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Harry and The Natives – Day 5

Harry and The Natives

Day 5 – April 5, 2003 – Saturday

An eclectic bar, a bald star, hanging chads, rich people‚Äôs pads, 60 rag tops, and the ultimate rag — The National Enquirer, Harry and the Natives.¬† The joy of the unexpected!¬† We had a great time today‚Ķmainly because we so enjoyed a number of things that we just stumbled upon.

We got up and at ’em early (very important since there is far more to see and do each day than we have time).¬† I opened the window of our room to get a very interesting sunrise over the ocean photo.¬† I then discovered our shiny, new Panasonic tape recorder (purchased yesterday from Tiffany, the young lady with two legal identities who we met at Staples) was filled with tape in places tape was not supposed to be.¬† I lack the patience for such problems, but Bozzie Jane calmly dealt with it.¬† We lost about half of the day‚Äôs recording.¬† This slowed us up a bit as I posted the reports for Day 3 and Day 4.¬† We finally got out the door at 9:04 am.¬† 80-degrees, blue sky, and hardly any clouds.

We are all decked out in our new Round America sportswear today ‚Äď caps and shirts.¬† Thanks to Rod Smith and the crew at Atlas for doing such a nice job and shipping them to us at the hotel in Jensen Beach.

Jensen Beach, Florida is a beautiful, lush spot with a nice long beach.  We drove down the A1A (the highway that runs north/south along the Atlantic Ocean for much of the way through the state).

Hobe Sound Florida - Giant Robot at Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound Florida - Round America Trip - Day 5 - 2003-04-05.
Giant Robot at Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound Florida – Round America Trip – Day 5 – 2003-04-05.

We weren‚Äôt expecting to see much for a while as our list of attractions was rather short until we got further south, so we were just scanning the roadway (mainly looking for speed limit signs, I‚Äôm afraid) when I saw a giant robot ‚Äď probably 40-feet tall.¬† I made one of my now-patented U-turns, and we found ourselves in the wacky parking lot of ‚ÄúHarry and the Natives‚ÄĚ in Hobe Sound, Florida. ¬†We weren‚Äôt sure what it was at first, but we saw a lot of people coming in and out, and we soon realized it was a bar/restaurant.¬† The ‚Äúyard‚ÄĚ was filled with an assortment of wacky things, and the front of the restaurant had funny signs and odd d√©cor.¬† The interior was even better ‚Äď hats stapled to the ceiling, lots of funny signs, and an incredible assortment of eclectic stuff.¬† The restrooms really are outside in ‚Äúout‚ÄĚ houses.¬† Boz ordered eggs and orange juice, but I felt Key Lime Pie and a Coke was the appropriate breakfast for Harry and the Natives.¬† Boz and I both agree that the Key Lime Pie is the best pie so far!

Hobe Sound Florida - Harry of Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound Florida - Round America Trip - Day 5 - 2003-04-05.
Harry of Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound Florida – Round America Trip – Day 5 – 2003-04-05.

Our waitress, Kayla, introduced Harry, and we had an enjoyable chat.  Harry and the Natives has been in business since 1949.  Harry’s 89-year-old mom still handles the cash register.  I could write pages about the clever things we saw and heard at Harry and the Natives, but you can just check their website at www.harryandthenatives.com.  We found Harry’s to be totally unique and enjoyable, and if you ever get anywhere near Hobe Sound, Florida, GO!

Harry would have to like Christopher Guest, producer/writer/director/actor known for ‚ÄúWaiting for Guffman‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúBest in Show,‚ÄĚ two of our favorite movies of all times.

Boz commented that the creativity and originality of American entrepreneurs is truly amazing, and it is so gratifying to see businesses like this that have grown and morphed and flourished for over 50 years.  We will see a lot of this on our trip.

We were laughing and smiling for miles after leaving Harry and the Natives.  Then we saw a sign for the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum.  We’d never heard of a Burt Reynolds museum, but another U-turn, and I was knocking at the door.  Unfortunately, Burt and his friends are apparently late sleepers and the museum doesn’t open until 11 am.  We took a photo so we could say we were there, and down the road we went.

The next stop was ‚ÄúShipping Plus,‚ÄĚ a shipping place where we shipped extra clothes and many pounds of brochures back to Hotlanta.¬† There, I met the owner, Lou, and a customer, Pat.

We made several stops over the first five days of the trip trying to find an American flag license plate for the front of our car.¬† We got a free one at the Pelican Plaza Car Wash in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.¬† There I met a young lady who should easily win ‚Äúworst name‚ÄĚ in our Best & Worst competition.¬† I gave her our Round America card, thanked her for the free license plate, and asked her name.¬† She said it was ‚ÄúShithead.‚Ä̬† People can be strange‚Ķ. Maybe she saw the sign on our car.¬† ūüôā

On we drove… looking for the rich people‚Äôs houses (something the Palm Beach area is known for).¬† Before we found the houses, we found ourselves in downtown Palm Beach, and I spotted the Palm Beach County Courthouse ‚Äď home of hanging chads.¬† Another U-turn, and I had a prized photo.¬† As you have probably long since determined, Boz and I enjoy ‚Äúquirky‚ÄĚ things, so seeing the courthouse was right down our alley.

Boz hollered for me to pull over, and I did.¬† She spotted a place called the ‚ÄúThe Museum at Ragtops.‚Ä̬† We went in to find a great assortment of antique and classic convertibles (rag tops) and a wide variety of memorabilia.¬† We took a tour with guide Peter and met a half dozen fellow tourers, including Stephen Goldstein who turned out to be the cousin of Ed Aster, who I worked for in England from 1992 to 1994.¬† Small world.¬† Ragtops was great fun.¬† We especially liked Jimmy Buffett‚Äôs 1962 Nash Metropolitan convertible and a 1967 Amphicar, a car that will drive on the road or motor across a body of water.¬† See www.ragtopsmotorcars.com.

 

We saw a lot of rich people’s houses and boats today.  There are a bunch of them along the coast in southern Florida.  We saw one home that was the size of a mall.

 

When we reached Lantana, Florida, I knew it to be the home of The National Enquirer, so we set out to find their office for a photo.¬† We couldn‚Äôt find it, so we stopped three times to ask at a gas station, a 7-11, and then finally at a place that we were sure knows where everything is ‚Äď Domino‚Äôs Pizza.¬† No cigar.¬† No one knew where their office was.¬† We decided The National Enquirer is out of business (the kind of thing they would write about someone else), so down the road we went.

 

We probably saw the world‚Äôs smallest restaurant today, but Bozzie Jane wouldn‚Äôt let me take a picture.¬† It was a guy in a lawn chair with a backyard-style smoker outside of a convenience store with a sign that said ‚ÄúRufus Ribs.‚ÄĚ

 

Boz noted that we saw an incredible number of chiropractors and furniture and clothing consignment stores today.¬† She also commented that there is an interesting comparison between the architecture and people with whom we‚Äôve come in contact ‚Äď the buildings are really tired old worn out buildings or shiny and new, and the people are old or quite young and there‚Äôs not a lot in between.

 

We saw Fort Lauderdale beach ‚Äď Spring Break Capital of the World!¬† A real party place. ¬†Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale are really interesting with canals like streets and rich people with big yachts docked out front.

 

We rolled into Miami Beach at about 5:00 and checked into the Blue Moon Hotel in the art deco district in South Beach.  More quirky stuff!  We ordered Chinese from a nearby Chinese Take-Away, Sum Yum Gai, and we had a quiet evening as we prepared to hit the sightseeing trail in Miami all day tomorrow.

 

We did not see as many displays of patriotism today as we have seen in previous days.

It’s interesting to see what happens to your body when you drive eight to 10 hours a day in a convertible in bright sunshine.  I have a great tan on my face, but raccoon eyes from my sunglasses; my left arm is extremely tan from the elbow down to my fingertips with a lily white strip where I wear my watch and an even whiter arm above the elbow.  My right arm is similar, though not quite as tan.  And I am getting extremely tan kneecaps.  My uniquely colored body may qualify as a tourist attraction after a couple of months of this.

 

We‚Äôve had perfect weather ‚Äď not a drop of rain in five days. ¬†We‚Äôre really happy about Daylight Savings Time tomorrow; we can use an extra hour each day.

 

Our lesson for the day was very clear: Sometimes the best things happen when you least expect them.  We were pleasantly surprised five times today, and it absolutely made for a great day on the highway of life.

 

***

 

My political commentary for the day: I was distressed today to learn that Julia Roberts, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Aniston, and George Clooney have made rude comments about the President and our government leaders in regard to the Iraq war.¬† It may be hard to give up Julia Roberts movies, but I guess I will have to.¬† I believe actors and actresses get paid grotesque amounts of money for their looks and their skill at pretending to be someone they aren‚Äôt.¬† While they have freedom of speech, so do I.¬† And I choose to exercise mine by refusing to spend any more money with any of them‚Ķand by encouraging others to do the same.¬† I prefer to spend my money with people I like, and I don‚Äôt like anyone who makes what I consider to be anti-American comments.¬† Others on my Actors to Avoid List include Michael Moore, The Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon, two Mexican guys on the Academy Awards whose names I didn’t catch, Barbra Streisand, Salma Hayek, Sean Penn (this generation’s Jane Fonda), Martin Sheen, Josh Brolin, Colin Farrell, Richard Gere, Mike Farrell, Kate Hudson, and Jane Fonda.¬† I‚Äôm sure there are many others.¬† Sadly, it appears that most of the actors and actresses are what I consider to be anti-American.

