Ten Giant Reasons to Visit North Dakota

MapLoco States I Have Visited
MapLoco States I Have Visited

In the last few days there has been a viral survey on Facebook (seems like there is one every week!!).  Simply put, “How Many States Have You Visited” is fun for all because it is simple and adds color and is really a “go viral” piece.  MapLoco.com has apparently used it to draw attention to their site.  I did it and my results are above – yes, I only have three states to go.  Many of my friends have done it as well and one common theme I found among many of them….they had not yet been to North Dakota.  In fact, a couple of my friends even indicated that they may never find a reason to go to North Dakota.

North Dakota Map from 1958
North Dakota Map from 1958

North Dakota gets a bad rap from people because in the winter there are unbearable blizzards and snow.  The state is relatively flat and “may not” have interesting places to visit (or so people think).  But, despite the cold winter, there is plenty to see and do in North Dakota for fun, especially if you go in late Spring or during the Summer.  Here are my TOP TEN places to visit in North Dakota.

1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Medora, ND

Some of the scenic and colorful hills of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Some of the scenic and colorful hills of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Yes indeed, there IS a National Park in North Dakota.  Theodore Roosevelt National Park, named after the President that pushed forth conservation by establishing the National Forest Service, and establishing 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 4 National Game Preserves, 150 National Forests, 5 National Parks, and enabling the 1906 American Antiquities Act which he used to proclaim 18 National Monuments. During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt protected approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land.

2. The Enchanted Highway – Dickinson, ND to Regent, ND

Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

The Enchanted Highway is a collection of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures constructed at intervals along a 32 mile stretch of two-lane highway from east of Dickinson, ND to Regent, ND.  In my opinion, this is one of America’s TOP Roadside Attractions. (See my complete blog post about it here).

Fisherman's Dream, one of the many Ginormous scrap metal sculptures on the Enchanted Highway
Fisherman’s Dream, one of the many Ginormous scrap metal sculptures on the Enchanted Highway
Sumoflam visiting the Tin Family, another large set of metal sculptures on the Enchanted Highway
Sumoflam visiting the Tin Family, another large set of metal sculptures on the Enchanted Highway

3.  Interstate 94 – The Highway of Giants

World's Largest Buffalo, Jamestown, ND
World’s Largest Buffalo, Jamestown, ND

Interstate 94 from Fargo to Dickinson boasts FOUR of the World’s Largest things (see my post about this part of North Dakota)…the World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND; the World’s Largest Sand Crane in Steele, ND; Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow in New Salem, ND (see #6 below); and “Geese in Flight”, the first piece of the Enchanted Highway and the Guinness World Record Holder for the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world.

World's Largest Sand Crane, Steele, ND
World’s Largest Sand Crane, Steele, ND
Sumoflam at the "Geese in Flight" Scrap Metal Sculpture, the world's largest
Sumoflam at the “Geese in Flight” Scrap Metal Sculpture, the world’s largest

4. Rugby, ND – The Geographical Center of North America

Rugby, ND - The Geographic Center of North America
Rugby, ND – The Geographic Center of North America

I got to visit Rugby in 2014.  The novelty of visiting the Geographical Center of North America was too much to resist (see my post here).

The Rugby Monument to the Geographical Center of North America
The Rugby Monument to the Geographical Center of North America

5. Space Aliens Bar and Grill in Fargo, ND

Space Aliens Bar & Grill, Fargo, ND
Space Aliens Bar & Grill, Fargo, ND

I have visited three of these locations over the years.  For an out of this world tasty experience (they have BBQ Ribs!!) you must stop by Space Aliens.  They actually have TWO locations in North Dakota (Bismarck as well).  As you can see below, back in 2005 we finished off a massive all-you-can-eat dinner. And the quirky theme restaurant has all of the outer-space kitsch you want too!

Finishing off a pile of ribs at Space Aliens back in 2005
Finishing off a pile of ribs at Space Aliens back in 2005

6. Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow, New Salem, ND

Salem Sue in New Salem, ND - the World's Largest Holstein Cow
Salem Sue in New Salem, ND – the World’s Largest Holstein Cow

For an udderly moooving experience, Salem Sue is a must see attraction.  At 38 feet tall, 50 feet long and weighing over 12,000 pounds, this cow is amazing fun.  On a hill near New Salem, ND (I-94, exit 127), this bodacious bovine can be seen from as far as seven miles away on a clear day.

Salem Sue is a giant of all giants. Udderly amazing
Salem Sue is a giant of all giants. Udderly amazing

7. A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere – Nekoma, ND

The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelsen Safeguard Complex
The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelsen Safeguard Complex

This pyramid is actually called the Missile Site Radar (MSR) installation. It is part of a larger installation called the Stanley R. Mickelson Safeguard Complex (SRMSC).  Built in the 1970s. this complex was the United States’ first operational ABM (anti-ballistic missile) defense system. This lonely 80 foot tall pyramid can be seen for miles. (See my complete post about this part of North Dakota)

The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND

8. Thunderbird Sculpture in Bismarck, ND

Thunderbird Sculpture in Bismarck, ND
Thunderbird Sculpture in Bismarck, ND

This large four headed thunderbird statue at the Keelboat Park is uber impressive. The sculpture represents a powerful American Indian spirit that depicts thunderstorms. (See more here)

Sumoflam and Thunderbirds in Bismarck, ND
Sumoflam and Thunderbirds in Bismarck, ND

9. Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, ND

The Gol Stave Church replica and museum at the Scandinavian Heritage Center in Minot, ND
The Gol Stave Church replica and museum at the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, ND

A tribute to North Dakota’s Scandinavian roots, the Scandinavian Heritage Park is a unique destination and most certainly worth a visit!! I loved it here.  (See my complete post).

Sumoflam with Dala Horse
Sumoflam with 30 foot tall Dala Horse at Scandinavian Heritage Park

10. Ducks and Ponds and Grasslands

A colorful duck in the rush as seen along ND Hwy 1
A colorful duck in the rush as seen along ND Hwy 1

Contrary to what many may believe about North Dakota, I was quite surprised by what I saw on ND Highway 1.  All along the way there were many small ponds surrounded by grasses and filled with ducks and many other birds and wildlife.

