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March 07, 2009


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Hey, Jim. I think I met you once at a conference in New York. But that's not important at the moment. Here are some recommendations of places to consider for your itinerary.
The International Peace Garden in North Dakota, near Rugby if I'm remembering right.
The headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park in northwestern Minnesota. One of my favorite pictures of my dog is of her wading into the headwaters.
Whitey's cafe in East Grand Forks, Minnesota.
The Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Unfortunately, I no longer live in North Dakota or Minnesota, otherwise I would offer to put you up there. But you'll find the people to be extra nice if you decide to go.

One more thing,if you decide to visit the Minnesota-North Dakota area, you'll find a bounty of weird giant statues to visit. There's Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, Minnesota; the giant trout in Preston, Minnesota; the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota; Big Tom in Frazee, Minnesota; the giant Pelican in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota; the giant Prairie Chicken in Rothsay, Minnesota; the giant Holstein Cow in New Salem, North Dakota; the giant Buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota; the giant Sandhill Crane in Steele, North Dakota; the giant Catfish in Wahpeton, North Dakota; the giant Walleye in Garrison, North Dakota; and giant turtles in Bottineau, Dunseith and Turtle Lake, North Dakota. (There are many more. Let me know if you need any more giant statue info.)

Jim, Haven't seen you much since AU Eagle days. Hope you have a great trip. My wife & I left DC a few years back to open bookstore www.aaronsbooksonline.com in Lancaster County, PA. There are lots of touristy things here (Amish & farming, Hershey Park not far, etc) but if you like small historic towns, you should visit Lititz www.lititzpa.com named a 2009 Distinctive Destination http://tinyurl.com/bqx2ah.

Since you are in Fredericksburg, you've got to stop by Carl's on Princess Anne Street, near Route 1, and get and ice cream cone. Only three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. It's excellent and worth the wait in line.

If you go to the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota (and don't miss the Badlands!),there's a weird place called Cosmos where gravity plays strange tricks on you. It's fun and bizarre. The tour is 30 minutes.


When you get to the Outer Banks, highly recommend Sam and Omie's, down at the end of the Beach Road in South Nags Head. "Real" OBX place, been there for 70 years.

Hi Jim and Joan!
I was going to go to London during Spring Break to visit my youngest son, David (he's the Linux administrator for the Deutsche Bank and his wife, Julia, works for an international marketing firm), but heck, why spend the money when I can travel vicariously with you!
I don't know if you're going to to make it out to Cape Cod, but NO ONE knows the the Outer Cape better than I do (especially for biking and fried clams). So, I'll be watching just in case.
Travel safe.

if you're headed to Montana -- Red Lodge. Fell in love w/ this place last summer on my road trip 'cross. Think Northern Exposure. About an hour from Billings, at foot of Yellowstone. Great little breakfast/lunch cafe called Regis, and I can introduce u to owner/chef.

Down Texas way I highly recommend Big Bend National Park southeast of El Paso; if you decide to go international, Nuevo Laredo seemed like the nicest of the cross-border cities.

In the northwest, I'd recommend driving the length of I-84 through Oregon, and making a stop at Multnomah Falls and/or Crown Point near Portland. Then take I-5 north, detour to do some hiking around Mount St. Helens (really fascinating landscape) then jump off at Olympia to circumnavigate The Olympic Mountains. I'm particularly fond of the areas around Hoodsport and Lake Quinault. If you want to head east from there, take some time to appreciate the passes through the Cascades and then check out Lake Wenatchee and maybe trail the Columbia to the Pasco/Kennewick/Richland.

Can provide chow reoommendations for Portland through Olympia.

If you reach South Carolina, head down to the Low Country (Charleston and farther south). Make sure you visit the barrier or Sea Islands for a good dose of history. If you don't want to venture that far, stop in Charleston and do the Gullah bus tour. You'll love it. And on the food, any Piggly Wiggly will get you one of my favorite dishes, red rice with sausage. No, it's not jambalaya. It has its origins in Sierra Leone and is very common in the Low Country.

There's this wine and beer store in the OBX you might like: http://chipswinemarket.com/ ;-)

Is it too late for you to stop at the Legend brewery in Richmond?

Carla, we've been to the headwaters of the Mississippi, and I found it fascinating. On that same trip, we did stop stop at the Paul Bunyan/Babe the Blue Ox site in Bemidji. But I didn't realize this was the land of big statues, but if we make it there, we'll check it out.

