Friday, July 25, 2008

Branson Landing ~ Branson, Missouri ~ July 23, 2008

We had a bike to pick up at Point Lookout/College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri, so we decided to make a day of it and visit Branson Landing while we were there.



Branson Landing is a recent addition to Branson, Missouri. A shopping and entertainment area right along the waterfront of Lake Taneycomo. It is very 'family friendly' and geared toward nice, clean fun - a strip of shops and chain stores with everything from very upscale shops to chain stores to souvenir type shops. Needless to say, there is something for everyone. There were also spas and beauty salons and a Bass Pro Shop. (for traveling RVer or people with trailers, if you follow 76/BR 65, you can make a right onto Branson Landing Boulevard, just before the Lake Taneycomo bridge - make a left at the light and go down toward the campground - make a left just before the campground into the large FREE parking area south of Bass Pro - plenty of parking for trailers and RVs....and a nice, scenic, lakefront walk up to the Landing).



There is also the Ride the Ducks boat/trolley. This takes you on an hour long tour of Branson Landing and into and out of the water of Lake Taneycomo. See picture below:

 
Ride the Ducks coming out of the water onto land
For land lubbers, there is a regular trolley for rides to and from the parking lot and all along the Landing to the various shops and entertainment. See picture below:
 
We had an excellent lunch at Texas Land and Cattle Steak House which is right along the waterfront of Branson Landing. Click here to see my post.



We also made sure to be at the Fire and Fountain when the music started at the top of the hour. This was quite a sight! The fountains are going all the time, but at the top of every hour, they start some music and the fountains, along with fire from the stacks, is timed with the music putting on a very spectacular show. See a few pics below:
 
  
We had a great time at Branson Landing. They also have concerts and other entertainment on the Landing by the Fire and Fountains. Although we weren't there for this, the top of the hour shows are worth making sure that you plan a stop along the waterfront in time to see this.


Texas Land and Cattle Steak House~ Branson, Missouri

We had a bike to pick up in Branson, Missouri and decided to spend some time at Branson Landing while we were there. To read more about our visit to Branson Landing click here.



Although there were many choices for lunch, we decided to eat at Texas Land and Cattle Steak House. This is a new addition to Branson Landing and we had previously seen these restaurants while out on the road, so we decided to try it out and see what they had to offer.



We were very impressed with the Texas Land and Cattle Steak House at Branson Landing! Our server was Andrew and he was very helpful and took great care of us. We both wanted a smoothie, which they don't serve, but he checked to see if they could accommodate us. Another server suggested a virgin strawberry daquari, made with fresh strawberries ~ they were excellent! Sometimes you get those daquari mixes, but this was made with fresh fruit and was some of the best we had ever had.



We also ordered steak nachos as an appetizers and they were incredible! We finished those off just in time for our food to arrive. Chris ordered the Carne Enchiladas ~ marinated, grilled steak, pico de gallo, and two cheese enchiladas with chili con carne on top ~ he said it was awesome (and only 8.99 on the lunch menu!). See pic below:

 
I had the BBQ Chicken Quesadilla with a side salad (I chose a ceasar salad and have to say, it was almost as big as a regular salad!). The BBQ Chicken Quesadilla was excellent. It was also severed with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo ~ and at lunch menu prices, it was only 6.99. There was more than enough to fill me up. We both had leftovers to take home and heat up the next day for lunch. See pic below for BBQ Chicken Quesadilla:
 
We were at Texas Land and Cattle Steak House mid-afternoon, which is sometimes kind of 'iffy' on service and the speed in which you get your food, but we had excellent service while we were there and will definitely return next time we're in Branson.
Andrew was an excellent server. I even asked about recent flooding I had seen of the Branson Landing area and asked him how high up the water got. He showed us a couple of pictures he had on his cell phone of the water cresting and pointed out where the pictures were in relation to where we were sitting. He was very friendly and helpful and made us feel right at home. Thanks, Andrew!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas ~ July 5-7, 2008

We left Missouri on Saturday morning and headed to Oklahoma. Our first stop was in Stillwater, OK ~ I have to say, it is beautiful country in northeast Oklahoma. I searched for a special restaurant to eat that evening and since our next stop would be in Choctaw, I found a German restaurant that looked promising ~ Old German Restaurant ~ and was really looking forward to a nice sit down dinner.

As luck would have it, the stop in Stillwater took longer than we thought. Okay, and I hadn't really eaten all day, so I was getting cranky and ugly. When I got a little short tempered with our pick up guy in Stillwater, because we had to wait on him, Chris just reached over and started up the truck and went around the corner to Sonic. Now, Sonic was not what I had in mind and I was disappointed, but so, ya know, I needed to eat. Even though it was just Sonic, I do have to say the food was good, service was great, and I got something substantial in my belly. (Chris was very thankful!)

We still had to go to Choctaw, and as luck would have it, we had to drive past the Old German Restaurant I had picked out. Their parking lot was packed! Out of curiosity, I did some research and found this blog post. Dang! We would have really enjoyed that!

We made it to Chris's mom's in Oklahoma City that evening and enjoyed a nice visit and catch up session. When we go to mom's we sleep on an air mattress in the living room. It's pretty comforatable for most of the night, but toward morning I decide I'm getting too old for things like air mattresses. LOL We got Sunday morning and had a good breakfast and visited a little more. We headed for Texas around noon and traffic was heavy even through southern Oklahoma. I guess all the holiday travelers from the 4th of July weekend were heading home.

We had several stops in Texas, the first was to drop off furniture in Frisco, TX. She was the nicest person! She helped us unload and then insisted we sit down and have a soda and some vegetable chips ~ I thought I had found something really healthy until I remembered that potato chips are 'vegetables', too. We then headed for Irving, TX to pick up a motorcycle. It's so nice when the people are there and waiting. After Irving, we headed to Cleburne, TX to drop off a motorcycle that we had picked up in Buffalo, NY. This was a young man who works in an oil field and has an F250 truck ~ he's going to ride the motorcycle back and forth to work to save fuel (that's getting to be a common thing these days, isn't it???). Then we headed to Alvarado, TX to pick up a truck cab, and then to Dallas to pick up a Vespa scooter. It was a pretty uneventful day in all.......which is kind of nice sometimes. haha

For some reason when you mapquest this, it doesn't seem like it should take long.....but it did. Traffic in and around Dallas is always heavy, but the Sunday night of a holiday weekend? Ugh.

We were starving by the time we stopped to eat that night. We found a great little place called El Paso Tex-Mex Cafe along Hwy. 75. Click here to read my blog post about that.

We kept driving late into the night. I ended up falling asleep for the last hour or so of the night's travels. I never sleep when Chris is driving, but my allergies were giving me fits and I had to take a Benadryl. I'm such a wuss when it comes to medicine! I really struggled to stay awake, but I had one of those times where, no matter how hard I tried, I just could NOT will my eyes to stay open.

We made it to Anadarko, OK and slept in the truck (did I say I was too old to sleep on an air mattress???) at a truck stop. Honestly, I can't tell you which one....whatever one is in Anadarko along Hwy. 69. LOL I must have been really, really exhausted; I'm usually very anal about this kind of thing.

