The Trip Food Review – 8/24/2017

Day Two of the trip had quite a few surprises in store.  From the hotel’s continental breakfast to the Denny’s that wasn’t a Denny’s, let’s dive in:

Travelodge, Sturgis, MI

Usually when you hit up a hotel during a trip, you take the continental breakfast in the morning for granted.  Some fruit, juice, all the basic shit.

Well this was my first time staying at a Travelodge, and it was pretty par for the course.  But the breakfast was a little better than I was expecting.

There was cereal, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, but the real kicker was this do-it-yourself waffle maker.  Fill up a cup with batter, load up the iron, flip it over, wait for the preset timer to go off, and presto – perfectly done waffles.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for this craziness in the future, fo sho.  Once were fueled up, it was back on the road we went.

Wilton Cafe, Wilton, IA

Now this place was a complete surprise.  So for some back story, we were cruising down 80 and we were all starting to get cramped, hungry, and in need of a bathroom.  At my parent’s suggestion, we got off the highway near Durant, IA in search of food.  Subway was suggested, but that’s boring so I made the executive decision to pursue something elsewhere.

At a T intersection right after we got off the highway, there was a sign for the Wilton Cafe.  I said, “that’s where we’re headed.”  Headed down Historic U.S. 6 for a few miles till we entered Wilton, IA.  It was a cozy little town in the middle of the pancake that is Iowa.  The GPS routed us right there, we got out, stretched like our lives depended on it, and walked in the front door.

It was a pretty small cafe, but our waitress was friendly and took our orders.  I ordered a basic cheeseburger and fries, nothing too crazy.  Up until this point I had been evaluating all the local burgers back home, so I guess that kinda carried over to this stop.  After a few minutes our food showed up and I loaded the burger with some ketchup like any sane human being would.

Right before I bit into said burger, my mom piped up and basically said “Uh oh.”  I immediately thought it was some sugar-free or salt-free garbage ketchup, but no.  It was so much more than I was expecting.

That’s right.  Jalapeño ketchup.  I touched on this in an earlier post, but god damn this shit was off the charts.  A bit of bite, but nothing too unreasonable.  The burger was great, the fries with this ketchup were great.  I was chuffed, as the Brits say.

We paid the bill and got back on the road – next stop, Nebraska.

Village Inn, Papillion, NE

When my uncle first mentioned Village Inn, he said it was similar to Denny’s.  I can see the similarities, basic American fare, huge breakfast selection, etc.  But this definitely had a midwest vibe to it that Denny’s lacks.  If I recall right, I think we all opted for breakfast items, but mine was undoubtedly the unexpected one out of the bunch.

I ordered the first thing that caught my attention – the poblano smothered breakfast burrito.  This thing was legit.  Filled with chorizo, egg, home fries, and peppers.  The outside had more peppers, melted cheese, and a spicy red sauce.  If I imagined what a breakfast burrito would be like from Chipotle, this was it.  Mildly spicy, super filling, and really tasty.  I was impressed.

That said, I wasn’t really impressed with their other menu options.  It was pretty tame, nothing really stood out to me other than the burrito.  Denny’s is the same way lately, the usual standbys like the Sampler or a burger.  Village Inn was a solid stop, but nothing to rave about.

Now, the next stop I didn’t have anything to eat at, but it’s still worth talking about since alcohol is part of the food pyramid afterall.

Report In Pub, Omaha, NE

Since this was the only night I’d be able to hang out with my cousin, she said she and her fiance would be kidnapping me and taking me to a bar.  It was a little hole in the wall joint, but I could definitely dig the vibe.  I kept it simple with a couple Blue Moons, since I was dead tired from the drive that day.  Bullshitted for a bit then we bounced.

Worth mentioning, this place’s claim to fame is a Bloody Mary that will kick you in the face.  It’s one of those drinks that comes with a bunch of shit on a skewer in the drink.  Literally a burger slider, onion rings, etc.  Under other circumstances I totally would have had one.  Maybe next trip?

The Trip Food Review – 8/23/2017

Now that I’ve had a couple days to recuperate from our travels, it’s officially time to reflect upon the foods of Omaha.  Remember, the theory was to avoid eating at any place that we have locally here in NY.  So bear with me while I take you through the list of places I ate at, and what I thought of those places.

Arby’s, Fredonia, NY

I know, I know, I fucking know.  We have an Arby’s going in locally.  However…  While travelling, sometimes you gotta eat at a place that you’ve got locally.  And also technically, we weren’t out of New York yet, so how can one eat at a place not in NY if you’re still in NY?  Lawyered.

Anyway, I had myself a sweet Turkey Ranch & Bacon sandwich.  I had first experienced said sandwich with my man Branden entirely by accident, and I liked it.  This time, it was kind of lackluster.  I would have enjoyed a straight up roast beef sandwich a lot more at the time, but I digress.

