A 5 Day Midwest Adventure – Day 2: Walcott, IA to Nebraska City, NE

Welcome to Nebraska
Welcome to Nebraska

Day 2 of my trip with Marissa would take us through Iowa and into Nebraska.  I promised to be a fun day of driving the backroads of the Midwest (kind of….)


View Larger Map – Walcott, IA to Nebraska City, NE

With the Grandkidz with us, every morning was an early one, so we were on the road in Walcott fairly early.  First thing I saw as I stepped out of the hotel was this big semi carrying a blade for a wind turbine.  This would set the stage for some subsequent visits along the road this day. You never really know how big these are until you have a frame of reference, like a huge truck.

Truck with Wind Turbine Blade in Walcott, IA at Iowa 80 Truck Stop
Truck with Wind Turbine Blade in Walcott, IA at Iowa 80 Truck Stop
Iowa 80 Truckstop - World's Largest Truckstop
Iowa 80 Truckstop – World’s Largest Truckstop
Iowa 80 Truckstop is so big it has its own water tower
Iowa 80 Truckstop is so big it has its own water tower

From the truckstop we meandered into the small town of Walcott to get a glimpse of something really unusual.  A house built to look like a medieval castle…  Castle Hall. According to stories, this was built in 1905 to look like Balmoral Castle in Scotland, but it is nothing like it in my eyes.

Castle Hall in Walcott, IA
Castle Hall in Walcott, IA
One of the Towers on Castle Hall in Walcott
The Main Tower on Castle Hall in Walcott

This goes to show that you never know what you might see in small town America!!

Scrap Metal Flower
Scrap Metal Flower

Of course, then there is my penchant for scrap metal art.  This scrap metal flower piece was just across the street from the Castle Hall.  Had to snap a shot to add to my “collection.”

Walcott Corn Fields with water tower in the background
Walcott Corn Fields with water tower in the background

From Walcott it was Westward Ho towards Iowa City, with a quick stop in Coralville.  I got to visit with Thomas Jefferson there while waiting for Marissa and the kiddos at the Coral Ridge Mall.

Thomas Jefferson Statue at Coral Ridge Mall
Thomas Jefferson Statue at Coral Ridge Mall
Hanging with TJ
Hanging with TJ

While I was waiting I also caught a couple of bugs on flowers….

Lady Big on a flower at Coral Ridge Mall
Lady Big on a flower at Coral Ridge Mall
A bee flying into a flower at Coral Ridge Mall
A bee flying into a flower at Coral Ridge Mall

From Coralville, we headed south on US 218 towards the small town of Riverside, IA. Why Riverside?  Well, the small quaint town is “officially” the Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk, Captain of the Starship Enterprise — Star Trek. Apparently, Gene Roddenberry approved the Riverside Town Council’s recommendation to make it so….in 1985. The future historical birth, which is set to take place on March 22, 2228, is also celebrated annually by the people of Riverside.

Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk
Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk

The town even has its own Starship…the Starship “Riverside”

Starship Riverside in Riverside, Iowa
Starship Riverside in Riverside, Iowa

There is also a small History Center and Souvenir shop in town as well as a bench dedicated to someone and it was donated by none other than William Shatner, the original Captain Kirk from the old Star Trek TV series in the 1960s.

Star Trek Visitor Center - Riverside, IA
Star Trek Visitor Center – Riverside, IA
William Shatner presented a bench in memory of Nita Wingler Rath, a well known resident of Riverside
William Shatner presented a bench in memory of Nita Wingler Rath, a well known resident of Riverside

The town holds an annual TrekFest in June that draws thousands of Trekkies.

Trekfest Promo on Starship
Trekfest Promo on Starship

This was not my first venture into Trekkiedom….  back in 2007 I visited the town of Vulcan in Alberta, Canada (see my blog post) with my good friend “Crafty Jack” Burger (see my longer post about that visit), a guitar maker from Lethbridge.  I got a good shot with the scale model of the Enterprise there.

Visiting the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta in 2007.
Visiting the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta in 2007

Well, enough about boldly going where no man has gone before.  We ventured further south for a quick stop in the small town of Swedesburg, IA….a little taste of Sweden.