When we woke up, we got started right away and drove to Rogers, Arkansas to deliver the motorcycle we picked up in Irving, TX. Turns out, it was a gift for a couple's teenage son (it was his birthday....they must love him!). He was upstairs playing Guitar Hero and never knew we were outside with his parents delivering his birthday gift.

Going to Arkansas we took I-40 into Ft. Smith, AR and then took Hwy. 540 up through the Ozark and Boston Mountains into Rogers. It is beautiful there! It's Missouri, only taller. LOL Arkansas and Missouri are really odd with their mountain areas. If you draw a line diagonally from the southwest corner to the northeast corner of both states, the top half of Missouri is flat and the bottom half is moutains and the top half of Arkansas is mountains and the bottom half is flat.

We left Arkansas along Hwy. 71 and went into Missouri. We had one stop in Battlefield, MO to drop off the truck cab and then on to home! We love to travel, but home is HOME (and where our bed is....the one with a pillow top mattress and box springs...), and we were so glad to be here.

El Paso Tex-Mex Cafe ~ Dallas, Texas

We stopped at the El Paso Tex-Mex Cafe in Dallas, TX on Sunday, July 6, 2008. It was late by the time we had a chance to stop and eat and we were starving! We were heading north on Hwy. 79 through Dallas and just kind of scanning the area for something still open (it was close to 10:00). Chris spotted the El Paso restaurant and it looked easy to get to and easy to get the truck and trailer in and out.

When we pulled up there were a few people sitting outside on the deck and we thought that sounded really nice. When we went inside Chris asked if they were still open and they told us the kitchen closed in 10 minutes - but, the cook said he would keep it open. How nice is that??? Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Chris ordered spinich enchiladas ~ something new on the menu. I ordered the chicken fajita quesadilla.....and we ordered the spinich quesadilla, just for leftovers later.

The food was excellent. Even though it was late and I'm sure they were wanting to close up shop and go home, they didn't rush us and the food and service were great.

Chris did say that they maybe had a tad bit too much spinich on the enchilada for his taste. We ate the rest of the chicken quesadilla the next day *cold* and it was still good!

Kudos to El Paso Tex-Mex Cafe in Dallas, Texas!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cadillac Ranch ~ Amarillo, TX

Kootenai River ~ Montana

Best of....January - June 2008

I decided to do a 'Best of...' post covering the first 6 months of 2008. Not all of these places have been blogged about due to the trial and error phase of my blogging experience. But, we've been around a little and have experienced some great places that qualify for the 'Best of...' category.


Best Bakery (hands down) - Rockland Bakery, Nanuet, NY - I'm from the midwest, and I'm here to tell you that you haven't had bagels until you've had true New York bagels ~ and these are scrumptious!


Best Italian Restaurant -  Bianca's Ristorante Italiano in Ft. Myers, FL ~ never mind that we're friends with the owners, Bill & Stacy ~ this place is just incredible!


Best Cheesecake - Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse in Vacaville, CA - try the cheesecake with the chocolate sauce to dip it in. Mmmmmmm......


Best Unique Place to Eat - The Place in Guilford, CT - it's all outdoors with industrical spools as tables and stumps as seats ~ they're slogan, 'Park your rump on a stump at The Place'. They only serve grilled, barbecued meat and a few skewers; the rest is on you. BYOB!


Best Roadhouse - No Name Pub in Big Pine Key, FL - just loved the atmosphere, service, and food here. 


Best 'House' salad - The Pasta House Company in Crestwood, MO - something about the artichoke hearts and the house dressing......even better as a leftover!


Best Buffalo Quesadilla (real buffalo/bison meat) - Big Texan Steakhouse in Amarillo, TX - home of the 72 oz. steak.


Best Italian Nachos - Johnny Carino's in Fairfield, CA - this may have been our first visit to a Johnny Carino's Country Italian restaurant. I know we were impressed with the italian nachos.


Best Mountain Pass that'll scare the pants off you - Monteagle Pass, I-24 at Monteagle, TN ~ you know it's bad when they have a stoplight for truckers, so not too many of them are going down at once.


Best Mountain Road that'll scrare the pants off you - Hwy. 501 between Buena Vista, VA and Lynchburg, Va ~ we pulled a 24' trailer over that road! (oh, and there is that 'back road' coming down from Big Bear, CA, on the desert side...that's just crazy....we pulled a trailer down that, too....hmmmm)


Best Truck Stops overall - Flying J - we'll plan our fuel stops around Flying Js.


I will edit and update as I go through my past posts!

Macaroni Grill ~ Dublin, OH ~ June 25, 2008

We stopped at Macaroni Grill on Tuttle Crossing in Dublin, OH (right outside Columbus) on June 25, 2008 and had a nice meal.


It was supper time and there were quite a few customers, but it wasn't 'packed'. We were seated and served right away. I do have to say that our waitress, Nicole, wasn't as pleasant as she could have been. Usually at a Macaroni Grill, the waitress writes her name with crayons on your white paper tablecloth and is just a little on the semi-hyper side with lots of smiles and menu suggestions. Nicole wasn't any of these things - and our tablecloth remained crayon free. Chris jokingly said that with a name like Nicole (his ex's name), he should have known it wasn't going to be great. :) She was plenty nice enough and accommodating (we wanted to share a menu item and requested an extra plate), she just wasn't 'Macraroni Grill' friendly.


We had the Ramono's Sampler (Tomato Bruschetta, Mozzarella Fritta and Calamari Fritta) and then ordered the Mama's Trio to share (Primo Chicken Parmesan, Layers & Layers of Lasagna and Chicken Cannelloni) and the Insalat Blu salad (Fresh bibb lettuce tossed with toasted walnuts, red onions, bleu cheese and balsamic vinaigrette) to share.


The food was excellent ~ the right temperature, well presented, and tasty!

Salvatore's Italian Garden ~ Depew, NY ~ June 24, 2008

We ordered room service while staying at The Garden Hotel in Williamsville, NY. The people who own the hotel also own Salvatore's Italian Garden located just a mile or two down the road in Depew, NY. They offer shuttle service to the resaturant if you're looking for a nice sit down dinner. We just wanted some good food and we wanted it brought to us ~ the hotel's room service is from Salvatore's Italian Garden (don't worry, it still only takes about 30 minutes).


The food we ordered was excellent! We had the leftovers from Texas Roadhouse, so we decided to share an order of chicken caesar salad and a chicken gargonzola wrap. The salad was nothing to write home about, but the wrap was incredibly good!


The food arrived in good time. It was at a good temperature and just looked good on the plates. We recommend Salvatore's Italian Garden as a great place to eat ~ again, our's was room service, so I didn't get the opportunity to check out the atmosphere of the restaurant or the wait staff.

Texas Roadhouse ~ Columbus Ohio ~ June 23, 2008

We stopped at Texas Roadhouse on Hillliard Road on the loop around Columbus, Ohio on our way through to the Rochester, NY area.


Our service was good, as always with Texas Roadhouse. The wait staff wears t-shirts saying how much they love their job. This is a pretty good indication of a happy bunch of people. The wait staff at any Texas Roadhouse is usually happy and hyper and smiling. There is always the possibility at any given moment that they will break into a line dance or a song. If you're looking for a private, quiet place to dine, this probably isn't it. Oh, and just throw your peanut shells on the floor ~ it's okay.