Hundreds of ponds line the roads in ND, like this one on ND Hwy 1
Hundreds of ponds line the roads in ND, like this one on ND Hwy 1

Personally, I am not sure why North Dakota deserves the negative attention.  It is really a great place to visit (most times of the year).  Make sure to plan on adding North Dakota to your map of states visited!!  You will certainly have a Smile! (Smiley Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND)

Smiley Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND
Smiley Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND

 

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Creating the Wanderlust – 30 Years of Back Roads Travel with Family – Pt 2

Akela Flats near Deming, New Mexico, December 1999
Akela Flats near Deming, New Mexico, December 1999

This is Part 2 of a Three Part series on “Creating the Wanderlust” – how I have shared travel experiences with my children and grandchildren over the last 30+ years and how this has opened their eyes to the world around them.  You can see Part 1 here.

During 1996 and 1997 we didn’t travel much though we did visit a couple of Kentucky sites including the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln near Hodgenville, KY and Cumberland Gap.

Chelsea and Seth at the Lincoln Birthplace monument in Hodgenville, Kentucky 1996
Chelsea and Seth at the Lincoln Birthplace monument in Hodgenville, Kentucky July 4, 1997
Kid s with Grandpa Kravetz at Cumberland Gap in 1996
Kids with Grandpa Kravetz at Cumberland Gap in 1997

The big highlight of 1997 was when our 1995 French exchange student Barbara Grandvoinet came back to see us and we ventured off to St. Louis for a visit to the big St. Louis Art Museum, the Science Museum and the Gateway Arch and more.  This was a BLAST of a trip for all of us, though fairly short. (Barbara has since become quite an accomplished short film director and has traveled the world.  She too got the wanderlust!! — see more about her here and her personal Website at Babs Productions)

St. Louis Art Museum Sept. 1997
St. Louis Art Museum Sept. 1997
St. Louis Science Museum, Sept. 1997
St. Louis Science Museum, Sept. 1997
Marissa, Barbara, Amaree, Seth, Solomon under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Sept. 1997
Marissa, Barbara, Amaree, Seth, Solomon under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Sept. 1997

The visit to the Gateway Arch was the first for all of us and we took the opportunity to take the ride to the top and get a view like no other.  It was scary up there knowing that nothing was below our feet but a bit of steel and lots of air.

View of downtown St. Louis form the top of the Gateway Arch in Sept. 1997
View of downtown St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch in Sept. 1997
View of Capital Building from top of St. Louis Arch, taken Sept. 1997
View of Capital Building from the Gateway Arch, taken Sept. 1997

Our next big adventures took place in the summer of 1998.  This was a really exciting year for my two oldest daughters, who both got to make trips from little Nicholasville, KY to the excitement of Europe.  Amaree was accepted into an All-American Choir who toured a number of countries in Europe and performed.  At the about the same time, Marissa was invited to visit Barbara in France.  Amaree had the opportunity to join Marissa in Paris.  Both got to meet Barbara’s family and both had amazing experiences. (Dad is still jealous as he still has not had the opportunity to visit Europe — but he will!!)

Hershey's Chocolate World in Hershey, PA June 1998
Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, PA June 1998
Amaree, Seth and Marissa at Hersey Chocolate World
Amaree, Seth and Marissa at Hersey’s Chocolate World, June 1998

We took three trips to the east during 1998.  The first trip was to take Amaree to Pennsylvania where she would meet up with the touring choir and have orientation prior to heading to Europe. Along the way we visited Hershey and toured the Chocolate World facility.  While there Seth dragged his arm down the stair rail and got it stuck in the rail.  Security had to help him out and it took quite a “scary” while for all of us.  In the long run all was OK and were even given a bunch of chocolate for the inconvenience.

Seth and Amaree play with GIANT Crayons at the Crayola Museum in Eaton, PA
Seth and Amaree play with GIANT Crayons at the Crayola Museum in Easton, PA

From Hershey we also visited Easton, PA, home of the Crayola Museum (and at the time also had a Pez Museum which was closed in 2009 after a lawsuit).  It was fun to go through the museum and watch how Crayola Crayons were made.

Amaree and Seth at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA
Amaree and Seth at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA

So, we had to return to Pennsylvania a week later to drop Amaree off for the actual trip and on the way there Amaree, Seth, Solomon and I headed to Gettysburg, where there was a gigantic Civil War reenactment taking place to commemorate the 135th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg (see some interesting photos someone else took of the actual encampments, etc.).  This actually came as a surprise to us as we had just planned to visit after dropping Amaree off.  But when we got there we saw thousands of white tents.  It was pretty “in-tents”!!

Solomon got a big bang out of the cannons in Gettysburg in July 1998
Solomon got a big bang out of the cannons in Gettysburg in July 1998
Seth and Solomon at the Gettysburg Museum, July 4 1998
Seth and Solomon at the Gettysburg Museum, July 4 1998

We searched around town for a Gettysburg Address and found out that almost every house in Gettysburg had one.  However, we did find a sign that had Gettysburg Address written on it.

Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998
Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998

We also found the “Dead Center of Town”……

National Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA, July 1998
National Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA, July 1998

Ultimately, it was a quick two day round trip.  But, it was not the last trip east.  A few weeks later I made my way to New York to pick up both Amaree and Marissa.  Chelsea, Seth and Solomon joined me on this trip and we met my sister Sherry there as well. We visited some family, but perhaps the most memorable photo I have is the one below with the World Trade Center in the background.  Little did we know that a mere 37 months later both of these buildings would be gone…destroyed by terrorists.

Sister Sherry, Chelsea and Solomon with WTC in background, August 1998
Sister Sherry, Chelsea and Solomon with WTC in background, August 1998

Unfortunately, this too was a quick trip and we didn’t have time to get many photos of the kids and New York, but the one above is priceless!!

Solomon, Julianne, Marissa and Seth in Lexington, VA Summer 1998
Solomon, Julianne, Marissa and Seth in Lexington, VA Summer 1998

In 1998 we were also looking at schools for Marissa and took a quick trip to Buena Vista, VA to look at Southern Virginia University.  While on this trip we also took a visit to historic Lexington, Virginia.  We finally decided on BYU for her and in 1999 took Marissa out there with Seth and Solomon. In 1999 we also headed West  as a family (except for Marissa who came down from Utah) for Christmas with my wife’s family in Mesa, Arizona and then a visit on New Year’s Day 2000 with my Aunt Maxine in Albuquerque on the way home. It was a fun year…

Abe Lincoln Monument near Laramie, Wyoming 1999
Abe Lincoln Monument at Summit Rest Area on I-80 near Laramie, Wyoming Summer 1999
Seth, Solomon, Marissa and Julianne at Winter Quarters monument at Mormon Trail Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Summer 1999
Seth, Solomon, Marissa and Julianne at Winter Quarters monument at Mormon Trail Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Summer 1999
Seth and Sol Practice their handcart skills. These came in handy when they did an actual three day adventure in the early 2000s.  Taken at Mormon Trail Center, Omaha in Summer 1999
Seth and Sol Practice their handcart skills. These came in handy when they did an actual three day adventure in the early 2000s. Taken at Mormon Trail Center, Omaha in Summer 1999
Visiting Montezuma Castle National Monument, near Cottonwood, AZ  in late 1999
Visiting Montezuma Castle National Monument, near Cottonwood, AZ Dec. 30, 1999

