Dining

Great Food Adventure – Recap

I did not create this hamburger image but I am respectfully using it for my post.  Looks really good by the way!Part of my Epic Journey involved trying to find the best hamburger and/or diner.  I grew up on hamburgers and I love them to this day.  Unfortunately, just before the trip started I got very anemic.  I was very sick and did not have a lot of time to get better.  After some research on the Internet, I decided to try to go gluten free.  My health turned around dramatically.  So that changed my quest slightly.  Now I was looking for the best burger without a bun.

I have to admit, this was NOT the hardest part of the trip.  I enjoyed this very much.  Since I only ate one meal out, I tried to make it count.  Here are my findings, I hope you find them delicious 🙂

Dundee, IL – Bootleggers Restaurant.  I had just driven through Chicago, gotten lost twice and almost ran out of gas in bumper to bumper traffic.  I was STRESSED.  I pulled off the freeway and went to the first place I saw.  Very cool restaurant decorated from the Rat Pack Era with music to go with it.  Great service from Kassie and a really great burger!!

O’Neil, NE – Westside Restaurant.  Walking into this restaurant was like being home.  Good down home cooking, utilitarian decor, big salad bar and a very good hamburger with onions and brown gravy.

Downtown Buffalo, Wyoming.  It is an adorable town!!

Downtown Buffalo, Wyoming. It is an adorable town!!

Buffalo, WY – The Busy Bee Soda Fountain and Bakery.  As I stated in a previous post, I had to eat here because one of my favorite book and television characters, Walt Longmire, always eats at this restaurant.  I had breakfast there and it was delicious.  My server, Kia, was awesome and very lively at 7 am in the morning (I was still on Cleveland time).  It was definitely a highlight of my trip!!

Buffalo, WY — Winchester Steak House.  Okay, I did not have a burger here but it was the day before my birthday and felt I deserved something special.  That is what I got.  I ordered the Filet Mignon and it was the ABSOLUTE best steak I have ever had in my life.  Everything here was amazing including the service.  I had called about 10 minutes before I got there to see if I needed reservations, the young lady I talked to said no, to just come in.  I was there in 10 minutes and my table was set and ready, my server was impeccable and the food was completely top notch.  If you are ever in Buffalo, Wyoming, you have to have dinner (they only serve dinner) at the Winchester Steak House.

Sutherlin, OR – Smitty’s Deli.  They specialized in all kinds of subs and you could even get them on gluten free bread!!  I was shocked and amazed!!  It was the best tuna sub I have ever had.  Oh, how I wish my memory was a little better!!

Newport, OR – Pig N’ Pancake.  Their specialty is pancakes, but I had a burger and was not disappointed.  The menu is actually extremely varied and the food was made fresh and was very good.  There were a lot of options for different types of hamburgers and toppings.  I really enjoyed sitting and watching the never-ending line of traffic in Newport go by the window.  It was relaxing after another harrowing day of driving.

Seal Rock, OR – Seal Rock Espresso & Bakery.  Granted this was just a stop for coffee, but it was really good coffee and the owners (Edward and Jeni) were awesome. All over the west, there are these small stand alone, drive up coffee shops and I just had to try one.  I am so glad I stopped as I got the morning jolt I needed for a long day of driving and I had some fun talking with the owners.  Good times!

Too much fun on Rt. 66!

Too much fun on Rt. 66!

Seligman, AZ – Westside Lilo’s.  I actually had breakfast there.  Breakfast is my least favorite meal, so I never really expect too much but I was wrong.  Situated on Route 66, Lilo’s is a tribute to the route and a really fun place to stop.  The breakfast was one of the best I have ever had and the atmosphere was truly enjoyable.

Clinton, OK – Picante Grill.  The restaurant itself did not look like much. The inside was like so many Mexican restaurant, very colorful and the menu was varied.  I was not overly impressed until the food came. This was the best Mexican food I have had in a very long time.  You could tell it was homemade and cooked with love.  Lesson learned:  Never judge a book by its cover (or you may miss a great meal).