 

We’ve driven 1300 miles so far.  Just 19,000 miles or so to go.

 

This news flash just in:  We have begun receiving emails from nice folks in places like Jamestown, North Dakota inviting us over for dinner and pie as we drive through.  It seems several newspapers around the country have run a story about our trip.  We will certainly try to meet up with some of these nice folks.

 

 

It’s 9:04 a.m., 29166, We’re just leaving the Marriott after taking a picture of the restaurant, and we’re headed south.

We lost our tape recording after Daytona so one thing I remember is 7:11 p.m., is when we arrived at the hotel. We did overshoot the hotel a little bit by about 5 miles. We had to come back because we missed the sign. There really wasn’t a lot to see. We stayed on 1 rather than A1A because we got on A1A once and it turned out it went to nowhere. We did change over to A1A in Port St. Lucy so that we could come down because our hotel was on A1A. We stayed on 1 and saw some biker bars of different types. We saw the Kennedy Space Center from Titusville and took a photo there. We took the Cocoa Water Tower and went through a number of little towns that aren’t on maps. We’ve now lost those names unless we repeat the trip in order to pick up the additional cities but I don’t think Barbara’s up for repeating the trip. We probably had some wonderful thoughts relative to things on the right but those may come back. We did call our hotel to confirm our reservation. They gave good directions, and we found out that our box was there. We’re very excited to have our new Round America caps and shirts on. So, if we think of anything else that happened on that little stretch of the road we’ll put it down. Basically, it was just driving along traditional Florida. There was a wide assortment of stuff in terms of architecture. I will be sure to get a picture today of golfer’s tan and my sunburned elbow, but it’s not too bad.

 

Another beautiful day as we start 78 degrees. Blue sky, hardly any clouds.

Indian River 29170 9:10am People fishing off the bridge.

Sewalls Point 29171 9:11am

St Lucy River 29172 9:13am

Stewart Florida 29172 9:14am No trucks has been a really nice part of the drive on these two lane roads.

It‚Äôs 29186 miles 10:19am as we leave Harry and The Natives which is a place to spend in Hoby Town since 1949. Harry‚Äôs mother is still in there working with a calculator. She miscalculated my change but I didn‚Äôt have the heart to tell her. We met Harry, our waitress was named Kyla. Harry‚Äôs a nut. It‚Äôs just an unbelievable assortment of stuff, funny things, signs. There‚Äôs a gas pump outside. Inside there was a thing inside that said ‚Äėno sex is bad for your eyes.‚Äô There was everything imaginable. There bathrooms really are outside. They‚Äôre in an outhouse. It‚Äôs just incredible. There‚Äôs a bunch of cabins out here. They have outdoor seating as well as indoor seating. As I look in the back, they have the front of a truck parked out in front of one of these cabins.¬† They have a complete stage and greyhounds racing on the wall. They have a volleyball court back here. It looks like there‚Äôs an airplane stuck in the ground. It‚Äôs just incredibly eclectic bunch of stuff. Old posters and signs and movie memorabilia. We had no idea it was here. We just came by and happened to see a giant robot. I looked and saw some other funky stuff and said hey we gotta pull in. I had a delicious breakfast of key lime pie and Coke. It was the best key lime pie I‚Äôve ever had. It turns out key lime pie was invented just a few miles from here in Stuart, Florida. That was a treat and a half like Barbara said. It was certainly the best surprise so far. I can‚Äôt imagine going to a much better place ever. Harry and the Natives is on Mars Street and Hwy 1.

We enjoyed Harry so much because it was so interesting to see the originality and creativity of people, and their way of expressing themselves to their business. It has been around for 50 plus years, and the history that’s there is so incredible to see.

 

Tequesta 21193 10:31am Still rockin and rollin from Harry’s.

I took a photo of the Tequesta Lighthouse at 21195

Burt Reynold’s Park 29196 10:38am

I guess Burt’s fans don’t get started before noon because the place doesn’t open until 11. At least we got a picture of the outside of the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum.

Barbara thinks we should do a documentary because that would really be interesting to people. But I asked if she would be willing to be the documenteraryerist, and she turned me down just as she turns me down for being editor everytime I want to start a new magazine. So that means that the documentary would be a huge hit, but unfortunately she wouldn’t be willing to do it. I wish we did have a video camera, but we’d probably add another 100 days to the trip.

Opening of the brook. It might be interesting to start the book off how when he  was age 9 or 12 or whatever it was, he sat down and wrote down his goals and the things he wanted to accomplish in life, one of which was to visit or be in everyone of the 50 states. When he got down to the last 2, he decided to start over.

This is certainly a pretty area of Florida on Hwy 1. It’s upscale, clean, modern. I like old stuff, but it’s also nice to see clean, modern, and new as well. We continue to pass through a lot of places. They’re obviously cities, but they don’t have the sense to put a sign out on the road to say it’s their city.

Juneau Beach. They’re one of the ones who don’t have the sense to do a sign. 29202 10:56am I’m not sure if we should credit them in the book since they are so delinquent.

Maybe they want to keep it a secret that they are a city, and keep tourists away. That is possible.

Unlike family vacations, I have not heard Barbara once utter the words ‚ÄúAre we there yet?‚ÄĚ

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park 29204 10:58am

It strikes me that Harry would have to like Christopher Guest.

I met Lou Montalbano; I got his card as well as a nice lady Pat at the shipping spot. We shipped our box back.

We‚Äôd like to thank the Pelican Plaza Car Wash for giving us the free proud to be an American license plate for the front of our vehicle. I asked the young lady behind the counter how much the license plate was and she said it was free. I said let me give you my card. I asked her name and she said ‚Äúshithead.‚ÄĚ I said ‚Äúoh that‚Äôs a pretty name.‚ÄĚ

 

Accidental Tourists – Day 4

Accidental Tourists

Day 4 – April 4, 2003 – Friday

We were Accidental Tourists.  It’s a new day, and we were determined to make it a better one!  We got off to an early start as it was going to take us a good while just to get back to Saint Augustine after our hotel-hunting-odyssey.

We met another nice American from Ohio as we gassed up ‚Äď Rich McIntosh from Cleveland.¬† We‚Äôve met more people from Ohio than from anywhere else.

Saint Augustine Florida - Entrance to the Fountain of Youth in Saint Augustine Florida.  Round America 50-State Trip.  Day 4.  2003-04-04. 
Entrance to the Fountain of Youth in Saint Augustine Florida.  Round America 50-State Trip.  Day 4.  2003-04-04.

Saint Augustine is a very interesting place.¬† Tremendous history and equally tremendous (aka overdone) tourist development.¬† It‚Äôs a pretty place with a striking black-and-white striped lighthouse.¬† We drove straight to the Fountain of Youth for a water fix.¬† We enjoyed learning about the history of Ponce de Leon‚Äôs discovery of America, which he named ‚ÄúFlorida.‚Ä̬† Old Ponce and his team were¬†Accidental Tourists¬†too, as he was trying to find Bimini and the alleged Fountain of Youth.¬† Instead, he found what is now Saint Augustine and a spring.¬† Bozzie loved seeing the peacocks.

 

In the parking lot, we met an especially nice couple from Missouri, “Rocco” and his wife, and we met Dolph, who works at the Fountain of Youth.¬† They saw the signs on the car and asked all about the trip, and we enjoyed sharing a few stories and learning a little about them.

We then saw the other historical highlights in Saint Augustine ‚Äď the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the USA, and the lighthouse.

 

We then drove Highway A1A through a variety of little towns down to Daytona Beach.¬† In Daytona, we enjoyed watching the stereotypical diner waitresses at the Starlite Diner where we had a cheeseburger and ‚ÄúFreedom‚ÄĚ Fries.¬† We lived in Orlando for six years and have been to Daytona many times, so we didn‚Äôt spend as much time as we would have otherwise.¬† I enjoyed seeing the Drive-In Christian Church ‚Äď a real church built on the grounds of a drive-in movie theatre where you can listen to the sermon on the window speaker in your car.¬† Accidental Tourists.We made a few other stops.¬† We met a nice lady, Pat, in a parking lot as she saw the sign on the car and told us how she wished she could go to all 50 states.

 

We passed through a lot of beach towns today, and we saw one little motel after another.  It is amazing that all of these little, old places can stay in business, but it is so great to see that they have.  Motels provide a real slice of Americana that it would be such a shame to lose.  We also saw a good number of roadside fruit stands today as well as a big souvenir store called Wings.

