout the day as well.

We drove from Nashville to Lexington, Kentucky. Horse country! We ended up at a horse park, however it was closed by the time we got there. Luckily, it was just the museum, so we could still explore the grounds. I got to check out a few ‘breed examples’, which was pretty neat (even though I memorized them using Breyer horses and coloring books when I was little).

Pony at the Horse Park.

Mini horse at the Horse Park.

Sleepy mini horse at the Horse Park. So cute!

We had dinner one town over, and had some local Kentuckian fare. I had a fried lamb sandwich, which was interesting, but rather bland. Mom had chicken with ham and gravy, and said her’s was tasty. I finished off the meal with some fried Oreos, which were definitely the best part of the meal.

We headed to West Virginia and experienced a little country crafts. It was kind of hokey, but some of the stuff was cool. Mom picked up some wine glasses and molasses. I got honey with the comb, some chili mix, and two kinds of loose tea. Can’t wait to try them out! For lunch we ate at the food court, which was far better quality than any other food court I’ve eaten at. I had a fried green tomato sandwich, with melted swiss cheese and bacon. Yum yum!!

Tamarack shops in West Virginia.

Lunch. Photo courtesy of mom! I put her in charge while I went to powder my nose.

Some round hay bales, from the road in Virginia.

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway, in Virginia.

Now we’re in Roanoke, VA. Not much to say about it, as we’ve just gotten to the Super 8. Not sure where we’re eating. Still playing the license plate game, and still missing a few states. We just can’t seem to find R.I.! I think I saw Hawaii a few days ago, but wasn’t close enough to see the state, just kind of saw the picture. I think the colors go: blue, green, pink, yellow, red, purple, orange. Not sure though. Point is, there are still too many plates I haven’t seen!

License Plate Game!

Long Live The King

Gloss Mountain State Park, Oklahoma

Upon leaving Oklahoma we kept seeing these awesome rock formations. I kept wanting to stop and photograph them, however there were no opportunities, until, FINALLY, there was a spot to pull over! Not only was it just a spot, it had a longer drive off of it, and turns out it was a random state park for the Gloss Mountains! We hiked up to the top, and got a great view of the surrounding landscape, and some close-ups of vultures or some other type of bird of prey. It was a gorgeous start to the day!

Gloss Mountain State Park, Oklahoma.

We stopped for lunch at this awesome place called Kumback Lunch in Perry, Oklahoma where I had a chicken fried steak sandwich. One of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. Better than a hamburger!

Kumback Lunch, Perry, Oklahoma

We continued driving and ended up on the western border of Arkansas, in Siloam Springs. It was a lovely little place, but just a one-night stopover. Unfortunately I left a ring there the next morning, and didn’t realize until we’d driven for 40 minutes, so we got to drive back and forth for about a while. The upside, we decided to grab lunch to go and it was amazing! We stopped at AQ Chicken House in Springdale, Arkansas. It is a favorite of Bill Clinton, and now is a favorite of mine!

AQ Chicken House, Arkansas.

Amazing fried chicken sandwich from AQ Chicken House, Arkansas

We drove to Bull Shoals/White River State Park in Arkansas. It was gorgeous, however we had some issues. It rained intermittently throughout our drive, but luckily stopped right as we arrived. Unfortunately, the sun came out, and it was HOT HOT HOT. We did, however, enjoy our sandwiches.

Bull Shoals/White River State Park, Arkansas

We tried to go on a couple of nature walks, but both failed. The lower lake loop wasn’t a loop, because a bunch of fallen trees cut the trail off. And there were a ton of mosquitoes. And, thanks to the humidity, which we hadn’t missed in New Mexico or Oklahoma, we were sweating up a storm. We also tried to go on the ‘wildflower walk’, but it was seriously lacking in flowers. The one included here is one of the maybe 5 that we saw. Despite these shortcomings, it was a nice break from driving.

Bull Shoals Reservoir, Arkansas.

Little Black Eyed Susan (I think), seen on the wildflower walk.

We spent the night in Jonesboro, Arkansas, which was a great college town. However, unbeknownst to us, it was a dry county! That’s right, no booze! And it was Sunday, so even if it wasn’t dry, the Blue Laws would have prevented us from procuring any spirits. Luckily, mom travels with her own box of wine. Phew!