Love me a retro diner!!

Love me a retro diner!!

Checotah, OK – Boom-a-rang Diner.  Absolutely one of the best burgers I have ever had (and I have hardly ever had a bad one).  There were a lot of different topping choices to choose from, the burger was high quality, the fries were awesome and the iced tea was really good. The diner was decorated in diner style which added to the ambiance.  It was a very fun stop!!

Whittier, NC – Waffle House.  What can I say about Waffle House, you always know what you are getting.  This time was different as it was the company that made this meal so good.  Visiting with a friend from my Kinetico days, Jan, was the highlight of the day and the great conversation made the food taste even better!

Beckley, WV – Texas Steakhouse.  After a few days of regular (not bad) dining experiences (Denny’s, Bob Evans, etc.) and since it would be the last day of this trip, I opted for another steak.  The Filet Mignon was very good here and Jamie, my server, was top of the line.  I really enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere as I contemplated the ending of Phase 1 of my trip.

Overall, I have to say that my one meal a day was always well worth the stop.  I enjoyed every meal (probably because I was so hungry-lol).  I enjoyed great servers and was able to share my story and hear theirs many times.  Great connections were made and I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to have great food and great company.

Day 13 – Clinton, Oklahoma to North Little Rock, Arkansas

We started the day off by stopping at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma.  I figured it would be a tourist trap that was designed to only suck your money away.  I was wrong.  It was an adorable, yet small, museum dedicated to preserving the history of Route 66.  The displays included quite a few authentic photographs, props and even cars of the time.  I am really glad we stopped as it was informative and fun.

I love the history of Route 66!!  It is true Americana!

I love the history of Route 66!! It is true Americana!

While driving in the west, one cannot help but notice all the casinos along the way.  I totally understand that those casinos bring tourist dollars into the community, provide decent wages to local people and they allow people to better themselves.  I get it, I really do.  But when you look around and you see big, bright and shiny casinos surrounded by broken down cars, trailers in desperate need of repair and other obvious signs of economic blight, it becomes hard not to look at the casino as, at least, a partial reason for the problems.

We stopped in one, since I have only been in a casino once in Niagara Falls. I decided to try my luck at the penny slots.  I took a seat by a slot machine that showed brightly colored cupcakes (how bad could it be…they were cupcakes and party hats) and tried my luck. I was up to $40 from my original $20 and feeling pretty good, when Lady Luck decided to leave the room.  In no time, all the money was gone and I was left with nothing.  As I looked around the room, I saw the same look I had on many of the faces there and I hoped they had not come here looking to make enough money to pay the rent or buy groceries.  It may happen for a few, but for the majority winning is not a option.

I have been so down that I have resorted to playing the Lottery in hopes of getting some relieve.  I understand the concept, but never once have I won.  You only end up losing what little you had to begin with.  Everyone knows that the casinos are in business to make money, but human nature, no matter how down and out, still has that one glimmer of hope that says today will be the day.  It just hardly ever is that day.  I am not sure what point I wanted to make other than I saw the sadness and hope that I can help somehow, someday.  I am not anti-casino, in fact for the most part I never give them a thought, but the “lure of easy money has a very strong appeal.” (words by Glenn Frey)

I do not know how I keep getting off on these negative notes.  I do not mean to, but you cannot close your eyes to the lives around you.  This trip is about self-awareness and awareness in general, so I guess it is only right that these things stand out to me.  It is making me realize that the world is truly much bigger than what I see in my everyday life and that many people are hurting (some of it is self-induced, I get that too).

