“On The Road” Tips – Add yours!

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From: Eleanor Manchester E-Mail: Date: 10/12/04, 2:04 AM

Just read the glowing referral for Ben’s Towing in Smithfield, NC. What may have been so back then is no longer true. One of Ben’s driver’s hooked up my daughter’s VW Fox (with a slipping transmission) by the rear. Yes, it’s a front wheel drive – or it was before he hauled it 4 miles and it caught on fire. The tranny was a total loss, the engine was totaled, and hoses, belts and wiring under the hood were melted. Then Ben tried to tell us he did not have insurance. Talk about a “good ole boy” who’s a crook! He offered to get a used engine if my daughter would pay for the instalation. 3 months later his insurance co. paid her only for the car. She works 2 jobs and had to borrow Gramma’s car for those 3 months. She also paid storage on the Fox. Sorry… Ben’s Towing is not OUR recommendation.

From: David Goldbeck E-Mail: Date: 3/27/04, 3:49 PM

This new site and book “Healthy Highways:The Trveler’s Guide to Healthy Eating” will help anyone looking for a healthy place to eat on the road. There are 1900 listings in US with driving directions from main highway

From: Bonnie Blandford E-Mail: Date: 8/2/03, 6:22 PM

When on the road I make sure I have the latest map of all the Cracker Barrel Restaurants. The exits that have Cracker Barrels also have a decent motel and a good gas station. Obviously it’s part of their planning but it’s really helped me over the years.

From: Robert Carlson E-Mail: Date: 9/1/02, 12:16 AM

If you have car trouble between Nashville and Knoxville go to Collonial Automotive in Cookeville and speak to Roger…. mention my name or Marilee Hall and you will get the work done with no extras at a great price and done in good time….. If you are in MD between Gettysburg, PA and Frederick, MD Tim’s Garage outside Emmitsburg is very reliable and inexpensive. There is also a great Transmission shop in Christiansburg VA that replaced a tranny for me in 5 hrs for under $600 and had me back up and running to get home before dark! Don’t remember the name of the place, but I am sure they are the only place in town…. just off the square in the Antique shop district.

From: Beth Warner E-Mail: Date: 3/25/02, 6:42 AM

As ususal I am computer challenged and am trying to post and havin trubble.

I have traveled back and forth between Maine and Florida for many years. Restaurants come and go and great little places that once were favorites no longer exist. Here are some that still do because they are family businesses or have become fixtures. I prefer places with scenery and patio dining so know mostly of those…but due to weather conditions I will stick to these protected indoor joints.

In addition to a log of gas and mileage and expenses, I have, since 1993, kept a record of comments and insist that comments all be written down. These can include wise cracks, remarks overheard (the young gas pump jockey at the Vince Lombardi exit on the NJTPK who said “Oh yeah, you from Maine…that’s up there around New Haven.”) or the day dreams, big majorly important ideas, little known facts of history, brainstorms, songs on the radio, weather conditions, sightings of UFOS, whatever…. and sometimes they have to do with food.

If I am driving and see something/think of something and not alone, I try to rely on my daughter or companion to write down what I dictate.

Sometimes they resist and don’t want to cooperate, are more interested in their juice box or too bizzy fiddling with their sunglasses. This aggravates me so to help with these feeble efforts to document/record/take notes/WRITE while I drive, I tie a particularly nice glittery barreled pen to a notebook with a fancy gold ribbon so it doesn’t get lost but also so that it looks VERY important. I tell them in advance how important it is. I call it the IMPORTANT NOTEBOOK. I keep this wedged in between the cooler and the side of the van driver seat and it is in the same dog-eared 1987 AT&T planbook protective plastic cover thing year after year. I make sure to repeat and describe how IT IS A TRADITION…This year I used a notebook with BLACK PAPER and a pen with SILVER INK.
Oh yeah, I will also include HOW these places were found.

RINES DELI and NY Style Restaurant, Vernon, Connecticut, I-84, Exit 65. Near Hartford.
Open 7 am to midnight, seven days a week. Breakfast served at any hour. Take out. Pickles, cheesecake, pastrami, bagels, corned beef, hand-cut lox, full liquor license, the “taste of quality is long remembered.” They get your first name and use it. Mom found this one about forty years ago.

PATRICKS RESTAURANT. For Breakfast. North Carolina. In that boring stretch of I95 in between Rocky Mount and Smithfield. I suspect it is in Wilson but it is just off an exit. Wake up and look around as there are BIG BILLBOARD SIGNS for it alongside Rte. 95. You will also see signs in the area for a tobacco museum, maybe even the Ava Gardner museum but she is farther south on the highway I think. PATRICKS has everything you could ever want for a southern style breakfast, is buffet style and you can just keep filling up. About five bucks per person. Sit near a window and watch as the local people arrive. There is a giant sculpture-in-the-making in front of this place. It is composed of junk metal, all the stuff people have around their houses they can’t get rid of or don’t want to part with just yet…the sculpture is an on-going communal creation. We watched as a rather elegant couple pulled in, got out of their Cadillac and very carefully placed a hubcap on the “sculpture”. Found this place by asking this very polite young southern gentleman pumping gas at the exit where a good place was to eat other than the Pancake House. It was just a mile down the road from the exit.