A little side note: Montezuma Castle was one of the first four National Monuments dedicated in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Akela Flats, NM near Deming - Dec. 22, 1999
Akela Flats, NM near Deming – Dec. 22, 1999

Akela Flats is one of 10 Bowlin Travel Centers in the Southwest, most of them along Interstate 10 from Tucson, AZ to Las Cruces, NM. These are the ultimate “Tourist Traps” with lots of fun stuff.  In 2011 we visited “The Thing” on a trip from Arizona to Kentucky.  I’ll have a Flashback post about that trip in the near future.

Amaree, Solomon and Seth at Longaberger Basket HQ in Newark, OH Fall 1999
Amaree, Solomon and Seth at Longaberger Basket HQ in Newark, OH Fall 1999

During the fall of 1999 some of us also made a quick trip to Cleveland to visit the Laurienzo arm of my family up there. Along the way we stopped at the Longaberger Basket HQ in Newark, Ohio.  Giant picnic basket!

Solomon, Julianne, Amaree and Seth at LDS Nashville Temple Dedication, May 2000
Solomon, Julianne, Amaree and Seth at LDS Nashville Temple Dedication, May 2000

The new millennium ushered in another year of travel for us.  Not only did we drive home the first two days of the year 2000, but we made a few other interesting trips.  We took a trip to Nashville for the Dedication of the LDS (Mormon) Nashville Temple in May 2000.

On another adventure in May, we took a two day swing up to Chicago for the grand opening of the “Sue” T-Rex exhibit at the Field Museum.  We had heard about this event and since Chicago is really only a 6 hour drive, we took the opportunity to attend the event as a family. “Sue” is the largest, most complete, and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

Family visits "Sue" the T-Rex exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago in May 2000
Family visits “Sue” the T-Rex exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago in May 2000
Solomon, Julianne, Amaree and Seth on one of the huge pillars at the Field Museum in Chicago
Solomon, Julianne, Amaree and Seth on one of the huge pillars at the Field Museum in Chicago
Solomon about to get chomped by Sue at the Field Museum.
Solomon about to get chomped by Sue at the Field Museum

Early in 2001 my boys and I joined a number of friends from Kentucky and even Utah in Memphis, Tennessee for the Liberty Bowl game between BYU and Louisville. It was a miserably cold day and miserable for BYU fans in general. But, we made sure to enjoy the “blues” and sought a little Graceland before digging into some Memphis BBQ!

Seth and Solomon with friends from Murray, UT visiting Beale Street in Memphis, January 2001
Seth and Solomon with friends from Murray, UT visiting Beale Street in Memphis, January 2001
Going to Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee January 2001
Going to Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee January 2001

Travel continued that year with a couple more trips.  Over the summer we took the family to Nauvoo, Illinois to see the new LDS Temple being built there and also visit some of the church historical sites.  Along the way we also visited some museums and historical sites.


View Larger Map – Map of our 2001 trip to Nauvoo

Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Family inside the Clark Memorial with George Rogers Clark and the seven murals, Summer 2001
Family inside the Clark Memorial with George Rogers Clark and the seven murals, Summer 2001
The kids learn about an Old Printing Press in Vincennes, Indiana. Summer 2001
The kids learn about an Old Printing Press in Vincennes, Indiana. Summer 2001

In 1779 George Rogers Clark led a group of 170 foot soldiers on a n 18 day trek to keep the British from laying claim to Fort Sackville, which was, at that time, on the outskirts of the western frontier in present day Indiana.  This helped America gain possession of the northwest territory.  The beautiful building and the statue and seven murals inside of the Clark National Monument, tell the story of this great Revolutionary War battle.

Family at the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, Summer 2001
Family at the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, Summer 2001
Seth and Marissa walking with Lincoln at Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois in the Summer of 2001
Seth and Marissa walking with Lincoln at Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois in the Summer of 2001

From Vincennes, we continued west to Springfield, Illinois to visit another Abraham Lincoln Monument.  This was the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, where we were able to tour the home, see the furnishings and learn more about the Illinois era of Abraham Lincoln’s prolific life.

Traveling in the van, Summer 2001
Traveling in the van, Summer 2001

Along the way, we made a stop in Hannibal, Missouri and visited some Mark Twain historic sites.  Seth and Solomon got to learn all about painting fences, while my wife and daughters looked at some of the shops.

Seth and Solomon at Tom Sawyer's Fence in Hannibal, Missouri., Summer 2001
Seth and Solomon at Tom Sawyer’s Fence in Hannibal, Missouri., Summer 2001

From Hannibal we headed north to Nauvoo and Carthage with a brief stop in Quincy.  Some of my step mother’s ancestors were buried here…namely, Hanks family members (yes, related to Abraham Lincoln).  We tracked down the grave markers and took etchings of them.

Amaree taking an etching of the grave marker of her great-great-great-great grandfather Joseph Hanks in Quincy, Illinois.
Amaree taking an etching of the grave marker of her great-great-great-great grandfather Joseph Hanks in Quincy, Illinois

There is a great deal of family history on my wife’s side in Nauvoo so it was a great opportunity to see both LDS Church Historical Sites while also learning how this related to the family’s heritage.

The family at Carthage, location where the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred. Taken in the summer of 2001.
The family at Carthage, location where the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred. Taken in the summer of 2001
Family at the Nauvoo Temple under construction in Nauvoo, Illinois. Summer 2001
Family at the Nauvoo Temple under construction in Nauvoo, Illinois. Summer 2001
Solomon at the memorial to Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage, IL
Solomon at the memorial to Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage, IL
Amaree at the Joseph and Hyrum Smith statue in Carthage, IL
Amaree at the Joseph and Hyrum Smith statue in Carthage, IL

On our way home we stopped in Indianapolis to visit the wonderful Indianapolis Children’s Museum.  This was our fist time there and I have visited a couple of times since 2001, including a visit with the grandchildren in 2013 (see post about that here).