(Removing myself from the soapbox again.) On a lighter note, I have learned a few lessons so far from this trip and I thought I would share them:

  1. I have gone two weeks without any television and I have not died!  I cannot believe how freeing it is not to be hooked to the television.  I may be a little out of touch with news and such, but it feels good to have cut that cord a bit.
  2. I can shower in a public shower as long as there is a door.  Never in a million years would I have guessed that I could ever do that.  You get to a point and have no choice and you do what you have to do.
  3. No matter how much I try (and I have), I am just not an outdoorsy-kinda gal.  I can appreciate nature and its beauty from inside the air conditioned car.  I still rather sit inside with a good book and an iced tea.  I tried….I really did!
  4. Seems most Western drivers like to go really fast.  I am a slow poke driver who has to work at keeping up with the speed limits out here.  Cruise control, on the open road not in town, is my friend.
  5. Diner food is the absolutely best!  I love the atmosphere and the food.  We need more diners!!
  6. I can exist on one meal day (and a few snacks).  I was eating way too much and that is not necessarily a good thing.
  7. I can sleep in a tent.  Yes, I can.  I may not be particularly fond of the notion, but I can now do it and am even somewhat helpful in the putting up and taking down of it.  NEVER in a million years!
A cute picture of an old ice cream / soda fountain.

A cute picture of an old ice cream / soda fountain.

I know it is not a terribly noteworthy list, but I am getting there.  I am doing things I never dreamed I could do.  Thank you for listening.  I appreciate all of you out “there.”

Day 11 – Seligman, Arizona to Sedona, Arizona to Grants, New Mexico

Yet another goofy picture of me.

Yet another goofy picture of me.

Today was a big driving day on Route 40 which parallels Historic Route 66 on some parts.  The people at the Seligman KOA were awesome and we talked for hours while I did laundry.  Diane and Larry made us feel at home.  What great people!!  I cannot believe how nice and kind the KOA people are, they are helpful and friendly.  I am so glad I started using them.

Had breakfast as the best place in town, Westside Lilo’s Cafe, on Route 66.  It was an adorable place with great food.  The portions were huge, I could not even eat all my breakfast.  Everyone had a smile and it was the perfect way to start the day.

Great food and Great service!

Great food and Great service!

Too much fun on Rt. 66!

Too much fun on Rt. 66!

The big plan for the day was to visit Sedona, which was in my original plan to do.  After some thought, much of this trip actually follows with my original trip, I just will not be going south or east (except to Cleveland at this time).  Anyway, after looking at the map and not knowing much about geography (failed it in high school), I did not realize there were mountains between Flagstaff and Sedona.

On the way to Sedona!

On the way to Sedona!

Got off Rt. 40 to drive approximately 28 miles to Sedona.  The road was absolutely mind-blowing for two reasons:  (1) The scenery was breathtaking and (2) The road was insane.  The road was a 7% grade with multiple hairpin turns, sheer drops and low visibility.  Even though the drive was early this morning, my stomach is still too upset to even eat.  No more mountains for me, they are just too stressful.  Beautiful but stressful.

The red rocks and dirt are stunning to see!

The red rocks and dirt are stunning to see!

So many rock formations!

So many rock formations!

Rolled into Sedona only to find hundreds (or what seemed like hundreds) of shops (of which I wanted nothing or could even afford if I wanted), restaurants and galleries. A quaint little town with too many tourists, and too much consumerism.  I know that if I was an outdoor-type person, this would be a great place to hike and do other outdoor stuff.  But I am not all that great with the outdoors.  The outdoors and I do not get along in the least especially if there are threats of scorpions and/or snakes.  I just have to say NO!

So, what I was I thinking Sedona would be like?  I guess I pictured artists sitting around the beautiful scenery doing their thing, music playing off in the background, muse heavy in the air and available to anyone who needed inspiration.  Obviously, I was wrong yet again.  I am sure you could find those things there but I was not really patient enough to look around.  So onto Route 17 to go back to 40.  I have wanted to see Sedona for quite some time, and I am so glad I stopped.  I am sure there are lots of other opinions about the town, and I am not saying my opinion is right, it is just mine.

The drive to New Mexico was stunning though.  The vegetation was much more lush and the land flatter (Thank you God!).  I have only been in New Mexico a short time, but I am really enjoying it and the people I have met so far.