Chris ordered rattlesnake bites and I tried one ~ they were pretty good. I'm just not much into deep fried, cheese laden foods. I ordered the BBQ pork and BBQ chicken combo (Chris likes to order extra so he has leftovers to munch on later ~ there is no way I could finish a combo meal by myself!) I also had a baked sweet potato with the works. Excellent! Chris ordered the Roadkill combo and also had a loaded baked sweet potato.


We give a thumbs up to this Texas Roadhouse ~ but, it doesn't quite qualify for our STOP HERE rating.

Missouri to Rochester, New York June 2008

We left Missouri on June 23, 2008 headed to the Rochester, NY area. We left early enough and made good enough time to somewhat avoid traffic snarls in most major cities. We always take the 270 South (to Memphis) loop around St. Louis ~ this turns into the 255 Loop in Illinois and then allows you to get back on I-55, I-70 or I-64, depending on where you're heading. Traffic is usually a little tight when you first get on the loop, but after a few miles it thins out greatly, making travel a little less hectic. Just FYI, you can take the 270 North (to Chicago) loop, too, but traffic is always heavy that way for several miles as you're heading toward the airport, etc.


There was a little bit of flooding on the Mississippi along the loop, but not near as bad as it could have been. The levees breaking north of St. Louis has alleviated some of the flooding that would have otherwise left St. Louis in quite a mess. Not at all good for towns like Winfield, MO, but since that's the way it happened, it was actually a help for the St. Louis area.


We did notice a LOT of people pulled over by state troopers in Illinois as we went across. Caution to travelers, speed limits are lower, even on the interstates in Illinois ~ and if you're pulling a trailer, RV, 5th wheel, etc., they're even lower. Heed the signs as it looks like, at least on that day, that they are cracking down.


We also almost always take the 465 loop around Indianapolis ~ and once again, going south seems to be less traffic than going north. We got there around 3:30 or so with the time change at the Illinois/Indiana border. Traffic wasn't too bad, but this is another city where traffic seems to be heavy no matter when you go through.


Are they ever going to get done with construction on I-70 through Dayton, OH???? GEEZ! We've been going through there for years, and there is always ALWAYS 20 miles of road construction. Now that I mention it, Ohio seems to have road construction everywhere. If Dayton doesn't slow you down, the construction on the 271 loop around Cleveland surely will. Lord help you if you're heading south. Patience. Patience. Patience. (but, boy don't we love those express lanes on 271!!!)


We did stop to eat at Texas Roadhouse on Hilliard Road in Columbus, OH. We hadn't ever been to this Texas Roadhouse and the food and service were both good. Click here for more info.


We made it all the way to Erie, PA and slept in the truck at a TA truck stop. Okay, we usually like to stay at Flying J's, but there wasn't one in the area when we got ready to stop. I don't know, they just seem safer and cleaner for the most part.


We made it into the Rochester area on Tuesday and made our stops. Rochester traffic wasn't bad at all, even in the middle of the day and even heading right into downtown. One thing that probably wasn't as clear as it should of been for us 'out of towners' is how to get on and stay on the Inner Loop. We got on the Inner Loop and should have stayed left to get on it again ~ kinda sorta. Instead we took the exit for the Inner Loop and then stayed right and ended up on a side street and had to figure out how to get back on the loop. No big deal, just when you're not from places, sometimes the directions aren't as clear as they should be. C'mon Mapquest!


We truly do like upstate New York! If they could cut out their winters, it would be a great place to live. LOL It is beautiful country up there and it's pretty rural, but always with a bigger city nearby.


We made it back to the Buffalo area that afternoon and decided to get a room. Me, being ME, tried for a Motel 6 or a Super 8 ~ Chris, being CHRIS, decided to treat us to a special night. I know, isn't he sweet? We ended up staying at The Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville, NY and got a king bed with a jacuzzi ~ ahhhh, that's what I'm talkin' 'bout! The cost was right at $145.00, which is way more than we normally spend for a room, but it was early enough that we could enjoy it. We ordered room service, which comes from Salvatore's Italian Garden ~ click here for more info.


We left the Buffalo area on Wednesday morning and headed home to Missouri. We did stop and eat at Macaroni Grill in Dublin, OH (right outside of Columbus). Next door was a Chipolte's Mexican Grill and people were lined up out the door and around the building ~ what was that all about??? Turns out all the Chipolte Mexican Grills ~ at least in that area ~ were giving away a free burrito. Not sure what the marketing goal was on that, but people were lined up to get them, so it must have been working. Click here for our review of Macaroni Grill.


We made it to Brazil, Indiana that night and again, slept in the truck. (good thing we have the truck set up to sleep in, huh? lol). I don't remember the truck stop, but I definitely prefer a Flying J.


We made it home Thursday afternoon and needless to say, we were exhausted! That's roughly 1885 miles, with stops, in three and a half days.

Just a Little Update.....

We've done an awful lot of traveling in the last year and a half. I didn't start blogging about our travels until January 2008 ~ then, it was through trial and error and the school of hard knocks that my posts were published, edited, deleted - and even changed blogging hosts a couple of times. The moral of all this is that I had some posts on Wordpress (I really like Wordpress, but didn't like the inability go place ads or edit themes the way I wanted) ~ I have successfully transferred those Wordpress posts to this new Blogger blog - yeah! Somewhere in there I started a website for our transportation business and had a Wordpress blog about our travels hosted through Yahoo, but was unable to transfer the original Wordpress into the new one or vice versa, or into this one. Are you lost yet?


My Yahoo hosted Wordpress blog is version 2.0.2 which doesn't have an export feature. Yahoo doesn't allow you to upgrade your current version of blogging software until THEY say it's stable and ready. Apparently, it's not stable enough ~ go figure. So, I've been copying and pasting the html over to Blogger.


So.....I've successfuly transferred the original posts into this blog; and since I didn't want to learn a bunch of SQL, I had to manually transfer - one post at a time and redo the links. Ugh!


However, I've been saving our most recent travels to post once I had a breather to get this post started. I'll be working on those over the next several days (or weeks.....depends on what comes up! lol). All this means is that instead of a concise day-to-day diary of our travels (complete with reviews - oh, and pictures!! I got a new FujiFilm S8100fd camera and I'm just dying to share pictures of the good ol' USA!), anyway, it'll be our travels in a somewhat random order until I get it all lined out.


Clear as mud, right? 

Missouri to Bloomsburg, PA ~ February 2008

I haven't even had a chance to get caught up on blogs from our last trip! I've got that on my 'to do' list ~ so, maybe one day. I've had to spend our time at home getting all caught up on paperwork. (is it actually paperwork if it's through a software program???) I got the new laptop and wanted to put our LoadLedger software on it and then do my accouting and paperwork on the road as we go, instead of having to come home and use a whole day on catching up on receipts and toll stops. Apparently, it takes some tweaking to get LoadLedger to work on Windows Vista. But, I got it figured out and working ~ so, I got to spend the whole weekend doing our paperwork from the beginning of the year to present. The good side of that is, when we got fuel earlier, I opened up LoadLedger and wah-lah, my paperwork is caught up! I also spent some time getting our bank reconciliations done, as I also had that on hold pending the new laptop. The moral to all of that is: I didn't have time to catch up on blogs; however, I will have more time to blog when I get home, since the paperwork will always be caught up. ;)

So, we left home this morning and drove to Osage Beach, MO to pick up a couple of dirt bikes going to Massachusetts. As we went through Camdenton and Lake Ozark, I couldn't help but think of how much nicer it is driving through there when it's 'off season'. Not that we don't love our tourists, but try driving a truck and trailer through Hwy. 54 between Memorial Day and Labor Day! Speaking of Lake O, my very good friend, J, emailed me from Iraq ~ he should be home about the time Party Cove is in full swing. Everybody should visit Party Cove at least once in their lifetime.


