So, at this point in the game you may very well know that food is my love language and it is with this information that I present to you the time my friend Candi and I ate our way to (and from) Indiana. I am convinced that we may very well have taken this trip even if Candi had not signed up to do the Tecumseh Ultimate Hike in Indiana because she is not only my hiking BFF, but also my food spirit animal.
This all happened the beginning of October, but I have a foodographic memory. And now here are pictures of what we ate and where we ate it.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Candi picked me up in her van, even though it had almost broken down on us the week before on the way back from a training hike. This is because my van is held together by duct tape and shakes violently at 72 mph. I will never be able to go back to the future in my van because you are going to see some serious shit once I hit 73.
Contrary to the nightmare I had the week before, where I was not packed (seriously, this is how boring my dream-state has become), I managed to fill an entire suitcase of stretchy pants just in time for Thelma and Louise to hit the road after the kids went to school. AN ENTIRE SUITCASE. A large one. The one I took on my honeymoon. Granted, I just packed one whole duffle bag for me and the three kids for our last Ultimate Hike adventure, but this time was different. This time I had to account for clothing getting stained with whatever greasy eats I shoved in my pie-hole.
Oh, and I made sure to wear compression socks like an old person because that's how I roll. I didn't want the car trip cankles. We also packed a lot of vegetables to snack on between diners because I wanted to be able to poop.
The first stop was The Snappy Lunch in Mt. Airy, NC, which is basically Mayberry.
We ordered a Fried Bologna & Cheese, a Breaded Cheeseburger, and their Famous Pork Chop Sandwich.
Fried bologna is my life, y'all. This was the best thing we ate. The breaded hamburger was described to us by the waitress as a "delicious taste of the Great Depression." Let's not mince words here- it's a doughburger. The chili and slaw on it were good, but it's like eating a bread sandwich. With the scant amount of meat in it, it could have passed as a vegetarian option. Lastly, the Famous Pork Chop Sandwich was good in that it had meat. It is also the most expensive thing on the menu, coming in at $4.05, so you better believe it comes with all the toppings (chili, slaw, mustard, onion, tomato). It's ok, but I don't know why it's so famous when they serve that banging bologna sandwich. Also, it will give you spicy burps.
And yes, the two of us ordered three sandwiches. But those three sandwiches cost less than $8.
Get yourself the bologna sandwich (add tomato and cheese and, hell, go ahead and add mayo and ketchup to the thing if you're feeling fancy) and wash it down with a chocolate milk. This is not to be paired with craft beer or kombucha.
Between lunch and where we planned to end up at night, we stopped at Tamarack, which, according to the road signs, is "The Best of West Virginia." It's an interesting building to look at, and seems quite massive from the outside. Once you are inside, you will find ugly shoes starting at $225, and by ugly, I mean seriously. Neon fish clogs. You will find $18k coffee tables. You will find a book called Roberta Price Has Head Lice! You will find good beer and terrible wine. You will also find that the building is like the black and white lodge from Twin Peaks in which you have no idea how you got all the way back to the ugly neon fish clogs when you just stepped inside. I highly recommend this place!
We reached our hotel in Barboursville, WV, which is not a destination location that I'm aware of, but does back up to a Cracker Barrel, so there's that. I was excited because the front desk gave us Toblerones. I think you would be excited if you arrived in Barboursville, WV and someone offered you a Toblerone, as well. You might even feel like the Barboursville Hampton Inn is the Best of West Virginia. After unloading the ungodly amount of luggage that we had packed, we headed into the city of Huntington to visit Central City Cafe*.
Candi and I were the only customers there. Not that creepy, but a lil. Just three men from the cafe sitting at a table watching you listen to the music that is not playing and no one else to look back at you except an autographed poster of Guy Fieri, who looks as out of place as we do.
I had the meatloaf and Candi had the baked steak.
The food was okay, but it was like cafeteria food. In an old people's home. Old people are always adding bell peppers and celery to things that don't need bell peppers and celery. We boxed up our leftovers, because being prepared, we obviously came with a cooler full of beer that could store doggie bags and a full-sized strongman from the circus, and walked outside to take in the orgasmic smell of cheap white bread being baked in the Bimbo factory down the block.
Twenty minutes later when we arrived back at the hotel, I kicked back on the bed, opened up the box of half-eaten meatloaf, rested it on my bloated stomach, and polished it off as we watched Flowers in the Attic on Lifetime. I fell asleep next to the knife Matt packed me, because he was trying to make sure I was prepared in case we got accosted while eating soft-textured food. (The knife was dull, but rusty, and probably would have given a potential attacker quite the infection.) He also snuck a framed picture of two of my favorite men in my suitcase so, of course, I had sweet dreams.
Friday, October 2, 2015
The next morning, we got up, ate some hotel breakfast, and most importantly, GOT MYSELF SHOWERED AND DRESSED WITHOUT SOME KID OPENING UP THE BATHROOM DOOR AND LETTING ALL THE STEAM OUT. That was a personal highlight.
