On July 5th, we planned on driving to Chicago and eat lunch at Chuck’s Southern Comforts Cafe, a restaurant featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. Nikki didn’t want to go, but we talked Nick into going with us (he can’t say no to a free lunch, right?) and picked him up in the morning.
The food was good, and we drove to another part of Chicago to eat dessert at Lutz Cafe and Pastry Shop. Their Baumkuchen (“tree cake”) was featured on a different Food Network show (do you think we watch too much Food Network? 😉 ) and it looked so good, I just had to try it! Only problem was that we were so full from lunch, that no one wanted to eat dessert, and we each chose a goodie to take to the hotel with us to eat later. The Baumkuchen tasted just as delicious as it looks!
Here’s a little video that shows how Baumkuchen is made, and how it gets the rings that make it look like a tree
I finally gave in and let Greg pick up some fireworks, so once it got dark outside, we had a little belated 4th of July celebration in an empty parking lot next to the hotel. He let Melissa and Sara set off most of the fireworks – with supervision – while the rest of us watched… and took pictures 😉
Wednesday, July 6th was our last day in Indiana, and we spent it almost entirely with Nick. We finally found the time to stop at our favorite candy store. Simply a MUST every time we’re in Indiana 😉
It was a pretty warm day, and we dropped the chocolate and other candy off at the hotel before playing a round of miniature golf.
Cameron met us at the hotel after he got off work, but Nikki was nowhere to be seen, and she had ignored our texts and phone calls. Yup, she went a little… umm… “junior high” on us because she got into a fight with Cameron and couldn’t be an adult about it and at least let us or Nick pick up the baby for the day. I have to admit I’m still pretty angry at her for that, since she knew that this was our last day there. Next time we see her, she will be warned not to pull that kind of #&^% again or I will turn into the mother-in-law from hell!
The day ended on a sadder note than it should have. It’s already SO hard to say good-bye, but to not get to see your granddaughter/niece one last time….
We made a little trip to Fort Worth on Saturday, and while we were there, we ate lunch at Fred’s Texas Cafe. It was one of the places featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. The kids each had a hamburger, Greg tried the Diablo Burger, and I had the Portobello Mushroom Burger. SO good! Everyone else liked their food, too, although I have to say that the French fries were a bit soggy.
Sorry, no real picture of the food (just the picture of the menu), I was too hungry to take pictures.
Wednesday, August 18 was the last day of our road trip. Our goal was to make it to Vinita, Oklahoma by lunch time. Why? Well, because of Clanton’s Cafe of course! The last possible DDD diner we would be able to stop at. And we made it! We even had time to stop at Summerside Vineyards first, which is also in Vinita, OK. I saw the funniest things in their store…. I’m sure you all know the coozies you can get for soda cans and bottles, well the winery had them for wine glasses. And do you know what they are called? Woozies! 🙂
There was even a picture of Guy Fieri on the wall at Clanton’s
Our last stop was Whispering Meadows Winery in McAlester, Oklahoma, and we made it home at 6:15 pm.
I guess you could say that on August 17th we were officially on our way back home, but that didn’t stop us from doing anything fun! Greg saw a Spam Museum sign along the highway and said “let’s stop!” and I said “sure!” and we took a little detour to the Spam Museum.
Unfortunately we got there over an hour before the museum opened, but there was a gift shop right next door, that opened an hour before the museum. We took some pictures while we waited for the doors to open and then browsed through the gift shop, where Greg bought this:
That was his lunch the day after we got back home. Fried! He said it was pretty good.. better than he remembered (probably because it was peppered). I passed. No Spam for me, thank you!
Then followed the Coffee truck 😉 to Kansas City, Missouri.
Kansas City was a scheduled stop, and yes, after that awful hotel in Wisconsin we learned our lesson and made reservations the day before! We checked into the hotel first and then finally made it to another DDD diner, RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack. The food was very good!
After dinner it was back to the hotel for a good nights’ sleep before our last leg home the next day. This was the view from our room.
Next stop on our vacation was Memphis, Tennessee, on Tuesday, July 7, 2009. We got there around lunch time and out of the many restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, we decided on Leonard’s BBQ. They had great food, and we ate way too much of it!
What’s a trip through Memphis without at driving past Graceland! Yup, that’s Graceland hidden behind those trees somewhere. I tried to get a picture of the gates, but a tour bus was blocking them. I would have loved to take a tour, but none of the brochures we found mentioned anything about how much it would cost (didn’t want the poor tourists dropping dead from sticker shock?) so we decided to skip it.
We did see Elvis at the visitor’s center near Mud Island… behind him was B.B. King.