We made it across St. Louis today without any problems. Traffic was actully pretty light, for St. Louis ~ we were on the 270 loop north of the city, and I think traffic is generally a little lighter there than on the south side of the city, where all the interstates run through. We made it to Effingham, IL around 3:30 or 4:00 and stopped to get gas at Flying J, then to eat at Ponderosa ~ for my blog on Ponderosa, click here. If you would like to know what is healthier to eat while dining out, click for Part 1 of that blog here; and Part 2 of that blog here. I'm planning on getting fast food restaurants done in the next week or so ~ that's the plan anyway.

We had a little incident going across Indiana. If you read my blog, you know the truck has been acting up. (Oh, and speaking of that ~ we got fuel in a farming community with 50/50 fuel and the truck ran GREAT ~ so, I called and asked what 50/50 meant??? For there anyway, they mix No 1 and No 2 diesel because the farmers use it in there vehicles and farm equipment, and can't take the chance of getting gelled up on a cold morning. Once that tank of fuel was gone, the truck went back to running rough. So.....off road diesel makes the truck run better???? Okay, Powerstoke 6.0 gurus, what's up with that???) So, anyway, the truck cuts out and carries on and acts like it's going to die if the RPMs go down ~ and once the truck gets it 'coughed out' (cause that's what it feels like it's doing), it throws black/gray smoke everywhere, and once it gets through all that, it runs fine again. WELL, there was this vehicle tailgating us, and Chris is notorious for slowing down ridiculously slow, and turning the flashers on, until the vehicle figures it out and goes around us. So, he tapped the breaks ~ that didn't work; so he slowed down ~ that didn't work; so, he turned the flashers on ~ THAT didn't work ~~ turns out the guy didn't pass us because he was going to take the next exit. Chris figured this out, so went s-l-o-w-l-y down the exit, in front of this vehicle, till the last minute, and then he pulled us back out on the interstate..........just to mess with the guy for tailgating. Well, as luck would have it, there was a cop sitting there........and we got pulled over. This always aggravates me.....Chris thinks he's teaching the tailgator a lesson; I think it's US that got pulled over, therefore, it's US that ended up wasting 20 minutes with the cops. Tailgator guy was probably already at home with his shoes off sitting in his recliner. The cops asked us what we were doing; and why we were going 30 mph on the interstate.....and did we know that was illegal. We blamed it on the truck (since slowing down DID make it blow smoke and act up) and told them it kicked in at the last minute and we jumped back on the interstate. After checking our plates, license, tags, insurance, and registration, they told us there was a rest area a couple miles up and we should pull off there and check the truck ~ and have a nice night. Sometimes I hate testosterone! In Chris's defense of his tailgator rules, the cops were EVERYWHERE in Indiana that night, and had somebody pulled over every couple of miles ~ so, I think they were saturating the area and looking for any reason to pull vehicles over to do checks.

We decided to drive as much as possible tonight and get to the first stop, get a hotel, and get some rest. We like doing that sometimes ~ cuts down on lodging expenses and days out on the road. Tonight we drove until about 3:00 am when we stopped at a rest area, somewhere in Ohio. We were about half way between Columbus and Akron, and it was starting to snow ~ not much, but a little ~ at 3;00 am, when you've been on the road for 17 hours straight, any excuse to stop is a good excuse. We plannned on just sleeping for an hour or so, then hitting the road again, but we slept (off and on ~ after all, we were sleeping in the front seats of the truck), until about 6:00 am, and then took about an hour to check weather, get our bearings, etc. At around 7:00, we continued on and got to Bloomsburg, PA around 1:30 in the afternoon. We had a reservation at the Econo Lodge, and they let us go ahead and check in early. If you ever have reason to need a hotel in Bloomsburg, PA, stay at the Econo Lodge by Columbia Mall. This is the second time we've stayed here this month, and both experiences have been great.

This Econo Lodge is pretty classy for an Econo Lodge. The rooms are nice and comfortable....and clean. The hotel staff is great! Both times we've stayed here, we've ordered food delivery, and both times, the hotel staff has called our room to make sure it was alright for the delivery person to come to our room. I hadn't ever really thought about it before, but that is an excellent source of security. A couple weeks ago when we stayed here, we ordered from La Fontana and the food was great. This time, we ordered from Chinatown Restaurant. I couldn't find a menu in the phone book or online, so we just ordered our old standbys. Chris had combination fried rice and sweet and sour shrimp; I had orange chicken (by far, my favorite chinese meal). The food was hot and the delivery was fast, and the staff was very pleasant. One thing about Bloomsburg is that there seems to be an over abundance of restaurants offering delivery ~ a huge plus to a traveler! The only thing I would suggest is that the restaurants put a menu online ~ there were several restaurants we were interested in ordering from, but we couldn't find a menu anywhere.

With bellies full and being completely exhausted, we went to sleep around 8:00 pm. Nice trade off when you drive most of the night and only get a couple hours of sleep, then to get to the hotel in time to actually enjoy the leisure, order food brought to you, and get a good long night's sleep ~ can't beat that!

Ponderosa Steakhouse ~ Effingham, Illinois

We stopped at Ponderosa Steakhouse in Effingham, Illinois on our way through. It was about 4:00 pm on a Tuesday, so we weren't sure what to expect. Cold food? A waitress in between shifts?

What we found was actually very nice. We both just got the buffet, with no entree, so waiting on us was pretty easy. I have to say that the salad part of the buffet was great. The selection was above average ~ even had some side salads. I didn't see, however, any lite or low fat or fat free dressings ~ I got regular ranch, just not much of it. The dinner part of the buffet was okay. The food was a good temperature and looked appealing ~ on the other hand, it was just 'buffet' food: fried chicken, meatloaf, breaded fish, mac n cheese, green beans, etc. They did have a pork loin roast for a lower fat fare. They also had new potatoes, which you don't find everywhere. The dessert buffet was also nice, with a variety of choices. Ponderosa does offer sugar free choices, like spice cake and peanut butter cookies, so that was a nice added touch.

The service was where this Ponderosa really stood out. We chose to sit in the glassed in area, so we could keep an eye on the truck and trailer. It was starting to get somewhat dusky, and the cashier noticed and came over and turned the lights on for us. A little while later, the manager came out and asked us if were chilly, and turned the heat up for us. A lot of places would have asked us to move into the main dining area, so they wouldn't have to open that area up; but, this Ponderosa not only didn't bug us about moving, they came out and made sure we were comfortable for our meal ~ you don't get that kind of service everywhere anymore. Our waitress, Marissa, was very kind and came over to our table almost as soon as we sat down and then returned about 4 times to check on us and bring coffee. Normally, I only tip 10% on a buffet waitress, because they don't have to take our order, bring it out to us, etc., but I gave Marissa 20% because of her personality and attentiveness. Of course, there weren't many other people in there at 4:00 on a Tuesday evening, so things may be different if they're really busy ~ in which case, maybe you should visit on Tuesdays around 4:00??