Thanks to everyone for the recommendations. I've added a ton to our master list...

Chris, we are indeed going to Big Bend, which we missed on the last trip. But don't think Oregon is in the cards.

Jim, After Charleston you've got to stop in Beaufort. (69 miles south and 40 miles north of Savannah) It's has charm and history. Many movies shot there - Big Chill, Prince of Tides, and several others. Big weeping willows and trees covered in Spanish Moss.

Also, since you're a sports guy......Frogmore (across the bridge from Beaufort) is the birthplace of Joe Frazier, the boxer that beat Muhamad Ali at the "Thrilla in Manila" in 1975.


You may know this already, but wherever you go in Charleston, make sure you order some She-Crab soup. It's a Low Country staple and you won't regret it.


I'm a friend of Beverly Howard, and met you once. Your trip sounds like big fun. It reminds me of the road trips my husband and I take (without dogs). We have been to Savannah twice, and love the city. Plan to spend a couple of days, and no diets are allowed in that city. I would suggest HUEY'S on River St. The city is just beautiful. Enjoy.


Two restaurant recommendations:

Sam and Omie's down on south end of Nags Head around mile marker 20 (any of the local seafood is great); and 86 Queen in downtown Charleston (shrimp and grits).

Sorry I posted in the wrong place first time around. Hope it's not too late! Be sure to stop at the Jolly Roger (http://tinyurl.com/dhhgob) when in NC. This place is an absolute hole but worth the visit. My wife and I have the pleasure and tradition of getting breakfast there every time we’re in the Outer Banks. The service is ok and the ambiance makes a Jersey diner look beautiful, but the portion sizes are AMAZING as they are delectably greasy. If you’re looking for local flavor, try Jolly Roger’s karaoke night. I threw down a little David Lee Roth, “Just a Gigolo” but I’m sure they have “Red Barchetta” on the slate for Jim.

And if Joan is looking for great places to use her camera, the lighthouses in OBX are beautiful and probably great places for Fred and Hank to stretch their legs. (http://tinyurl.com/agq9u7).

Hey, Jim and Joan! Should you find yourselves in Laramie, WY, try and find Copper's Corner. It's a dive bar with colorful clientele and a house shot called "Copper's Popper" (a secret blend of clamato juice, something spicy, vodka, and God knows what else). I just threw up a little just thinking about it.

Anyway, I send you there with ulterior motives -- I was a bartender there for a few terrifying months while I took time off from college on the east coast, and I'm curious to see if it's still standing!

Laramie's brewpub scene was still sprouting up when I was there in the 90's, so I'm sure it's well-established by now. Should be plenty of Fat Tire for you. :)

LOVE the blog! Keep it coming.

In Charleston, I recommend doing a Ghost tour and then head out to Isle of Palm for some beach time. There is a greasy pit on the left on your way to the Isle of Palm that has awesome onion rings...wish I could remember the name of it.

Just outside of Charleston on Sullivan's Island there is a funky lighthouse, Fort Moultrie, and some very unique beach architecture. It's worth a drive through. Eat some benne wafers for me.

You should visit Cimarron County, OK, but first pick up a copy of "The Worst Hard Times" by Tim Egan. I stopped by there on my road trip last year, but only read the book after. Wish I read the book before. It's pretty amazing stuff...

These are so obvious I'm almost embarrassed to put them here, but Fort Sumter (a boat ride away) and Andersonville Prison. It's been nine years since we went on vacation in that area so it's hard to remember what we did (plus we had a 1-year old at the time, which limited our choices).

I'll send you some Utah tips as you get closer to the West, but in the meantime, in case you didn't know about this, AAA has a gas price finder on their website - just plug in your zip code and it'll tell you who's got the cheapest prices.


OK, I found some pamphlets from our 2000 vacation, so maybe this will be of some help, although I'm not sure any of these are off the beaten path (those came in our later vacations :)). Camden, S.C. - the British spent a year there during the Revolutionary War. Just outside Charleston is a monument to Isaac Hayne, executed by the British for treason in 1781 (Take Hwy 17 S to Hwy 65 W toward Walterboro. After 2 miles on 64 turn right at historical marker. One mile down dirt road to Hayne burial plot).