Started off this morning and headed for GRACELAND! That’s right, Elvis Lives! Or at least, his memory lives on. I thought it was pretty cool, because his house was preserved as it was when he lived, shag carpeting and all. And some of the out buildings had been converted into trophy buildings. I knew he was popular, but I had no idea how acclaimed he had been! So many gold records! So many awards! So much charity work! It was a pretty neat trip…even as someone who isn’t a super Elvis fan.

Graceland Mansion, Memphis, Tennessee.

Tickets to Graceland!

Creepy monkey thing, Graceland Mansion.

Movie screening room. Back then 3 tvs was a big deal. Heck, 1 tv was a big deal!

Model of the home Elvis grew up in.

Charity check to 'Crippled Children's Hospital'. He was a big philanthropist (all joking aside).

One of Elvis' Vegas costumes. Shiny!

Floor to ceiling awards. And this is just a small piece of the pie. He was very accomplished.

So, after Graceland we headed to Nashville. We are currently staying at the nicest Day’s Inn. Or at least it’s the nicest we’ve seen! Seven floors and an exercise room! We’re living the life of luxury. We had dinner at Kayne Prime, which was a splurge, and one of the best dinners we’ve had this trip! Now I’m going to head into a food coma, before we head off to Kentucky tomorrow. Yum yum!

Oh yeah, the license plate game! It’s much slower going on the return trip. We haven’t progressed nearly as far. Got a bunch in Graceland today, but I haven’t updated it. Here’s the map so far, and the notes.

License plate game, after 4 days on the return trip. We had it pretty much completed on the way to Crested Butte by this point.

License plate notes. Any same-day doubles?

Hot in Herrrr

St. Louis Arch, MO

So, we’ve been on the road a lot the past few days. I even have the taxi-driver sunburn to prove it: the left side of me is lobster red, the right side is winter-pale. Awesome (no pictures, please).

We left wherever we were last time I wrote, and headed westward. Ended up getting lunch at this place called MCL Cafeteria, in Richmond, IN. My mom read the description from her book, which said it had great fried chicken and jello salad. Needless to say, we were both a bit apprehensive, but it turned out to be a delicious meal! You basically go down a serving line where little old ladies ask you what you want and fill up your plates! I had salad, vinegar slaw, a fried chicken drumstick, mac ‘n cheese, and broccoli, with a lemonade chaser. It was deeeelish.

MCL Cafeteria, Richmond, IN. Next door to the shopping mall.

Our lunches. Still on our cafeteria trays.

We continued on from there, driving across Illinois and heading for St. Louis. We stayed just outside the city at the Super 8 Motel. It was at least 8 times better than America’s Best Value Inn. Because we drove through the time change we had an extra hour to explore St. Louis. What did we do? Went directly to the Arch, obviously!

St. Louis Arch, from the north side.

We took the tram up to the top, because, duh, we’re tourists. I was surprised Mom made the trip, since she’s afraid of heights (couldn’t stay up in the spires in La Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona), but she seemed to enjoy herself in the Arch. We were up 630 feet, and had great views of the city and the Mississippi River.

How high are you? This high!

View of the river from the top. Bad camera + thick windows = poor quality photo.

We had dinner at this awesome Italian place: Charlie Gitto’s On the Hill. It was too fancy to take pictures in there, so you’re safe from more food shots (for now). I went running the next morning around the office park before I ate my leftover veal parmesan and tiramisu for breakfast. That makes it ok, right? I did happen to take some decent pictures around the motel, despite it being a concrete jungle of Walmart, office parks, motels, and fast food restaurants.

Water. Office parks in background.

Corn (with my shadow)

More corn! It's everywhere!

We headed out and stopped in Kansas City (probably on the Missouri side, didn’t realize it spanned two states) for an amazing BBQ lunch. I’m not the biggest fan of BBQ, but I’ve seen enough specials on the Food Network, so that I know if you’re in Kansas City for one meal, you should try some BBQ brisket. We went to L C’s Bar-B-Q, and shared a ‘Burnt Ends’ sandwich. It’s like the crunchy, juicy, tender ends of a brisket, doused in sauce, and put in between two slices of white bread. Indescribably good. Seriously, the winner of the trip so far.

The LC obviously stands for 'Liz Chesebrough'

Lunch today, breakfast tomorrow. Also shown is my 1/2 lb of sliced brisket. Yes, all I had to eat for lunch was meat. Ignore the brisket, it looks gross. Sandwich was the best.