Family climbs aboard a dino at the Indianapolis Children's Museum, Summer 2000
Family climbs aboard a dino at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Summer 2001
The Family Pulling Together at the Indianapolis Children's Museum, Summer 2001
The Family Pulling Together at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Summer 2001

On our 2013 visit two of my grandchildren posed in front of the same statue, which had been moved to a different location on the museum grounds.  When I took that photo, I had forgotten all about the one I took in 2001…funny…

My grandchildren at Indianapolis Children's Museum in 2013
My grandchildren at Indianapolis Children’s Museum in 2013

The big news for 2001 was that our daughter Amaree departed for a year and a half long LDS Mission to Japan.  Her travel experiences would take her back to a country she knew and loved.  Ironically, she was sent to the same area where served back in 1976 to 1978.

Seth with a dinosaur fossil at Dinosaur National Monument in Dinosaur, Utah
Seth with a dinosaur fossil at Dinosaur National Monument in Dinosaur, CO, summer 2002

In the summer of 2002 we headed to Utah to visit my wife’s parents.  It was a fast trip with few stops, but we did make a stop in Dinosaur, Colorado (near Vernal, Utah) to see the amazing Dinosaur National Monument. Once again, there was always an effort to go to places where the children could learn about the world and its history.

Solomon, Marissa and Sumoflam at Dinosaur National Monument, Dinosaur, Colorado, summer 2002
Solomon, Marissa and Sumoflam at Dinosaur National Monument, Dinosaur, Colorado, summer 2002

With the growth of children and their attending college and serving missions, coupled with busy jobs, much of our family travel seemed to dwindle. Marissa was soon off to Thailand to serve an LDS mission and the other kids were involved in other things.  Julianne and I did get to go on a cruise to Alaska with her parents and siblings in June 2004, but the kids didn’t come along.

Amaree eventually got a teaching in job in Montana, so she and Seth headed west on a “Sumoflam adventure” of their own (with much advice and travel guidance from their Dad of course).

Traveling Siblings - Amaree and Seth on their way to Montana in July 2004
Traveling Siblings – Amaree and Seth on their way to Montana in August 2004
Seth ponders what life would be like as a Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI summer 2004
Seth ponders what life would be like as a Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI summer 2004
Amaree with the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota, summer 2004
Amaree with the Jolly Green Giant (HO HO HO) in Blue Earth, Minnesota, August 2004
Seth at the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN July 2004
Seth at the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN August 2004
Seth at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD August 2004
Seth at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD August 2004
Amaree and Seth at Mt. Rushmore National Monument, August 2004
Amaree and Seth at Mt. Rushmore National Monument, August 2004
A BADMAN in the Badlands! Seth in the expanses of South Dakota, August 2004
A BADMAN in the Badlands! Seth in the expanses of South Dakota, August 2004

We didn’t really have any more big trips until the wild year of 2005.  I had spent about six weeks in Cebu, Philippines early that year for work only to come home to THREE engaged daughters.  By May, the entire family was traipsing all over the country for weddings.  In May we went to Gatlinburg for our youngest daughter Chelsea’s wedding and then a few weeks later we were off to Montana and Cardston, Alberta for our oldest child Amaree’s wedding. Less than 10 days later we were back in Kentucky for Marissa’s wedding and a TRIPLE reception.

Seth and Solomon crashed at a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN May 2005
Seth and Solomon crashed at a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN May 2005
Seth outside the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, TN May 2005
Seth outside the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, TN May 2005

After a brief recovery, the whole family (except for Chelsea) was off to Montana.  This was the prime opportunity for me to make a full-fledged road trip plan with lots of stops along the way.  Thanks to a kind friend at work, we were loaned a conversion van, so Seth, Solomon, Marissa and I loaded up and headed west for one of my epic offbeat trips!!  We left on June 15, about 4 weeks after getting back from Gatlinburg. (see the entire trip report on my old website – with dozens of photos, some of which will be shown below)

June 2005 "Montana Wedding" Roadtrip
June 2005 HUGE “Montana Wedding” Roadtrip

Thanks to the internet and Roadside America, among other sites, I planned this trip meticulously.  It was probably my biggest adventure ever with my children, at least with some of them.

Roadside guidance provided by……

Ultimately, this trip covered 4500 miles in six days.  We ventured through (or into) ten states and one Canadian Province.  We saw dozens of unique sites along the way as well.  We actually retraced some of Amaree and Seth’s route from 2004 as well.  But, more than education this time, we set out to make this a fun and quirky offbeat trip to relieve from stress of weddings and to just have fun.  Here are a few of the better shots.  So many more are on my old journal post at sumoflam.biz. The ultimate vacation!!  Many memories were made…

Millenium Park, Chicago
The kids at Anish Kappor’s “Cloud Gate in Millenium Park in Chicago. June 2005
Say Cheese
Say Cheese – We were in Wisconsin after all – June 2005
Pink Elephant, DeForest, WI
Marissa outdoing Seth (who visited in 2004) at the Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI – June 2005 (By the way, Marissa’s favorite animal has always been the elephant)
Solomon in Minnesota
Solomon in Minnesota – June 2005
Space Aliens Bar and Grill
Seth and Solomon finish off a pile of ribs at Space Aliens Bar and Grill near St. Cloud, MN

Our first day took us from Lexington through Indy, Chicago, Minneapolis and finally St. Cloud, MN.  The second day was another doozy….

Largest Pile of Cans - Casselton, ND
Marissa at World’s Largest Pile of Cans in Casselton, ND. This has since been taken down. June 2005

Along with visits to some of the “World’s Biggest” things (the giant Prairie Chicken in Rothsay, MN, the giant Sand Crane in Steele, ND and the giant Buffalo in Jamestown, ND), we also visited the world’s largest Holstein Cow “Salem Sue” in New Salem, North Dakota.  This was utterly fun!

Salem Sue in North Dakota
Milkin’ it for all its worth at “Salem Sue” statue in New Salem, North Dakota – June 2005

We finally got into my old stomping grounds of Great Falls, Montana late on the 17th and really needed some rest.  The next day would be Amaree’s wedding in Cardston, Alberta and we would then return home via Glacier National Park…

Glacier National Park
Seth, Julianne (who flew out) and Marissa enjoy the expansive views at Glacier National Park in Montana. June 2005
Solomon, Marissa and Seth at Glacier National Park, June 2005
Solomon, Marissa and Seth at Glacier National Park, June 2005
Chiptymonk
Solomon tries to feed a “chiptymonk” in Glacier National Park in Montana – June 2005

The four of us headed out of Great Falls on June 19th in two cars (Seth and Solomon returned in the car he drove out to Montana with Amaree in 2004).  We headed southeast for more adventures on the way home….