February 4, 2008 ~ New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts

We left Portsmouth, New Hamshire and drove to Portland, Maine. We had to meet a guy at the Maine Mall in Portland to pick up a parachute kinda thing ~ it looks like a go-cart with a propeller and a parachute. I'm not sure who would even WANT to fly something like this!

We met our guy around noon and loaded the 'thing' onto our trailer. Then, we had to rearrange it to strap it down right and everything. It wasn't too heavy, but it was heavier in the rearend (with the motor) than what I can help much with. A man pulled in beside us and asked Chris if he needed help, and with the two of them it took about 5 minutes to get it set on there right. After that, a mall security guy came over and asked if we needed help. On the way back to New Hampshire, the truck acted up again and was blowing black smoke out of the exhaust pipe ~ some man pulled up beside us on I-95 and told us we were smoking. Wow. I've decided that Maine people are very friendly and helpful.

We had to go to New Durham, NH to pick up a PT Cruiser. Then to Sutton, MA to pick up some auto seats and a transmission. By that time, it was evening and we had quite a load on the truck. When leaving Sutton, MA, this technically starts our trip back home ~ whew! We love to travel, but it's always nice to go back home, even if it is just for a few days.

As we were traveling across Massachusetts, it started snowing and just a little bit of freezing rain. We stopped in Westfield, MA to buy some more tarps and strap/secure the load a little more ~ we had to make several stops to keep re-checking to make sure the load wasn't exposed to the elements.

The further west we went, the more it was snowing and freezing rain. Me, being me, wanted to stop and get a room. I don't like to push the envelope with a load on the trailer. Chris, being Chris, wanted to keep driving ~ in looking at the forecast, we needed to get as far west as we could or risk getting shut down for a day due to weather. Since he was in control of the steering wheel, we kept driving. It was iffy a few times, but the temperatures stayed right around freezing and the roads didn't ice over, so we kept truckin'. We did stop a couple of times on the New York Thruway Service Plazas for coffee and little catnaps.

We really didn't eat all day. Chris ate the leftovers from Ruby Tuesdays and I snacked around on crackers and trail mix bars. I did get us each a low fat blueberry muffin from Dunkin' Donuts when I got us some coffee. I also grabbed a hamburger from one of the fast food places in one of the service areas ~ I don't guess two bites constitutes eating does it? Not much I can say in favor of a hamburger that I get out of a warming bin in the middle of the night. What was I thinking??

This morning we are heading through Buffalo and on our way to the Cleveland area. We should have a hotel room by mid/late afternoon ~ I think I'll take a nap!

February 3, 2008 ~ Bloomsburg, PA to Portsmouth, NH

We got up in Bloomsburg, PA and headed northeast. The truck is still running funny, but the weather is holding out. Guess you can't win them all.

Chris has figured out that if he keeps the RPMs up on the truck, it runs fine....it's just that's a little hard to do going down a grade in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. We made it though.

Before we left the Econo Lodge in Bloomsburg, Chris went down and got some stuff from the continental breakfast ~ a couple of yogurts, a bagel, and an english muffin. We ate after we got in the truck and got started ~ but, we had a pretty good breakfast....lots of carbs to start the day.

We went up I-81 into Wilkes-Barre, PA (pronounced 'Berry' by the locals). There's a couple places in through there, that if you were west/south bound, you would be on the edge (I don't like edges), but from the east/north bound side, it's just really pretty countryside in through there.

Then we got on I-84 all the way into Middlebury, CT. We delivered a Kubota tractor in Middlebury, and then headed on to Portsmouth, NH. Traffic from Middlebury on up into Massachusetts was really heavy, especially for a Sunday afternoon. I guess everybody was out getting stocked up for the Superbowl.

We found the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, NH on our way (we have a book "Temporary Military Lodging Around the World" that we picked up at a PX/BX somewhere that has lodging for active duty, reserve, DoD civilian, retired military, etc. listed). We decided to make reservations for the night and settle in to watch the Superbowl ourselves. (click here to read my post on the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard).

We also decided to get something to eat, to take to our room with us. A quick internet search found a Ruby Tuesday's not too far out of the way. It's nice to call and order dinner and then just stop by and pick it up on your way. (click here to read my post on Ruby Tuesday's).

Once in the room, we ate and watched the Superbowl ~ who would have guessed the Giants would pull this upset?! Wow, I bet bloggers everywhere are going crazy! Oh, and I didn't really have a favorite commercial; although, I had a couple that I didn't like at all. Let's see, my opinion on the Superbowl commercials is probably a whole other blog......

Ruby Tuesday ~ Portsmouth, New Hampshire

We wanted to grab something to eat to take to our room at the Helmsman Inn at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard ~ get in, get settled down, and eat while watching the Superbowl. We didn't get to see the first part of the Superbowl because we didn't realize how hard the Naval Shipyard was going to be to find, or how long it was going to take to get through the gate. (click here for my post on that).

We had good intentions. We ordered from Ruby Tuesday's in Portsmouth, NH and did eventually get the food back to our room to eat and watch the Superbowl. I also have to add that Sunday is our day to eat anything.....whatever we want ~ a day off from eating healthy keeps you motivated the rest of the week. (click here for our I Love A Healthy Me blog).

Chris ordered the half rack of ribs and firewings. This came with broccoli and mashed potatoes, but he was tired of broccoli (he's had broccoli a few times the last few days). So, he asked for green beans instead and they accommodated him. I had the bistro barbecue chicken ~ I should have had them leave the cheese off, as I think it would have been just as good without it. My meal also came with broccoli and mashed potatoes...I couldn't finish my whole meal, but I did have some of the veggies and potatoes.

Our food was a little cold after all that mess getting to the room, but it was still good. The Ruby Tuesday people were friendly and helpful and our service was good.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard ~ Helmsman Inn

We stayed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, ME (it is located on an island that's kind of on the border of both states).

We found this Navy shipyard in our book on military lodging. I called and made the reservation and the person on the phone kind of ran some directions by me, but I had the directions listed in the book, so I only half way paid attention.

With that said, let me get directions out of the way first. If you're on I-95 N or S, just take Maine exit 1 and follow the signs....this is, apparently, the easy way. We followed directions from the book and that had us taking exit 2. From there, the directions are fuzzy; so, if you happen to take Maine exit 2 off of I-95 ~ if you're on I-95 N, just take exit 2 and merge onto US 236. You will almost immediately come up on a roundabout ~ take 1 South out of the roundabout (just to the left of a gas station). Stay on 1 South until you come to a traffic light. Turn left at the traffic light onto 130 East/Walker St. Stay straight on 130 until you are at the Main Gate.(if you are on I-95 S, you will take exit 2 and then cross back over the interstate).

When we go through most gates to military bases, we just show them our IDs (retired military) and they let us on through. However, this gate was 'by the book'. Since we didn't have a decal on our vehicle, they took our IDs and made us a pass. They also have to have your vehicle registration and insurance to make the pass.