We arrived in Jensen Beach just as the sun was setting.  William, the desk clerk at the Marriott, DID have our reservation, so he became our newest hero.  In the elevator up to our room, we met a cute 10-year-old named Brianna.  William recommended Villa Parma for dinner, where we enjoyed very good Italian food and a delicious Chocolate Bomb Cake for dessert.  Our waitress, Nicole, was excellent, and we met Michael, a very friendly and talkative bus boy.  We also saw Brianna again and met her parents and her brother, Derrick.  Brianna and Derrick are both Olympic-caliber competitive swimmers.

 

We missed connecting with old friend, Craig Linton.  My Florida geography is bad as I thought he lived near Tampa, but he is apparently just down the road from where I sit in this hotel.  Our apologies to Craig and his wife!  We enjoyed many wonderful times with Craig when we lived in Orlando; we think of Craig and Guy Lombardo every New Years.

 

The main lesson we learned today is this:  There are more nice people than not-nice people; all you have to do is say hello.  We met delightful people today at a gas pump, in a parking lot, in restaurants, and in an elevator.  Accidental Tourists.

***

As we glanced at USA Today this morning, it warmed our hearts to read about Mohammad, the Iraqi man who made possible the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch.¬† We heard Sean Hannity on the radio suggest that perhaps now is the time to lose the hyphen-American.¬† No more ‚ÄúAfrican-American,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúAsian-America,‚ÄĚ etc.¬† That sounds like a great idea to us.¬† Let‚Äôs just all be Americans.¬† I’m certainly no political expert, but 9-11 saddened me and made me fear for our future.¬† I don’t know what all our country should do to protect us, but I feel it might be good to slam our borders close to shut.¬† While it is all of the people from so many countries who made America what it has been, I’m inclined to think that we should concentrate on protecting our homeland and our fellow Americans.¬† Since so much of the rest of the world seems so anti-American, keep them out.¬† We put locks on our doors and cars to safeguard our loved ones and our ‚Äústuff,‚ÄĚ so let‚Äôs put a lock on America!¬† And let‚Äôs take a lot of the money that we spend on countries inhabited by those who don‚Äôt like us and get more people working to perfect a ‚ÄúPatriot-like‚ÄĚ missile that will protect our homeland from nuclear attacks.

Missionaries with Bill Windsor after flat tire in Sanderson Texas - Round America 50-State Trip.  Day 18. 2003-04-18.

A number of things that we have done to make the trip go well are working as hoped, while others are not.¬† I can‚Äôt imagine how I will cope nearly as well during the stretches of the trip that Boz is back in Atlanta.¬† Thank heavens for the sunscreen as I now have an outstanding ‚Äúgolfer‚Äôs tan‚ÄĚ with only the balding spot on the top of my head sporting a sunburn.¬† Our system of clothes is working really well; we have four bags ‚Äď two bigger ones that hold a week‚Äôs worth of clothes that stay in the car, and then we each carry a day or two‚Äôs worth of clothes into our hotel each night in a smaller bag.¬† The next morning, our dirty clothes go into yet another bag ready for the weekly washing.¬† We brought the right amount of stuff.¬† Our tape recorder malfunctioned the night before the trip, so we took notes the first three days until we bought a new recorder.¬† It worked great today as we drove and flipped it on to record the towns we hit, mileage, thoughts, etc.

It is much harder than I thought, with the current schedule, to find the time at night to write as much as I would like and process the day’s photos.  We are taking large format photos, but I barely have the time to put a few small format photos on the website.  Now if I could just figure out how to drive and type on the computer at the same time….

For those of you like Aunt Hazel who are following us every day, I apologize for not having more photos online yet.¬† I hope to find the time during our two days in Miami.¬† Thursday put a real crimp in my plans as I had no Internet time that day.¬† I’ll note when additional photos have been added.

Speeding Ticket in Kingsland Georgia – Day 3

Speeding Ticket in Kingsland Georgia

Day 3 – April 3, 2003 – Thursday

We got a Speeding Ticket in Kingsland Georgia!

We expected a let-down today after such a special day in Savannah yesterday.  We got it.

According to Mr. Rand and Mr. McNally, the distance from Savannah to Saint Augustine is only 180 miles.  It took us 12 hours to get there, so we averaged just 15 miles an hour (though we ended up driving over 350 miles, so we actually averaged about 30 mph).  I recall passing just one vehicle all day.  I haven’t had a ticket in 9 years, and I had decided to drive at or under the speed limit throughout this trip.  After all, we are driving on two-lane roads to see the sights…not racing to get somewhere.

So it was the lowlight of the day when Officer Vincent Passarelli of Kingsland, Georgia claimed I was driving 55 in a 35.  I was given a Speeding Ticket in Kingsland Georgia.  I was just driving along at the same speed as a bunch of other folks.  Officer Passarelli admitted he was coming from the opposite direction, so he decided to stop the white convertible instead of any of a variety of pickup trucks and SUV’s.  I joked with him that we had driven only 500 miles of 25,000, and at this rate, I would lose my license before we hit Alabama.  He didn’t laugh.

Woodbine Georgia - Speed Warning Sign in Woodbine Georgia - Round America Trip in 2003. Day 3. 2003-04-03.
Speed Warning Sign in Woodbine Georgia – Round America Trip in 2003. Day 3. 2003-04-03.

I tried to get him to let me take his picture, but he refused.¬† We did manage to get a shot of a sign nearby that said ‚ÄúSpeed Checked by Radar.‚Ä̬† On our Trip Scorecard, I budgeted 0 (zero) traffic tickets, so we are way over budget, and it‚Äôs only day 3.¬†¬†I‚Äôm afraid my focus will now have to be on speed signs to avoid seeing more flashing lights in the rearview mirror.¬† There are a never-ending number of speed limit changes on the two-lane roads that pass through so many towns.

Savannah Georgia - House in Savannah Georgia.  Round America Trip.  Day 3. 2003-04-03. 
House in Savannah Georgia.  Round America Trip.  Day 3. 2003-04-03.

The day began well enough five or six hours earlier, though we got away from the hotel much later than we should have.  Sunny and 75-degrees, so another lovely day.  We drove around the historic District of Savannah for an hour or so looking at homes for sale, and we saw some nice ones.

Savannah Georgia - Thomas at a real service station in Savannah Georgia - Round America Trip in 2003. Day 3. 2003-04-03.

We stopped for gas, and we were delighted when we found it was an old-fashioned full-service station.

Thomas pumped our gas, cleaned our windows, and helped me clean the bugs off the front of the car.

 

We drove off ‚Äď Saint Augustine, Florida was our ultimate destination.¬† We got really lost trying to find our two-lane road, and we wasted an hour or more.¬† I lost count of how many times we got lost today, but I bet it was five or six times.¬† I joked with Barbara (who I call Boz or Bozzie) that I should place an ad on www.monster.com for a new navigator.¬† We again regretted that we didn‚Äôt have a GPS and joked that were using a BPS (Bozzie Positioning System).¬† We finally got on the right road.

South Newport Georgia - Smallest Church in America in South Newport Georgia - Round America Trip in 2003. Day 3. 2003-04-03. 
Smallest Church in America in South Newport Georgia – Round America Trip in 2003. Day 3. 2003-04-03.

We saw the historic Midway Church, built in 1754, but one of the few highlights of the day was a little later when we saw the world‚Äôs smallest church ‚Äď 10-feet by 15-feet, built in 1949 and deeded to Jesus Christ.

Boonies Georgia - Abandoned service station in Boonies Georgia - Round America Trip in 2003. Day 3. 2003-04-03.
Abandoned service station in Boonies Georgia РRound America Trip in 2003. Day 3. 2003-04-03.

We drove through mile after mile of run-down houses and trailers.¬† Several of the houses looked like something out of ‚ÄúDeliverance.‚Ä̬† I hope the folks who live there are happy.

Brunswick Georgia - The Georgia Pig Restaurant in Brunswick Georgia - Round America Trip in 2003. Day 3. 2003-04-03.

We reached Brunswick, Georgia for a late lunch at the highly-recommended Georgia Pig restaurant.¬† We were disappointed, and Boz assures me the ladies room will ‚Äúwin‚ÄĚ the worst rest room award in our ‚ÄúBest and Worst‚ÄĚ competition.

Jekyll Island was our next stop, and we felt it was a bust.  Boring and not particularly attractive.  The ladies at the Welcome Center were far better than the island.  I adjusted the color on the picture of the ocean at Jekyll Island, and it made it look a lot prettier than it was.

There is no coastal road from Savannah down to Florida.  We passed through a lot of swampy terrain.  Not a pretty area compared to beautiful Savannah.  We finally saw the ocean at 2:30 in the afternoon.  Throughout the day, we saw one closed bombed-out-looking service station after another.  I love old service stations, and I did find these interesting to see, but it is sad to realize that the Interstate Highways caused so many businesses to fail.

