Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Another drive from Cape Cod to Florida is in the books. It’s Robin’s and my job to check on the rest of the East Coast while most of you lucky souls just fly over it drinking a plastic glass of diet soda and munching on some “blue” chips under your masks.
I’m glad to report the East Coast is still there. The nutty Connecticut drivers weaving their low rider street racers in and out of traffic at 90+ mph, the potholes in New York big enough to swallow a BMW Mini, the new Cuomo bridge (still named Cuomo but who knows for how long), Trump’s Bedminster golf course (empty of golfers but still named Trump), and Pennsylvania farms dotted with “Trump/Pence 2020” signs with the Pence x-ed out.
We stopped for our first night in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Staunton, Virginia. Our dining options ranged from fast food (McDonald’s) to fast casual (Applebee’s, Cracker Barrel or Waffle House). Reader, it was a tough decision.
On other trips, we’ve hit the Waffle House in desperation, but this outpost was empty except for a fifteen year old dented white Honda Civic parked in front. Not confidence inspiring. No Waffles for us
We looked at the Cracker Barrel with its fully packed parking lot (older, mud splattered F-150s and a smattering of faded ten year old Buick Regals) and recalled the serious mistake we made when we visited the Clinton NJ outpost last May on our way north. Cracker Barrel advertises itself as a Southern Country Store and Restaurant. If you are in the market for aphorisms and homilies ( A Stitch in Time Saves Nine) enshrined on coffee mugs, wall plaques and T-shirts, this is your spot. It is sort of like the TGIF restaurants except all the junk on the walls is for sale. Cracker Barrel serves no alcohol which is an issue after being on the road for ten hours. That would be survivable if the food were edible, but it was not. We’d ordered breakfast for dinner since that seemed safe at the time. Even with the gravy on the side, not safe.
That left us with Applebee’s. We could have stayed in our Hampton Inn room and microwaved Jimmy Dean English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches but sadly, I’d left the Jimmy Deans in the freezer on the Cape. Along with a good chunk of clothes that I’ll need here, but that’s another story.
Applebee’s served something that looked like a burger. Our choices for doneness were “a little pink” or “well done”. You get the idea. We’d chosen to sit at the bar and that’s when the fun started. We ended watching the end of the Ryder Cup and talking to two guys who said they were “contractors”. They were quite loose since they’d just downed a couple beers and capped them off with a large slug of “Jagermeister”. You remember Jagermeister, right? Or at least the pounding hangover.
After they stumbled out to drive home (or to the next tavern) the guy who’d been sitting quietly on the other side of the bar popped up. In conversation with our female bartender, he was excited to find that they had a lot in common. As it turned out our bar buddy had just been released from the area prison where the bartender’s boyfriend worked as the prison guard on his unit. They spent a while discussing prison conditions and work rules. It turns out that our barmate was incarcerated for gun violations which I thought was almost impossible in Virginia. Who knew!
We paid the bill, walked back to the Hampton Inn and double-locked the door.
We made it to Sarasota two days later, but if we go through Staunton again, we’re making sure we have the Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches and a bottle or two of Chardonnay.