When we were getting all the pass paperwork done, I had the laptop open (from looking up directions on Mapquest to get there) and they said they had to call somebody to come and approve or disapprove the laptop to be on base. So, we had to pull over and wait a few minutes for an officer to come and look at the laptop. He didn't actually look at the laptop ~ he looked at us and asked if it was for business or pleasure and if it was our personal laptop. Yes, it was our personal laptop and he allowed us to take it on the base with us ~ with instructions to only have it in our room. *Note: they can require you to lock up your laptop in a facility just outside the main gate.

They issued us our pass, but also asked if we had cameras or anything with us. We probably did have our digital camera somewhere in the truck, but we said we didn't, because we were just going to our room and weren't going to have it out or be using it.

To get to the Helmsman Inn, we went through the front gate and over a little bridge (it's really the only way you can go). After the bridge, we turned slight left and then slight right, kind of in an 'S' and then followed the railroad tracks. At the four way stop, go straight; at the next stop sign, turn right and it's right in front of you.

We had a very nice suite with a queen bed, recliner, TV, seperate dining room (with coffee pot, refrigerator, and microwave), nice big bathroom, big closet, and lots of windows. The staff was very friendly and they had constant 'foo foo' coffee in the lobby.

Once in the room, we read the little information book about the Helmsman Inn. The Portsmouth Navy Shipyard has been there since the late 1600s and they used to build submarines there. Now, they repair and conserve submarines ~ including nuclear subs ~ must be why all the paperwork getting a pass and concern about our laptop and cameras.

We had a good night's sleep and was well rested. The staff at the Helmsman Inn was very friendly and courteous. Once you get in the gate, you're good to go. Cost? $35.00 per night. Can't be that at a Motel 6!

February 2, 2008 ~ Columbus, Ohio to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania

We got up and watched the news to see if Punxsutawney Phil would see his shadow ~ yep, he did; so 6 more weeks of winter. Ugh!

We left our Econo Lodge in Columbus, Ohio and headed for New England. Traffic wasn't too bad on any of the roads, so traveling was easy. I do have to say that traffic always seems a little heavy just north of Columbus on I-71. After a few miles, it thins out ~ I don't know if they need to add some lanes there or what the deal is, but I've been through there on a week day and it's crazy.

We headed up toward Akron and then hit I-76 over to I-80. We stopped at the little 'trucker mall' in Hubbard, Ohio. It's right across the street from the Flyin J and they've got a couple little restaurants, some gift shops, some game rooms, and an ATT/Cingular store. We walked around one of the gift shops and found a back and thigh massager for the truck seat on clearance for $15.00 (about half of what the regular price is). It plugs into the cigarette lighter in the truck and has a heat setting and massage settings for upper back, lower back, and thighs. Of course, I had to try it out immediately ~ yep, works and feels great!

We grabbed a light lunch at one of the little restaurants ~ I'm not sure what the name of it was. We both had soup and salad bar and it was actually pretty good. I stuck with a basalmic vinigrette salad dressing, just a sprinkle of cheese, and peaches, applesauce, and orange jello on the side. I also had about a half a cup of chicken and rice soup. Chris had the italian wedding soup with his salad and said it was really good. We enjoyed being able to walk around and do some shopping, take the time to sit and enjoy a nice, light lunch that didn't leave us wanting a nap.

Now, I have to say that we had good service and the food was good. However, I couldn't help overhear the conversation among a group of younger people and one young lady telling about her weekend partying and throwing up in a toilet. Not exactly what I want to hear while I'm eating. Imagine how I felt when this same young lady ended up being our cashier?! Very poor taste!

Sometime after that, the truck started cutting out a little bit. After stopping a few times and then adding some injector cleaner, it does fine as long as we keep the tow haul on and the gas pedal pushed just a little. When it does cut out, it acts like it's not getting fuel and blows black/gray smoke out the tailpipe ~ almost like it's coughing, then it'll kick in and run fine. Gonna have to get that seen about! Of course, I wanted to stop right then and there and find somewhere that would look at it. Not easy to find on a Saturday evening. But, I kept thinking we were going to get down the road a couple miles and it completely quit running out in the middle of nowhere, in 'the wilds' of Pennsylvania.

We kept moving though and it runs fine as long as we run it like it wants to be run ~ Chris says it must be a girl! HA

Sometime in the evening, Chris wanted me to find a hotel that had Pay Per View in the room so he could watch UFC 81. After several calls and a lot of searching the web, I found that I couldn't find one in that area that offered this amenity. A lot of hotels had in room movies, but it's more like a Blockbuster thing, with certain movies available that you could buy and watch. So, I'm putting that on my to-do list ~ what hotel chains offer in room Pay Per View?

We ended up staying at an Econo Lodge (yes, we have the Choice Hotels Rewards Program), in Bloomsburg, PA. With our military discount, we got the room for $69.?? (that's with tax). We thought that's kind of steep for an Econo Lodge, but in reality our room had a king size bed, full bathroom, refrigerator, coffee pot, blow dryer, TV with free HBO, couch, desk with leather chair ~ in other words, it was nice and we got what we paid for. I also have to say that the staff was very friendly and helpful.

We ordered supper from La Fontana (click here to see my post on La Fontana) and when the delivery guy arrived at the hotel, the front desk called to ask if it was okay to send him to our room. You don't expect that kind of courteous service and security at an Econo Lodge, so we were very impressed.

We got a good night's sleep and are headed out for further northeast ~ guess we'll listen to the Superbowl from the radio!

La Fontana ~ Bloomsburg, Ohio

We ordered from La Fontana in Bloomsburg, Ohio and had it delivered to our hotel room. It was late when we ordered and we were impressed at the speed at which it was delivered ~ within 30 minutes.

When we arrived at the hotel, we decided we were hungry and should get something to eat. The hotel had a selection of menus from area restaurants and we decided on La Fontana because they had a good selection, stayed open late, and offered delivery.

Chris likes to order extra so he has something to munch on later and some leftovers for the next day. So, he ordered the regular stromboli, the chicken cheesesteak sandwich, and antipasta. I had spaghetti (no meat), which came with a salad (and I had the basalmic vinegrette dressing). So, I didn't do too bad ~ marinara sauce on my spaghetti, instead of something with alfredo sauce on it. No meat on my spaghetti, which is good because I don't always like the meat some restaurants use in dishes like spaghetti.

We liked La Fontana ~ the service was friendly; our food arrived quickly; and the food was hot and tasty.

Febraury 1, 2008 ~ Missouri to Columbus, Ohio

This is a continuation of our original blog that can be found at http://chrischristi.wordpress.com/ If you haven't already read our posts there, feel free to take some time and check it out. We started a couple new blogs in conjunction with our website, hence the move. Same great content!

Well, we left Missouri yesterday and traveled about 600 miles to Columbus, Ohio. We wanted to leave on Thursday, but a big winter storm was expected and we wanted to get in behind it instead of getting caught IN it. They had predicted about 8" to 10" for most of Missouri, but we ended up with only about 3" to 4" ~ which is fine by us! As we get older, the snow just doesn't have the same appeal. When I was a teacher, snow was great! See, kids, teachers like snow days, too! Now, though, with the ability to set our own schedule and work from home, all snow does is cause a mess in the foyer when people come in and out.