The Hungry Heron, Sanibel Island, 2330 Palm Ridge Road. www.hungry-heron.com (941) 395-2352. Lunch and dinner, breakfast buffet Saturdays and Sundays. This place is usually very crowded (you must be willing to wait) at the end of the day but serves whatever is on their large and staggering menu all day long. It is great for lunch, no waiting around. The menu (250 items) is very amusing and interesting reading. They have televisions up high around the dining room tuned into the Disney channel for kids, but no sound. Clear local photos on the walls. All the food, especially the fish is fresh, incredible vegetables, all types of great salads and fruits. They don’t go in much for anything but fresh. They find out your first name when you arrive and make sure to use it too. Get a booth. Sit down, relax. The portions are gigantic and beautifully arranged. Your server is well-trained and attentive, will tell you immediately if you are ordering too much. Found this in a little tiny bike path guide. It is a bit hard to find but once you do, you’re there. Just keep driving around that pink parking lot. It is on the end.

CAPTIVA ISLAND, Florida. The Bubble Room. Just go. Do dessert and a drink but they won’t let you do this in high season. The Bubble Scouts serve you. Hang on to your hat. Saw this place for twenty years and finally had the courage to go in. It looked like a bad LSD trip from the outside. Wait til you see the inside.

ANGELS DINER. Palatka, Florida. If you like old time diners with old time prices, this is it. Since 1932. Curbside service if you prefer. Metal diner, art deco, some stained glass, an old trolley car with Coca Cola memorabilia and 45 records on the walls. Stools with red vinyl seats and black and white tiled flooring. Delicious Dreamsicle Shakes. Lousy flickering fluorescent lighting. Friendly huge waitress. Big Greasy Burgers and Fries and White Bread. Cardiac Arrest Specials. Not for vegetarians or health conscious. Got tipped off to this one by two angels who appreared on foot out of nowhere, an older couple who were holding hands and said they were from Maine originally. We were parked at a fourway, headed for the Ravine Gardens, looking at a map, discussing which route to take along the St. Johns River and kind of arguing. We were overheated and hungry.

From: Beth Warner E-Mail: Date: 3/23/02, 5:22 AM

Join Triple A. It is worth every penny. Go for the more deluxe membership so you can get the extended towing miles. I have broken down in areas where no Triple A garages exist but have noticed that wrecker truck services do…in other words the driver can usually let you now which garage in town is most honest and has the best mechanic.

I rely heavily on Triple A information. Before I take any long journey, I make sure to stop in at my local Triple A office and pick up new maps, new guidebooks and campguides. These books are updated constantly and new editions are published and distributed to offices every year. Information does change and information is empowering. The discounts aren’t all that great but I have noticed that the restaurant suggestions are out-of-this-world. I have been able to find and enjoy places that I never would have been able to find without these guides…great little spots with wonderful food and atmosphere and truly decent prices. These suggestions are gleaned from the association’s membership. I suspect that there are a great many retired folks spending their grandchildren’s inheritances who make a hobby out of keeping Triple A updated on their findings. Like I said, off the beaten track places that are SUPER.

The other nice thing about their guidebooks is that you get some great historical information to read about areas you are visiting or passing through. Very educational. Fascinating. I have learned all sort of little known facts from Triple A guidebooks. Great if you are a history buff and want to know just how places came to be what they are or what went on in them when. It can also be helpful if you want to do some sightseeing because you can compare different spots of interest in a few minutes and determine which might be most suitable…they give you more than just admission costs, they tell you how long it might take to take in whatever sight it is you are considering.
I am a firm believer in advance planning and yet love to explore or just leave things open for changes of plan. Sometimes when I have thought I would be camping for the nights at a show, the triple A guides help me find a motel at the last minute.

From: sally j. bright E-Mail: Date: 10/25/01, 5:39 PM

For car trouble in Idaho, 40 minutes East of Boise, I would recommend “Custom Muffler and Automotive” of Mountain Home, Idaho. Phone: 208.587.4832. They kept a bay open for us until the tow could haul my truck there, then got right on the repair. They replaced the fuel pump in about 3 hours, for $300.00 total. I knew this was a good place after hearing the owner thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly explain something to one of the kids working for him. He was a real teacher. And the repair was done well.

From: Jacquelyne Collett E-Mail: Date: 9/13/01, 1:11 AM

This “tip” may seem obvious, but while traveling and experiencing mechanical problems iv’e found it best to ask others who they recommend. People seem very eager to be of assistance. Recently my van was running really poorly on the way home from a show and I asked the people at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. The manager came out and drew me a map to his mechanic. Another time I asked a Holiday Inn hotel manager and he suggested a wonderful mechanic. Both experiences were good ones, the mechanics were honest and took care of me quickly- I also think it help to mention the people in town that recommended them. Of course this tip doesn’t work if your are totally broke-down on the side of the road.