Marissa and Seth's Last Stand at the location whereGeorge Custer is buried at Little Big Horn National Monument, Montana June 2005
Marissa and Seth’s Last Stand at the location where George Custer is buried at Little Bighorn National Battlefield, Montana June 2005
Solomon, Marissa and Seth at the Stoneville Saloon in Alzada, Montana.  A biker bar literally in the middle of nowhere. June 2005
Solomon, Marissa and Seth at the Stoneville Saloon in Alzada, Montana. A biker bar literally in the middle of nowhere. June 2005
Stoneville Saloon
Stoneville Saloon – Cheap Drinks, Lousy Food, Conveniently located in the Middle of Nowhere….
Mt. Rushmore, SD
Marissa shows off Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota – June 2005

After an overnight stay near Mt. Rushmore, we had one more day of travel…a really long trip home in two cars with very little time as Marissa had to get back home to prepare for her wedding…just three days away.

Jackalope at Wall Drug, SD
Solomon rides a Jackalope at Wall Drug in Wall, SD
Wall Drug, SD
Mt. Sethmore at Wall Drug in South Dakota – June 2005
Marissa and Solomon enjoy Badlands National Park in South Dakota - June 2005
Marissa and Solomon enjoy Badlands National Park in South Dakota – June 2005
Cactus Flats, SD
Marissa feeds the prairie dogs at Cactus Flats, SD
The "Soulman" withe the Blues Brothers outside a shop in Mitchell, SD - June 2005
The “Soulman” withe the Blues Brothers outside a shop in Mitchell, SD – June 2005
Corn Palace, MItchell, SD
Marissa at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD – June 2005

After hitting Mitchell, SD, we “splurged” on a cheap meal at Taco Bell and began the long trek home on the highways.  We stopped in Blue Earth, MN at dusk in hopes of seeing the Green Giant but were hit by a massive rain storm, so we slept it out in a rest area.  After a couple of hours we were back on the road with a couple more stops along the way to rest.  We finally got home early in the morning…tired, hungry and weary, but enthralled from the amazing trip…  then Marissa’s wedding in Louisville and the reception.

Three Weddings and a Tired Happy Dad
Three Weddings and a Tired Happy Dad – June 24, 2005

And thus ends Part 2 of my “Creating the Wanderlust” series. Part 3 begins the “Grandchildren Era” and includes more cross country trips with kidz and grandkidz.  The years 2005 to 2013 have been a completely thrilling joyride!

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FOOD FOOD FOOD – Part 2: Barbecue Places and Diners on Less Beaten Paths

Arthur Bryant's - Kansas City
Arthur Bryant’s – Kansas City

As I travel across these great United States (and Canada too) perhaps the most common sight along the way is Barbecue (BBQ) places and diners, big and small.  Following are a few of the places I have visited (or at least passed and wished I had time to stop in for a visit….).

Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, WV

Hillbilly Hot Dogs - Lesage, WV
Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, WV

Ever eaten at a junk yard?  Ever had enough guts to do so?  Well, if you head north of Huntington, WV along the Ohio River to the small little village of Lesage you can do just that at Hillbilly Hot Dogs.  A junk collector’s dream and a neatnik’s nightmare!

Hillbilly Hot Dogs long view
Hillbilly Hot Dogs long view
Hillbilly Hot Dogs from the front
Hillbilly Hot Dogs from the front
Order Rite Cheer at Hillbilly Hot Dogs in Lesage, WV
Order Rite Cheer at Hillbilly Hot Dogs in Lesage, WV

I really got quite a kick out of some of the wackiness here…

Yes, they do have a Website!!
Yes, they do have a Website!!

And they have their own song “We Got the Weenies

The Delivery Van - Hillbilly Hot Dogs
The Delivery Van – Hillbilly Hot Dogs
Permanent Menu at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
Permanent Menu at Hillbilly Hot Dogs

Like many offbeat roadside eateries, Hillbilly Hot Dogs has been featured on TV shows.  They have also been featured on the Travel Channel, the Food Network and others. Here is a short clip from Diner’s Dives and Drive-ins.

Then, there is their famous BIG SIZE dog called the Homewrecker!! They also have a Big Bad Bubba Burger!!

The Homewrecker at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
The Homewrecker at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
Don't Forget to Wipe (off your face)
Don’t Forget to Wipe (off your face)

Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – Kansas City, Kansas

Oklahoma Joe's BBQ - Kansas City, KS
Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – Kansas City, KS

Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, Kansas is a BBQ joint in a gas station.  I actually think the gas station takes second fiddle to the BBQ. Fortunately for us, we got there just before the rush.  By the time we got our food, the line was clear out the door.  Like many of the places on this post, Oklahoma Joe’s has been featured on TV shows including some on the Food Network and PBS.

Oklahoma Joe's Neon
Oklahoma Joe’s Neon
The waiting line at Oklahoma Joe's
The waiting line at Oklahoma Joe’s

I have discovered thru my travels that many BBQ places participate in competitions for best sauce, best BBQ, etc.  Oklahoma Joe’s is no exception.  In fact, that is how they got their start.  Owner Jeff Stehney began his career in BBQ by participating in Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) competitions. In 1993 he and his partners (team Slaughterhouse Five) won eight grand championships. They did this with their Oklahoma Joe’s 24″ smoker.  In 1996 they opened their first shop in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Kansas City location opened in 1996.  They now have three locations in Kansas.

Daily Menu at Oklahoma Joe's
Daily Menu at Oklahoma Joe’s
Oklahoma Joe's T-shirt
Oklahoma Joe’s T-shirt

But, of course, the best part….the BBQ!!

Oklahoma Joe's BBQ with all the fixins including jalapenos!
Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ with all the fixins including jalapenos!

Big Jud’s Country Diner – Archer, Idaho

Big Jud's Country Diner - Rexburg, Idaho
Big Jud’s Country Diner – Archer, Idaho

Continuing the string of made famous by TV diners, I visited Big Jud’s in March 2013.  Located in Archer, Idaho, a small town outside of Rexburg, this “country diner” is rustic, but, the food isn’t!  I have never seen such HUGE burgers and portions anywhere!!

Home of the 1 LB Burger
Home of the 1 LB Burger
Big Burger Menu at Jud's
Big Burger Menu at Jud’s
Big Jud's 1 Lb Burger
Big Jud’s 1 Lb Burger
A REAL Mouthful at Judd's
A REAL Mouthful at Judd’s

Like many places, they have their “Chow Down” contests.  Eat the big burger in a certain amount of time and you get a t-shirt, a photo on the board and even a free meal.  My friend Trevor Mortensen, from Rexburg, joined a team to try this…

Tried but failed....
Tried but failed….
....but finished this one off
….but finished this one off

But check out what this other kid was having while we were there….

