Hooked on Genuine Slow-Smoked BBQ

Last Spring, I had the distinct pleasure of dining at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Ever since, I’ve been looking for a special source for excellent BBQ closer to my home. A short time ago, I was in Detroit with my son and his family and had the pleasure of enjoying a meal at Slow’s Bar-B-Q and found it was delicious. It is much too far for me to travel for a great lunch or dinner, however.

Well, I’m very pleased to report I may have finally located the place in my own back yard. I recently stopped in to Daddy Pete’s BBQ on Eastern Avenue near 28th Street in Grand Rapids for lunch. I chose from their delectable take-out menu and had a Sliced Beef Brisket Sandwich, along with Smokey Baked Beans and Six Cheese Mac & Cheese on the side including a few sweet & spicy pickles, of course.

Seriously, that beef nearly melted in my mouth with a deep, wonderful smokey flavor that makes sure BBQ lovers keep coming back. Those smokey baked beans were also outstanding…I couldn’t ask for more!

Check out the Daddy Pete’s BBQ story here. If you live nearby or are ever in Grand Rapids, Michigan and love Southern slow-smoked flavor, I encourage you to stop by Daddy Pete’s next time you get a chance…you will not be disappointed!

Our Final Miles on The Mother Road

My sister, Nancy, and her husband traveled Route 66 from end to end about five years ago. She proved to be a fantastic source of tips, suggestions, and “don’t miss this” spots as we moved on down the road. One such tip was to stop at a cemetery in Elkhart, Illinois. The Elkhart Historic Cemetery contained not only graves dating back to the early 1800s, but also an amazing old chapel.

Chapel Elkhart IL

This St. John the Baptist Chapel was built in 1890! I wanted to get inside, but not surprisingly it was locked up. What a beautiful structure, though!

Just up the road we drove through Broadwell and all that is left of the famous Pig-Hip Restaurant. The location operated as a restaurant from 1937 until 1991 with Ernie Edwards as the creator of the Pig Hip Sandwich. When the restaurant closed, it reopened as a museum until, sadly, it burned down in March 2007.

Broadwell IL Pig Hip

Less than 10 miles on to the north brought us to, interestingly, Lincoln, Illinois. President Lincoln practiced law here from 1847 to 1859—two years prior to being elected president. The Mill, an iconic landmark along Route 66, was opened here as a restaurant in 1929. It is now a museum featuring Route 66 memorabilia.

Lincoln IL The Mill

Another excellent tip from my sister was to enjoy breakfast at the landmark Palms Grill Cafe in Atlanta. How could I resist? My choice for breakfast, the Denver Skillet, was huge and delicious. Unfortunately, it did not leave room for a piece of pie…my mistake. The Palms Grill, opened in 1934, not only serving very tasty food—pies are a specialty—but also it was the Greyhound Bus depot in downtown Atlanta for years. Check out this video to learn more about an iconic Route 66 diner.

Atlanta IL Palms Grill

Looking at old photographs on their walls, the place hasn’t changed much in over 80 years!

Just across the street from the grill is one of Route 66’s mythic Muffler Man Statues.  Standing 19 feet tall and clutching a giant hot dog, this Paul Bunyon statue, not “bunyan” purposely spelled with an “o”, is not that lumberjack found farther north!

Atlanta IL Hot Dog Man

I’ve never seen a county building quite as ornate at the one in Pontiac, Illinois, the county seat of Livingston County. The building was completed in 1875 and recently underwent a multi-million dollar restoration. The town is also the setting of the 1984 movie, Grandview, U.S.A.

Pontiac IL County Bldg

Two more historic stops and our travel and tour of Route 66 was over. The Mother Road is quite an extraordinary byway, no doubt about that.

Pontiac IL Log Cabin

Pontiac, Illinois

Odell IL Svc Station

Well preserved in Odell, IL

Finally, I must thank Abby—my travel buddy, navigator, and copilot. She kept things interesting and keeps me on my toes, that’s for sure!

Abby copilot

We traveled over 5,700 miles, loving every minute of it except when we returned north and had to deal with two mild ice storms and a few inches of snow. Obviously, it could have been much worse. If you followed along on this long trip, I hope you enjoyed the ride! Thanks for reading!

 

Route 66 Through Oklahoma and Beyond

Thankfully, the weather remained clear and dry as we traveled northeast toward home.

The Farmer’s Market in Oklahoma City is utilized not only as a market, but also for weddings, special musical events, and lots more.

OKC Farmer Mkt

I had planned to have lunch at the old Rock Cafe in Stroud, Oklahoma, but they were experiencing “technical difficulties” making that impossible; too bad.

Stroud Rock Cafe

I don’t know where the artists are from, but we saw a number of beautifully done wall paintings like these along the way:

At the Tulsa State Fairgrounds you can see the the Golden Driller. The Golden Driller is a 75-foot-tall, 43,500-pound statue of an oil worker. His hand is resting on an actual oil derrick moved from a depleted oil field in Seminole, OK.

Tulsa Oil Rigger

Affton, Missouri has this very well kept (or restored) service station from those days long ago. Have you driven a Packard lately?

Afton MO

On Friday, the weather finally took a turn for the worse. Beginning as freezing rain, then changing to heavy snow. We were only on the road for 4 hours and didn’t do much in the way of “side trips” because of the lousy roads. On Saturday, we made it to Honest Abe’s hometown, Springfield, Illinois. He has quite a presidential museum there. This is the main building (in the foreground) and nearby they have also recreated the row of storefronts in town that included his law office.

Springfield Lincoln Museum

See my next post, showing the final Route 66 unique businesses and landmarks we visited on the way home.