In Savannah, Old Fort Jackson, Georgia's oldest standing brick fortification. South of Savannah is Fort Morris (near Midway, Ga.) and Fort King George (near Darien, Ga.)

You might be out of North Carolnia by now, but there is the Battle of Averasboro site (it was the prelude to the last major Confederate offensive of the Civil War) in Dunn, N.C. and Bentonville, N.C. (last major Confederate offensive); Cape Lookout (SE corner of N.C.); Bath, N.C. (state's first town); Moores Creek National Battlefield (evolution of Colonial militia; also led to the first call of independence).

Don't forget to say hi to Tim the tire guy in Rocky Mount. :)

If you're headed to Tucson, be warned that it once hit 100 degrees here on April 19.

Four recommendations if you make it to this corner of America:

-- Cochise Stronghold, not too far off I-10 in southeast Arizona. Very few visitors, amazing views and good trails. Watch for rattlers.

-- Mission San Xavier del Bac, just a few miles south of Tucson off of I-19. Built more than 200 years ago on what was then the far northern end of Spain's new world. You look at the art and architecture and can scarcely imagine how a community of Native Americans and a few priests built something so fantastic with so few resources. Still a functioning church for the Tohono O'odham Nation.

-- El Charro restaurant in downtown Tucson. Oldest and still the best Mexican restaurant here. Order the machaca, which is beef sun dried in a cage on the roof of the restaurant.

-- Toroweap. Part of the Grand Canyon, but unlikely you'd see other humans for several hours at a stretch. There's nothing to do at Toroweap but to look straight down -- as in several thousand feet -- at the Colorado River below. Couldn't bring myself to walk right up to the edge. A friend told me later that the thing to do is to lay down on your belly and slither up to the dropoff. Rough road down from Colorado City but a passenger car can do it. Drive out via Mount Trumbell is gorgeous high desert. I think we saw no more than three or four other vehicles in a full day of driving.

Here is so info for ATLANTA-- It's from Ori's brother-in-law who lives there. Notice these are next to a place to exercise Frank and Hed... I mean Hank and Fred :)

As for Atlanta food, I highly recommend Agnes and Muriel’s (on Monroe) which is Southern Comfort food at its finest. It is also very close to Piedmont Park, which has a great dog run, and is also one of the nicer places in Atlanta.

Another choice might be the Flying Biscuit Café at the corner of 10th and Piedmont. Very well known and co-founded by one of the Indigo Girls, I think. They are going national. This location is also right next to the park.

Hey Jim & Joan,

When in Atlanta, you must dine at Cakes & Ale in Decatur (like Arlington) http://www.cakesandalerestaurant.com/
Anything on the main menu will be delicious, but don't miss the Phatty Cakes for dessert.
Then go for excellent draft beer at the Brick Store (also in Decatur) http://www.brickstorepub.com/
Bonus if you find CT and drag him out with you. :)


Realizing you're still a few days from Atlanta, I'll throw in my quick restaurant recommendations while I'm thinking of them:

Daddy D'z
264 Memorial Drive, Atlanta
Great BBQ place #1

1815 Briarcliff Road, Atlanta
Great BBQ place #2

Lived in Atlanta for a year and ate at these places all the time.

Also, if you want to sample Coca-Cola beverages from all around the world (including some really nasty ones), try the Coke Museum in Atlanta. It's kind of a scam to have to pay money essentially to be advertised-to for an hour straight, but the free beverage room is fun, if they still do that. :-)

Adrian, thanks for these recommendations, and the burger ones from earlier. They, along with all the other recommendations, are on our master Google map...

Daddy D'z is so close to Oakland Cemetery -- http://www.oaklandcemetery.com/ It would be a nice combo.

There is also the world famous Fatt Matt's Rib Shack on Piedmont in Midtown.

The World of Coca Cola is fun and they still do the tasting room - and right across from the CNN Center and the new aquarium (which rocks!) at Centennial Olympic Park, where the bombing took place.

If you can, on your trek to Atlanta, you may want to put Madison, GA on the map. It's very close to Lake Oconee and so southern.

I've been in the A-town -- and I mean not some suburb, but in the city -- since 1993 and have a slew of suggestions.

Late to the party with this one but Food Network fans will know Guy Fieri who has built a cult following for his show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. We've tried two so far in Florida, one that was quite good and one that was so-so but you might find some good, "homecooked" food at one along the way. The Food Network doesn't appear to let you search by location (this is a most frustrating website on a number of fronts), however, I found this site that has mapped many of the Triple D restaurants across the country.
Jim Nutrition rating probably low on these...