The Big Jud
The Big Jud

Hutch’s on the Beach – Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Hutch's on the Beach - Hamilton, Ontario
Hutch’s on the Beach – Hamilton, Ontario

Hutch’s on the Beach in Ontario is a classic 1950s style burger joint (actually, since 1946!).  This place is practically right out of American Graffiti (even though it is in Canada).  Black and white checkerboard floors, big fresh made burgers, great fries and shakes.  A juke box that played music from the 1950s….

Hutch's Menu board
Hutch’s Menu board
They have Fish and Chips too...it is in Canada mind you.
They have Fish and Chips too…it is in Canada mind you.

I loved the nostalgia that Hutch’s brought me….

Old Style Milk Machine
Old Style Milk Machine
Checkerboard Tile and Booths
Checkerboard Tile and Booths
Lots of stuff too
Lots of stuff too

Of course, like any of these places, we came for the “real” food…burgers, fries and milk shakes made the old fashioned way.

Burgers and fries and goodies at Hutch's on the Beach
Burgers and fries and goodies at Hutch’s on the Beach. Fries are home made too!
This is a REAL burger - not something like McD's production line burgers
This is a REAL burger – not something like McD’s production line burgers
Hanging behind the counter with the Hutch's team - April 2008
Hanging behind the counter with the Hutch’s team – April 2008

Stewart’s Drive In – Russell’s Point, Ohio

Stewart's Drive In - Russells Point, Ohio
Stewart’s Drive In – Russells Point, Ohio

Located in central Ohio, southeast of Lima, Russells Point, Ohio is a touristy destination with Indian Lake bordering it.  While driving to Indian Lake to see the sights, I came across the old fashioned drive in.  I had to stop for a drink and an ice cream cone.  What a pleasure!!  Had someone come to the car and everything!

Stewart's Drive In
Stewart’s Drive In
Bringing out the ice cream at Stewart's
Bringing out the ice cream at Stewart’s

Snappy Lunch – Mt. Airy, North Carolina

Snappy Lunch - Mt. Airy, NC
Snappy Lunch – Mt. Airy, NC
Snappy Lunch - Mt. Airy, NC
Snappy Lunch – Mt. Airy, NC

If you have ever watched the Andy Griffith show or Mayberry RFD, you would have heard about “The Snappy Lunch,” which was mentioned in Episode 007 of the Andy Griffith Show on November 14, 1960.  Andy Griffith actually ate there as a young boy growing up in Mt. Airy.   Opened in 1923, it is the oldest eating establishment in Mt. Airy and is famous for its Pork Chop Sandwiches.

Snappy Lunch Menu
Snappy Lunch Menu
Andy Griffith loved Snappy Lunch
Andy Griffith loved Snappy Lunch

The pork chop sandwiches served up at Snappy Lunch were a first for me.  I had never had one, but I would most certainly return for another.  I caught owner Charles Dowell busy at work cooking up his specialty back in March 2012. He passed away in September 2012 at the age of 84.  He began working at The Snappy Lunch in 1943 and by 1960 he had purchased the cafe.

Cooking up the pork chops at Snappy Lunch
The Late Charles Dowell cooking up the pork chops at Snappy Lunch
Snappy Lunch Pork Chops
Snappy Lunch Pork Chops

So, if you are wondering what time it is…..

Snappy Lunch Clock
Snappy Lunch Clock
....it's time for a Snappy Lunch Pork Chop Sandwich
….it’s time for a Snappy Lunch World Famous Pork Chop Sandwich

Space Aliens Grill & Bar – Waite Park, Minnesota

Space Aliens Grill & Bar - Waite Park, MN
Space Aliens Grill & Bar – Waite Park, MN

While on a trip to Montana in 2005 with my kids, we made our way into Waite Park, MN, just west of St. Cloud.  We got in fairly late after a day of traveling in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  We had pushed to get here in time so that we could eat at Space Aliens.  And, we were lucky, it was a Wednesday and all you can eat night.  I had two BIG HUNGRY boys, along with myself and one of my daughters.  We chowed down to say the least!!

Kitschy Mars theme in Space Aliens
Kitschy Mars theme in Space Aliens
Aliens everywhere!!
Aliens everywhere!!
Space Themed Walls
30 foot tall Space Themed Ceiling Dome

Mort Bank and David Glaser, like other BBQ proprietors, got their start in BBQ competitions. Having won the National Barbecue Convention for “America’s Best Ribs” in Tennessee, they returned to their home in North Dakota and opened up a store in Bismarck and a second one in Fargo, North Dakota.

Space Aliens Grill & Bar - Fargo, ND
Space Aliens Grill & Bar – Fargo, ND
Wall Mural on Fargo Space Aliens Grill & Bar
Wall Mural on Fargo Space Aliens Grill & Bar

As for the Barbecue — they have actually trademarked “Positively the Best Ribs in the Entire Universe”.  Their slowly smoked 20 spice ribs were really fantastic.  In fact, we ate them empty that evening!!

An order of Space Alien ribs
An order of Space Alien ribs
My boys gnoshing on Space Alien Ribs
My boys gnoshing on Space Alien Ribs
Dem Bones - all that was left was a pile of bones
Dem Bones – all that was left was a pile of bones
Sumoflam with an Alienized Smile at Space Aliens
Sumoflam with an Alienized Smile at Space Aliens

Stoneville Saloon – Alzada, Montana

Stoneville Saloon - Alzada, Montana
Stoneville Saloon – Alzada, Montana

Alzada is a very small unincorporated community in the far southeast corner of Montana, practically bordering Wyoming and South Dakota.  The long empty stretch of U.S. Highway 212 is basically the only way in and out.  Originally named Stoneville in 1880, the town’s named needed to be changed due to a Post Office conflict.  In 1885 it was named Alzada in honor of the wife of the postmaster.   It is an old cowboy town steeped in cowboy history.  But, it also is known for the Stoneville Saloon – “Conveniently located in the middle of Nowhere!”

Stoneville Saloon T-shirt
Stoneville Saloon T-shirt

I think the real draw is the tag line “Cheap Drinks – Lousy Food”

Stoneville Saloon - Cheap Drinks - Lousy Food
Stoneville Saloon – Cheap Drinks – Lousy Food

We had been driving all the way from Great Falls in 2005 on our way home from Montana and this was one of the MAIN destinations for us that day.  We got here starved.  Turns out that this is now a “biker bar” frequented by many bikers on their way to Sturgis, SD, which is about 67 miles to the southeast of Alzada.  We stopped and ate, but enjoyed the atmosphere more than anything…

Unique motorcycle at Stoneville Saloon
Unique motorcycle at Stoneville Saloon
Many antler mounts - Stoneville Saloon
Many antler mounts – Stoneville Saloon
Pool tables in the Saloon
Pool tables in the Saloon
Love the Signs
Love the Signs – “Yes, the customer is always right. However, the bartender determines who is no longer a customer” and more….