 

Signs of Those So-Called Good Old Days Along The Mother Road

Route 66 is sometimes referred to as The Mother Road because of the new terms and names she gave birth to along the way. Things like “drive-in, highway, rest stop, motel, and fast food”. She really was a trail-blazer for a new post-world war generation yearning for room to grow and to put the hellish memories of war behind them. As a baby boomer myself,  it was good to see some “leftovers” of the things that shaped our generation.

Did these photos, mostly from Tucumcari N.M., bring back memories? They sure did for me. My dear Aunt Mary saying “those rooms are refrigerated! You’re cool no matter what the temperature outside!” People like her, people who had grown up without “the good things” of life we’re finally beginning to get just a taste. God bless ‘em.

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Speaking of Tucumcari, here’s Tucumcari Mountain, a landmark western-headed travelers used to guide them west for many years.

My journey along the Mother Road to be continued soon……

Just a Couple More to Show Today’s Condition

So as We cruise east on I-40, a sign says “Historic Rte 66, exit here”.  Well, since that was my reason for taking this route, I exit. About 10 miles in I find our roadbed changes to heavy reddish clay mixed with gravel; I’ve driven on much worse on some back roads in Allegan County Michigan.

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Thankfully jumping off the Interstate took us by a couple old motels, barely standing…

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“Umm, I’m sure they’re quite modern, but i’ll Pass for now, thanks.”

Here are a few other shots taken after we got back on pavement and closer to the eastern border of Texas:

Finally, I was amazed at the number of power-generating windmills I saw in the Texas panhandle and in northwest Oklahoma. They’re making the most of those wide open spaces!

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138 feet from the ground to the tip of the propeller pointing up. Sorry the units in the distance aren’t clearer. They go on and on and on. 

Get Your Kicks On Route 66

My day began with quite a surprise when I opened the curtains to my hotel room:

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Just 22 degrees and an inch of snow; very glad we weren’t in the tent last night! After a very good breakfast burrito at Grandpa’s Grill, we headed east out of Gallup in search of Route 66 memorabilia.

It wasn’t long before a sign directed us to exit I-40 and travel “Mother Road” for few miles. There are lots of sections of I-40 where the old two-lane runs nearly alongside the much newer interstate. More often than not, though, what’s left of a motel, filling station or restaurant could be found in the towns along the way.

Here’s what I mean: I’m traveling Route 66, shown here on the right, with I-40 right beside it on the left.

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Due to technical “one finger frustrations”, we’ll continue with a new post of our continuing journey tomorrow.    🙄😬😃

Petrified Trees and a Desert Paint Job

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We said farewell to beautiful Arizona this morning with a visit to the Petrified Forest National Park. Neither this space nor my fingertips will allow me to explain what Petrified all those trees, but just know it took a long time and the results are beautiful. The park is huge, comprising 52,000 acres

I did not realize that The Painted Desert, a small part of it at least, can also be seen in the park. Astounding beauty!

I’m told that this is not the only place petrifed wood can be found. In fact it has been discovered in other states and other countries. This is, however the largest find anywhere in the world.

Tomorrow we’ll continue meandering eastward, hoping to find some treasures of our more recent history along Old Route 66.

 

A Dusty Little Desert Town

Quartzsite is a dusty little town of just 1,900 people in western Arizona. Situated just 20 miles east of the Colorado River—which also serves as the California state line—the town welcomes thousands of “snowbirds“ from frozen areas farther north every January-February.  You cannot drive a block in any direction without encountering an RV, motor home or semi truck navigating through town (the trucks hop off the I-10 interstate for fuel or service at Love’s or the Pilot Flying J truck plazas).

The town is also unique since it is a mecca for rock hounds. Quartzsite may be the world’s largest open air swap meet for everything from gold nuggets to quartz, obviously, and tons of other items in between.

The real draw, however, is the warm, dry air, deep blue skies and beautiful sunrises and sunsets, at least in my opinion. Well, that and the free camping available on public lands.

“The Big Guy above” does some beautiful work, that’s for sure!

My visit complete, I’m moving on tomorrow  either west to check out Ehrenberg at the Colorado River or due north just 30 miles to Parker. We’ll see which way the wind blows.

My Tent or My Yurt?

Late last summer, I was camping in Sault Saint Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and our neighbor approached saying, “I really like your yurt”. “My what? “ I replied. Truly confused by his statement.

He says, “ your yurt”. Ah, you mean my TENT, I responded.

Yurt at The Soo 2018

Well it was at that point I realized I was camping in something special…to some folks at least.

I love my tent, er…yurt. It gives me room and why not? The six sides are 11-1/2 feet across and the top is 93 inches high. That, my friends is a huge area to camp within. I have a large cot, a 4-foot table, a chair, a porta potty, and another chair when the weather is bad. Not bad at all. And all that can be put up in less than a half hour. Really, setting it up is very easy.

So I’ll continue loving my YURT  and enjoying the space it provides . Speaking of which…goodnight all…sleep tight.

 

 

Camping Free in the Desert Near Quartzsite AZ

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Pretty? No, probably not. But when you’re surrounded by mountains and your closest neighbor is at least 200 yards away, that has it’s own type of beauty about it.

Quartzsite Arizona is THE epitome of BLM camping. The Bureau of Land Management oversees MILLIONS of acres of land, most of which is within eleven states in the western U.S. Should you care to camp within these areas, you can camp free for up to 14 days. Then, you need to move on at least 25 miles away if you want to camp free at another free spot. Not a bad deal at all.

Of course, the BLM areas have no amenities like water, electricity, rest rooms or showers, this is “boondocking” at its finest! You can’t even find a trash receptacle, but hey…it’s free.

So, Abby and I will spend the next few days boondocking and report back on our experience. Stick with us, it may be fun!