Pastoral scene north of Swedesburg, IA on US 218
Pastoral scene north of Swedesburg, IA on US 218
The famous Straw Goat from Swedesburg.
The famous Straw Goat from Swedesburg

The straw goat, also known as a “Julbock”, is one of the biggest symbols of the Swedish Christmas tradition and also serves in this town as a lure to come visit the town and its famous museum.

Welcome to Swedesburg
Welcome to Swedesburg
Caution - Swedish Crossing in Swedesburg, IA
Caution – Swedish Crossing in Swedesburg, IA
"World Famous" Swedish Heritage Museum in Swedesburg, IA
“World Famous” Swedish Heritage Museum in Swedesburg, IA

Since the Swedish museum was closed, it was further south towards our planned for destination.  But, we had to go through Mt. Pleasant and so I stopped to get a shot of their local Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty in Mt. Pleasant, IA
Statue of Liberty in Mt. Pleasant, IA

From Mt. Pleasant we proceeded west on US 34 until we hit Iowa Hwy 16, which we took south to the town of Eldon. Why Eldon?

American Gothic House Sign
American Gothic House Sign
Eldon, Iowa - Home of the Grant Wood Gothic House
Eldon, Iowa – Home of the Grant Wood Gothic House

Well, this actually is a very famous place in the history of American Art as it is the location of artist Grant Wood’s 1930″American Gothic” painting — you know, the one with the two folks, the guy with the pitchfork in front of the house.  Not only is the painting famous, but it is probably one of the most parodied pieces of art anywhere (in my opinion). Only a few other images, such as the Mona Lisa or Scream, by Edward Munch, are as widely known as American Gothic, and because of its high visibility, the painting is an easy choice as a parody.

Sumoflam at American Gothic House Center in Eldon, IA
Sumoflam at American Gothic House Center in Eldon, IA

The visit starts at the American Gothic House Center, just a few yards from the actual house in the painting. This is not only a museum dedicated to the painting, but it also houses a number of parodies, provides visitors with prop clothing to wear and do their own photo in front of the house, etc.

The American Gothic House
The American Gothic House
Another view of the gothic house
Another view of the gothic house
American Gothic Road
American Gothic Road

The original portion of the house that contains the two Gothic windows was built in 1881-82 by Catherine and Charles Dibble. As the original owners of the home, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Dibble House.  Grant Wood used his sister Nan and his dentist Dr. B.H. McKeeby as the models (see more here).  Ironically, the models for the artwork never posed together when they were drawn prior to, or during the painting of American Gothic.  This was conceptualized by the Grant Wood.

Nan and McKeeby - the models
Nan and McKeeby – the models

So, what about the parodies? There are a number on display in the museum, some of which I am showing below.  There is actually a page dedicated to a number of them here.  There is also a blog dedicated to the parodies – American Gothic Parodies.

"Klingon Gothic" by Jason Tracy
“Klingon Gothic” by Kansas photographer Jason Tracy

Shawnee, Kansas photographer Jason Tracy (see his site) has kindly given me permission to use his high res photo of a Klingon man and woman at the Gothic House.  Jason has a number of unique and offbeat Conceptual Portrait works (see them here).

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy
Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy
1960s TV show Green Acres
1960s TV show Green Acres
Little Chicken Carvings
Little Chicken Carvings

Of course, we can also do our own!!  And that is the real fun of this place.  Here we got my granddaughter and grandson to pose (not too willingly mind you…)  And then I got a couple of them in myself.

Jos and Landen Gothic
Jos and Landen Gothic
Lyla and Grampz Gothic
Lyla and Grampz Gothic
Sumoflam Gothic
Sumoflamerican Gothic

Besides the Gothic House, Eldon does have a couple of murals, an old (and famous) opera house and a few other goodies….

Flower Wall Mural - Eldon, IA
Flower Wall Mural – Eldon, IA
Old Pepsi Wall Advertisement - Eldon, IA
Old Pepsi Wall Advertisement – Eldon, IA
McCaffey Opera House - Eldon, IA
McHaffey Opera House – Eldon, IA
Old Signs - Eldon, IA
Old Signs – Eldon, IA
Indy's Cafe - Eldon, IA
Indy’s Cafe – Eldon, IA
Main Street - Eldon, IA
Main Street – Eldon, IA
Don't forget your Retiremints
Don’t forget your Retiremints

As we left this fun little town, lo and behold, I ran into another rooster with a top hat.  Two in two days!!