Drove from Kansas City to Salina, KS, where I am currently writing this post. Not much to do here, but somehow the Econolodge was sold out. We’re staying at a Quality Inn, which isn’t too bad. No fridge though. Our leftovers are hovering over the ice bucket. Heading off tomorrow for Denver to see Daphne, a college friend. Then we reach our westernmost destination of Crested Butte on Sunday! So close! Nelly had it right when he said it was getting hot in herrrr. Looking forward to a little respite from the heat (107 today, hopefully cooler up in those mountains). Did some walking around Salina despite the heat.

Dog statue in Salina, KS.

Basket of goodies in another statue, Salina, KS. Note the apples, cigarettes, and candy bars.

Sunset outside our motel in Salina, KS.

As for the license plate game we start fresh every day (otherwise it would get too boring. We’ve gotten further, but there are still some elusive states with people who never travel. Rhode Islanders? Hello? Where are you??!!

State license plates we've seen on the road. Blue was from the 13th, pink from the 14th, green from today, the 15th. Still missing 4 (+Washington D.C.) from the continent, and AK and HI.

Notes for license plates. Still can't help write them AND check them off. See if you can count all the errors I make! Hint: No duh!

Jamboree on the Road

*Disclaimer: my computer is not co-operating, so some pictures are sized wrong and not captioned. *

Roooooaaaaadtriiiiiiipppp!!! or: Mom in a sombrero

Soooo, turns out road trips involve a lot of driving. Who knew? We’re driving out to Colorado pretty aggressively, aiming to hit Denver Saturday, and our final destination of Crested Butte (Sister’s town) Sunday. As a result, there’s a lot of driving and very little exploring. As I sit here tossing back a 22oz Bud Light (that both my mom and the gas station attendant made fun of me for…because I only got one), I’ll share some of our experiences from today…and don’t worry, I won’t pull the same boring post tomorrow, I’ll just update if something exciting actually happens!

Last night went out with the mom and the roomie to a yummy middle eastern restaurant, and then the speakeasy in our ‘hood. It was great, and had fun showing the mom the ‘hood. Mom and I departed the BK bright and early the next day…around 9:30 after I spent 45 minutes on the phone with Verizon (don’t worry, I won). Got a bagel at the place near my house I’ve been dying to try, and hit the road.

You can tell it’s a speakeasy by its nondescript outside, even during the drive-by photo shoot.

Breakfast of champions...in the car.

We drove for a long while, and decided to get lunch at some road food place in Pennsylvania. We spent half an hour looking for this specific restaurant in Palmyra, PA, and lo and behold, despite fighting for a good 5 minutes in the car while pulled over, upon looking up we saw the sign for the place. That’s right, we pulled in without realizing it, and fought about how to find the place. Turns out it was just an outlet, and we had to drive a few blocks away for the restaurant anyway. It was worth it too:

Funcks Family Restaurant, which I pronounce "Funke" in my head, as in Tobias from Arrested Development...

My turkey melt on a pretzel roll, and mom's BLT on sourdough. Homemade potato chips too. Yum.

We drove through Hershey Pennsylvania right after lunch, and it’s true, the streets do smell like chocolate. AND, the streetlights are Hershey Kisses (It’s hard to take pictures and drive at the same time!).

Streetlight in Hershey, PA

Our goal was to make it to Ohio today, and we succeeded…although we didn’t get to do much besides drive. We’re staying in America’s Best Value Inn (it’s not really), and the Jamboree is in town. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to go to a Jamboree, so we’re hanging out at the motel. Woo Hoo! We did have a delish dinner at the West Texas Roadhouse, in St. Clairsville, OH.

West Texas Roadhouse

My steak and beer dinner. I saved half for breaky tomorrow.

So, to sum it up, today consisted of eating and driving. To break up the monotony we’re also playing the license plate game. I created a picture that represents all the license plates we saw today. Also included is my note sheet. See how well I know American geography, and try to spot all my errors! It shouldn’t be too hard…

The state license plates we saw today!

State abbreviations...Liz style. Note that not only do I write them (incorrectly at times), but I also check each one off.

To keep this from turning into a food blog, I probably won’t write again for a few days…at least until we get a chance to see something besides highways and fast food! Tomorrow: Saint Louis!