We drove to Arkadelphia, Arkansas and spent the night, and on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 we tried our luck at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Any diamond you find is yours to keep! We rented the necessary supplies and picked a spot to dig….
…. and wash. Wish I had gotten a shot of Sara’s very dirty shirt! We found some pretty rocks, but no diamonds.
By lunchtime the girls had ad enough and wanted to leave (it was hot!!!) so we headed to the park restaurant for lunch. In the end, we kept what we found, and called them diamonds 😉
The girls were disappointed that they didn’t find any diamonds, so we headed to the Happy Prospector Gemstone Mine, a nice little tourist trap where you can buy big buckets of sand that have been enhanced with pretty colored glass gem stones, fake arrow heads and shark’s teeth (sharks in Arkansas??). We all had fun washing the sand away and finding all the pretty stones.
After a long day in the hot sun, we stopped at a hotel in Hope Arkansas and cooled off at/in the pool.
On Thursday, July 9, 2009 we only had a short drive home and our busy, fun-filled vacation came to an end.
On Monday, July 6, 2009, we continued through Maryland and went through West Virginia and Kentucky.
We ran into a little bit of fog in the morning, and this first picture reminded me of San Francisco last year.
We made a little detour to Forks of Cheat Winery in West Virginia, because it wasn’t too far away from the highway. It was well worth it, because the view was beautiful and they had a gorgeous garden! We did do some wine tasting first, bought a bottle or two.. or three? I don’t remember… and then walked around the garden for a while. I took plenty of pictures, too!
We ate lunch at another Diners, Drive-ins & Dives restaurant, the Central City Cafe in Huntington, West Virginia. The food was good, but the service wasn’t great. They seemed to care more about the locals/regulars than out-of-towners, they had no kids menus (but did charge us kids prices – which weren’t listed – for the kids’ meals). The kids’ meals came with a small slice of watermelon for dessert, and the owner (at least I think he was the owner) gave us a to-go box with more watermelon pieces for the kids before we left.
Poor Sara was exhausted and took a little nap in the car… how she was able to sleep like this, I don’t know!
West of Lexington, Kentucky, we drove past this castle and I had to take a picture! We didn’t know what it was, but then found an article about it in a magazine in our hotel room. How cool would it be to stay there one day?!!
Back to our vacation…. on Thursday, July 2, 2009 Dalia and kids met us at the hotel in the morning and we all piled into her car to head to Jersey City. We ate breakfast at Brownstone Diner, another Diner featured on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. It was delicious, and the portions were HUGE!
This was also the trip when Melissa discovered coffee!! But, I only let her have decaf.
Then we made our way to the ferry to Ellis Island. It started raining on our way out of the diner, but thankfully it didn’t last long.
After Ellis Island, we got on another Ferry to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty.
Everyone was exhausted from all the walking… except of course Sara!
I had to stop at the gift shop on the way back to the ferry to Jersey City, and we made it to the ferry only minutes before it started pouring!! The ferry ride didn’t last nearly long enough, and we all got soaked after we got off. We waited out the rain for a little while and the sun was back out when we walked to the car.
Dalia dropped us off at the hotel and then we met up at her house for pizza and another fun night of wine and conversation. Dalia and I had some macro fun in her garden, and I will have those pictures for you tomorrow.
In the meantime, here is Dalia’s side of the story. She made it sound a lot worse than it really was 😉
Monday, June 29th was the day we met up with Amy and her boys at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo. What a fun day it was, even if the rain clouds cut it short a bit (never did rain!!). Amy is SO nice and easy to get along with, and her boys are absolutely adorable. Thinking back now, we should have met at a park instead, so the kids would have had a chance to get to know each other. But there’s always next time.
Here is Amy’s post about our meet-up
On Tuesday, June 30thwe left the Chicago area and made our way towards New Jersey. Sara was a little under the weather that day and had a fever. Maybe all the excitement of the last few days finally caught up with her. We stopped at Target after we checked out of the hotel that morning and picked up some Tylenol for her. Then made one more stop at the Albanese Candy Factory.
That day we stopped at our first DDD diner, the South Side Soda Shopin Goshen, Indiana, then spent the night somewhere in Ohio.
Wednesday, July 1st we made it to New Jersey!
I had talked to Dalia several times as we got closer to NJ and that evening she and her kids met us at the hotel and we all went to dinner together at another DDD Diner, White Manna Hamburger. The food was good, and Greg is still talking about how great the hamburgers were.
After dinner we went back to the hotel, and Dalia went home (with a couple of bottles of wine that we gave her to chill) to put her kids to bed, and then we went to her house for a while. We had a really good time, talking and drinking wine. I’m so glad I finally got to meet Dalia (and her family!) in person. I’ve known her for several (three?) years from a photography message board and we’ve become good friends. Her kids are so cute, and all five of them got along really well.