Red Rooster (looks white to me) - Red Rooster Collectibles Eldon, IA
Red Rooster (looks white to me) – Red Rooster Collectibles Eldon, IA

After such a fun time in Eldon, it was hard to move on, but we did.  We returned north on Iowa Hwy 16 to US 34 and then continued west until Ottumwa and then north on US 63 towards Des Moines.  At the junction with Iowa163 we veered west in order to take the children to Pella to see the giant Vermeer Dutch Windmill and even get them a treat at one of the fabulous Dutch bakeries there.  This was my second time there and I am always impressed with the architecture, especially that of the Pella Opera House and the Pella “Klokkenspel”.

Vermeer Dutch Windmill in Pella, IA - the largest working windmill in the United States
Vermeer Dutch Windmill in Pella, IA – the largest working windmill in the United States
Grandson Landen in Pella
Grandson Landen in Pella (photo by Marissa Noe)
Beautiful Architecture on the Pella Opera House
Beautiful Architecture on the facade of the Pella Opera House

The Historic Pella Opera House was opened in 1900 and has gone through a number of renovations and uses.  Today it is a colorful reminder of both Dutch heritage and early 1900s architecture.

The Pella "Klokkenspel" or Glockenspiel
The Pella “Klokkenspel” or Glockenspiel

The Pella “Klokkenspel” has eight four-foot mechanical figures that perform at regular intervals to the music of a 147-bell computer driven carillon.  This is one of only a handful of animated musical clocks in the United States.  Unfortunately, we were not there during a performance time of these characters, which are held daily at 11:00 am, 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm, and 9:00 pm.  The building also adds a unique flair to the beauty of downtown Pella.

Vander Ploeg Bakery in Pella, IA
Vander Ploeg Bakery in Pella, IA (photo by Marissa Noe)

The bakeries in Pella are absolute delights.  On my last trip to Pella (see post here) my wife and I visited the Jaarsma Bakery, but on this visit Marissa and kids dropped into the Vander Ploeg Bakery, which is only about 5 doors down from the Jaarsma. Both of them offer “Dutch letters,” those crispy, flaky, buttery pastries filled with almond paste, shaped into an “s,” and covered with large, crunchy sugar crystals.  The kids loved them!!

Dutch Letters pastries at Vander Ploeg bakery in Pella
Dutch Letters pastries at Vander Ploeg bakery in Pella, Iowa
Other tasty Dutch treats in the Vander Ploeg bakery in Pella
Other tasty Dutch treats in the Vander Ploeg bakery in Pella

A few more scenes from Pella:

Protruding windows on a building in Pella
Protruding windows on a building in Pella
Unique corner turret on building in Pella
Unique corner turret on building in Pella
Windmill in Pella Town Square
Windmill in Pella Town Square

From Pella we continued on Iowa 163 all the way into Des Moines and then on to Interstate 235.  Along the way we passed the impressive Iowa Capital building with its gold plated dome and four other domes.  One of the most impressive capital buildings I have seen in my travels.

Iowa State Capital - Des Moines
Iowa State Capital – Des Moines

After passing through Des Moines, we made our way into Iowa Wind Turbine country around Casey and Adair.  The Rest Area on I-80 near Casey (on the Westbound side) has a giant wind turbine blade installed.  The kids were all asleep, so we didn’t stop.  But we did get a photo of it:

I-80 Rest Area - West bound near Casey, IA with a giant Wind Turbine blade
I-80 Rest Area – West bound near Casey, IA with a giant 161 foot tall Wind Turbine blade

Continuing westward toward Adair we could begin seeing the huge MidAmerican owned Rolling Hills wind farm, which currently consists of nearly 200 Siemens 2.3 MW turbines, making it the largest wind farm in Iowa. According to a number of reports, the state generates nearly a quarter of its energy from wind, first in the nation, and the number will soon grow as more than 600 more wind turbines are slated for installation through 2015.

Wind Turbines of the Rolling Hills Wind Farm near Adair, IA
Wind Turbines of the Rolling Hills Wind Farm near Adair, IA
Wind Turbines seem to blossom like flowers out of the corn fields of Iowa
Wind Turbines seem to blossom like flowers out of the corn fields of Iowa

Wind Turbines are massive monsters.  Unlike the old Dutch windmills (as seen in Pella), these units are about 262 feet tall from base to rotor shaft (twice as high as Niagara Falls!!). The blades are each 161 feet in length and the rotor diameter is 331 feet.