It was a pretty uneventful day (thank you again God!) but it was a good day.  I am happy to have been around to see it 🙂

Day 9 – Mount Shasta, California to Lemon Cove, California

The adventure is continuing.  More mountain driving, and some very busy California road driving.  I realize that maybe California is not for me.  It is a lovely state with lovely people, but they drive way too fast and way too wild for this country girl.

So with all the drive time today, I thought of a Top Ten List of things I have learned so far.  Maybe this list will help others who are interested in doing a trip such as this:

10.  Never leave gummy vitamins in the glove box of your car in 90 to 100 degree weather.  My vitamins all melted into one big glob that I cannot even spoon out unless I reheat them.  Lesson Learned.

9.  O’Reilly’s, Walmart and any Dollar Store are your friends.  Yesterday, the check engine light went on in Devi.  Had Mike not been with me, it might have been the straw that broke my back.  He was able to diagnose the problem and saved the day.  But you never know when you are going to need an auto part, a first aid item or any number of things that you might have forgotten.  Forget the politics of the stores, they can be lifesavers in an emergency.

8.  Car camping in a Walmart parking lot is not quite the delight you might think it is.  I could barely sleep for all the random people just walking in the parking lot after midnight (mind you the store we slept at was not 24 hours, so they were closed).  There were skateboarders up until about 2 am and a car circled us for a while around 3 am.  They kept lighting something…a bowl maybe.  But it was downright scary and I do not think I am going to do that again.

7.  KOA (Kampgrounds of America) are a great resource for either tent camping or for sleeping in one of the adorable cabins.  We have been doing the cabins lately because I am just too old to sleep on the ground.  The price is better than a hotel; you have to walk to a bathroom and shower and it is not as luxurious as a hotel but for the cost difference it can mean an extra nice meal once in a while.

6.  Laundromats are a haven.  I never knew clean clothes were such a pleasure until you go a few days.  The task I felt was drudgery at home is now a gift.  Plus the time alone doing laundry is true “Me” time.

5.  Trust your gut.  Everyone says it, but it is so true.  Your instincts know when something is not right.  If you feel it, get the heck out.  If you feel really good, stay.  Today on the road I had a bad feeling and I did not stop until I was out of the place that made me uneasy.  Nothing probably would have happened, but it is not worth the risk.

4.  Simple food is the very best!!  I always wanted to try an In ‘N Out Burger (saw them on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives).  When I pulled up to the drive through, there are four main menu items; nothing fancy.  It was a great burger (gluten and all).  I appreciated the simplicity and the fact that every order is cooked to order.  Simple is the BEST!!

3.  Generally, people are animal lovers.  Today on a crowded California highway, a cat ran across the road and almost all traffic stopped including an 18-wheeler. Glad to report that the cat is okay and there were no car accidents either.

2.  When figuring travel budget, figure out all your costs and times them by three.  It is amazing how much everything costs.  I was truly unprepared (and I ain’t living large).  Money shortages can ruin a trip.

  1.  Mountain driving is not for the weak of heart.  There are sheer drops, insane grades up and down the mountain roads and your car may not like it either.  I found out, on this trip, that some states have mandated the use of ethanol in their gas which lowers the gases octane.  This can be very detrimental to a car’s engine.  I was lucky with Devi, but there was a 10% grade (doesn’t sound like much right — wrong!!) that almost blew her engine in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  Find out what your car can do before attempting mountain driving.

I hope this lists helps you as you think of your own Epic Journey.  These are things I will definitely consider on my next one.  It is rough out there, be prepared!!!

Day 5 – Buffalo, Wyoming — Again

Have you ever gone somewhere in your life and when you got there you just knew it was right?  That is exactly how I felt when I rolled into Buffalo, Wyoming a few days ago.  I mostly came here because I am a huge Longmire fan and I just had to have lunch at the Busy Bee Cafe (one of Walt Longmire’s favorite places to eat in the books and the show).