- Decide where you want to go
- Plan your route, making sure you can visit some friends along the way.
- Log on to Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives website* and look for “where Guy went”, then go down the list to see what’s listed for the states that your vacation route will take you through.
- Mark DDDs with a red flag on your map.
- Take Alton Brown’s Feasting on Asphalt book off the shelf, see what’s on your route, and mark the restaurants with a red flag on your map.
(* Greg has Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives book, too, but it doesn’t list all the restaurants. The website does.)
That’s right! We’re heading east this year, to New Jersey and New York… and whatever is in between! We’re still working out the details about what to see, but Greg has 17 days off work and that should hopefully give us plenty of time.
First we will be heading to Indiana/Illinois to see my boys. Well, Cameron anyway, and I will finally get to meet my daughter-in-law! Nick may or may not be back. He’s coming to visit us (and then head to Florida) after he graduates in mid June. He said he’s heading back home when he runs low on money.
Then we’re on our way east. I’m sure this will turn into another DDD tour (aka “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, the show on Food Network), which should be fun.
If anyone knows of some great places to see, or fun things to do between Texas and New York, please let me know in the comments!
And of course we’re hoping to see some online friends along the way, too, like Amy, Doreen, and Dalia… and Cheryl, if you want to make the drive down to Illinois.
I can’t wait!!
June 9th we did all the touristy stuff in L.A. Well, maybe not all of it, but some. Headed to Hollywood first, to Mann’s Chinese Theater, where all the hand and footprints are.
And I may not have seen Mickey Mouse, but at least I saw his star!
We went to Baby Blues BBQ for lunch, which was another diner that was features on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and then Greg wanted to drive down Mulholland Drive. VERY nice, and what beautiful homes!! And they’re not all multi-million Dollar mansions, either. We went to the Griffith Observatory, too, but unfortunately we had to pick the day of the week that they were closed, and only walked around the grounds for a while. We got a nice – but very smoggy – view of the Hollywood sign from there, and the L.A. skyline… barely visible through the smog. After that we headed back to the hotel, through L.A. rush hour! It wasn’t all that bad, but the motorcyclists are true daredevils, riding through traffic between the cars (as in between the lanes!!), whether the cars were moving or stopped! Crazy!! None of them seemed “smart” enough to at least ride on the shoulder. Nope, they had to be between two lanes of cars. I’ve never seen that anywhere else, and I guess that’s where the saying Only in California comes from LOL.
June 10th we checked out of the hotel in Anaheim and headed south to Carlsbad. The girls were soooo excited because we were finally going to Legoland!! We made it there early, before they opened, and had time to look for a hotel and reserve a room for that night. We ended up at Inns of America Suites (www.innsofamericasuites.com) and it was really nice!! I highly recommend it! It even had a small kitchenette with sink, refrigerator and microwave. And the bed was pure heaven, like sleeping on a big fluffy cloud. Wish we could have taken that room with us on the rest of the trip.
The girls had fun at Legoland, and we had time for quite a few rides. The first one they went on was one where they could drive little cars around a track and get their “driver’s license”. It was all the way at the far side of the park, but someone at the Anaheim hotel suggested we go to that ride first and avoid the long likes later in the day. The girls went on that ride at least three or four times before we moved on to the other ones. The park really wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be. The weather probably helped because it was overcast/cloudy almost all day, and it drizzly that morning. They had a few roller coasters that the kids went on several times.
The park closed at 5pm but we left early to avoid the rush out of the parking lot, went to the hotel and took all our stuff to our room and then relaxed a little while until it was time to leave for dinner. We were meeting Desiree and family at a pizza place in town. I already posted about it here https://thedailyclick.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/i-met-desi/ Too bad it was so chilly outside, I was really hoping to go for a walk on the beach, because the Carlsbad beaches are supposed to be really nice… and we hadn’t gone to any beach yet! I didn’t get any good pictures, either. They’re all blurry and grainy, but I did get a picture of Desi’s car! Anyone looking for a great photographer in the Hemet/Temecula area, give her a call! Her website link is on my sidebar as well.
On June 11th we started to head north towards San Francisco, driving along the coast on Highway 101 and Highway 1. That was my favorite part of the whole trip! What a beautiful drive, and the coastline is gorgeous, even on cloudy and overcast days. First we stopped at a farm stand in Carlsbad, very close to our hotel, to pick some strawberries. We spotted it the day before and bought a basket of strawberries to eat at the hotel. That morning we decided to pick our own… and eat some while we picked. Yum!