 

Woodbine Georgia- Dead Peoples Things Sign in Woodbine Georgia - Round America Trip in 2003. Day 3. 2003-04-03.
Dead Peoples Things Sign in Woodbine Georgia – Round America Trip in 2003. Day 3. 2003-04-03.

We did find Woodbine to be interesting ‚Äď mainly because the first thing we saw as we drove into town was an ‚Äúantiques‚ÄĚ shop with a sign out by the highway that says ‚ÄúDead People‚Äôs Things For Sale.‚ÄĚ

We met some nice people, including Kevin from Strongsville, Ohio, who we met at the Hofwyl-Broadfield rice plantation; another Kevin (the rock climber) in the parking lot at Staples; and Tim and Tiffany inside Staples.  Tiffany has an interesting story that we will write about in our book; she has two different legal identities!

We also met some really nice folks on the boat.¬† Yes, the BOAT.¬† We had not planned to take a boat ride today, but there are a few problems with maps, it seems.¬† We have found that maps have far less detail than is ideal; small roads and towns are not shown, and they tend to show roads where they aren‚Äôt.¬† That‚Äôs why we ended up on a boat ‚Äď the St. John‚Äôs River Ferry boat ‚Äď to take us across a wide expanse of water between Fernandina Beach and Jacksonville.¬† The ‚ÄúFerry Mistress,‚ÄĚ Jennifer, was a delight as were the folks in the vehicle next to us, Melissa and Rodney from Powder Springs, Georgia.

We finally arrived in Saint Augustine after dark at about 8:30 pm.  We couldn’t find our hotel.  When we called, the hotel said they had no reservation for us.  We checked with hotel after hotel to find them all full.  I drove further than I will ever admit before we finally got a room for the night.  To me, there’s nothing much more aggravating after a long day than to hear that you don’t have a room.

We learned a number of lessons today.¬† I guess the main lesson was Location, Location, Location.¬† Interesting that Savannah can be so beautiful, but you don’t have to head very far south to see ugly.¬† And to see what the interstate highway did to businesses on the old two-lane highway delivered a very strong message of the first, last, and some say the only rule in real estate — location, location, location

***

The reality hit “home” today that this trip is going to be very hard.¬† At one frustrating point, my sweet young wife of 34 years said this trip is going to be a cross between Fear Factor and Survivor.¬† She’s right about the Survivor part; this will be an endurance test.

 

Feast for the Eyes – Day 2

Feast for the Eyes

Day 2 – April 2, 2003 – Saturday

Savannah is a feast for the eyes.  We love old buildings and architecture, so today ranks as one of the most enjoyable days we have ever spent on vacation.  Savannah has an incredible collection of beautiful old buildings, huge trees draped with Spanish Moss, and lovely flowers, plants, and gardens.  When you put all of this together, it is truly stunning.  We live just a few hours away, but we had never seen Savannah until today.  A Feast for the Eyes!

We saw buildings that date back to the mid-1700s; late 1800s buildings seemed new in comparison.¬† In 1820, 464 homes were destroyed by fire, but with only a few rare exceptions, the people of Savannah have managed to save the city from those who would knock down the old to make way for the new.¬† I don‚Äôt believe there is anything else like this anywhere in the country.¬† Savannah also has clear rules about trees; no one is allowed to touch them ‚Äď not a one.¬† Barbara commented that if she were a squirrel, she would want to live in Savannah!

We have learned from our travels that an overview bus tour can be really beneficial in a new city, so we began our day with guide Annie and a busload of gray-haired people on an Old Savannah Tours trolley.  We got the lay of the land and learned a lot.  We left the tour and then walked the route to take a closer look.  I took about 200 photos; I could spend days here and take thousands.

There have been a lot of movies filmed in Savannah.¬† We took pictures of the Mercer House on Monterey Square ‚Äď the home in the movie ‚ÄúMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.‚Ä̬† And we visited Chippewa Square, where Forrest Gump sat on the bus bench with his box of chocolates.¬† We were disappointed to learn that the bench is no longer there, as the bench has been one of the highlights that we planned to see.¬† Guide Annie told us that the bench is now in the museum at the Savannah Visitors‚Äô Center, so I paid the entrance fee to take my trusty camera in for the all-important photo.¬† I got the picture, but it isn‚Äôt the REAL Forrest Gump bench; it‚Äôs just a similar bench that the motion picture company donated to the city.¬† I hope they didn‚Äôt sell the real bench on ebay.

James Oglethorpe, the founder of Savannah and Georgia was apparently a very strong leader, and it is clear that he was a genius as a city planner.¬† Savannah was laid out with 24 wards (now known as squares), and these are beautiful parks with big trees and beautiful plants and flowers.¬† 21 of the 24 have survived, and we saw them all.¬† The squares are usually lined with great, old homes and equally attractive commercial buildings.¬† Savannah makes extensive use of iron ‚Äď wrought iron and forged iron ‚Äď and the iron provides the character for many of the historic buildings.¬† Feast for the Eyes.

History is everywhere.  Savannah is surrounded by three forts, and the military has a strong presence here.  There are more memorials to brave Americans and wars than I’ve seen anywhere but Washington, DC.

We took a break from history to lunch at the Soda Pop Shoppe, a small Mom and Pop lunch counter in the heart of the city.¬† ‚ÄúSenor‚ÄĚ took good care of us, and our hot dogs were very good.

We visited the Jack Leigh Gallery.  Mr. Leigh is a top photographer, and one of his photos is the cover for the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  We admire great photography, and we were really taken with his work.

We met a number of nice people on the streets of Savannah.  We enjoyed chatting with Jane and her dog, Susie, and Sherry and her daughters, Morgan and Ellie.  We also talked with a nice couple (both medical folks) from Delaware who we ran into several times.

I enjoyed taking photos of flags and patriotic displays.  There were quite a few.  I was puzzled by one home that had three flags hanging from an iron railing on the second floor.  One was mounted properly, but two were upside down (and flying a flag upside down is a signal of distress).  I’m not sure if it was an expression of concern about the Iraqi War or a dyslexic patriot.  I am hoping that I will get enough good patriotic photos from each state to publish a photo essay book featuring flags across America.

On vacations in recent years, I always felt like the vast majority of the other tourists were quite a bit older than we were.  After removing my glasses several hundred times to take photographs and to attempt to read maps today, I now recognize that the years have taken their toll.  After this, I may just have to try the surgery to improve my vision as I hate being handicapped this way.

We had been planning to eat dinner at Mrs. Wilke‚Äôs Boarding House, but several people recommended a similar place, The Lady & Sons. ¬†Our southern buffet was exceptionally good.¬† Each item was about as good as we have ever had ‚Äď fried chicken, sausage and onions, spaghetti, green beans, butter beans, yams, black-eyed peas, and cheese biscuits.¬† The peach cobbler and banana pudding were really good, but not special.¬† I again had ¬Ĺ iced tea and ¬Ĺ lemonade; our singing waitress, Lisa, called it an ‚ÄúArnold Palmer.‚ÄĚ

Everyone we met and did business with in Savannah was nice.  Even the street people were courteous, and they were surprisingly few in numbers.

Georgia is very clean.  We believe people today are much more conscious of keeping places clean than they were when we traveled as children.

We capped off a special day by going to the Savannah Theater to see a musical production, ‚ÄúLost in the 50s.‚Ä̬† The Savannah Theater is the oldest continually operating theater in the country, built in 1818.¬† The show featured 80 great 50‚Äôs songs.¬† Nine energetic singers and dancers and eight musicians did a nice job.¬† While the talent was not Broadway-quality, it was a very enjoyable two hours enjoyed by several hundred folks.¬† It was an audience where you didn‚Äôt want anyone to take flash photography as many could have been blinded by the reflection from all the gray hair.¬† It was definitely a Branson crowd.

We aren‚Äôt missing the continuous coverage of the war that we endured while home for the last few weeks.¬† Barbara and I feel very strongly about the reasons for the war, and we feel it is very important for Americans to support our government and our troops.¬† We are boycotting anything and everything from or related to France, and we may have to add Germany to the list.¬† The news coverage has really shown the liberal political bias of many in the media.¬† When we watch war coverage, we will only watch Fox News, as they are the only network that we‚Äôve seen that seems to be patriotic and supportive.¬† The finale of ‚ÄúLost in the 50s‚ÄĚ was the song ‚ÄúStand By Me,‚ÄĚ and it struck me that the message in the song should have been all the French and Germans should have needed to hear to support our government‚Äôs efforts with the UN.

As we walked back to our hotel after the show, we reflected on the day and agreed that we had learned an important lesson today: There are significant benefits to preserving and protecting history and ‚Äúold stuff.‚Ä̬† It bothered us when we saw an ugly CVS Pharmacy on the corner of one of the most beautiful squares, a really tacky-looking chiropractic office in another square, and an orange A-frame Howard Johnson‚Äôs motel just a block or so from the Historic District.¬† The job that generations of folks in Savannah have done to preserve the history and beauty of their community is truly amazing.¬† They created a Feast for the Eyes.¬† Interesting that I could draw this same analogy to the war — it’s the brave who make possible the land of the free.