This is the official Busy Bee Cafe Logo.  I do not own its rights but use it respectfully in my blog.

This is the official Busy Bee Cafe Logo. I do not own its rights but use it respectfully in my blog.

I did not have lunch, but I had breakfast and the server, Kia, was perfect!  The food was great, the atmosphere welcoming and the weather was beautiful.  Before the Busy Bee opened, I met a gentleman who transplanted to Buffalo and he told me history of the town and why he loved it here.  He stopped to talk with me on his way to Bible Study at 6:30 am.  I was impressed.

The people at the KOA Buffalo (as I mentioned in a previous post) were absolutely wonderful to me and I felt as safe here as I did anywhere.  The campground was fun, clean and accessible.  Road Lesson:  A clean, hot shower is worth more than gold!!

I kinda got an inclination that maybe I had found a “home”, a place where I could fit it.  Small town living with lots of caring individuals and the opportunity to become an active member of the community through volunteering.

I spent the day in Buffalo today trying to find a place to live and a job.  If it was meant to be, it would happen.  In the process, I met a lovely artist woman at the Chamber of Commerce outpost, a group of women involved in local businesses and the sweetest real estate agent who so very hard to help.  The day was full of meeting and greeting.  Unfortunately, it seems that it was not meant to be as nothing quite worked out.

What was I thinking….trying to do this on the spur of the moment without any hint or preview.  I just fell in love with the history, the town and the people.  I do not want to leave, but I cannot afford to stay.  Maybe I can come back.

As I read my posts I realize that I sound very negative.  I honestly am not that negative of a person.  So during my downtime today I got real introspective.  I realized that I, much to my dismay, I am a romantic by heart.  I romanticized this trip like the trips of Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson and Robert M. Pirisig.  As Hunter would say, this trip was to be my “high water mark.”  I was expecting everything to change because of it.  Then my true self, the realist, stepped in and kicked me square in the pants and demands to know what I was thinking.

Because of those unrealistic expectations I am experiencing disappointment. When I was younger I was full of wonder and awe.  Although a bit jaded, I still had that feeling that life was going to end up like some sort of sappy Disney movie.  Then, I guess, you have to grow up and become responsible and pay your bills and be contributing members of society.  That is all fine and good, but the heavy weight of responsibilities moves wonder somewhere else, somewhere not easily accessed.

So I realized today that I am not negative so much as I am too much of a realist.  I no longer want to be a realist.  I want to have the wonder back, I want the awe back but I think I have to do it in a way that is not quite so Pie-in-The-Sky.  Just like the perfect chocolate chip cookie dough, you need the right amounts of each ingredient to make the perfect cookie; too much of one thing or too little of another will ruin the entire batch.

I am hoping I can change my perspective to reflect the perfect mix of romantic and realist.  You actually need both to keep from messing the situation up too badly.  Sorry it took my almost a week to figure this out, but maybe this knowledge will bring about the change I am looking for.

Thank you for listening….Buffalo, I still love you..I hope to return!!

Great Food Alert — El Patron, Middlefield, Ohio

I know I posted today, but I just had to do a short one.  Mike and I had some unexpected errands to run today so we treated ourselves to a late lunch/early dinner at our favorite local restaurant, El Patron, in Middlefield, Ohio.  Let me start by saying, the entire wait staff has always been great and we have never had a bad meal there.  We just love it!

Today we were greeted by our favorite wait person, Mauricio.  His smile lights up a room.  He is genuinely a wonderful person and we have had the pleasure of getting to know him over the years.

I was tasked by a co-worker, Jenny, to try my first ever Margarita.  Since I can no longer drink beer (gluten) and I am not much of a wine drinker, she thought a Margarita would be perfect.  Mauricio offered some great advice and I drank my first strawberry Margarita.  It was really good.  Great suggestion!!

My first ever Margarita.

My first ever Margarita.

Then our meal arrived.  I almost always get the Fajita Salad, it is my favorite.  Today, I got a special surprise.  I looked like a work of art.  I hated to eat it (not really, it was great).  I just had to take a picture of it.

