Monday, May 21, 2012

Don't Order the Meatloaf

I flew from Georgia to upstate New York to get my truck out of the cow barn and bring it back to Savannah.  I left New York early this morning, deciding to take a route suggested by my friends Andy and Betty who spend their winters at St. Simon's Island in Georgia.  Rather than taking the NYS Thruway (I-87) to the Garden State and then to I-95 and dealing with aggressive drivers, traffic congestion, and tolls, I took route 30 south from Saratoga through some really pretty countryside, picking up I-88 in Esperence. 

Side note - I distinctly remember TV commercials from the '50s for "Eastman's Cheese House, Esperance!"  I'm not sure, but I think it might be still open.

I-88 was a wonderful drive through some spectacular mountain scenery, but best of all, the traffic was light and the drivers were normal.  No BMWs or Audis zipping from lane to lane, no getting cut off.  Surprisingly, north of Binghamton is a sign telling motorists that this part of New York is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed

I-88 eventually connected with I-81.  More beautiful scenery, no aggressive drivers.  Perfect.   So was the weather, sunny and warm.  I drove through the Shenandoah Valley, an incredibly beautiful part of America, running 200 miles along the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains.  This area is seeped in history, and a place I'd like to come back to to sight see.

Side note - the speed limit on the interstate varied from 55 MPH to 60 to 65 to even 70 MPH.  It didn't matter.  Everyone drove 75.  Unless they saw a police officer with someone pulled over on the side of the road, in which case everyone jammed on their brakes and slowed to 50.  Why, I don't know.  First of all, he's busy.  Secondly, even if he jumped back in his police car and chased us, he can't get everyone.

Well, my day wouldn't be complete without something comical happening.   It didn't happen until I exited I-81 and Lexington and looked for a motel.  When traveling alone, I always look for something seedy and cheap looking.  I found it just off the exit, an old Days Inn with an abandoned restaurant in front.  A small sign saying "registration" pointed at the restaurant.  It looked closed to me, all dark and shuttered.  There was a small paper sign on the door that said "the restaurant is closed, but registration is open".  So in I went, registered with the nice guy from India, and drove my truck around back to the motel.  My truck was the only vehicle there.  I put my stuff in my room.  

Now it was time for dinner.  I was dog tired and just wanted something to shove down my pie hole.  The closest place was a truck stop about a half mile away.  Perfect.  So off I went in my truck and pulled into the truck stop.  The place was packed with 18 wheelers.   Great!  Truckers know all the good places to eat. 

I went inside, and a pretty young waitress with a southern drawl handed me a menu.  The prices were right, downright cheap actually.  Fantastic!  I was torn between a burger or the meatloaf.  I decided on the "try our famous meatloaf!" because mashed potatoes might be an option with it.  The pretty southern waitress came to my table.

"Have y'all decided?" she asked sweetly.

"Yep.  I'll have the meatloaf."

She made a face.  "Oh honey, are ya sure?"

"um... yes?   Why?"

"Well, every one of the meatloafs we serve winds up comin' back and we have to toss it in the garbage."


"Yeah.  It's really kinda slimy an' gross an' stuff."

"I'll have a burger.  Are they OK?"

"Yeah, the burgers are fine."

As I waited for my burger, I watched truck after truck pull in.  Maybe the truckers come here because the lot is big enough to park their big rigs, and the food has nothing to do with it. 

While people watching, I noticed a woman wearing a cowboy hat and boots, complete with spurs.  She must have come in on the horse trailer.  The truckers all pretty much looked the same- trucker's cap with a fish or NASCAR on it, a funny tee shirt or one with Dale Earnhardt's likeness, big beer belly, jeans barely hanging on.  Grooming was low on their list of priorities, as was good dental hygiene.   It looked like the bar scene from Star Wars. 

Truckers are funny guys.  They were all getting the buffet.  I guess they knew about the meatloaf.

"Hey Bubba, you're goin' the wrong way around the buffet."

"No I ain't.  I started on th' other side."

The burger came.  It was definitely forgettable, but edible.   The waitress came by with my check for Chicken Parmesan.  I flagged her down as she came by again and showed her the mistake.

"Oh darn!  I switched yours with his." and she grabbed the check out of my table neighbor's hand, handed him his, and handed me mine.

When I came back to the motel, I punched Isle of Hope Marina's address into the Garmin.  It says  I'm still eight hours away.  At this point, since I'm below Baltimore, I'll just go the way it wants me too.  I hate that nagging "recalculating!".

But my advice to anyone driving up or down the coast is to go west and take I-81 instead of I-95.  It was so pretty, I wouldn't care if it took me an extra day.  It's worth it.   But don't order the meatloaf.


  1. Thanks for the Monday Morning Giggle. I am sure you have taken some pictures along the way, yes? Will they be on flickr when you return home?

    1. No, no photos. I didn't want to pack my camera in my duffle bag for the plane ride to NY. Pam and I will be going north in July and I'll take it with me then. I'd like to sightsee here too.

  2. I have a job, remember? No sightseeing anymore. We go up, we come home.....bosses get a little testy about employees taking too much time off. :)

  3. We had two college graduations ,one in NJ and one in NY last week. Your right I81 is a gorgeous trip and no traffic! But now that everyone knows?

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  5. "First of all, he's busy."

    OMG, Someone else gets it... fmtt. There he stands ticket book in hand, but everybody's standing on the brakes. And for like two miles afterwards, too! It's as if they think the very presence of the squad car can reach out and ticket them... Unbelievable, but true.

  6. I-88 (via the Northway) has been how drive from VT to the NC Outer Banks for over ten years. We leave Interstates behind us at Harrisburg and take U.S. 15 and then 17 from there to Norfolk (with just a couple of miles on I-95 at Fredericksburg). Lots of relaxed driving, real places to look at (as opposed to look-alike America), better food and only a tiny toll or two. Our only caveat: the Scranton area can have a lot of trucks if you catch it on the wrong day.