Giant Wind Turbine straight ahead
Giant Wind Turbine straight ahead

The wind farms are a boost to the economy of the counties involved as farmers and other land owners get thousands of dollars for the utilities to use their lands.  Some consider them unsightly.  I love the graceful feel of these “modern flowers” blossoming out of the fields.  With these added funds, it is no wonder that Adair, Iowa has a famous Smiley Water Tower!! The town of Adair is humorously known as “the happiest town on Earth” and its town welcome sign greets visitors with “Welcome to Adair It’ll make you Smile!”.

Smiley Water Tower in Adair, Iowa
Smiley Water Tower in Adair, Iowa
At the gas station in Adair there was a flag made from plastic cups inserted into a nearby fence.
At the gas station in Adair there was a flag made from plastic cups inserted into a nearby fence.

Adair also has a not so friendly history as it was the site of the first train robbery in the West and was also the world’s fist robbery of a moving train. The notorious Jesse James and his gang robbed a train supposedly carrying $75,000 in gold on the evening of July 21, 1873. Unfortunately for them, the shipment was delayed and they only were able to get away with about $3000 worth of gold. There is an historical park in the town that we didn’t have time to visit.  There is more about it here.

Interstate 80 runs through the beautiful rolling hills of northwestern Iowa.
Interstate 80 runs through the beautiful rolling hills of northwestern Iowa.

The drive down Interstate 80 from Adair to Council Bluffs is really beautiful in mid-September as the corn has turned brown, wildflowers are in bloom everywhere and the soybean leaves are turning yellow. Here are a few scenes from the road…mind you, it was late afternoon so the shadows made things even more thrilling!

Yellow soybean leaves add a splash of color to the greenery
Yellow soybean leaves add a splash of color to the greenery
Rolling Hills of I-80 north of Council Bluffs, IA
Rolling Hills of I-80 north of Council Bluffs, IA
Beautiful farmland of Iowa
Beautiful farmland of Iowa
A pastoral setting just east of Council Bluffs as seen from I-80
A pastoral setting just east of Council Bluffs as seen from I-80

Soon after hitting Council Bluffs we arrived in Nebraska and headed toward rain. We made our way to Nebraska City, the birthplace of Arbor Day.

Welcome to Nebraska
Welcome to Nebraska
Beautiful clouds in the sky south of Omaha
Beautiful clouds in the sky south of Omaha
Sunbeams peak through the clouds outside of Nebraska City, Nebraska
Sunbeams peak through the clouds outside of Nebraska City, Nebraska

Overall it was a great day of travel and the grandkidz had a fun time.  Rest up for Nebraska City promises lots of fun on Day 3!

(1410)

FOOD FOOD FOOD – Part 1: Restaurants and Cafes on the Less Beaten Paths

Maid Rite - Lexington, MO
Maid Rite – Lexington, MO

One of the important facets of traveling the less beaten paths of America (and Canada) is the food.  As I travel the country, I look for good food at local places. This post covers some of the restaurants, steak houses, cafes and fine (or semi-fine) dining places.  Subsequent FOOD posts will include Diners/Drive-Ins, Barbecue Joints, Burger Places and Bakeries/Donut Shops.

FoodBig
Food – Cozy Dog, Springfield, Illinois

Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta

Ric's Grill - Lethbridge, Alberta Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Ric's Grill - Dinner in a Water Tower
Ric’s Grill – Dinner in a Water Tower

Ric’s Grill is one of those REALLY unique places to eat.  I visited Lethbridge on a cross-country trip from Kentucky to Washington in 2005.  I have friends in Lethbridge who took us here for dinner.

Ric's Grill - Lethbridge, Alberta
Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta

Though it looks strange from the outside, actually, the atmosphere and food is very high class.  This is a top notch steak house with fancy china, excellent waiters and delectable food. There are 11 Ric’s Grills in western Canada, though this is by far the most unique one.

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge – Paxton, Nebraska

Ole's Big Game Steakhouse - Paxton, Nebraska
Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse – Paxton, Nebraska

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse is a unique steak house in the small town of Paxton, Nebraska.  Opened on August 9, 1933 (the day after prohibition ended) as a bar by Rosser O. Herstedt (locally known as “Ole”).  Originally stared as a tavern, Ole and his friends would talk about their hunting trips.  Then, in 1938 Ole bagged a nice buck and was so proud of it he had it displayed in the tavern.  This was the first of many animals to make their way into the tavern that later became Ole’s Steakhouse and Lounge.  Ole’s also serves breakfast.

