Notes From a Cross Country Road Trip

Readers, I spent the month of October in my car.

Well, sort of. I took a gigantic driving road trip from New Jersey to Texas and back. Here was my entire route if you’re curious. Why? Well, I love road trips. It’s a great way to see a country, it’s a great way to visit friends and family, and it can be a surprisingly inexpensive way to travel.

And on this road trip, I visited thirteen cities across twelve states, I caught up with a ton of family and friends across the Midwest and South (including a fellow food blogger and two long-time school friends who I hadn’t seen in over a decade), and I re-reminded myself of how lucky I am to live such a huge, diverse and amazing country. In total, I drove some 4,500 miles over three weeks.

Today’s post is just a light one where I’ll share some of the highlights of my trip.

Best meal: A tough choice, but I’m calling it a tie between Rolf and Daughters, a really good farm-to-table style foodie restaurant in downtown Nashville, and Pizzitola’s, an inexpensive old-school BBQ joint in central Houston. These two restaurants simply blew away the field and I highly recommend both.

Best deal: $3.99 for a one pound bag of ground cumin. This could be the best price I've ever paid for any spice, ever. At “Nuestra Familia” grocery store in Omaha, Nebraska. This is how you defeat the spice cabal!

Weirdest food: Deep Fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. At the Texas State Fair, in Dallas, Texas. It really messed with my mind to eat this “food” but in reality it was... good. I feel a post coming on just to try to process this indescribable culinary experience. Bonus: I was full for the rest of the day.

Apropos of nada, here’s what a half-eaten deep fried Oreo cookie looks like:

Cheapest gas: $2.89/gallon in Sioux City, IA. Hey, ethanol subsidies, man.

Best restaurant deal: Madras Restaurant, in Austin, Texas. Just $10 at lunchtime for all-you-can-eat vegetarian Indian food. Really, really good. They didn’t make any money on me that day, I can tell you that.

Best hipsters: Austin. Not even a question.

Worst traffic: Texas was the runaway winner here. The traffic in Houston and Dallas is worse than anything we’ve got here in the NJ/NYC metro area. PS: That state is booming.

New states checked off: OK, KS, NE, IA (now I’ve been to 40 states, leaving me yet to see AK, WA, OR, ID, MT, MN, WY, WI, SD, and ND ).

Least expected place where I had to speak Spanish: South Sioux City, Nebraska, in a tiny little restaurant called La Guadalupana. There was some confusion about my friend’s order, and since nobody in the restaurant spoke English, I had to step in and whip out my Spanish to help out.

Readers: Have you ever taken a road trip? Or would you like to? Where?

Related Posts:
Road Eats Secrets: How to Find the Best Local Food When You're On the Road
Why Do Products Go On Sale?
Knowing When Not to Be a Food Snob
Eight Myths About Vegetarians and Vegetarian Food

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Tragic Sandwich said...

That route brings back memories of family road trips from when I was a kid--except that we were much more likely to have a cooler of food in the car for lunches and eat dinner at our campsites.

Daniel said...

Me too actually!! That's how our family traveled back when I was growing up. I loved it, and it never crossed my mind that what we were doing was "laughably cheap" too. :)


Owlhaven said...

Sounds like great fun-- definitely come to Idaho next time around.

Stuart Carter said...

come to Alabama and have some outrageously good tacos and TRUE BBQ - pulled pork, of course ;)

Daniel said...

Mary, I will, you can count on it.

Stuart: heh, exactly. As a born and bred northerner, my opinion has zero credibility in the "is beef real BBQ or not" debate. Of course, a Texan would tell you yes. And an Alabaman KNOWS real BBQ is pork-only.

I will say this, though: the brisket at Pizzitola's was scary good.


Stuart Carter said...

as an import I feel confident in my opinion of pulled pork BBQ. Smoked brisket can be wonderful - there's a couple of Birmingham area BBQ restaurants that do amazing brisket - but pulled pork seems truer to the original meaning of "barbacoa".

But who knows, maybe the Aussies have it right :P

chacha1 said...

All I really know about barbecue is that grilling is Not The Same Thing. :-)

I love road trips. The esposo and I have had some great vacations from the car ... Sedona, San Diego, Calaveras County, Sonoma County, the Olympic Peninsula.

Even when we fly somewhere, we always explore when we get there. North Carolina, Oregon, Hawaii (Big Island), Cocoa Beach.

We are currently scheming an Oregon Coast road trip, that may or may not involve lodging for a week at one more-or-less central point and making forays from there.

If we ever make it to Europe/England, I fully intend to see as much as possible from the road. There is just no better way to get to the places you want to get to, at the time you want to get there, while still leaving open the option of impulsive exploratory detours.

The funny/sad thing is my family hardly ever traveled and we NEVER camped. I still don't camp. But boy I love to go roaming.

Marcia said...

I have enjoyed road trips. Harder with the kiddos. Drove from DC to CA when hubby moved here in 1995. Drove from CA to Grand canyon, Sedona, Santa Fe, Alamagordo, Tucson. Did a smaller version of that... Just the Arizona part with the big boy. Look forward to more including camping when kids get bigger.