We know our trip will be like a box of chocolates.  So far, we’ve pulled nothing but winners.  Day 1 and Day 2 have been a delight.  The Feast for the Eyes in Savannah truly took our breath away.

 

Lost in Atlanta – Day 1

Lost in Atlanta

Day 1 – April 1, 2003 – Tuesday

The time: 9:15 am.

The date: April 1, 2003.

The place: Atlanta, Georgia.

Our trip Round America begins.

After years of thinking about this trip and several months of intense planning and research, we charged out of our home at 9:15 a.m. filled with excitement and anticipation. 28,036 on the odometer – will be over 56,000 after we visit all 50 states.¬† “Baby You Can Drive My Car” by The Beatles was cued up on the CD player and provided great dancin’ music as we hit the road.¬† We were pumped!

We ran right straight into Atlanta’s biggest de-ttraction: nasty bumper-to-bumper traffic.¬† Thirty minutes later, we managed to escape, top off the gas tank, grab a couple of Cokes, and put the car in high gear headed east to Athens, Georgia.¬† Enthusiasm filled the air.

I almost immediately learned the hard way that our 29-cent clip-in-the-window-sill cup holders should not be asked to hold nearly full open cans of Coca-Cola.  Our second stop was in a church parking lot a few blocks from our home to clean up all the Coke.  But nothing could dampen our enthusiasm, so we cranked her into high gear once again, and we were off Рvowing that we would let nothing bring us down Рthis was to be a happy, fun, experience-of-a-lifetime!

We then became hopelessly Lost in Atlanta trying to find the little two-lane road I had chosen off a map.¬† An hour into the trip, we came upon the golden dome of the Georgia State Capitol Building.¬† It glistened beautifully in the late morning sun.¬† One problem: the Georgia State Capitol Building is in downtown Atlanta – due south from our home and NOWHERE near Athens, Georgia.¬† Lost in Atlanta.¬† All we could do was laugh!¬† A fitting start to the trip.¬† I could have probably driven straight to the world’s largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas (where I’d not yet been), but I couldn’t even find my way out of the town we live in!¬† Sometimes we can’t see the trees for the forest.¬† I had the big picture, but I couldn’t put together one of the most important little pieces.¬† Lost in Atlanta.¬† With the help of a cell phone and our daughter, Brittany, we managed to get headed in the right direction, and we ultimately made it to Athens – just two hours later than planned.

Behind schedule, we didn’t stop to see any sights in Athens.¬† Not the way we had planned to begin the trip.¬† Lost in Atlanta.

From Athens, we took the Antebellum Trail – a highway that goes through an area of Georgia with beautiful antebellum homes.¬† We fell in love with Madison, Georgia.¬† Madison is described as the “#1 Small Town in America.”¬† Gorgeous streets with stately homes, a wonderful town square, great shops, nice people, and just a warm feeling.

We took a lot of photos, and we had an excellent lunch at The Madison Gift Mart and Cafe. Our waitress, Ginger, was delightful, and we thoroughly enjoyed hearing about life in her very small town.¬† Ginger reported in her DEEP southern accent that everyone in Madison was really excited about the new skating rink (roller, no doubt).¬† Unfortunately, the place will only hold 250 people, and it’s almost impossible to get in because the young kids have made it their hangout.¬† She bemoaned the fact that WalMart is about the only place in town to shop.¬† But she loves living in Madison and commented about how special it is that since the town has only one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school; her children will attend all 12 years of school with the same friends. (That’s an interesting concept for someone like me who had lived in 15 cities and 31 homes in 54 years). Clearly Ginger and the folks in Madison do have a kinder and gentler life than we know in the big cities where we have lived.

We also met Savannah and April at the cafe, and we took their photo.¬† The Blackberry Cobbler was recommended by the nice lady at the Madison Chamber of Commerce, and it was excellent – just like Grandma used to make!¬† Even better was the Gentleman Jim’s Tea – 1/2 sweet tea and 1/2 lemonade.¬† Try it; it’s really good.¬† We planned to eat in Juliette at the Fried Green Tomatoes Cafe, but it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so we will visit it at another time.

We managed to get lost two additional times today.¬† It appears that one of the great challenges of driving around the country on two-lane roads will be FINDING the darned roads.¬† Highway 8 to Dacula (that’s Dracula without the R) just isn’t marked clearly.¬† We may need that fanccy new GPS system that Uncle Ward told us to take.

We took a number of photos along the way.  We saw some expressions of patriotism, but nowhere near what we all saw after 9/11.  Dacula and Madison showed the greatest patriotism.

We rolled into Savannah a little after 8.  Amanda got us checked in at The River Street Inn, and she recommended a place for pie.  We met John and Linda Michelin from Montreal in the parking lot; they saw the sign on the car and wanted to know about the trip.  Delightful people.  They invited us to stay at their home in Canada.

We had a nice dinner at The Shrimp Factory (recommended by Karen, our dental hygienist in Atlanta).¬† vOur waiter, Michael, took great care of us and even showed us how to get to Forrest Gump’s bus bench tomorrow.¬† We topped off dinner with the pie recommended by Amanda from the hotel — White Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie.¬† Barbara said it was the best pie she had ever eaten in her life!¬† It was tasty.¬† But we had about 175 pieces of pie to go.¬† LOL.

We took a stroll down the lovely waterfront area before calling it a night.  Savannah is truly a uniquely beautiful American city, and we look forward to tomorrow.

The biggest lesson we learned today, or most important observation, is that there is a kinder and gentler life in the smaller towns in America.  Small towns seem somewhat insulated from the negative aspects of life in big cities.

Lost in Atlanta  LOL.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this.¬† We drop in some of the photos from the day.¬† Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat.¬† We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this website.¬† Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat.¬† If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest, and the full itinerary is shown.

Random Comments:

Some folks think we are nuts to take off driving around the country for several months.¬† In honor of those people, we chose April Fool’s Day to begin our adventure.¬† Maybe we are crazy, but we are very excited to see so many wonderful sights in this great country that most of us never see.¬† There aren’t a lot of people who could or would take off and drive around the country for four months, so we’ve created and will build this website to provide a virtual tour for those of you who wish you could do something like this… or those of you who are just curious.

Photo Gallery:

These are all the worthwhile photos from Day 1.  When you click on a thumbnail photo of interest, it will open the photo in a larger size.  When you hover your cursor over a thumbnail, it displays a caption that identifies the photo.

More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta —¬†Apalachee School House — Madison, Georgia — How to get Lost in Atlanta.
 

Atlanta to Savannah GA Hwy Day 1 — April 1
Atlanta GA
Atlanta to Tucker GA 8
Tucker to Lawrenceville GA 8
Lawrenceville to Dacula GA 8
Dacula to Auburn GA 29
Auburn to Carl GA 29
Carl to Russell GA 29
Russell to Stratham GA
Stratham to Bogart GA
Bogart to Athens GA University of Georgia; Stonehenge replica; world’s only double-barreled cannon; Tree That Owns Itself
Athens to Watkinsville GA 441 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Watkinsville to Bishop GA 441 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Bishop to Farmington GA 441 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Farmington to Apalachee GA 441 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Apalachee to Madison GA 441 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Madison to Eatonton GA 441 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Eatonton to Warfield GA 441 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Warfield to Milledgeville GA 441 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Milledgeville to Haddock GA 22 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Haddock to Gray GA 22 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Gray to Clinton GA 129 Georgia’s Antebellum Trail Scenic Route
Clnton to Juliette GA 18 & 87 Fried Green Tomatoes Café
Juliette to Clinton GA 18 & 87
Clinton to Macon GA 129 Georgia Music Hall of Fame
Macon to Dry Branch GA 80
Dry Branch to Fitzpatrick GA 80
Fitzpatrick to Jeffersonville GA 80
Jeffersonville to Danville GA 80
Danville to Allentown GA 80
Allentown to Montrose GA 80
Montrose to Dudley GA 80
Dudley to Dublin GA 80
Dublin to East Dublin GA 80
East Dublin to Scott GA 80
Scott to Adrian GA 80
Adrian to Swainsboro GA 80
Swainsboro to Twin City GA 80
Twin City to Portal GA 80
Portal to Statesboro GA 80 Georgia Southern University
Statesboro to Brooklet GA 80
Brooklet to Stilson GA 80
Stilson to Blichton GA 80
Blichton to Eden GA 80
Eden to Bloomingdale GA 80
Bloomingdale to Pooler GA 80
Pooler to Garden City GA 80
Garden City to Savannah GA 80 World Globe Storage Tank

 

Pie is key to a good RoadTrip

The idea for a special trip originated in 2000.¬† I proposed to my ex-wife, Barbara Windsor (aka Boz or Bozzie Jane), that we go on “The Pie Trip” — just take off and travel the country and “eat pie.”¬† We would go on the backroads and eat in cafes and diners where the locals eat (where they always have pie) and just learn about the places we go and the people we meet.¬† We would write a book about the experience.¬† We became busy with¬†business and a move to Atlanta,¬†and the trip was postponed.¬† We were more than a little disappointed when we discovered a book titled American Pie published¬†in 2002¬†that had a¬†strikingly similar concept and a great name.