Polar Bear at Ole's
Sumoflam with Polar Bear at Ole’s

So, now one can sit and enjoy a wonderful steak with a moose or an elephant or a buffalo peeking over your shoulder.

Giraffe hangs around at Ole's
Giraffe hangs around at Ole’s
Big Moose at Ole's (and one with antlers too)
Big Moose at Ole’s (and one with antlers too)

All totaled there are over 200 mounts now showcased at Ole’s with animals from all over the world.

Sumoflam with tusk and lion
Sumoflam with tusk and lion

Lambert’s Cafe – The Home of Throwed Rolls – Ozark, Missouri

Another fun place to eat and enjoy a great meal is Lambert’s Cafe, the home of “Throwed Rolls”.  I have been to the two restaurants in Sikeston and Ozark, Missouri (which is near Branson). They have one more in Alabama.

Lambert's Cafe - The Home of Throwed Rolls - in Ozark, Missouri
Lambert’s Cafe – The Home of Throwed Rolls – in Ozark, Missouri
Home of Throwed Rolls
Home of Throwed Rolls

So, why “Throwed Rolls”?  I am not sure, but Lambert’s serves the side dishes family style, all you can eat.  The seating arrangement is in a big square with an open center for the staff to bring in the food and throw the rolls.

Throwing the Rolls
Throwing the Rolls
Lambert's Rolls in Flight
Lambert’s Rolls in Flight

If you miss the flying rolls, too bad….   But, there will be more.  According to their website’s Fun Facts, their ovens turn out rolls from 9:15 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. usually without stopping. and they average baking 520 dozen rolls per day, for a grand total of 2,246,400 individual rolls. in one year.  Pass the butter please!!

Bringing the "Pass Arounds" at Lambert's
Bringing the “Pass Arounds” at Lambert’s

Besides the rolls, Lambert’s also has what they call “Pass Arounds”, sides that come with the meal and include Black-Eyed Peas, Fried Okra, Macaroni & Tomatoes, Fried Potatoes & Onions and unlimited Sorghum to go on the rolls.

Passing the potatoes
Passing the potatoes at Lambert’s

Astoria Shish Kebob House – Toronto, Ontario

If you are in the mood for some awesome Greek food in a totally Greek atmosphere, then try the Astoria Shish Kebob House in Toronto’s Greek Town.  We went to Greek town on a whim and fell in love with this place.  We enjoyed Saganaki (pan-fried and flaming kefalotyri cheese) and then shish kebob with some of the most savory tadziki sauce my tongue has experienced.

Astoria Shish Kebob House - Toronto, Ontario
Astoria Shish Kebob House – Toronto, Ontario
Astoria on Danforth in Toronto
Astoria on Danforth in Toronto

Saganaki is a small Greek frying pan that is best used for frying a variety of sheep and goat’s milk cheeses. Astoria uses kafalotyri, which is a hard and salty cheese.  When fried it actually flames and that is how they bring it to the table.

Making Saganaki Fried Cheese at Astoria
Making Saganaki Fried Cheese at Astoria – OPA!!
The final product - fried cheese - delectable!!
The final product – fried cheese – delectable!!

Astoria serves a variety of shish kebob and we tried some.  It too was YUMMIFEROUS!!

Lamb Shish Kebob at Astoria
Lamb Shish Kebob at Astoria

While at Astoria, I got to meet the owner, who loves having his photo taken with patrons, including numerous celebrities. I am now included in the menagerie!!

Hanging with the owner of Astoria
Hanging with the owner of Astoria – OPA!!

Mo’s Seafood – Newport, Oregon

Mo's Seafood - Newport, Oregon
Mo’s Seafood – Newport, Oregon

Mo’s Seafood is not a fancy place in terms of the dining area.  It is nice inside, but the tables are picnic tables.  But don’t let that fool you.  Their seafood is amazing.

Giant Mural on outside of Mo's in Newport, Oregon
Giant Mural on outside of Mo’s in Newport, Oregon

Mo’s gets its name from Newport native Mohava Marie Niemi, who started the restaurant in 1946 with her partner Freddy Kent.