Cleanliness was solid, food was solid, customer service was what you’d expect from a fast food joint off the highway.  We ate, I pillaged some free Wi-Fi, utilized facilities, then hit the road.

Culver’s, Sturgis, MI

Alright.  Now this is where my fuckin’ taste buds started getting pampered on this trip.  I first experienced a Culver’s a bunch of years ago when my parents and I traveled to Kansas.  Now, Culver’s claim to fame is the ButterBurger, a burger made with locally(ish) raised beef, and the bun is buttered and seared on the grill.  Absolutely epic.  I knew this had to be one of my stops on this trip.

At this stop I had the ButterBurger Deluxe – twin patties with all the fixins.  Let me tell you, when the burger was gone I almost went up and got another.  And then I thought about grabbing one before we hit the road the next morning.  Then I started thinking about finding another Culver’s once we reached Omaha.  It was that good.  Such a shame New York doesn’t have something as awesome as this.

Friendliness of the staff was a treat, everyone was super friendly and polite.  Makes New York fast food joints look like dumps, to be honest.  Cleanliness was fine, and although we hit up pretty late in the day, there were still a decent number of people there.  We ended up sitting next to a group of kids (recently gradgitated maybe), but they didn’t make me want to murder them so it wasn’t all that bad.

Highly recommend this place.  Literally, to anyone.  Go there if you have one.

Figured I’ll break these posts up by day since I’m a fatass and went to a lot of restaurants.  Stay tuned for Day Two.

Postgame Review

As the last sunset I’ll see here in Nebraska sets, I’m thinking about the last few days.  A lot of sights, a lot of laughs, and a lot of awesome memories.  We came out here for my cousin Lorrin and my new cousin-in-law Garret’s wedding, but this trip ended up being about so much more than that.

Speaking personally, I haven’t been out of CNY very many times.  The times that I have left, I don’t seem to recall being as influenced by my destination as I was this time.  Kansas, Florida, Indiana.  All places I’ve traveled to in the past, but this place in particular really sucks to have to leave.  Maybe it’s the people I’m with, or the people I’m visiting; all I know is that this is one I won’t soon forget.

Spending the evening with my cousin, even though I was dead beat from the road, was one of the major highlights of the trip.  Just bullshitting in her car while cruising around Nebraska.  Showing me the sights and places of importance – where she used to work, the school she went to, where my aunt got her first car – the places we all have in our own home towns, but that we never really stop to think about.

The restaurants and joints we hit up over the last few days.  Qdoba, Spaghetti Works, Which Wich.  I’ll be putting together a review of these places in the days to come, you better believe that.

And most importantly, the wedding itself.  The beautiful service performed by my uncle, the vows from the bride and groom.  The reception too, despite the DJ not showing up.  I’m glad we made the trek out to share the day with my favorite cousin on her day.  And I’m honored to have Garret as a new cousin.

It’s been an amazing trip to the midwest, and I can’t wait to make it out here again.

The Odyssey – Day Two

The follow-up to Day One is a little bit late, but whatever.  Me and the fam will be hitting the road tomorrow, so I figured this was the last chance I’d have to write.

We peaced out from the Sturgis Travelodge pretty much without incident.  Stopped at some podunk gas station to fill up the car.  I had a pretty good laugh at the sign that was inside the station that said basically “K2 and bath salts not sold here”.  Ah the small town life.  My mom mentioned later on that the lady behind the desk at the hotel was telling them a story while checking us in.  She came out to Sturgis to see family and her car broke down at some point.  She didn’t have enough money to fix it, so she’s been stuck there trying to save up money to get out.  Jesus…

Thank God that didn’t happen to us.

The roads through Indiana and Illinois were pretty easy going.  Boring, but easy going.  Ran through some storms along the way.  Saw a crop dusting plane.  ‘Twas legit.  But that’s when some bullshit came our way.

Somewhere in Illinois, we were sitting nice in super light traffic.  Cruise was set to 75.  AC was set to 70°.  Music was on some news show that we picked up.  In the oncoming lane a Ford Edge was busting a bitch (doing a U-turn) in the median.  We passed by without much a thought.  Now, enter a couple minutes after that.  I’m in the passing lane, attempting to get past a truck that must have had his cruise set to half a MPH less than us.

The Ford Edge from earlier is literally, by means of osmosis, becoming one with my rear bumper.  Now bear in mind, up until this point, my cruise control has not left 75 MPH in probably 100 miles.  I see this Edge clearly wanting to get a move on, and since he had just pulled a U-ie, figured he forgot something and was in a hurry to get back to wherever he came from.  I disengage cruise and speed up just enough to get in front of the truck in the driving lane.

Big fucking mistake.  Whoop-whoop, red and blue flashing lights come on from the Edge.  Are you fucking serious?  I pull over and get ready for whatever bullshit this guy tries to sell me.  Comes up to the passenger-side where my grandmother and dad are seated.  Roll the window down.

You know you were going 8 over right?