Susan, I actually have all of Guy Fieri's diners on our master Google map, so we're good, but thanks for the recommendation...

You headed Seattle way at all? Our giant German Shepherd loves beagles. No, not as snacks. As playmates. Think about it.

Glad to see you're making it to Mobile. Your talk of oysters reminded me: go to Wintzell's. It's on Dauphin Street in the downtown area. The fresh oysters are quite good, and you may be able to weigh in on the Gulf Coast vs. Atlantic oysters debate I have with my sister in NC.

Besides the oysters (they also have poboys there but you are probably better off getting them in New Orleans) the place is notable for a couple other reasons: every space on the wall is covered with these hand-painted semi-witticisms collected by the founder. And they have a board showing the record for oysters eaten in a single hour. Someone blew out the old record recently -- 30 dozen or something crazy. Are you a contender?

As for Mississippi, perhaps starting in Biloxi you should forgo I-10 for US 90, the beach road, and take that to New Orleans. At some point it stops being a beach road and passes through the bayous and lowlands of western Miss. and eastern La. (If you're daring, you can drive to the mouth of the Mississippi in Plaquemines Parish.) Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis' home or something like that, is near Biloxi on US 90 and was nearly destroyed by Katrina. Don't know what shape it is in now. US 90 will go through Waveland and Bay St. Louis, Katrina's epicenter.

Jim - You don't know me but we have met at conferences once or twice. Matthew Greenberg and Laura Cochran work for me at Gannett. Anyway, I saw here that you are passing through national parks and past big balls of string. I specialize in both, having road-tripped through all lower 48. I am on a lifelong mission to make it to every national park, and have so far made it to more than 200 of the nearly 400. So I can offer detailed advice about pretty much every park, battlefield, monument, scenic river, memorial, etc. Looks like you are in the deep south now. Are you heading west for a while or back north? Let me know and I'll give you some tips. If you are REALLY heading west out of New Orleans, like 1,000 miles west, let's talk about Big Bend NP out in SW Texas or even a couple of hidden gems in SE New Mexico. Let me know where you are headed and I'll supply decent advice! Best to you, your wife and the dogs. Stinbeck would be proud. - Mackenzie Warren

Deborah Howell recommends: In New Orleans, go to the above-ground cemeteries. They're like nothing else I've ever seen. The food is great. And you just can't diet in Nawlins. I love Commander's Palace and Brigsten's. If you're confused about where to eat, call Brett Anderson at the Times-Picayune and say I sent you and ask him where he would eat. He's the food critic.

If you make it to my hometown, San Antonio, don't miss San Fernando Cathedral and the Spanish Governor's Palace. (I know you'll go to the Alamo.) They're some of the oldest structures in the U.S. And do go to El Mercado or the Market, which has a Mexican market much like those on the border. San Antonio's downtown divides into English and Spanish speaking, so walk and watch for the divide. And eat at the big TexMex restaurant in the Market --Mi Tierra. It's the one that always has Christmas decorations up.

If you go through Austin, don't miss the Texas History Museum and the Capitol and eat at Guerra's for good Tex Mex and don't miss the Broken Spoke dance hall. Great western music! And the Hill Country of Texas is beautiful -- drive from Austin to the LBJ Ranch, which is worth seeing, and Fredericksburg (scene of Union sympathizers during the Civil War) and get to S.A. that way.

Your venture to the Gulf Coast got me thinking... I can't remember if your last trip took you through Natchitoches, LA, (pronounced NACK-uh-dish, as I recall), but it's not too far up the road from N'awlins/Baton Rouge in west-central Louisiana.

The recommendation is not for a tour of one of the impressive plantation home in this area. It's for Lasyone's Meat Pie Restaurant.

Pretty sure that's a Roadfood favorite, though I'm proud to have visited there long before I heard of Roadfood.

Delectable meat pies and a terrific reason to log a low healthy eating score: the Cane River Cream Pie, one of the best desserts I've ever tasted.


Hey, Guys...

If in San Francisco area...Saualalito...hit this tiny place: http://www.lovetoeatandtravel.com/site/Sfbay/NoBay/Sausalito/Food/lighthouse.htm.

The Lighthouse. About 20 seats...great atmosphere and staff...and we had terrific food.