My special Fajita Salad!

My special Fajita Salad!

After we were done eating, Mauricio came by and we told him that I was leaving for some time and we thanked him for all the kindnesses he has showed us over the years.  He sat down with us, talked, showed us pictures of his girlfriend and just really had a nice time.  Both Mike and I were so touched.

I just had to write about how important it is to take a few minutes and actually connect with other people.  If I had my way, I would probably never talk to anyone because I am afraid they will not want to talk to me or afraid I will not have anything of interest to say.  I thank Mike for bringing me out of my shell because I have met so many wonderful people who I would have missed in my life.

Mauricio and me.

Mauricio and me.

That is a big lesson I am expecting from this trip.  To learn to open up to the positive experiences and open my heart to people I do not know.  You NEVER know whose path you are going to cross and what difference they can make in your life or vice versa.  Thank you, Mauricio, for sharing so much with us.  We are touched.

Check out El Patron at:  El Patron Middlefield Ohio

Great Hamburger Alert!! Tallmadge, Ohio

Part of my Epic Journey is to find great hamburgers at great local places.  Found one today, right here at home!!

I did not create this hamburger image but I am respectfully using it for my post.  Looks really good by the way!

I did not create this hamburger image but I am respectfully using it for my post. Looks really good by the way!

Just traveling through Tallmadge, Ohio today and Stopped at Sammie’s Bar and Grill (see link below to their website).  Great place!!  The setting is lovely, quiet and inviting.  The burger was cooked to perfection and way more than I could eat (and I got the smaller sized one).  Great french fries too!!  Mike had the Cod and he said it was awesome!!  Mike, our server, was the best and gave us good advice about the menu!!  Overall, I would recommend Sammie’s to anyone looking for a really good meal!!

Sammies Bar and Grill

“It’s Only Rock and Roll, But I Like It”

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards may have written those words, but that statement has been a truth for me my entire life. I love mostly 70s rock as it helped carry me through my difficult teenage years. The music was always there for me and I hold a great fondness for it.

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That is why when a dear friend, Chris, invited Mike and I to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, I jumped at the chance. The museum opened in September 1995 and I have never been there. I have to admit I have heard good things and bad things about it, but I needed to see it for myself. So here it is almost 20 years after opening, I am finally going to see this place that I hope is full of Rock and Roll awe and amazement.

I have driven past the site many times and have admired the unique building design, but when you are standing just in front of it you realize the entire scope and size of the building. I felt so small standing there. It looks totally different up close and personal than when you are just driving by it.

Once we got inside, I never stopped smiling. Everyone there was incredibly friendly from the staff to my fellow visitors. You could tell that everyone there wanted to be there. That gave the place an incredible vibe.

They house an amazing amount of memorabilia, everything from sheet music, clothing, instruments, posters and many personal items from the people who made Rock and Roll. There were a lot of interactive stations, videos and news clips that were playing in various places. It would be hard to get bored because of all the different types of displays. They have really kept everything interesting.

We were lucky enough to be able to visit the Herb Ritts display. Absolutely stunning!! It seems Rock and Roll and photography are perfectly matched. His eye and his ability to create an atmosphere of comfort for his subjects combined to create some of the most appealing portraits. He has photographed Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Melissa Etheridge, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson…well, the list goes on and on. All as beautiful art as I have ever seen. Herb Ritt is to Rock and Roll as Ansel Adams is to nature, in my humble opinion.

The visit was great. I did not see a lot of my favorite bands, but it really did not matter as much as I thought it was going to. I still enjoyed all the displays and feel it was well worth the time.

We then walked down the street and found a hidden gem. The Blazing Bistro, a “shipping container turned culinary hot spot” located behind the Rock Hall on the E. 9th Pier. The day was beautiful, albeit a bit brisk, but sunny so we decided to eat outside. We stopped here, Mike had the Caprese Grilled Cheese and I had the Interbelt Burger. We explained my upcoming trip as our lunch cooked and we learned a little bit about this bistro.