From: Rita E-Mail: Date: 5/9/01, 2:13 PM

SUNFEST: Just wanted to warn people who decide to do Sunfest, and need a hotel. There were several horror stories about the Sheraton Hotel in West Palm Beach this year. In years past, this Sheraton has been the most convenient place to stay, and it provided excellent service. This year, many artists with confirmed reservations (confirmed with credit cards, and with writenc onfirmations in hand); some artists (ourselves included) called right from the show an hour or two before leaving to re- reconfirm and were told rooms were being held for them; but were then later turned away from the hotel after leaving the show in the wee hours to show up to check in. It appeared (was unable to confirm this) that the hotel gave these rooms away to groups of airline personnel (Delta pilots and stewardesses) who were in the lobby. There was a chaotic scene in the lobby with people (many artists) with people showing up to check in, and then being turned away, being told simply that the hotel was overbooked and no other explanation given — when I asked if the airline personnel who showed up were given our rooms, I got a blank store and no response other than they were overbooked (wonder what happened in the 2 hours between the time I phoned confirming that our rooms were available?) Trust me, it was a horrible experience — not typical of the kind of service or treatment one usually gets at Sheraton Hotels, and an awful scene in that hotel lobby — security officers wer called on artists who demanded their rooms; one artists was asked if he wanted a drink, and he replied, “NO, I WANT A ROOM!” Artists were justified in their outrage, but we got no respect. You can imagine: exhausted artists showing up with “no room at the inn.” Stating that the staff was surly, unhelpful, rude, unaccommodating, etc. is a gross understatement. There hasn’t been a real resolution so far for us (some other artists were given rooms after waiting in the lobby two hours — and finally getting to bed at about 1:30 PM. Incidentally, a banner in the lobby of the hotel stated something like: “Welcome SunFest Artists & Fans.” It was a very strange occurrence this year; as I said, we’ve stayed there several years for this show, and never had anything like this happen, and never heard of anything happening like that. Also, incidentally, it did not seem to matter that we were also “Starwood Guest Members,” sort of their frequent stay club. Just wanted to let people know because the Sheraton in West Palm Beach is usually on the list of hotels provided by Sunfest to artists in their packets. Could have just been a strange year — or a full moon — and, therefore, one of those “isolated incidents,” but we won’t stay there again.

From: Sarah Kucerova E-Mail: Date: 3/29/01, 7:09 PM

On our last trip to San Francisco, we brought a small refrigerator with us for our motel room. It really expanded the types of food/beverages we could have during the show and in our room. It was worth the extra trouble!

From: Stephanie Nadolski E-Mail: Date: 3/13/01, 11:38 AM

Ben’s Towing in Four Oaks NC, just south of Smithville, exit 90 on I95 is terrific. Ben’s Towing does take you to Ben’s Garage if your smart. It is a full service repair shop and can fix motor homes, trailers and cars. I lost a wheel on my small trailer and they were able to locate a new axle and have me on the road in about 30 hours. I was on my way to do the Fort Myers Artfest and needed fast service. The owner drove to Raleigh to get my axle, and the employees told me where to find a reasonable motel and restaurant. (Log Cabin in Smithville)

From: Larry Richardson E-Mail: Date: 2/26/01, 5:26 PM

I found a very trustworthy repair shop in Punta Gorda, Florida: Kennedy’s Garage, 213 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorday, Florida. (941) 639- 8367

From: Bob Gent E-Mail: Date: 11/12/00, 7:18 PM

Restaurants! That could be a category of its own!
Come by Lawrence, Kansas when you’re on I-70. Vegans have a couple of choices, one being Community Mercantile, at 9th & Mississippi (maybe a mile and a half from the east exit has a deli that’s great, and it does serve “normal” wholesome food as well. You can refill your larder at the grocery store there as well
The Free State Brewery is a very good restaurant, and the beer is excellent. Prices very reasonable.
It’s at the north end of downtowm, also off the East Lawrence exit.
Now, what about your home town? I’ll be driving through, hungry….

From: toni mann E-Mail: Date: 7/29/00, 12:59 AM

Ate at a great “home cookin'”restaurant on I-70 in Ill. close to Mo. border—Blue Spring Cafe—they advertise the mile high pie that sucked us in!!! It was worth it –all family style–big bowls of veggies,coleslaw homemade rolls—eats for vegetarians and we meat eaters! Try it it’s fast too!!Same menu lunch and dinner—take the pie for the road!!!

From: Gael Silverblatt E-Mail: Date: 7/28/00, 1:56 PM

Vegetarians and healthy eaters, found a wonderful restaurant while traveling: Saigon café in Des Moines IA.(515-253–908) They have tofu, gluten and a Dr. Dean Ornish menu!! The food was great.

From: richard kooyman E-Mail: Date: 5/31/00, 5:12 PM

I picked up a three dollar harmonica at Cracker Barrel once just to amuse myself on the road.What I found was that the extra oxygen generated from playing it helps keep you alert. Whenever I’m getting sleepy I whip out a little Ol’Suzanna and it wakes me up. I’m serious!

From: Michael Hamilton E-Mail: Date: 5/10/00, 8:43 PM

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