I thought of the Sultana when you mentioned Andersonville a few days ago.
When the Sultana went down it was carrying a lot of prisoners just released from Andersonville.
The page above links to various memorials and gravesites of the victims.
I've never been to any, but have had a long interest in the Sultana.


Good to hear from you. We are defnitely headed to Big Bend. We did this trip back in 2003 (for four months, actually), and Big Bend was one of the places we regretted missing. Any tips on what specifically to do there?


Have you heard of a town called Metropolis,IL? Someone I know recently drove across country and stopped there. If you're a fan of superhereos who disguise themselves as newspaper reporters, it shouldn't disappoint.

TACO BUENO. Order Mexi Dips and Chips and a party taco. You are in prime Taco Bueno country. Oh how I miss their tasty little party tacos. I went to college down there and we don't have them up here in Ohio. It won't be 4 stars (maybe 2) but it is a fast drive-through option that never disappointed.
If you ever end up in Norman, OK, visit the University of Oklahoma campus. The gardens are BEAUTIFUL. Lots of impressive, old fraternity and sorority houses to see. Stop at Classic 50's on Lindsay just west of campus. You can't miss it. It's located right next to a Sonic that is always empty. You can order any flavor "slush" you can imagine. Try a strawberry lemonade with fresh fruit. Delicous. They used to have happy hour, too. About 10 years ago that meant $0.35 for a small. Lots of fun. You can also order a vanilla Coke (real stuff) or any authentic soda fountain drink. Of course, know your vocabulary--anything that fizzes is a "Coke" so you have to tell them what kind of "Coke" you want ; )

If you're in WV near the KY border, you can visit Blenko Glass and see glass being blown. http://www.blenkoglass.com/blenkocowebsite/visitorscenter.htm
This is the company that was the subject of a PBS documentary some years ago.

If you are near Chicago in May you must stop and attend Beaglefest. As an added bonus, you can stay in the hotel with the out-of-town group members and all of their beagles. Fred and Hank would love it. AND there are hamburgers! Here is a link.


For the Love of Beagle... Join us for BREW Midwest’s 7th Annual Beaglefest!

Please join us, bring your beagles, family and friends, and support BREW Midwest all at the same time! Beaglefest is a wonderful opportunity to run with the hounds, or sit with the hounds, or play with the hounds. It is a laugh filled afternoon of family entertainment. It is a chance to give back, for all of that beagle love you enjoy, to contribute to our efforts to save more of these wonderful creatures. So, bring your folding chairs or blankets and come and relax, hang out with all the beagles, and have a great afternoon. Whether you are an owner, previous adopter, interested in adopting or just love beagles, this is the place to be!

We will be selling hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and soft drinks as well as several BREW items (T-shirts, bandanas, bumper stickers, etc.). We will also have games, raffles, and some other surprises!

SATURDAY, May 16, 2009
Hinkley Park
Park Ridge, IL
11:00 A.M. TO 4:00 P.M.

mapquest to Busse Hwy & Morris St Park Ridge IL 60068

When you're in Santa Fe, I recommend making a couple of hours for the Ten Thousand Waves spa, and a 90 minute Japanese hot stone massage. I got one there four years ago, and I still tell people about it (clearly). It was divine. The spa itself is in the book 1,000 Places to go Before You Die. Worth a quick bit of relaxation -- book in advance if you can plan it!

Hey are you going to Tucson? go see the former ICBM Silo Museum just out of town.


If you're anywhere near Bryce Canyon, I highly recommend it. (Southern Utah) For some reason, a lot of people miss this place. If Grand Canyon is a giant cathedral, Bryce is a gorgeous little chapel. Well, not that little. But it is only 500 feet deep, compared to 5000. It's one of the eeriest, most beautiful places on the planet. Been enjoying your posts!

When you go to the Grand Canyon -- check to see if they have a room at the cool old hotel. Usually they are booked...but you never know. We stayed at the newer motel. Not nearly as charming.

And, while you are at it...you can see if they have some openings for the burro ride. We lucked into this a number of years ago. Did not make reservations in advance, but they had some last minute cancellations and we had the ride of our lives!

Last time we were there we saw the California Condors. They are beautiful -- and huge!

It seems that every time I go to the Grand Canyon, I fall a little more deeply in love with the place.

By the way, there is this new glass walkway on the north side. Have not been there....but heard it was cool.

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