Mo's Interior
Mo’s Interior

Mo’s is especially famed for the luscious and buttery clam chowder.  Indeed, they claim it to be World Famous, and I can see why.  So, I ordered the Halibut (so I could say I came to Mo’s just for the halibut”, but also enjoyed the creamy buttery clam chowder, which was almost so thick my spoon could stand up in it!!

Mo's Halibut with their "world famous clam chowder"
Mo’s Halibut with their “world famous clam chowder”

It was a wonderful meal and a wonderful experience to see the Pacific Ocean out the window while enjoying the bounty of the ocean inside.

Men's Restroom at Mo's
Men’s Restroom at Mo’s
Women's Restroom at Mo's
Women’s Restroom at Mo’s

Armadillo Palace – Houston, Texas

Armadillo Palace - Houston, Texas
Armadillo Palace – Houston, Texas

Deep in the heart of Houston, Texas is a cafe and bar and home to some good live music – The Armadillo Palace.  Protected by a 20 foot tall silver armadillo, this place is a real kick and gives you a real down home cowboy feel.

Giant Armadillo at Armadillo Palace
Giant Armadillo at Armadillo Palace
He has his eye on you
He has his eye on you

This restaurant, owned by the Goode Company, a purveyor of a number of good restaurants in Houston covering the gamut from BBQ, seafood and Mexican, the Armadillo Palace is decorated with mounted longhorns and buffalo, has a bar with saddle seating and the western decor and photos take you back to the days of the Old West.

Mounted Longhorns at Armadillo Palace
Mounted Longhorns at Armadillo Palace
Mounted Buffalo at Armadillo Palace
Mounted Buffalo at Armadillo Palace
The Bear Brothers at Armadillo Palace
The Bear Brothers at Armadillo Palace
Saddle Bar Seating
Saddle Bar Seating

The old decor and the smell of leather just add to the flavorful and generous portions dished out at Armadillo Palace.  One of their signature dishes is Chicken Fried Steak and this slab of yummiferousness is almost as big as the plate.  Their spicy green beans and special mashed potatoes help make a rib sticking dinner!

Old fashioned lighting at Armadillo Palace
Old fashioned lighting at Armadillo Palace
Leather is everywhere
Leather is everywhere
Signature Chicken Fried Steak
Signature Chicken Fried Steak – Yummiferous!!

Frontier Bar and Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana

Frontier Bar and Supper Club - Dunkirk, Montana
Frontier Bar and Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana

A few miles east of Shelby, Montana, on US Highway 2 (The Hi-Line), is a non-descript old whitewashed building with an old yellow sign (above).  The Frontier Bar and Supper Club certainly does not look like much, but once you are inside, the atmosphere is rustic and the steaks are to die for!

Frontier Bar and Supper Club - Dunkirk, Montana
Frontier Bar and Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana

Upon arrival you are greeted by the whimsical mailbox dude.  I don’t know what to call him, but he is a work of folk art.

Frontier's Mailbox
Frontier’s Mailbox
Sumoflam and the Mailbox Guy at Frontier Bar and Supper Club
Sumoflam and the Mailbox Guy at Frontier Bar and Supper Club

The atmosphere inside is like many Montana bars.  Lots of longhorns, neon signs, a country music jukebox.  The dining room is decorated with wood paneling adorned by the many cattle ranch brands of the area.  But the best part of this place is the blackened steaks.  On this visit I had the Chipotle Blackened New York Steak…. spicy and pricy but tasty good!!

No Bull Here...
No Bull Here…
....this steak is AWESOME
….this steak is AWESOME

El Toro Bravo Restaurant and Bakery – Roswell, NM

El Toro Bravo Restaurant and Bakery - Roswell, NM
El Toro Bravo Restaurant and Bakery – Roswell, NM (with my alien granddaughter…)

Ok…so, you mix Mexican food and aliens and you get this weird mix…only in Roswell…

Alien Mariachi?
Alien Mariachi?
Alien Mariachi guitar?
Alien Mariachi guitar?
Alien bullfighters? Toro call home.....
Alien bullfighters? Toro phone home…..
Alien pastries? Real Wonder Bread?
Alien pastries? Real Wonder Bread?

Of course, we were hungry so we had the real food….