Ya don’t fucking say.  Could it be because you were up in my face like Mayweather was up in Conor’s face?  (Yes I realize the fight happened after this occurence, so fuck you.)

I try to explain that I was keeping up with traffic and saw he was in a hurry, so I was trying to get out of his way.  He didn’t want to hear it, asked for my license and headed back to the Stealth Edge.  At this point I’m thinking to myself, “If I get a ticket, I just won’t ever come back to this shithole state again.”  He wanders back to the window, hands back my license, and says “Just watch your speed folks” and leaves.

Now granted, he did basically wave traffic over into the passing lane so we could leave, which was a real bro move, but seriously?  Pull over the family from New York for some bullshit “speeding” charge?  JenniferLawrenceYeahOK.gif

Anyway, we get back on the road and continued on with the final leg of our journey.  A few hours later, it’s getting to be lunch time and no one can decide where to eat.  That rule of no local eats remains in effect, so grandma’s suggestion of Subway is out.  After some miscommunication on Route 80, and some quick exiting of said highway, we found ourselves in some small town called Durant, Iowa.  A T intersection with Subway in one direction and a place called the Wilton Cafe in the other, I made the executive decision to hang a Ricky and head to Wilton.

Best.  Decision.  Ever.

Oh yes.  This little cafe, let me tell you.  Their lunch entrees all came with a side of soup by default, which I thought was pretty strange, but equally awesome.  I ended up ordering a burger, because fuck yeah, ‘Merica.  I put some ketchup on said burger and thought nothing of it.  My mom was the first to realize the ketchup bottle had a green cap on it.  Dafuq?  This is why:

That’s fucking right.  JALAPEÑO KETCHUP.  How in the entire world have I never heard of such a thing before?  Mind blown, because it was absolutely amazing.  It wasn’t unreasonably spicy, just a perfect amount of heat to go along with the ketchup taste.  Unreal.

After finishing up a surprisingly awesome lunch stop, we got back on the road towards Nebraska.

Now, let me illustrate the state of Iowa for everyone reading this.  Nothing but straight roads surrounded by flat fields of whatever.  That’s it.  Literally the worst and most boring part of the trip was Iowa.  At this point in the trip, I just wanted to get to where we were going and be done.  There were some cool parts, like an absolute shitload of windmills.  Like, think Fenner but at least ten times as many.  The featured image was taken by the dashcam of some of the windmills along the side of the road.  It was real impressive.  Along the way, we passed by a lot of tractor trailers hauling windmill blades, actually.

Finally, after about 10 hours of driving on the second day, we arrived at my aunt and uncle’s place.  The Fusion performed admirably, surprisingly enough.  Oil level was perfectly level and didn’t smell burnt.  Win fricken win.  Total stats for the entire trip from NY to NE:

Total Miles – 1169.8
Total MPG – 28.3
Total Time – 18:10:23



I’ve got a case of wanderlust, I won’t even lie.  I love driving – often to the point of just heading in a certain direction with no destination in mind.  Just that feeling when you can kick back, take in the atmosphere, got some sweet music playing, the wind in your hair?  Man you can’t beat that shit.

In about 36 hours, I’ll be headed on the longest roadtrip I’ve ever gone on.  The coolest cousin I know is getting married, so I’m making the trek out Nebraska way.  Leaving Wednesday after work, spending the night in Indiana, then continuing on Thursday.  I’m excited, since the last roadtrip nearly this length was ten years ago almost to the month.

The last time was to Indiana with my girlfriend at the time, to buy a dog.  It was an absolute blast; my first (but not last) time travelling with a significant other.  Hard to believe my shit Chevy Malibu made it there and back, to be honest.  I’ll always look fondly on that trip.  It was my first real adventure in the real world since I had graduated high school a year before.  And we were rudimentarily guided by ye ole Google Maps circa 2007 on the first-gen iPhone.  Tech has come a long way since then.  This trip I’ll be rocking Android Auto through the car’s touchscreen.

Additionally, this trip is pretty much planned out to the T.  The stop in Indiana is conveniently, as if by chance, right by a Culver’s.  Last time I stopped at one of those was back when I went down to Kansas.  It was fantastic back then, and since there isn’t any in the Northeast, I’ve had to suffer without up until this trip.  Equally awesome is the prevalence of Hardee’s and other restaurants that we don’t have up here.  There’s an unspoken rule that whenever you go on a trip, you can’t eat at any place you’d have back home.  Makes you experience the local eats.  I’m hoping we get to hit up some hole-in-the-wall joints while we’re in Nebraska.

I’m hoping to blog throughout the trip, as each stop comes and goes.  The dashcam is squared away so we can capture any moments that happen along the way.  I remember once upon a trip, there was a car on the side of the road that was engulfed in flames.  Not sure why, or even where at this point, but getting that on camera would have been tight.

Just gotta make it through two nights of work, then we’ll be on the road.  Get that hype up, kiddos.