Sunday, September 14, 2008

Home Sweet Home and the Big Haul

The last day of the trip! Two weeks away from home is about as long as either of us can handle, so we were looking forward to getting back to our house.

The trip would not be complete, however, without a stop at one more Steve and Barry's store. Funny how our hotel was only a couple of miles away from the Crossroads Mall, where the Steve and Barry's was just waiting for us. No wonder she was so happy to stay in Oklahoma City.

I didn't mind going, since we would be in a mall. I am a mall junkie. Not for the shopping, but more for the architecture and the way the stores reflect the area of the country. This mall had a carousel and playland for kids in the middle of the mall. Say what you want about Oklahoma but every town we have been through there, large or small, has well maintained parks and play areas for children.

They also had the first Sonic "Drive-In" I have ever seen indoors. I don't know if the girls rollerskate through the food court with your order but I didn't see any. Sonic is funny because it has gained cult status on parts of the east coast, that is, the parts that don't have one. More are popping up there, and when they do it's a big event. Yeah, enjoy those tater tots everybody!

Of course today's malls are dominated by chain stores but you can always count on a few local eclectic stores. We spotted Gyros City, which you'd expect to be run by Greeks but an Indian couple owned the place. Also in the mall was the Eargazum music store, an instant classic. From the looks of the empty cases the store had either had a huge rush of sales or was going the way of Tower Records, Wall to Wall Sound and Video, and Wee Three Records.

All right, if we are going to talk shopping, it should be beer shopping, right? Tucked away in North Oklahoma City after an inconvenient stretch of red lights is Sam's Warehouse Liquor. Thankfully, it was worth it as Sam's carries Boulevard Brewing's Smokestack series of beers, which is to say their bigger and bolder beers. Boulevard is based in Kansas City, Missouri, but is not quite as well known as another Missouri brewery you may be familiar with. We bought the Double Wide IPA, which is the one beer of the Smokestack series that I really wanted, and also a Rogue Jazz Guy Ale.

I made the mistake of asking the yokel-ist of local yokels the best way to I-40 West. She made it sound like a foreign concept, "Hmm, I-40 West. I-40West?
"Yeah, I was on it, oh, just yesterday. It doesn't just end here, does it?"
"Hmmm, I-40 Wesssttt". We left before her head exploded and found our own way back.

I have been emphasizing the virtues of taking the back roads on road trips, and here I go again. We took I-40 Business through the town of El Reno, OK, home of the "Onion Fried Burger Day Festival" where they grill a 700 lb. hamburger. We had seen signs throughout the state advertising "onion fried burgers" and knew when we saw Johnnie's Grill that we had to try one.

Johnnie's Grill has seating for about thirty, and was about a third full when we went in. There is a lunch counter located right by the grill and we sat there
while we waited for our burger and fries. I took a few pictures of the interior but felt awkward as I was getting stared at the whole time. What was I supposed to say to get them to stop staring? "I enjoy your small town ways! I am recording these memories digitally, much as you would on your Kodak Disc cameras!" Instead, I turned my attention to the grill.

The onion fried burger start out with a pile of paper-thin onion slices on top of the burger that is cooking on the flattop grill. The cook then flips the burger on top of the onions so the onions cook and steam up into the burger. The result? Well, you can see it isn't the prettiest thing to look at but was one of the best burgers either of us have ever had. We almost forgot about the Subway we had bought ten minutes before. I'd like to forget about Subway forever. We don't eat a lot of fast food so Subway seems like a good alternative when traveling, but I always feel like I have a food hangover after eating it. "Ohhh, I never want to eat again!" But the burger was great, and the homemade chocolate pie was awesome too.

Shamrock, Texas is another Route 66 town that I have always blown by in the past, but this time we drove through the main part of town. The Tower Station is a gas station that was built in 1936, and is a landmark of Route 66. It is also the only thing worth seeing in Shamrock. The only beer I saw in the whole town was when I looked in our backseat.

I must have driven past Cadillac Ranch, just west of Amarillo, ten times before I ever noticed it was there. In fact, the first time I ever drove through Amarillo, my friend and I looked all over the city for the Ranch but never found it. No, we never thought to stop and ask someone for help. It makes more sense to drive up and down every street till you find what you are looking for. Anyway, Cadillac Ranch is in a field directly south of I-40. There is no way you can miss it. Me, yes. You, no.

Back in New Mexico. It wasn't easy getting from Amarillo to here, either. For the third time that I can remember, we were caught in a hail/rainstorm in that Bermuda Triangle between Amarillo and the New Mexico border. No wonder nobody lives in that area; it has the worst weather I have ever seen. One minute the weather was overcast and the road was dry, the next we couldn't see a thing and had to slow down to 5 mph. Of course, once we got about 3 miles over the state line, the sun came out and the rest of the ride was fine.

Finally, we have made it back! First item of business is turning on the air conditioner, second, taking inventory of the goods.
We have brought back at least one of, and some multiples of, the following:

Thomas Creek (SC): Vanilla Cream Ale, Class Five IPA\
Lagunitas (CA): We're Only in it for the Money, Hop Stoopid, Lumpy Gravy
Little Kings (OH): Cream Ale
The Duck Rabbit (NC): Brown Ale
Brooklyn (NY): East India Pale Ale
Boulevard (MO): Double Wide IPA
Clipper City's Heavy Seas (MD): Peg Leg Imperial Stout, Small Craft Warning Imperial Pilsner, Below Decks Barleywine (2006!), Loose Cannon Double IPA, Hang Ten Weizenbock
Victory (PA): Baltic Thunder Imperial Porter
Choc (OK): 1919 Pale Wheat
Cottonwood (NC): Endo IPA
Harpoon (MA): Glacier Harvest Wet Hop Ale
Terrapin (GA): Big Hoppy Monster Imperial Red, Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout, All American Pilsner, Side Project Roggen Rye, Rye Squared Imperial Pale Ale
Mendocino (CA): Talon Barleywine
Southern Tier (NY): Hoppe Double Pale Ale
Rogue (OR): Jazz Guy Ale
Hebrew (CA): Jewbilation Eleven Strong Ale
Diamond Bear (AR): Presidential IPA
Weyerbacher (PA): Double Simcoe IPA
Highland (NC): Kashmir Imperial IPA
New Holland (MI): The Poet Stout, Pilgrim's Dole Wheatwine

Thanks for reading along with us. I hope you enjoyed the trip!


Unknown said...

you couldn't hook me up with a Jazz guy ale?! aahhhh fuck it. Finally I see the list of beers you brought back after what three weeks of your return and a busted ass foot. Nice collection from the trip though. How was the Jazz guy ale?

Eating The Road said...

I had a great burger at Johnnie's Grill!