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I cannot explain the mission of this project any better than what is detailed on the website. So here is their blurb…I am COMPLETELY behind this initiative and am so thankful that we stumbled into it!!

“Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) has launched (my words) Blazing Bistro, a brand new social enterprise to operate a high-end concession unit similar to a food truck in downtown Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor. It provides an opportunity for LMM to not only be at the center of the city’s economic revival, but also provide additional training options for graduates of its existing culinary arts training program, many of whom have experienced homelessness or incarceration during their lives. The Culinary Arts Training Program provides quality education, work experience and valuable skills training, helping students overcome troubled pasts, break down the barriers to employment and ultimately become successful in the foodservice industry. Blazing Bistro will also assist in continuing to build the reputation of LMM’s culinary program among the public, but more importantly, among restaurant owners and managers. This will have a significant and lasting effect on the successful employment rate of all of the graduates of the program.”

The food was great, the people were great and the concept is a blessing to all. You can check them out at facebook.com/blazingbistro.

We continued down the pier, run into a friend we have not seen in years and thoroughly enjoyed the day. It is a reminder to me that you can travel far or to someplace in your own backyard and you will be continually amazed. The planning of my epic trip has also opened my eyes to the wonders that are within driving distance from my home. It feels good to get out of my bubble and see what is around me.

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Meeting with President of The Historic US Route 20 Association

It was only fitting to meet with Bryan Farr, President of The Historic US Route 20 Association, in the historic building which now houses the Willoughby Brewing Company (4057 Erie Street). Since I will be taking historic Route 20 from Cleveland all the way to Newport, Oregon, and then from Boston back to Cleveland, it only made sense to make a connection with Bryan.

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Bryan and me outside of the Willoughby Brewing Company.

He is working tirelessly to achieve the Association mission:

“The mission of the Historic US Route 20 Association is to identify & preserve the cultural importance of, and to promote the economic development of inner cities, small towns and rural communities along all 3,365 miles and former alignments of US Route 20.” Source: http://www.historicus20.com

Bryan was only in our neck of the woods for a short time, so being able to sit down and talk with him for almost three hours was unbelievable. He explained to Mike and me how he got started with this dream, and where he sees it going. He also offered me much-needed advice on how to car travel in a frugal and safe way. His tips were great and I will be sharing them in future posts.

Route 20 has always had significance to me due to where I lived as a child. Many of you know I grew up in a very rural location where things to do just did not exist. But if you could find a ride to Route 20 in Mentor, Willoughby or Painesville, then you could find something to do, enjoy great places to eat, do some shopping, see a movie and so much more than my little town offered. Route 20 was like going to the “Big City” for me. When I learned that I could drive all the way across the country on it, there was no hesitation to make that a big part of my trip.

Our time with Bryan was extremely enlightening, but I think the most pivotal part for me was when I asked if travel changes you as a person. This incredible smile lit up his face and he said it was true and he guaranteed that I would be a different person when I got back. He explained how seeing nature and not just from the window of a speeding car, but actually seeing a mountain or a redwood or an ocean effects something inside you as a person. The beauty leaves its mark on your soul. All I can say is…I cannot wait to experience that and all the other unexpected things that will happen along the way.

Today’s Post Shout Out:  A quick thank you to Kyle, our server at Willoughby Brewing Company. He treated us wonderfully and allowed us to stay for so long as we talked. Oh, I almost forgot my hamburger quest. Really great burgers at Willoughby Brewing Company!

The building is more than 100 years old and used to house the repair depot for the Cleveland Ashtabula Interurban Rail Line.

The building is more than 100 years old and used to house the repair depot for the Cleveland Ashtabula Interurban Rail Line.

Next door to the brewing company is the old power plant which used to generate electricity for the streetcar system.
Next door to the brewing company is the old power plant which used to generate electricity for the streetcar system.