El Toro Bravo lunch - yummy
El Toro Bravo lunch – yummy
Have a Coke and a Smile?? Coke machine in Roswell...
Have a Coke and a Smile?? Coke machine in Roswell…

The Olde Heidelberg Restaurant and Tavern – Heidelberg, Ontario

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant - Heidelberg, Ontario
Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant in the small town of Heidelberg is family restaurant and also has a mini brewery.  Located in the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite and Amish country, this place is famous not only for its Weiner Schnitzel, but also for its pig tails, something I had never had in the past.

Mini-brewery at Olde Heidelberg
Mini-brewery at Olde Heidelberg

But, I don’t drink the beer, just eat the good food…and here is what I had

Weiner Schnitzel Dinner at Olde Heidelberg
Weiner Schnitzel Dinner at Olde Heidelberg
Pig Tails and sauce at Heidelberg
Pig Tails and sauce at Heidelberg
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg

Past Time Cafe – Crab Orchard, Kentucky

Past Time Cafe - Crab Orchard, Kentucky
Past Time Cafe – Crab Orchard, Kentucky

Yes, there are less beaten paths in Kentucky and many of them lead to Amish Country.  Crab Orchard is in the heart of Kentucky Amish country and the Past Time Cafe is right there in Crab Orchard.

Past Time Cafe storefront - Crab Orchard, Kentucky
Past Time Cafe storefront – Crab Orchard, Kentucky

This cafe has generous portions of country cooking and is well known for their fried catfish, their soup beans and corn bread.  The walls in the place are covered with the history of Crab Orchard and surrounding communities, including many old newspapers and photos.  Plenty to browse while waiting for a good meal.

Past Times Memorabilia
Past Times Memorabilia
Greetings from Crab Orchard
Greetings from Crab Orchard
Salmon Patty Dinner with homemade cornbread, greens, fried potatoes and Past Times' famous soup beans
Salmon Patty Dinner with homemade cornbread, greens, fried potatoes and Past Times’ famous soup beans

Chriswell’s Trails Inn – Ashton, Idaho

Chriswell's Trails Inn - Ashton, Idaho
Chriswell’s Trails Inn – Ashton, Idaho

Ashton, Idaho is one of the southern gateways to Yellowstone National Park and is also a western gateway to the Grand Tetons.  The small Idaho town is a touristy place and on the edge of town is Chriswell’s Trails Inn restaurant.  This rustic place is a steak house and also has some other great meals.  Like Ole’s and Armadillo Palace, this place is full of mounted animals, included a rare White Buffalo Head.

I love Moose...here's the one from Chriswell's
I love Moose…here’s the one from Chriswell’s
Chriswell's Interior
Chriswell’s Interior
White Buffalo at Chriswell's
White Buffalo at Chriswell’s
Buffalo and antelope at Chriswell's
Buffalo and antelope at Chriswell’s
Sumoflam and the Sandcrane
Sumoflam and the Sandcrane

Of course, the food is why we were here.  We were starved and this placed fit the bill.

Road Kill sign...their jerky
Road Kill sign…their jerky
Chicken Fried Steak at Chriswell's
Chicken Fried Steak at Chriswell’s

This chicken fried steak was HUGE!!  Covered the whole plate.  Of course, the potatoes were huge too and stuffed goodness!!

Old Gravy Nose - boy was the Chicken Fried Steak was good!!
Old Gravy Nose – boy was the Chicken Fried Steak was good!!

Carrie’s Tightwad Cafe – Tightwad, Missouri

Tightwad Cafe - Tightwad, Missouri
Tightwad Cafe – Tightwad, Missouri

I have written about Tightwad in earlier blogs, especially concerning the famous Tightwad Bank.  But, there is also a great little cafe in Tightwad called Carrie’s Tightwad Cafe.  Originally just called the Tightwad Cafe, owner Carrie Fields purchased the once Cafe and Bar from her aunt and then closed the bar.  Carrie is unabashed and very friendly, but she doesn’t take credit cards…doesn’t want to pay the fees (HA!).  But, she also insists that she is not a tightwad!