OK, we had some burgers and fries while here.  But they do serve steaks and a few other goodies.  Needless to say, we were in a hurry so we didn’t try their famed canned delicacies…

Canned Delicacies at Stoneville Saloon - Alzada, Montana
Canned Delicacies at Stoneville Saloon – Alzada, Montana

Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Genos & Pats in Philadelphia
Genos & Pats in Philadelphia

A write up about diners cannot truly be justified without noting the Philly Cheesesteak rivalry in Philadelphia. No place represents the heart and soul of the Philadelphia better than the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue in South Philly. This is the cheese-steak epicenter where Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks face off 24 hours a day for the Cheesesteak crown.  So, what’s the best way to do it?  My friend and I hit BOTH places in the same evening.

Geno's Steaks - Philadelphia
Geno’s Steaks – Philadelphia

First stop was Geno’s Steaks, located in a corner of the intersection of E. Passyunk and 9th Street.  Geno’s was started in 1966 by Joe Vento with $6.00 in his pocket, 2 boxes of steaks and some hot dogs. If you can’t order in English, then don’t try this place.  They have signs up that explicitly state you must order in English.

Order in English only sign at Geno's
Order in English only sign at Geno’s
Even the cooks wear shirts about speaking in English at Geno's
Even the cooks wear shirts about speaking in English at Geno’s

The intimidation doesn’t stop at English only.  There is a specific way to order as well.  You must order with Provolone, American or Cheese Whiz.  If you don’t do it right they may chew you out!!  Fortunately, there is a constant stream of customers ordering so you can listen and learn.  They whip out those steaks with whiz pretty quick!

Steak Sign at Geno's
Steak Sign at Geno’s
Grilling the steaks at Geno's in Philadelphia
Grilling the steaks at Geno’s in Philadelphia

After indulging in a tasty, hot and yummiferous Geno’s  Steak sandwich (mine had Provolone), my friend and I meandered across the “X” to Pat’s King of Steaks. This shop is older than Geno’s, having opened in 1930 by Pat Olivieri, who ran a hot dog stand originally.

Pat's King of Steaks - "Don't Eat a Misteak"
Pat’s King of Steaks – “Don’t Eat a Misteak”
Best of Philly - Pat's King of Steaks
Best of Philly – Pat’s King of Steaks

Their website claims that this was where the cheesesteak was invented … there is even an historical marker on the site:

Pat's King of Steaks Historical Marker
Pat’s King of Steaks Historical Marker

Unlike Geno’s, there are not “Speak English” signs, but they are still persnickety in terms of ordering in a timely fashion as they also whip those cheesy meaty sandwiches out quickly.

Grilling up the steaks at Pat's
Grilling up the steaks at Pat’s
Steaks!! These will make a lot of cheesesteaks!
Steaks!! These will make a lot of cheesesteaks!

The final product is what everyone comes for:

One of Pat's cooks shows off "the goods"
One of Pat’s cooks shows off “the goods”
Yummmiferous! A Steak with peppers, cheese, onions and the goods.
Yummiferous! A Steak with peppers, cheese, mushrooms, onions and the goods.

And the winner?  It was definitely ME!!  I got the best of Philly in a double take.

Dash-Inn Drive In – Shelby, Montana

Dash In Drive In - Shelby, Montana
Dash-Inn Drive In – Shelby, Montana

This is another one of those drive up diners where someone will come out to your car and serve up great burgers, fries, onion rings, tater tots, etc.  My wife and I had the opportunity to eat here in March 2013.  It was as you would expect…great prices, great service and great food!

Camp 31 BBQ – Paris, Ontario

Camp 31 Bar-B-Que - Paris, Ontario
Camp 31 Bar-B-Que – Paris, Ontario

I have eaten at BBQ places all over the U.S. and in parts of Canada.  However, I have to admit that the absolute best experience I ever had was at Camp 31 in Paris, Ontario.  In 2008 I had the opportunity to work in Woodstock and I rented a place in Paris, about 20 miles south of Woodstock.  I made my way to Camp 31 at least twice a week.  It was heavenly.

Camp 31 Menu
Camp 31 Menu

Started originally in a Sawmill in Alabama, the owners moved to Canada and opened up in an old sawmill building in Paris.  The inside is rustic which makes the BBQ all the better tasting.

Smoking in giant smokers
Smoking in giant smokers
Bringing out the ribs from the smoker
Bringing out the ribs from the smoker
Grilling the Ribs after they have been smoked - Camp 31
Grilling the Ribs after they have been smoked – Camp 31

Camp 31 BBQ has a diverse menu and a good variety of goodies.  Their cornbread is sweet, their BBQ sauce is tangy, their meats are tender and their service is impeccable.

April takes the orders
April takes the orders
Camp 31 Seating
Camp 31 Seating

Many BBQ places compete and Camp 31 is no different.  In fact, they compete all over Canada and in the US.  They even have a tour bus with built in smokers!!

Camp 31 Hawgs Gone Wild Bus
Camp 31 Hawgs Gone Wild Bus
One of a gazillion trophies on display at Camp 31
One of a gazillion trophies on display at Camp 31

And here is why….

A satisfied Sumoflam at Camp 31
A satisfied Sumoflam at Camp 31
Pulled Pork Sandwich
Pulled Pork Sandwich
Barbecue Ribs at Camp 31
Barbecue Ribs at Camp 31
Robs at Camp 31 - Tender and Juicy
Robs at Camp 31 – Tender and Juicy
Oliver Zuder serving up the best at Camp 31
Oliver Zuder serving up the best at Camp 31

Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis, Missouri

Goody Goody Diner - St. Louis
Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis

Goody Goody Diner opened their doors as a Diner in 1948.  Started by Cecil Thompson, it is now owned by Richard Connelly who has worked at Goody Goody since 1955, when he was 14 and began peeling potatoes and working as a carhop.

Giant Coffee Cup Sign at Goody Goody's
Giant Coffee Cup Sign at Goody Goody
Goody Goody owner Rich Connelly
Goody Goody owner Rich Connelly
Scale Model Goody Goody delivery truck
Scale Model Goody Goody delivery truck

There is plenty of seating at Goody Goody and very little wait.  They really move the folks through and the service is fast.