The day was pretty uneventful while traveling. We did keep up with the weather and was pretty interested in the Snoqualmie Pass getting closed in Washington state. We had been through there earlier this summer and I asked WHAT people did when it snow in that area (seemed REALLY steep to me ~ course, I'm not a big fan of mountain passes anyway). People out there said they just fly up and down that pass and that everybody knows somebody with an airport type snow remover, so it makes quick work. The Washington Department of Transportation had to keep closing Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 due to heavy snow and avalanches. Click here for the news story.

Thank goodness we weren't anywhere near there! We are heading northeast, so you never know what you're going to encounter this time of year. Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that we were in Key West??

We stopped at Applebee's in Indianapolis, Indiana to eat supper. Click here for our review on that....and what to eat at Applebee's to stay healthy. For more healthy tips and reviews, see our I Love A Healthy Me blog.

Even though it took quite a while to get our meal, we drove on to Columbus, Ohio. We got to our hotel, an Econo Lodge on the north 270 loop, around 11:30. We did really well with our lodging ~ I went online to book the room at the Choice Hotels website, got the miltary discount rate, and ended up with a king bed, non smoking room for 34.00 (with tax it was 39.??). The room was clean and nice sized. Heater worked and shower worked ~ sometimes you can't ask for any more than that! It did have a refrigerator and TV, but no coffee pot. However, the office had coffee for the guests this morning.

We will continue heading east today. Even though Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter by seeing his shadow this morning, we've got a few more trips to New England this month. Could be interesting traveling....stay tuned!

Applebee's ~ Indianapolis, Indiana

We stopped to have supper at the Applebee's located at 7345 E Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN.

We got there around 6:30 and there was a line waiting to be seated. I don't know if this is normal for this Applebee's or if it was because it was a Friday night and the snow had ended and the roads had cleared. Whatever the reason, it was a busy place to be and we knew we would be awhile. We also knew that from my research, Applebee's has weight watchers (and low fat) menu items that we wanted to try.

Other than the restaurant being busy, it was clean and the service was good. We had a male waiter ~ he was a little preoccupied at first, but he warmed up and turned out to be pretty good.

We turned directly to the weight watchers page of the menu (the last page....go ahead, just skip all the other pages!). We ordered the Tortilla Chicken Melt appetizer ~ this is a wheat tortilla filled with grilled chicken, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, corn, and low fat cheeses. It has 480 calories and 13 grams of fat. I figure I ate 1/3 of it and Chris ate 2/3 ~ so that was only about 4 grams of fat for me from that. For our meal, Chris ordered the Steak and Portobellos which has 330 calories and 10 grams of fat. He also ordered some grilled shrimp ~ this wasn't on the weight watchers menu, but I'm sure grilled shrimp can't have too many fat grams. I ordered the Confetti Chicken, which is a grilled chicken breast covered with low fat cheeses, black bean and corn salsa, and salsa and low fat ranch sauce. Both the steak and the confetti chicken come with rice pilaf and broccoli. The confetti chicken has 370 calories and 7 grams of fat ~ so that was around 11 grams of fat for me for supper! Not bad!! When I first got my meal, I was wondering if this was going to fill me up....I'm so used to seeing huge plates of food that most average people can never finish, that when I seen a plate with just the right amount of food, it didn't look right. However, I have to say, it was more than enough. I was struggling at the end to get the last few bites. Chris said his was really good and it filled him up, too. So, go ahead and try the weight watcher's menu ~ c'mon, it doesn't hurt to try.

If you're wanting to get a good meal and still keep with a healthy diet, try Applebee's!

Janaury 18, 2008 ~ Gretna, New Orleans, Louisiana

We left Eglin Air Force Base and headed for Gretna, Louisiana for a delivery. We had some stackable cabinets/shelves that went to a law office in Gretna.


We had to stop and get two trailer tires fixed and they got us right in to get it done. So, no real delay there. Traffic was okay for the most part......it can get pretty heavy on Fridays, but it wasn't too bad today.


When we went through Mobile, Alabama, we took the Battleship Parkway to see the USS Alabama. We really didn't have time to stop as the law office closed at 5:00 and we weren't sure what to expect for afternoon traffic in New Orleans. But, we put Mobile on our 'to do' list as we would really love to stop there and spend a day or two just touring the city.


It was a good thing that we didn't stop at the Battleship. Traffic was fine in New Orleans, right up until we took the 234C exit to Business Route 90. Wow.....lots of traffic all of a sudden! It was around 4:00 pm, so we weren't sure if it was just rush hour traffic, normal traffic for that area, or if this is an alternate route due to Hurricane Katrina's damage.


There is still so much damage in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. We saw hundreds of homes that were still storm damaged and/or abandoned. It made us wonder what kind of effect that Katrina was still having on the economy in New Orleans? How many residents left and just never returned? How many of those homes have owners that are still trying to get relief to help repair or rebuild; and how many have been abandoned completely? How long does the city of New Orleans have to wait before demolition crews tear down abandoned houses? Viewing this area firsthand, even 2 1/2 years after Katrina, is overwhelming to put it mildly. We would love to have spent a day or so just looking around and taking it all in.


We did get our cabinets delivered and then headed to find something to eat. We seen a Shoney's and decided to pull in there. They had room to park the truck and trailer.....and it gave us time to allow the 5:00 traffic to die down. Click here to read my post on Shoney's in Gretna, Louisiana.


One thing that I would like to note was that everybody we encountered in Gretna/New Orleans was very friendly. True southern hospitality at it's finest. This was one of the friendliest areas we've encountered. It's a brand new year, if you give to any cause this year, please consider giving to Hurricane Katrina victims ~ 2 1/2 years later, and we still have victims of this tragedy.


We headed out of New Orleans and on toward Dallas. We drove in heavy rain from New Orleans to Alexandria where we decided to get a room. I feel really spoiled on this trip ~ we've had a room nearly every night since we've been gone! Normally, we have a night or two in the truck, then a night in a room, then back to the truck. There's no way to make money out here if you spend it all on hotel rooms. This trip has been a little different though...we've had the two nights on the boat in Key West, and two nights at our friend's in Naples, and several military bases in the area we've been in. This has been a sort of mini vacation for us!


I've been working on our website from the laptop while Chris drives. Check it out and see what all we have to offer ~ just remember, it's in it's infancy!


Safe travels!

Shoney's ~ Gretna, Louisiana

We ate at a Shoney's at 420 Westbank Expy, Gretna, Louisisana and I have to say, we were impressed. We were there on a Friday night and they have a seafood buffet for $9.99 from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Friday nights. We got there just a little before 5:00.....traffic was so thick on the Expressway that we just wanted to go ahead and eat and allow the traffic to die down a little....this Shoney's was the easiest place we saw for us to get the truck and trailer into.


We were greeted at the door and seated by a gentleman that looked like 'management' (you know, different uniform than the rest of the employees, stayed by the register, etc.). He pointed out that the seafood buffet would be out in just a few minutes and we noticed that most of the tables had people at them that were waiting on the buffet.


I don't care for seafood, so I ordered a philly steak and cheese sandwich off the menu....it was really good. Chris had the buffet and he said it was great. We also had coffee and dessert.....we should have shared a dessert, because they were huge portions that neither one of us could finish!