On the road toward Kentucky, I checked Facebook and saw a memory from that date in time a few years before, and it was nothing but a thread of covers and samples of Africa by Toto, which just happens to be my second favorite song of all time. So for two hours, we listened to nothing but covers and samples of Africa until we saw a sign for alcohol, and of course we followed it for no other reason than it was a sign for alcohol and why the hell not.
We arrived at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, KY and the drive there was gorgeous. If you plan on going to a whiskey distillery in old-money Kentucky, make sure to have this version of Africa playing as you drive past all the horse farms.
I don't really drink bourbon but I do eat the free samples of bourbon-filled chocolates at the part of the distillery where they try to sell you $200 bottles of bourbon. (Lemme know if there's a gin trail that is closer to home than London and I'm all in.) I did bring Matt back a bottle of something because I'm the nicest and especially because of circa 2000 Johnny Depp.
And afterward, I also did what you are not supposed to do and got into a vehicle where I did not know the driver. He wasn't waving lollipops out the window or anything, but he had a short bus and it said "2COOOL BUS" on it. And I had to know what was inside. (This is probably why Matt put a rusty knife in my purse.)
There were three things inside: cow print, a large screen television, and the stench of stale beer. It smelled like college. This guy is living the dream, driving rich drunk people around Kentucky and tailgating. Also, his business name is Tha Bus Shizzle, which I would like to hear old white people say as they are sipping on expensive bottles of bourbon. "Driver, have Tha Bus Shizzle move on to the next distillery, posthaste!"
Our next stop was at Rick's White Light Diner in Frankfort, KY.
We HAD to visit after watching this video:
If you did not watch that video, go back and watch that video.
The place seats a dozen, maybe a dozen and-a-half people. You will get to talk to Rick if you are there because there is nowhere for him to hide.
Candi got the Muffaletta which was really yummy. I only took a bite because I was too busy making love to my Shrimp Po' Boy.
Omgeezie. This thing will give you the vapors. GO TO KENTUCKY AND EAT THIS. They put some kind of chipotle mayonnaise on mine because when you go here and they ask you questions about what you want on it, you just tell them to make it however it should be eaten. Don't be a picky bitch. Have a little trust. It will make you smile THIS BIG.
That's not fake-happy. That's real happy. That's a damn good place to eat.
Don't take someone here who has a hard time walking down steep steps because they will kill themselves trying to go to the bathroom in the basement, which could very well double for the slaughter room in a snuff film, but it may be worth it because the Po' Boy is to die for.
High off of good food, we got back in the van and drove to Indiana.
Saturday, October 3, 2015
Candi hikes 30 miles.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
We ate victory breakfast at the Clarion Hotel in Columbia, Indiana. It was the most interesting hotel I've ever stayed in. You'll just have to trust me on the details. But when we got off the elevator to go to our room, we were always pleased to see this balcony/patio/deck off of some lucky guest's room:
The balcony didn't overlook anything. You literally get off the elevator and can step over the railing and help yourself onto this balcony. I don't get it, but we had fun trying to get it. Here are some things we thought would be worth doing on this balcony:
-Drink coffee and read the paper wearing a bathrobe, hair in towel turban.
-Eat a plate of chicken wings while listening to the game on a very loud radio.
-Have a family cookout with our husbands in white aprons, holding a pair of tongs in one hand and a bottle of Budweiser in the other, tending to the George Foreman Grill.
-Installing a clothesline for our delicates.
(This balcony/patio/deck may have been the least strange thing about this particular hotel. I highly recommend it!)
We departed Indiana and headed for Burger Boy in Louisville, KY.
It was good, although under-seasoned, which I've never experienced in a diner before. A heavy hand with the salt shaker made things alright, though. Works with tequila, too.
I think we are starting to look tired. Candi, from hiking. Me, from nacho cheese.
On our way to more food, we got distracted by more signs pointing toward alcohol. I tried something very expensive at Four Roses that the salesperson was trying to sell me, which still tasted like bourbon, which I still do not drink. It took me 30 minutes to finish the teeny pour, and I had added to water to that. I declined to buy any more booze for Matt, because it turns out I'm not the nicest, but now we own this Four Roses tasting glass that the girl behind the counter apparently didn't feel like washing and said I could keep.
Candi bought the good stuff. Her husband gave her permission to buy all the brown liquor.
After finding it difficult to come across diners that were open on Sundays, we stumbled onto Rosie's Restaurant in Rush, KY. And I'm so glad we did.
Candi and I were the only ones not chain smoking in the place, and apparently were the only ones nervous when a man walked in with his oxygen tank. Then a newborn is hauled in with her parents! OH MY GOD WE'RE GOING TO DIE, AND SO IS THIS PRECIOUS BABY. Spoiler alert: we didn't blow up, but that's not for lack of trying from the rest. That was our nearest death experience on this trip.