Carrie Fields, owner - Tightwad Cafe
Carrie Fields, owner – Tightwad Cafe
Carrie's Tightwad Cafe
Carrie’s Tightwad Cafe
Open - But No Credit Cards
Open – But No Credit Cards

Carrie was correct about the not being a tightwad part.  The meals at the cafe are not expensive and they are very large portions.  No skimping on the food!!  I had “Delmer’s Big ‘In” for breakfast this day which included 3 eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, hash browns and biscuits and gravy, all for about $8.00 (try to beat that McD’s!)

Tightwad Cafe Menu
Tightwad Cafe Menu
Breakfast at Tightwad Cafe
Breakfast at Tightwad Cafe
Biscuits and Gravy at Tightwad Cafe
Biscuits and Gravy at Tightwad Cafe

Mud Street Cafe – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Mud Street Cafe - Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Mud Street Cafe – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a wonderful little town in the Ozarks.  In the midst of town is a shopping section known as the underground and housed within is the Mud Street Cafe. This is a one and all – Coffee shop, Bar and Cafe, all in one.  My wife and I visited for breakfast one nice morning in November 2012.  What a great little cafe!!

Mud St. Cafe Entrance
Mud St. Cafe Entrance
Artsy Mud Street Cafe sign
Artsy Mud Street Cafe sign

Once downstairs we were enthralled by the kitschy decor.  Painted chairs, painted glass, sculptures, tapestries…decor that was nice and cozy.

Coffee sign at Mud Street Cafe
Coffee sign at Mud Street Cafe
I Love This Sign at Mud Street Cafe - Practice Safe Lunch
I Love This Sign at Mud Street Cafe – Practice Safe Lunch
Cozy Mud Street Cafe
Cozy Mud Street Cafe
Tapestry at Mud Street Cafe
Detailed Tapestry at Mud Street Cafe

But, the coziness was nothing compared to the food.  Freshly made HUGE muffins, fruit salads and tasty breakfast food.

Giant Blueberry Muffins at Mud Street Cafe
Giant Blueberry Muffins at Mud Street Cafe
Veggie Breakfast - Mud Street Cafe
Veggie Breakfast – Mud Street Cafe
All the fixins at Mud Street Cafe
All the fixins at Mud Street Cafe

Just a few more places to note….

El Fenix Mexican Food - Dallas, Texas
El Fenix Mexican Food – Dallas, Texas
Shipwrecked Brew Pub and Restaurant - Egg Harbor, WI
Shipwrecked Brew Pub and Restaurant – Egg Harbor, WI
Sparta House Tearoom - Sparta, Ontario
Sparta House Tearoom – Sparta, Ontario
Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant
Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant – Mt. Horeb, WI
Riscky's Steakhouse - Ft. Worth, Texas
Riscky’s Steakhouse – Ft. Worth, Texas
Enterprise Family Restaurant - Vulcan, Alberta
Enterprise Family Restaurant – Vulcan, Alberta

Coming soon – FOOD FOOD FOOD – Part 2: Barbecue Places and Diners

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……


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From Earth to Vulcan

Welcome to Vulcan

A couple of days ago I posted an article about Earth, Texas.  Back in 2007 I had occasion to visit a friend of mine in Alberta, Canada.  One of the side trips we tool was to the town of Vulcan, which has taken full advantage of its name and the association with the TV show Star Trek.

Welcome sign in Klingon

Vulcan is a town located midway between the cities of Calgary and Lethbridge inthe prairies of Southern Alberta, Canada.  The population of the town was 1,940 in 2006, and the population of the county, which is also named Vulcan, was 3,718.  According to Wikipedia, “The town was named by a surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1915 after the Roman God of Fire – Vulcan. Originally all the streets of Vulcan were named after gods and goddesses of the classical world such as Juno, Mars and Jupiter.”

Star Trek Wall

There are indications all over the town of Star Trek.  The town took on the Star Trek theme after the great popularity of the TV Show and now has Star Trek visitations all the time, as can be evidenced from their website (linked above).

Vulcan Public Library Sign

There is an Enterprise Restaurant, the visitor’s center is space themed (and you can even buy pointed Spock Vulcan Ears there!!).  They even have a statue of the Starship Enterprise!

Starship Enterpise – Crafty Jack and Sumoflam

As one drives around the town, there are signs for parks, etc., with the Enterprise logo…

Vulcan Iceplex Sign
Vulcan Country Club Sign

All told, Vulcan is a unique and interesting place to visit….

Vulcan Visitor Center
Welcome to Vulcan Plaque


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Vulcan, Alberta, Canada

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