Counter Seating - Diner Style
Counter Seating – Diner Style
Seating at Goody Goody
Seating at Goody Goody

The diner has a diverse menu, but they are especially famous for their “Wilbur”, a breakfast omelet filled with potatoes, peppers, onions and tomatoes and then covered with chili and cheese. Sometimes it is referred to as a “slinger”  A delectable delight of a dish.

The "Wilbur" from Goody Goody
The “Wilbur” from Goody Goody
The works - Wilbur, English Muffin and Grits. Rib sticking breakfast or lunch
The works – Wilbur, English Muffin and Grits. Rib sticking breakfast or lunch
The Wilbur brings a smile to Sumoflam
The Wilbur brings a smile to Sumoflam

Another favorite is Goody Goody is the waffles and fried chicken, a good southern dish.

Chicken and Waffles at Goody Goody
Chicken and Waffles at Goody Goody. Super Good!

Gronk’s Grill and Bar – Superior, Wisconsin

Gronk's Grill and Bar - Superior, Wisconsin
Gronk’s Grill and Bar – Superior, Wisconsin

Gronk’s Grill is the ultimate mixture of hamburger joint and BBQ joint.  Like Jud’s, they offer HUGE 6 and 8 pound burgers (The “Enger Tower Burger” and the “Great Divide” respectively).  You finish these off you get a t-shirt and a place in their Hall of Fame.  They also offer BBQ ribs and hot dogs.

Enter Here at Gronk's - a GIANT hand
Enter Here at Gronk’s – a GIANT hand
Carved bears greet you at the door
Carved bears greet you at the door

This is what you can get if you are really really hungry…the Enger Tower

Gronk's Enger Tower Burger
Gronk’s Enger Tower Burger

Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri

Arthur Bryant's Barbecue - Kansas City, Missouri
Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City is known for its barbecue and one of the prime establishments of Kansas City Barbecue is Arthur Bryant’s. This BBQ joint opened in the 1920s and once it moved from its original location to the corner of 18th and Brooklyn, near the old Municipal Stadium, it gained its national fame as major league baseball players and others visited the place.  Some claim that Arthur Bryant is the “legendary King of Ribs” and is considered by some to be “the most renowned barbecuer in history.”  Bryant died in 1982 at the age of 80, but the legendary flavor continues.

Arthur Bryant's Meat Tray
Arthur Bryant’s Meat Tray
One of the BBQ Masters at Arthur Bryant's shows off the goods!
One of the BBQ Masters at Arthur Bryant’s shows off the goods!

Unlike many BBQ places, Arthur Bryant’s serves their BBQ on slices of white bread.  I had never had it that way except at home.  Apparently, Bryant had created his special sauce so you “could put it on bread and eat it.”  Well, they did put it on bread and I did eat it.  Fabulous barbecue, great prices, good smoky environment (smoky from BBQ that is) and sweeeeet sauce!

BBQ Pork on bread at Arthur Bryant's
BBQ Pork on bread at Arthur Bryant’s
BBQ Meat Sandwich with Ham and Brisket at Arthur Bryant's
BBQ Meat Sandwich with Ham and Brisket at Arthur Bryant’s

Cozy Drive In – Springfield, Illinois

Springfield is one of those iconic Route 66 towns and along this road is the Cozy Dog Drive In, which claims to be the home of the all-American famed Corn Dog! Though there is some dispute as to the true origin of the corn dog, the Cozy Dog story is that Ed Walmire and his friend Don Strand invented the deep fried battered hot dog on a stick while stationed in Amarillo, Texas during World War II. They called them crusty curs, but, upon Ed’s return to Springfield, Ed and his wife decided on the name “Cozy Dog” and began selling them from their house and at the Illinois State Fair in 1946. Ed’s wife designed the “hot dogs in a loving embrace logo” for the drive in. In 1996 they moved their Drive In a bit up the road to its current location and gave it a decidedly Route 66 theme.

Cozy Drive In - Home of the famous Hot Dog on a Stick
Cozy Drive In – Home of the famous Hot Dog on a Stick
Route 66 Memorabilia in Cozy Drive In
Route 66 Memorabilia in Cozy Drive In
Cozy Drive In - Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive In – Springfield, Illinois
Typical Table Top at Cozy Drive In - Springfield, Illinois
Typical Table Top at Cozy Drive In – Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive In is an official Route 66 attraction
Cozy Drive In is an official Route 66 attraction

And of course, this is why we come to Cozy Dog – not healthy at all, but sure Yummiferous!!

Cozy Dogs and Homemade Fries - Cozy Dog - Springfield, IL
Cozy Dogs and Homemade Fries – Cozy Dog – Springfield, IL
We got our kicks with a Cozy Dog!!
We got our kicks with a Cozy Dog!!
Sumoflam and Cozy Dog
Sumoflam and Cozy Dog

Paul’s Drive In – Kansas City, Missouri

Paul's Drive In - Kansas City
Paul’s Drive In – Kansas City

Apparently, Paul’s is so good that locomotive engineers literally stop the train on the tracks and get out to get some of Paul’s tenderloins and burgers.  On my visit we were more interested in something cold and sweet on our palate after enjoying some great Kansas City BBQ elsewhere.  And, this was a chart topper!!

Giant Ice Cream Cone at Paul's Drive In - Kansas City
Giant Ice Cream Cone at Paul’s Drive In – Kansas City – DQ can’t beat this one!

Patche’s Mini Mart – Bradfordsville, Kentucky

Patche's Mini Mart - Bradfordsville, Kentucky
Patche’s Mini Mart – Bradfordsville, Kentucky

As I drive the Less Beaten Paths, I do run into little gems like Patche’s.  Patche’s is named after owner Patsy, who is called Patche’s by all her friends.  It is a gas station, mini mart and a little grill.  I was hungry on a long drive so I stopped.  I asked her what was the specialty and she told me “grilled boloney sandwich with egg and cheese.”  I had her make one up for me.

Seating area at Patche's
Seating area at Patche’s
Hats and goodies for sale at Patche's
Hats and goodies for sale at Patche’s

Patche’s is a two person show – Patche’s on the grill and her assistant.

Patche's cooking up the baloney sandwich
Patche’s cooking up the baloney sandwich
The final product - Baloney Sandwich Extraordinaire
The final product – Baloney Sandwich Extraordinaire

There are so many places on the road to stop.  I have another set of shots I will include in a “Leftovers” section in a week or so.  But, as you enjoy the ride, also make sure to enjoy some of the local fare.  It’ll do you good.

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