Over the weekend, Ron & I traveled to Charlotte with the little girls to see Pat White play his final game in blue & gold.
I have to give props to my youngest, Hope – she has to be the Greatest Mountaineer Fan under 4 feet tall. Evah. She threw up all the way to Charlotte but was determined to go to the game. She said Pat White was “really special” and she didn’t want to miss the game. I asked her what we would do if she felt sick but we couldn’t get out of our seats quickly. After a moment of reflection, she announced: “plastic bag”. And that was that.
Hope made a miraculous recovery, almost to the minute, 24-hours after the first signs of illness the day before. A great time was had by all at the game and we lingered afterward to hear Country Roads and waller in the victory.
There are two aspects of a road trip that really make it worthwhile to sit in a car for what seems like forever. First, one of the greatest inventions of the modern age, the audiobook. This trip we would be enjoying Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs which I purchased on ebay for around five bucks. The coolest thing about this purchase – six CASSETTE tapes! Thank goodness my V Dub has a cassette deck. I got hooked on Reichs during the trip to Connecticut where we listened to one of her more recent works. The second thing I love about road trips is discovering new restaurants.
As a general rule, I don’t eat anywhere on a trip that I can get at home. I will try chains that are “new to me” and Ron won’t miss an opportunity for a Crave Case at White Castle. With Hope’s iffy tummy, this trip would pose some food challenges.
The friend putting us up near Mooresville had an Italian restuarant in mind for dinner Friday evening, but the strong possibility of seeing spaghetti and meatballs coming back to haunt us (literally) was enough to talk me out of it. We had all been in a car with the virus victim for about 7 hours by the time we got through traffic in Virginia and made all those stops alongside the road – we were all afraid we caught the virus, too.
So dinner Friday night needed to be fairly fast and in a casual atmosphere where we could run to the ladies’ room if we had to. We chose Sports Page Food & Spirits. I don’t think Daniel would classify this as an actual chain because it is local restaurant with a handful of locations in the Charlotte vacinity. But as I explained above, even if it were a real chain, it is “new to me” and therefore fair game on a road trip.
From our prime seating right outside the restroom entrance, I enjoyed a fried grouper sandwich for $9.60. It was tricky keeping the fried fish nuggets on the sesame seed bun, but I managed. I think I got jacked up on the fries, though. Our server responded in the affirmative when asked if the fries were homemade but after receiving them, I seriously doubted it. Ron and Derek both ordered ribeye sandwiches, priced at $9.85 which Ron proceeded to drown in A-1. Michelob Ultra bottles were on special for $1.75 – that was probably cheaper than a Diet Coke would have been! Our tab was around $45 for my sammie and a beer, Hannah’s Kids pasta ($4.05) and Ron’s sammie and a couple beers. I think they threw Hope’s saltine crackes in for free. For bar-type food it was pretty good. The restaurant looked brand new in a new shopping center and was very clean.
Side note – if in the Mooresville area when an enchilada craving hits you, try Monterrey Mexican Restaurant near the Super 8 motel right off I-77. We have eaten there on previous occasions and really enjoyed it.
The food available at Bank of America stadium was a big yawn. They had the expected items: popcorn, hot dogs, pretzels, nachos with fake cheese, blah, blah, blah. At halftime we tried to get hot chocolate for the kids but both counters we went to were all out. I hear that it was in the 70s and sunny here in the Kanawha Valley that day, but in Charlotte it was foggy, dreary and nippy.
We let Hope choose the restaurant since she hadn’t eaten since the TCBY Ron fed her for breakfast Friday morning while I was picking up bargains at Target. Hope chose Chili’s. ‘Nuf said.
On the way home Sunday, we stopped at the JR exit – you know, the place that bought 45 billboards along I-77 announcing great deals on cigars, perfume and cigarettes. Ron pulled into the parking lot of a Mexican joint, but it was 10:56 and they opened at 11. Ron didn’t really want mexican as he had spied a Chinese buffet down the street. Surprisingly the kids were open to Chinese so that’s where we went. I think it was called Shangra La and it was disappointing. Once you’ve had the Kanawha Mall Chinese Buffet, no other buffets come close. Maybe it recently changed hands because I could not find a listing for it using google. Lesson learned: avoid Chinese Buffets out of town – I always get burned on those. I can usually count on Mexican being, at a minimum, the standard basic fare you get at the Mexican places around here, and therefore are usually a safe bet if you like that sort of thing (which the girls and I like a lot!). But Chinese is another story altogether.
Since we were south of the Mason Dixon, there were no Drake’s cakes sightings to excite me on our pit stops. Overall, it was a gastronomical disppointment.
What are your suggestions for eating on the road? Do you pack a cooler full of snacks and drinks? Any go-to websites for restaurant information in other states? Anybody use the Urban Spoon app on the iPhone?