I may have died happy, though. Because of bologna salad.
When you see the phrase BOLOGNA SALAD written on a chalkboard, you order it. Our waitress, in her doughy innocence, described it as being similar to "hobo salad," which meant she assumed we were familiar with something called "hobo salad." I can only guess that hobo salad is a specialty in that part of Kentucky. She also recommended eating it with french fries, because that's a thing. Dipping fries into hobo salad. I asked for crackers instead.
Y'ALL. This bologna salad was delicious. It may very well look like cat food, and it very well may be cat food, but bologna and mayonnaise and sweet pickles and onion is the only way I'm going to eat hobo salad from here on out. It was the surprise dish of the trip. Hobo salad.
Everything was well-seasoned here, presumably because everyone here chain smokes and can't taste anything that doesn't have a week's worth of sodium. Candi got chicken and dumplings while I got an open-faced roast beef sandwich and THIS is exactly what I had been wanting the entire trip. Cheap white bread topped with reconstituted potato flakes, brown gravy from a packet, and deli meat. This was my favorite of the whole trip.
We ordered dessert and it sucked, but damn if that roast beef and bologna weren't the reason for the season.
Since we were already the most out-of-place customers there in that we couldn't master that signature Kentucky accent (although maybe a Marlboro Red hanging off our lips would have helped), it made sense that we would stand up and take a selfie just to make ourselves stand out even more. I was on such a goshdamn bologna high that I didn't even care. More hobo salad, please and thank you.
We arrived back at the Barboursville Hampton Inn and feasted on more Toblerones because Toblerones are delightful.
Monday, October 5, 2015
I had to lather/rinse/repeat and then repeat it again and after drying off, found that a third repeat may have been called for in getting the smell of Rosie's out of my hair.
It wouldn't be an Ultimate Hike weekend without a visit to Cracker Barrel. And there just happened to be one behind us because refer to Thursday, October 1.
This is the first time I have ever ordered breakfast at a Cracker Barrel. (I'm a die-hard country fried steak/hash brown casserole/fried okra/turnip greens kind of girl.) On this day in history, between two pieces of toasted sourdough, I had a fried egg, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise. And hash brown casserole because I'm my own woman and I do what I want.
And it was glorious. There should be a bible verse about this sandwich somewhere. I would memorize that and use it in internet comments and win all the arguments.
Dear god. My face is swelling from all the salt.
We arrived in Whytheville, VA for lunch at Skeeter's E.N. Umberger Store. I was really slowing down at this point. Thank goodness I had my compression socks on or else I would have had the Fred Flintstone feet.
I was so full that I could only order one sad little Skeeter dog with the works. I took a bite of Candi's reuben and her side of chili beans, which were both delicious, but I just couldn't shove any more food into my face. The hot dog was ok, but not "world-famous" like the sign proclaims. I know this because I'm betting most of you haven't heard of the Skeeter dog. A Big Mac is world-famous. Leonardo DiCaprio is world-famous. My love of tacos is world-famous. This was a red hot dog on a steamed bun with chili, slaw, mustard, and onions. It hit the small spot I had left in my stomach, but I'm never going to be like OMG THIS HOT DOG SHOULD BE KANYE WEST-FAMOUS.
The most memorable part of this adorable restaurant was that the bathroom was in the kitchen. I had to walk past a guy stirring a pot of chili to take a piss. Thank god for them that I didn't have to do anything else, because....there is no need for me to even finish that sentence. I don't care about where I poop, but it's unnerving to think of pooping where you can hear a spatula scraping a pan two feet away.
This is me about to tap out, and that is a giant hot dog behind us, like the ghost of road trips past.
Although Foothills Brewing isn't a diner, it had two things going for it: it is my favorite brewery and it was on the way home. But there was no way I was going to eat any more food because see: entire post above.
Being indecisive to the core, I got a flight, not expecting it to be this much beer. It was about $8 and already starting out full, was more than I could drink.
Just kidding. I drank it all.
Since we were there, we couldn't not order something to eat. (God, we can talk ourselves into eating before we're even done chewing the last meal.)
Salsa. Beer cheese. Chips.
We ate all that, too.
And then we rolled out of the brewery like two six-pound sausages in five-pound casings because that's how we literally roll.
We are what we eat and I turned into a giant hot dog incapable of wearing pants with buttons.
I guarantee if you hike with us, you'll eat something yummy at one point or another. Click here to join Team Taco Foothills or Team Taco Dolly Sods. If you can't hike this year, those links work great for donating. Do it for the bald kids! Do it for the tacos! Just do it already with ALL THE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!
*While I don't normally like to post or reference Yelp for any reason, many of these diners do not have websites. I still think people who post on Yelp are some of the most ridiculous people on Earth.