We modified our plans somewhat — choosing to make pie a part of the “Round America” trip but not the sole focus.¬† Rather than traveling randomly, we decided to visit every state, and we carefully researched the itinerary.¬† We remained committed to eating pie in as many places as possible, but we planned to do much more.¬† As we met with reporters and folks along the way who learned about the plans for our book (printed on the back of our business cards is “We’ll write about the places we go, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat“), we began discussing pie more and more, and we became even more intent on finding the Best Pie in America.

Prior to the last state on the trip, Hawaii, we had eaten 167 pies in 136 days.¬† That’s a lot of pie.¬† I drove through Toledo as fast as possible and refused to step on a scale, but I’m sure I gained at least 20 pounds on the trip.¬† I did, however, enjoy every minute of it.¬† I pledged to try to remember just how much fun it was as I tried to lose the weight.¬† I did lose the weight, but then i was disabled when hit by an 18-wheeler at 70-miles-per-hour.¬† With an inability to exercise, I’ve done nothing but gain.

Prior to Hawaii, we had consumed 103 different types of pie.¬† We did our best to try new pies every chance we had, but that was the luck of the draw.¬† Bozzie Jane loves Coconut Cream Pie, and she wasn’t always as interested in trying new pies as she was enjoying her favorite dessert, so we downed 9 pieces of Coconut Cream Pie on the trip.¬† Only Apple Pie topped Coconut Cream in the totals — enjoyed 13 times.¬† 6 Peach Pie and 4 Peach Cobbler; 6 Cherry Pie; 5 Key Lime; 4 Raspberry Pie; and 4 Banana Cream (my favorite type of pie).¬† We sampled pie in 36 states.¬† I’m not sure how we managed to miss 14, but it seems we have.¬† We’ll focus on getting pie in those states when we do the trip again.

We will update our totals to add Hawaii to the count as soon as the trip ends on August 26.  Halfway through the Hawaii trip, two Hawaii Pies have made the Top 10!

Overall, we can report that American pie is very good.¬† Most of the pies we consumed were quite good.¬† There were only a couple of bad ones.¬† The Best Pie in America is the Raspberry Pie at Dutch Mother’s Restaurant in Lynden, Washington.¬† The Worst Pie in America is the Blueberry(less) Pie at the Northside Cafe in Winterset, Iowa.¬† I still think the blue was added with a magic marker.

Click here to read the key sections of our Pie Report:

The Best Pie in America

Special Pie Places

The Great Pie Adventure

Unusual Pies

The Worst Pie in America

Our Methodology

Complete List of Pies and Rankings

 

The Best Pie in America

Ten places had pie that we considered excellent.  Five of the ten had been recommended to us, while five pie places were simply cafes, a restaurant, a diner, and a quick lube shop that just happened to catch our eye.  These pies are truly exceptional.  We know; we tasted 167 pies in five months.

It’s a shame that we can’t rate each of these pies as the Best Pie in America, because each was different.¬† In fact, we will be awarding plaques to each of these restaurants, and they will read “Best Butterscotch Pie in America,” etc.¬† When you find yourself in any of these towns, do yourself a favor, and make a point to go to these restaurants to eat pie.

  1. Raspberry Pie — Dutch Mother’s Restaurant — Lynden, Washington

This is the Best Pie in America!¬† Absolutely the very best we had.¬† Huge raspberries (the size of big strawberries) in a tasty slightly-congealed filling with a wonderful shortbread crust that was truly special.¬† It’s hard to describe as it was unlike anything else we’ve ever had.¬† Sweet and delicious.¬† We had four very good Raspberry Pies during the trip, but this pie was SO MUCH BETTER that it was clearly the Best Pie in America.¬† It’s the one pie that we’ve kept thinking we wished we had more to enjoy.¬† We enjoyed three slices of pie at Dutch Mother’s, and each was excellent.¬† The Bumbleberry Pie ranks 11th — making Dutch Mother’s the only restaurant to have two of the Best Pies in America.¬† Day 97.¬† Rating: 97.

  1. Key Lime Pie — Harry and the Natives — Hobe Sound, Florida

Wonderful Key Lime Pie — by far the best key lime pie we’ve ever eaten!¬† It’s hard to distinguish one key lime pie from the next, but Harry and the Natives simply makes it better than everyone else.¬† The crust was especially good — a traditional pie crust rather than a graham cracker crust.¬† It had a meringue rather than whipped cream, and the texture was fluffy rather than dense.¬† This pie held the #1 spot for 92 days until we reached Dutch Mother’s.¬† Harry and the Natives certainly wins the Best Place to Eat Pie award as it is a delightfully funny and entertaining place.¬† We enjoyed this pie with a Coke for breakfast on the fifth day of the trip Round America.¬† Day 5.¬† Rating: 96.

  1. Banana Heaven — Blue Heaven — Key West, Florida

This was not a pie; it was a dessert.¬† From what we could tell, the chef starts with bananas, butter, rum, and brown sugar, and the bananas are saut√©ed in that concoction.¬† The hot bananas and syrup mixture is then poured over a delicious banana bread, and if that isn‚Äôt enough, homemade vanilla ice cream is scooped onto the side.¬† The sticky, crunchy hot sauce was incredible.¬† It was OUT of this world, and so rich that we barely made a dent in it.¬† Fabulous dessert!¬† Bozzie Jane says it is the best dessert she has ever eaten anywhere anytime.¬† She would have ranked it #1, but we didn’t since it wasn’t actually a pie.¬† Day 8.¬† Rating: 95.

  1. Caramel Apple Raisin Pie — Plaza Restaurant — Santa Fe, New Mexico

We saw two police cars in front of the Plaza Restaurant in Santa Fe, and the officers confirmed that it was an excellent place to eat.¬† It’s always a good idea to eat where you see multiple police cars.¬† The Plaza Restaurant has been serving since 1918.¬† A delicious blend of fresh apples with cinnamon, caramel, and raisins in a great crust — served hot with homemade vanilla ice cream.¬† The combination was wonderful.¬† Quite a treat!¬† Day 35.¬† Rating: 94.

  1. Apple Dumpling — Blues City Cafe — Memphis, Tennessee

The Blues City Cafe is a cafe on Beale Street in Memphis Tennessee.  I went in for dinner as I wanted to eat a Barbequed Bologna Sandwich.  The bologna was only offered for lunch, so I ordered the full slab of ribs that I saw most folks eating.  Chef Myron Johnson told me he had a killer dessert, so despite the huge order of ribs and fries, I had the Apple Dumpling Dessert.  It was tremendous.  Fresh apples cooked in a dumpling crust, smothered with a wonderful secret sauce.  Served hot in a skillet with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Day 43.  Rating: 93.

  1. Butterscotch Pie — Rogers Restaurant — Lexington, Kentucky

Rogers Restaurant was one of the many pie stops that we made because of a recommendation from the folks at our hotel.¬† Chuck Ellinger, owner of Rogers Restaurant, just smiled when I asked about their pie.¬† The restaurant was packed with locals, and those who overheard our conversation were singing the praises of the pie.¬† Margaret then brought me a big piece of Butterscotch Pie ‚Äď hot‚Ķright out of the oven.¬† It was really, REALLY good.¬† The butterscotch filling had a consistency a little lighter than key lime pie, great crust, and wonderful meringue topping.¬† I’d never eaten Butterscotch Pie before, and now I’ll eat it every chance I get.¬† Day 59.¬† Rating: 92.