We stopped at Newport Beach for a walk (finally a beach!!!) and collected some seashells. We had to hurry because we parked at a parking meter and only had enough change for about 20 minutes or so. The kids wanted to go swimming but quickly changed their minds when they stuck their feet in the water and felt how freezing cold it was! Of course Sara still couldn’t stay out of the water and got splashed by a wave, and got her shorts wet. I should have known! LOL
That’s it for part 2. Stay tuned for part 3!
OK, from the beginning… better make some coffee to keep yourselves awake! 😉
June 5th we got up bright and early (actually it wasn’t all that bright out) and were on the road by 4am. Driving through Texas was sooo boring, and New Mexico wasn’t any better. We left with a full tank of gas, but by the time we reached Midland, TX it was time to start looking for a gas station. There were no signs by the highway exits so Greg keeps going, thinking that something must be coming up soon. Well, it didn’t, and just past Odessa, TX the warning light comes on, letting us know that we were going to run out of gas soon. Greg “thinks” there’s about a gallon (about 30 miles worth) left but he’s getting nervous because we’re still not seeing any signs and west of Midland is pretty much nothing for a while. GPS thingie to the rescue! He looks up the nearest gas station, which was about 18 miles behind us – and we did see it, only Greg didn’t want to pay $3.99 per gallon. Ha ha! Who knew we would end up there after all?! Thankfully we didn’t run out of gas on the way to the gas station and soon were back on our way west. Like I said, New Mexico wasn’t any prettier than Texas, but we did see a couple of dust devils. This one was the biggest one and we spotted it when we were still pretty far away. It was on the right side of the highway but as we got closer, it disappeared as it crossed the highway… but then picked up again on the left side and I was able to snap a picture.
We made it as far as Deming, New Mexico that day and spent the night.
June 6th we made it to Phoenix, Arizona before lunch time and ate at Joe’s Farm Grill. It was one of the restaurants that was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. Greg brought a whole list of them so we could stop at the ones in Arizona and California. Lunch was very good, and afterwards we drove to my friend Anjeanette’s house. We met about 12 years ago when we both lived in Maryland, and we worked together at two different places. It was so nice to see her and her husband again, and meet her boys! We hung out at her house for a while first and then went to a nearby playground. The kids all got along really well once they warmed up to each other, and had fun playing together.
After the playground we went back to Anjeanette’s house and waited for Steve to get home, and then we all went to dinner at Thee Pitt’s Again, another “DDD” place that was featured on the Food Network show. Both of Anjeanette’s boys wanted to sit next to Sara, so she got to sit between the two (I see that I’m going to have to lock her in the closet soon, if the boys are already after her! LOL). Sara and Vance got along especially well and were coloring a picture together. Anjeanette and I were joking about planning their wedding.
We said good-bye after dinner and headed to our hotel and planned on maybe meeting for breakfast at Matt’s Big Breakfast (yes, another “DDD” place) the next morning (June 7th), but they opened waaayyy too early and I didn’t blame Anjeanette & family one bit for not wanting to get up that early, especially considering that it was a good 30-45 minute drive from their house. As it turned out, there was already a line when we got there just after they opened, and we didn’t feel like waiting. So off we went to find someplace else for breakfast, and on to California. Again, the landscape wasn’t very interesting…
We got to Anaheim early that afternoon and didn’t really do much. I think we did do a couple of loads of laundry. Greg took the kids over to the pool while I called my friend Bina, and then I went over there myself to take some pictures.
We had dinner at a nearby restaurant and then went for a walk down the street and back.
June 8th we met my friend Bina and her daughter for lunch at Baker’s Square, and then we all went to the Fullerton Arboretum. It was nice to finally meet Bina in person. We met years ago on a message board. Her daughter is 4 and just adorable!
The Arboretum was a great place, with lots of neat plants, like this tree here with a thorny trunk. There was white fluff all over the tree, too, that looked like cotton balls. I found a sign that said that it was a floss silk tree, and native to Peru and Argentina.
The kids got along great, too.
Bina and Miriam had plans that evening so we headed back to the hotel after the Arboretum and relaxed for a while. We decided to go to Downtown Disney that evening because it didn’t look that far on the little map we picked up somewhere. There was a restaurant on the way, so we walked there first to eat dinner, and then walked to Downtown Disney. That’s as close as I got to Disneyland 😦 Oh yes, and it was much, much farther than it looked on the map! Our poor feet! Sara walked most of the way, but Greg did have to carry her on his shoulders a few times. Back at the hotel, Greg got out his little GPS thingie and looked up how far we walked…. SEVEN MILES!!!! If I had known that, I would have gladly paid the $10, or however much it is, to park at Downtown Disney!
Well, this is it for part 1. Must edit some more pictures before I post part 2, so stay tuned! 😉