Our waitress, Ruby, was excellent. Very nice, very attentive, and very helpful. She had a way of making you feel like you were an old friend that came by for dinner. We love a waitress like that ~ thanks, Ruby!


Other than the food being excellent, the service and the people were excellent as well. We found some of the most friendly people we've ever met in the Gretna, New Orleans area.

January 17, 2008 ~ Tallahassee, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida

We left Bushnell, Florida this morning and headed to Tallahassee. We had a stop on the eastern side of Tallahassee and I have to say that I didn't expect the hills and curves since Florida had proven to be so flat.


We picked up some bike frames and parts from a very nice gentleman. His driveway was a little difficult to get into with a trailer, but Chris loves a good challenge. Actually, he thought about just sitting out on the road, but wah-lah, a UPS driver needed through. The road itself was very narrow, so Chris had to go ahead and pull into the driveway as there wasn't room on the road for two vehicles to pass.


After getting loaded we headed west on I-10 and checked on a room at Eglin Air Force Base. It's about 20 miles from I-10, but for $37.50 for a Visiting Officer's Quarters, the 20 miles was worth it! Also, we like staying on military bases for the safety of us and our load. Everybody who is there is supposed to be there, so there's not a lot of worry about anybody messing with the truck and trailer.


We stopped to eat at JB's Chinese Buffet in Crestview, FL. It was pretty good. Click here to read my post on JB's.


On down south highway 85 to Eglin Air Force Base. We were a little confused as to which gate to use. We ended up going through the North Gate which was a good choice, as the Eglin Inn was just a mile or two from the gate. We had reservations, so we got checked in right away. We stayed in the Sand Dollar Suite at Tidewater Inn. It was very nice and comfortable. It's old barracks, that used to be two individual rooms connected with a common bathroom. Now, one room is the living room and kitched area; the other room is the bedroom and closet - still with the connecting bathroom. The room was nice sized and clean....coffee, coffee pot, microwave, humidifier.....and, my favorite, terry cloth robes. How thoughtful!


We watched some TV and got caught up on some computer work, including working on our website and paperwork, then headed to bed. We were tired, and since we had just crossed into the central time zone, our bodies were still on eastern time.


A good day all in all. Nothing spectacular, but life on the road sometimes needs some quiet and ordinary days.


Safe travels!

JB's Chinese Buffet ~ Crestview, Florida

We stopped at JB's Chinese Buffet in Crestview, Florida around 6:00 pm on a Thursday night. The place was nice and clean. Even though they had quite a few customers, there was plenty of seating for quite a few more.


We sat where we could see the TV and catch up on the news while we ate. We ended up at a large table for 8, but as there was plenty of other seating available, they didn't ask us to move.


Our waitress was friendly and came over right away. We ordered some sodas and then headed for the buffet. The labeling above the entrees could have been better ~ some had no labels, some labels were situated where you couldn't tell what they went to, etc. If you've ever been to a chinese buffet, you know those labels are very helpful!


I didn't see any general chicken or orange chicken (my two favorites), so I had some sesame chicken which was very good. I also tried some black pepper chicken and it was really good as well. Chris had some sushi, some mussels, and some cashew chicken. We both had ice cream afterward.


Overall a good place to eat. Nothing that sets it apart though.......and the labels need fixed!

January 16, 2008 ~ Naples, Tampa, Florida

After having a nice breakfast with our friends in Naples, we headed out for the Tampa area. We had several stops in and around Tampa, including Bradenton, Sarasota, and Riverview.


To accommodate one pick up, we had to go into Bradenton and then backtrack to Sarasota. That was actually fine, because it gave us a chance to check our load and make sure it was all still riding secure. We stop and check this often to ensure that everything arrives safely.


It took us a lot longer on all of our stops around  Tampa than what we anticipated. Everybody here were nice, friendly people ~ lots of offers for something to drink, something to eat, use of bathroom.


Our last stop was in downtown Tampa, and then we headed north. We stopped at the Flying J at exit 285 on I-75 for fuel and something to eat. I have to say, this was one of the best looking buffets I've seen at a Flying J. We went ahead and ordered from the menu......buffets tend to make you eat more than you need. Chris had a chicken fried steak meal and I had a grilled chicken breast sandwich. Then, we shared a slice of apple pie with our coffee. Sweets are our nemesis! For some reason, we have such a hard time saying NO. Our food was hot and appealing......and tasted really good. We were impressed.


When we headed back out, it was raining pretty heavily. It was about 10:00 pm and we had a full day. We went up the road a little further and spotted a Rodeway Inn in Bushnell, FL. We decided to stop for the night, but Chris said no more than $60.00 for a room and that includes tax. I went in and checked and the room was $69.99 plus tax......so, I went back out and told Chris and he said 'nope' (there was a WalMart right across the street, and we have the bed set up in the back.....we just didn't have access to our blankets as they were protecting an item in the trailer). I went back in and told front desk lady and she asked if we had AAA or anything...I told her we had a military ID......long story short, we got the room for $68.00 (including tax). Not bad for Florida.


We got soaked taking our stuff from the truck to the room, but once in, we got comfortable and got some sleep.......and ready to head further north tomorrow.


I've been working on our website. I first had a domain with Microsoft Office Live, but discovered that I just didn't have much flexibility with it. I couldn't post my blog there or change page layouts the way I wanted to. So, after looking at several other web solutions, I settled on good ole Yahoo Small Business. Great price, great flexibility, and my blog can go there automatically. I just got it active today (January 17th), so feel free to check it out, but don't expect much until I have a chance to poke around a little and do some editing. Click here to check our website ~ and more on what all we offer later!

January 15, 2008 ~ Naples, Florida

We just kind of hung out today. We stayed at our friend's house in Naples and just had a peaceful, kind of catch up day. I had paperwork and internet work to catch up on; Chris had bids and shipments to catch up on. So, we got comfortable and got caught up on work. I have to say that it's an awesome way of life to be able to do all of your work from a laptop and an air card ~ even if it is from a friend's house in Naples, FL.


One thing that I did work on was our website and getting it up and running. Check it out here, but check back often (very often) as I'm just starting the design process and I'm sure I'll have several trials and misses before I'm satisfied with it. One thing that we are implementing on the website is how to be successful ~ at whatever you do. We've started and ran many businesses and been very successful. If you read this blog often, have you ever wondered how we make a living (and a pretty good one at that) from out here on the road? We're together all the time, we get to travel and enjoy life.....we hung out for two days in Key West and another two days in Naples, FL!! Would you like to know what it is we do and how we do it?? Check our website often as I'll be adding blogs about success and business on a regular basis. (bookmark it and check back often!)


Okay, so the highlight of our comfy day was going to our friend's restaurant for supper. Oh. My. God. The food was exceptional and the service even better! Click here to read my post about Bianca's Ristorante Italiano in Fort Myers, FL. Ask for Bill or Stacy and tell them Chris and Christi sent you via their blog.....they'll love that!


After that, with bellies so full we couldn't hardly move, we went back to their house to watch American Idol with Stacy and the kids. Opening night of Idol did not disappoint! LOL


This was a great, relaxing/comfy day......tomorrow it's back to driving.......but, we are hating having to leave Florida!