  1. Mango Snow Cone — Freddy’s Fast Lube and Snow Cone Stand — Escobares, Texas

The story of Freddy’s Fast Lube and Snow Cone Stand is one of my favorite stories from the entire trip.¬† I began seeing one snow cone stand after another in the small towns that I passed through in the south.¬† It seems that small towns often cannot support a DQ or a drive-in snack bar, so many of these little towns have snow cone stands.¬† I took photos of a few that I saw in the first two weeks of the trip.¬† On Day 16, I saw an especially colorful one with an American flag straw coming out of the top, and I put the car into U-turn mode (something that usually happened 30 or 40 times a day on the trip).¬† I pulled up to Freddy‚Äôs Fast Lube and Snow Cone Stand in the little town of Escobares, Texas for a quick photo.¬† A man came running up to me wanting to know what I wanted.¬† I explained that I just wanted to take a photo of his stand.¬† He proudly announced that they had done all the work on it themselves.¬† He also showed me his very colorful and attractive umbrellas, and explained how they were made, but I couldn‚Äôt understand his heavy Spanish accent or the words he used.¬† At this point, we shook hands and exchanged names; he was Freddy Escobar of Freddy‚Äôs Fast Lube and Snow Cone Stand.¬† Freddy asked if I wanted anything, and I said “I‚Äôd love a Coke.”¬† He replied: ‚ÄúSnow Cone?‚ÄĚ And I said, ‚ÄúSure, give me a snow cone!‚Ä̬† He asked: ‚ÄúFlavor?‚Ä̬† I replied: ‚ÄúGrape.‚Ä̬† He said ‚ÄúMango!‚Ä̬† I said, ‚ÄúSure, mango it is.‚Ä̬† Freddy had to explain my order in Spanish to the young girl in the dark recesses of the snow cone stand who didn‚Äôt speak a word of English, and she began preparing my drink.¬† Her power appeared to be provided by an extension cord running from the Fast Lube shop just behind.¬† I can‚Äôt recall having had a snow cone since I was a child.¬† It took quite a while.¬† The window finally slid open, and out came a big Styrofoam cup filled with a mango-colored mixture with a straw and a spoon.¬† When I tell you my ‚Äúsnow cone‚ÄĚ was AMAZING, please accept that I‚Äôm not exaggerating.¬† It was 94-degrees and I was thirsty, but this stuff was special.¬† The flavor was wonderful, but the consistency was what I couldn‚Äôt believe.¬† It was much better than the smoothies we get that tend to be glorified Slushees.¬† I don‚Äôt know what was hiding in that hut, but the end result was like an ice drink with the consistency of frozen yogurt.¬† I think Freddy should franchise; I can see Freddy‚Äôs Fast Lube and Snow Cone Stands all across the US.¬† Seriously, it was really, really good, and it never melted.¬† While my Mango Snow Cone is not a traditional pie, this “treat” was so special that I have to rank it as one of the best “pies” on the Round America trip.¬† Day 16.¬† Rating: 91.

  1. Rhubarb Pie — Dot’s Diner — Bisbee, Arizona

Dot’s Diner is part of the Shady Dell RV Park.¬† Shady Dell has rare antique travel trailers available for rent.¬† (See www.theshadydell.com.)¬† The fabulous fully-restored 1957 Dot‚Äôs Diner is there, and I had Rhubarb Pie.¬† Waitresses Mary and Kirsten recommended it.¬† I‚Äôd never had rhubarb, but I now know why my Dad loved it so much.¬† Big hunks of fresh rhubarb in a wonderful crust.¬† Served really hot.¬† Very tangy, and absolutely delicious.¬† Day 21.¬† Rating: 91.

  1. Olallieberry Pie — Linn’s Bakery and Eatery — San Luis Obispo, California

We had lunch and pie at Linn’s Bakery and Eatery.¬† We had a rare pie — Olallieberry Pie — a berry created from a cross between a certain type of raspberry and a blackberry.¬† We thoroughly enjoyed meeting Patty Carpenter and her husband, Bill, owners of Linn’s in San Luis Obispo.¬† For days, folks told us to go to Linn’s for pie.¬† It was everything we hoped for and more.¬† Day 74.¬† Rating: 91.

  1. Marionberry Pie — Otis Cafe — Otis, Oregon

The Otis Cafe is a tiny cafe in the even tinier town of Otis, Oregon — but the Otis Cafe has received national publicity as a great place to eat.¬† I had a wonderful breakfast there, followed by Marionberry Pie.¬† Marionberries are only grown in a limited area in Oregon, so I wanted to be sure and grab a slice of Marionberry Pie the first chance I got.¬† It was a delicious sweet berry pie.¬† Great crust.¬† Great pie.¬† Day 91.¬† Rating: 91.

  1. Bumbleberry Pie — Dutch Mother’s Restaurant — Lynden, Washington

Dutch Mother’s is the only restaurant to have two of the A-rated pies.¬† (See Pie #1 above — the Best Pie in America.)¬† The Bumbleberry Pie was a mixture of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.¬† Delicious locally-grown fruit in a wonderful crust.¬† We couldn’t eat all of this pie at the restaurant, so I polished it off later that night, and it was even better when I wasn’t trying to compare it to the Raspberry Pie.¬† If we had eaten this pie at another time and in another place, I suspect we would have ranked it even higher.¬† Dutch Mother’s can just flat do pie!¬† Day 97.¬† Rating: 90.

Special Pie Places

These are special pie places:

Blue Springs Cafe — Highland, Illinois:¬† I discovered the Blue Springs Cafe when I saw a small sign that advertised “Mile High Pie.”¬† I had to go.¬† I walked in and saw a dozen pies that appeared to be 12-inches high or higher!¬† Absolutely the most impressive pie display that we saw on the trip.¬† And the staff was great.¬† I met them all, and we had a grand time.¬† They cut thin slices of six different pies for me to taste.¬† They were all good.

Betty’s Pies — Two Harbors, Minnesota:¬† We heard about Betty’s Pies from as far away as the Grand Canyon and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.¬† Betty’s probably sells more pies each day than there are residents in Two Harbors.¬† It’s an amazing success story.

Pie-O-Neer Cafe — Pie-Town, New Mexico:¬† I drove 600 miles to eat pie in the town named Pie-Town.¬† (See the story below.)

Twede’s Restaurant — North Bend, Washington:¬† Twede’s is the restaurant that was the Double R Cafe in the TV series “Twin Peaks.”¬† The Cherry Pie is the best-known pie in the country as it was mentioned virtually every week during the run of the program.

Mystic Pizza — Mystic, Connecticut:¬† Pizza pie rather than dessert pie, but it was a treat to eat pizza in the restaurant “that made the movie famous.”

North Dakota State Fair — Minot, North Dakota:¬† The Lutheran Women make great pie.¬† We were disappointed there wasn’t a Pie Contest of some type.¬† Bozzie Jane and I figure we would make excellent judges at state fairs across America.

Harry and the Natives — Hobe Sound, Florida:¬† Wacky atmosphere.¬† We were just driving down the A1A (the highway that runs north/south along the Atlantic Ocean for much of the way through the state) near Jensen Beach, Florida the morning of Day 5.¬† We weren‚Äôt expecting to see much for a while as our list of attractions was rather short until we got further south, so we were just scanning the roadway (mainly looking for speed limit signs, I‚Äôm afraid — after the speeding ticket on Day 3) when I saw a giant robot ‚Äď probably 40-feet tall.¬† I made one of my now-patented U-turns, and we found ourselves in the wacky parking lot of ‚ÄúHarry and the Natives‚ÄĚ in Hobe Sound, Florida. ¬†We weren‚Äôt sure what it was at first, but we saw a lot of people coming in and out, and we soon realized it was a bar/restaurant.¬† The ‚Äúyard‚ÄĚ was filled with an assortment of wacky things, and the front of the restaurant had funny signs and odd d√©cor.¬† The interior was even better ‚Äď hats stapled to the ceiling, lots of funny signs, and an incredible assortment of eclectic stuff.¬† The restrooms really are outside in ‚Äúout‚ÄĚ houses.¬† Boz ordered eggs and orange juice, but I felt Key Lime Pie and a Coke was the appropriate breakfast for Harry‚Äôs.¬† What a great place!

Ben & Jerry’s Factory — Waterbury, Vermont:¬† While not exactly “pie,” we expanded the pie category to include just about any dessert.¬† We love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and it was a treat to see the factory, take the tour, and enjoy some really fresh Cherry Garcia Ice Cream.¬† And there really is a Flavor Graveyard.

Dot’s Diner — Bisbee, Arizona:¬† Beautifully-restored 1957 Valentine diner in a trailer park where you can rent wonderful old travel trailers.¬† Like stepping back in time.

In addition to the above, we had pie at several orchards, at a cider mill, in several pie factories, from several street vendors, at a lube stop, in diners – cafes- and restaurants, at a theatre, in a winery, and brought to us by friends along the way.

 

The Great Pie Adventure

Day 20 was to be a big day.¬† I planned to detour several hundred miles out of the original path for the trip in order to see one and only one thing: Pie-Town, New Mexico.¬† The place got its name from a lady who baked pies for the ranchers in those parts.¬† It has grown over the years from one lady to where it now has a population of 60.¬† I learned of it several years ago when someone gave me an article about great pie, and the Pie-O-Neer Caf√© in Pie-Town, New Mexico was featured.¬† A ‚ÄúPie Trip‚ÄĚ could not possibly be valid without a visit to Pie-Town, so I carefully charted the course.¬† It‚Äôs literally as remote a location as is Big Bend ‚Äď nothing of any consequence for 100 miles or more.¬† So, another adventure began as I left the UFO’s of Roswell behind in anticipation of great pie ‚Äď multiple pieces of delicious pie!

I saw some surprisingly interesting towns en route.  Lincoln, New Mexico is a neat little mountain town.  Lots of history.  Buildings are restored or are being restored.  Just after noon, I got my first glimpse of snowcapped El Capitan Mountain.  10 minutes later, I was in the cute little town of Capitan.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Capitan is the home of Smokey the Bear, and he is buried there.  I stopped at the Smokey the Bear Museum.

Since I left Del Rio way down in South Texas, I had essentially been without cell phone service.  New Mexico was no better, except in Roswell.

Most states had sent me a map, but New Mexico did not get one to me before I left, so the map I got from Cody and Erica (at a gas station the night before) was very much needed.¬† According to the map, I was to be passing near part of the White Sands Missile Range.¬† That‚Äôs neat.¬† So when the sign said it was just five miles off the highway, the car just headed there automatically.¬† I had to see it.¬† All of a sudden I realized where I was!¬† The Trinity Site ‚Äď the site where the first Atomic Bomb was tested on July 16, 1945.¬† This was a serious deal.¬† I couldn’t get in to take photos, but I had fun trying.

On the road again, my next stop was Magdalena.  Never heard of it, but it is a nice little spot that is undoubtedly a small artist’s community.  Probably just a few hundred people there.  I met two nice boys, Daniel and Chris.  They were excited to have their picture taken, and then they got into the spirit of the trip and kept coming up with ideas of spots in Magdalena that I should photograph.  They followed me on their bikes.  I saw an Easter Egg Hunt in a park area with some great sculptures apparently done by a local artist.  I liked Magdalena.

I kept checking the map as Pie-Town didn’t appear to be getting much closer.¬† Then I realized there was a huge error on my Excel spreadsheet itinerary.¬† The number 100 was in the mileage column, but it was more like 300.¬† I just kept driving and driving and driving.

Pretty scenery, but you know how it is when you are mentally programmed for one thing and your system gets thrown off.¬† The next thing on my handy Cody and Erica map was the ‚ÄúNational Radio Astronomy Observatory.‚Ä̬† I stopped to take a quick photo from a distance.¬† As I looked back at it in the rearview mirror, I realized what I had just passed.¬† THAT was The Array!¬† The site of the Jodie Foster movie, ‚ÄúContact.‚Ä̬† Excellent movie!¬† Had I realized and known they have a video presentation, I would have driven over.

UFO’s, White Sands, and The Array.  This is adventure at its best!

A few miles down the road, I realized I had been in a big adventure for some time.¬† I had been looking for gas, but the little towns either had no gas stations, or they were closed.¬† When I hit Datil, a town printed in slightly larger, bolder letters on the map, I began to panic when the only gas station there was closed.¬† The last open gas station I recalled seeing was the Shell I visited 172 miles back in Capitan.¬† I figured I was good for about 70 miles max.¬† I pulled out the Cody and Erica map again to see if there was any town that had larger, bolder type anywhere near Datil.¬† There were no options.¬† The best bet looked like it was in ARIZONA ‚Äď a ways past Pie-Town!¬† I knew I couldn‚Äôt make it that far.¬† I began to panic.¬† All I had wanted to do was eat some pie.

There were very few cars on the road.  No wonder.  There ain’t no gas.

I decided the only thing to do was keep going toward Pie-Town.¬† I passed the Continental Divide the first time at 5:05 pm and pulled into Pie-Town two minutes later.¬† That annoying “you are out of gas, buddy” light was shining for the last I don‚Äôt know how many miles.

Pie-Town is really tiny, so I had no trouble finding the Pie-O-Neer Caf√©.¬† Despite the gas situation, I was so excited to see it.¬† I took a few photos.¬† Then I went up the steps, and I saw it: ‚ÄúCLOSED.‚Ä̬† No way I have driven 300 miles or so to eat pie and have Pie-Town‚Äôs pie caf√© closed.¬† Devastated was not the right word.

I knocked on the door.¬† A nice lady came.¬† They had just closed at 5.¬† I told her I had driven 5,500 miles to eat pie there, and I gave her my card and pulled the photocopy of the article out of my notebook to show her I was telling the truth.¬† She let me in.¬† They had just a few pieces of pie left.¬† I had Apple Walnut Raisin and Peach.¬† Very good!¬† I met the owner, Kim Bruck.¬† She and three brothers moved there from Chicago, so Pie-Town had grown to population 65.¬† She told me that Coconut Cream, Oatmeal Raisin, and Apple Crumb are her best sellers.¬† I told her if it were not for the fact that I was almost out of gas, I would be in pie heaven.¬† She gave me a free slice of pie and a little pie-shaped magnet as a gift for Bozzie.¬† I enjoyed talking with her, but they wanted to close up and go home, and I wanted to see if I could find a landline to call AAA to put their service to a real test ‚Äď delivering gas a million miles from nowhere.¬† Kim and her brother told me there might be a gas station open 22 miles west ‚Äď usually open until 6, but not sure about Easter Sunday.¬† It was 5:45, so I said a quick goodbye and I drove very fast to Quemado where I could have kissed Robert, the attendant at J&Y Auto Service, when he was still open.¬† If it hadn‚Äôt been for two ladies and a flat tire in a huge RV, he would have been long gone.

Life was good again.¬† It is a shame that gasoline detracted from the visit to Pie-Town, but thank heaven the Pie-O-Neer was even open on Easter Sunday as well as J&Y Auto Service.¬† I never thought I would be happy paying $2.89 per gallon, but I was.¬† Best gas by far.¬† Ain’t supply and demand grand.

 

Unusual Pies

These pies were unusual:

Alien Pancakes — Crash Down Diner — Roswell, New Mexico:

Key Lime Pie-On-A-Stick — Key West Candy Company — Key West, Florida:

Elvis Pie — Pine Tree Restaurant — Williams, Arizona:

Grape Pie — Rosati’s Winery — Rosati, Missouri:

Caramel Concrete — Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard — St. Louis, Missouri:

Apple Fritters — Applewood Grill — Pigeon Forge, Tennessee:

Olallieberry Pie — Linn’s Bakery & Eatery — San Luis Obispo, California

Marionberry Pie — Otis Cafe — Otis, Oregon

S’More Pie — Buckeye Roadhouse — Mill Valley, California:

Cheddar Cheese Fudge — CranBerry Sweets — Bandon, Oregon:

Lemon Pie — Dining Room at Shaker Village — Pleasant Hill, Kentucky —

5-Layer Raspberry Chocolate Pie — Betty’s Pies — Two Harbor, Minnesota:

5-Layer Chocolate Mint Pie — Betty’s Pies — Two Harbor, Minnesota:

Peach Pie — Zehnder’s — Frankenmuth, Michigan:

 

Worst Pie in America

We hate to list some pies as the worst, but a few weren’t good, and the flipside of the Best is the Worst.

  1. Blueberry Pie — Northside Cafe — Winterset, Iowa

Blueberryless pie.  Not a very good crust with some blue jelly slapped inside.  The hamburger was good, but the pie was the worst.

  1. Creme Brulee Pie — Pie in the Sky Cafe Booth — North Dakota State Fair — Minot, North Dakota

We’d never had a creme brulee pie, so I was anxious to give it a try.¬† I guess there’s a reason why we’d never seen one before — just can’t be done with a pie.¬† And a fair, where the pies have to be made as inexpensively as possible to sell at a low price, was the last place to try an “exotic” pie.¬† Becky was really nice, so we hate to rate her pie as one of the worst…but we gotta call ’em as we see ’em.

  1. Apple Dumpling — Gwennie’s Restaurant — Anchorage, Alaska

Everything was poor at Gwennie’s.

  1. Pecan Pie — Fairmont Hotel — New Orleans, Louisiana

I thought it was downright criminal for one of the nicest hotels in the deep south city of New Orleans to serve a manufactured pecan pie.  It was like a packaged pie that you buy in a grocery store.  Very disappointing.

  1. Peach Cobbler — Marriott Suites — Las Vegas, Nevada

I think one should never order pie in a nice hotel in a big city.¬† It’s never very good.¬† Virtually all major chains and fancy restaurants buy their desserts frozen from a group of national dessert manufacturers.¬† Good pie is almost always found in local cafes and diners.

 

Pie Methodology

We did use a system in rating the best and worst pies.¬†¬† Each pie was given a numerical rating between 1 and 100.¬† We discussed each pie after eating.¬† Then each night, we gave each pie a numerical rating by looking at previous ratings for the same type of pie as well as at the ratings for other pies that we felt the pie was comparable to in terms of overall “goodness.”¬† We then assigned a numerical rating based upon how we felt the pie compared to others.¬† We left space in the early rankings so we had plenty of room for great new pies to be ranked above the first pies we ate.¬† Interestingly, the spread between the #1 pie and the #2 pie was just one point, but 95 days apart.

Rating food of any type is very subjective.¬† All of our tastebuds and likes and dislikes are different.¬† For example, I don’t like strawberries, so you won’t find any Strawberry Pie in our rankings, and we know there are some spectacular Strawberry Pies out there.¬† To compensate for our prejudices, we tried many, many pies that we would not normally choose.¬† We feel the system was good, though we would love to be able to taste the Top 12 side-by-side.

We recognize that we missed some great pie places and some great pies.¬† That’s inevitable.¬† We did ask many places what THEY felt was their best pie, and we usually tried that one.

We will do this again.¬† We’ll use the same system.¬† We’ll be awarding plaques and issuing news releases nationally as well as in the towns where we ate pie.¬† We hope the publicity from this initial Best Pie in America effort will cause many folks to email us to tell us great places and great pies that should be included next time.