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printersdevil78

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Posts posted by printersdevil78

  1. I'm surprised no one jumped in sooner to help... kudos to the guy who choked the man in the red shirt out

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk96EUMmXlw

    The guests, who are family members, were immediately escorted out of the park, a Disneyland official told KTLA.

     

    when the family summer vacation doesn't go as planned...

     

    Looks like a backdoor pilot for Disney’s first original Fox show: “When Theme Park Guests Attack.”

  2. I enjoyed the Twilight Zone TV show. I'm not a big fan of drop towers, but I like the theming in the TOT attractions.

     

    That said, my generation (and probably only a small percentage of it) is probably the last generation that's even heard of The Twilight Zone, much less cares about or has any emotional attachment to it. And there's still a Twilight Zone TOT in Orlando. And it sounds like it's basically going to be the same ride but with different characters (whom a larger portion of today's audiences will have heard of/be able to identify).

     

    Sounds like a win to me. Unless retheming-instead-of-designing-new-attractions becomes an ongoing trend Which, considering they're building an entire new land for Star Wars and now talking about an all-new Marvel-themed area, it doesn't sound like it will.

  3. It's been a long time since I posted a TR.... My wife and I had a great time at this year's final weekend of the Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival, so I thought I'd share. Enjoy!

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    To all who enter this happy place, welcome!

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    We bought the 15-sample dining package, good at 14 food stands around the park. First up: Ireland!

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    Many of the stands were decorated with representations of food or actual kitchen items. What better decoration for the Ireland booth than potatoes?

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    Speaking of potatoes... here are some bangers with colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage), topped wtih Guinness brown sugar gravy. They were pretty good and a nice way to begin the festival. (Though the park opens at 10 a.m., the food stands don't open until 11.)

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    In the late afternoon, the park's Ireland section hosted an ice carving demonstration.

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    Here are the results!

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    Next up was Hawaii, a new addition for this year.

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    The stands in more open areas had decorated seating areas.

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    Each stand also had informative kiosks (which also served as a convenient place to store napkins and spare plasticware).

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    From Hawaii, we got huli huli chicken (sweet pineapple and soy barbecued chicken) with orange-and-purple sweet potato salad. The chicken was good, but I wasn't a fan of the slaw. We paired it with a signature hibiscus lemonade for a small upcharge. The lemonade was pretty good, but I'm not sure I'd get it again.

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    In addition to ice carving, the festival also included some cool food art demonstrations.

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    Close-up of jellybean dinosaurs!

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    The Crepes and Coffee stand was up next. This was the first stand where we encountered a significant wait (20+ minutes with about five people in line ahead of us) due to poor staffing. There was one person cooking, one person taking the money, pouring the drinks and tending to the coolers (three completely separate parts of the booth) and one person just kind of standing around with a clipboard. It seemed pretty ridiculous, especially at stands where the drinks were set up in a completely different section of the area than the cash registers.

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    Crepes and Coffee had a winery theme.

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    More educational signage.

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    We tried a chicken cordon bleu crepe, with an orange marmalade and brie crepe for dessert. The chicken crepe wasn't bad. The marmalade in the dessert crepe was good, but I didn't think it paired particularly well with the brie.

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    This was also the first area with wine tasting. I don't drink wine, and my wife and I were both feeling under the weather (in different ways), so we didn't partake. Each stand also had a person nearby dressed in regional clothing to answer questions about the food, wine and country. This was France's.

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    Up next was the French Quarter stand.

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    This warm muffaletta and Cajun coleslaw were my favorite items at the festival! I've had muffalettas in New Orleans that weren't this good. And the slaw was just out of this world! Well done, Busch Gardens.

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    The France stand was nearby.

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    I was really looking forward to the steak au poivre. From my high school French class, I thought I remembered "poivre" meaning "pepper," but apparently I really means "lots and lots of salt." Seriously, a spoonful of salt has less salt in it than this thing. It literally made us both gag.

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    I didn't know Canada was so well known for apples and pumpkins, but they were all over the Canada food stand, so....

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    Inside the Canada stand. I think this area is usually used as part of Trappers Smokehouse. This stand was one of the few where we got bad service. The cashier clearly didn't want to be there, and the server seemed like it was her first day on the job. In fact, there were a few servers throughout the day who seemed new to the concept of food stands, which was pretty incredulous considering we were there on the second-to-last-day of the event.

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    That's pumpkin maple mouse on the left, and I thought it was OK; Kelly liked it more than anything else she tried. On the right is cheddar and lager soup with smoked paprika oil. It also was OK; Epcot doesn't have anything to worry about.

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    Did you know there are Canadian wines? Well, there are!

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    Nearby was the American Southwest stand, where we tried a chocolate lava cake based on nearly every online review I read of the event hailing it as the best thing at the festival. I thought it was pretty good, but not really any better or worse than any chocolate lava cake I've ever had in a regular sit-down restaurant, even with the addition of ancho chiles. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo.

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    Next, we were in the Caribbean!

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    Most of the regional representatives seemed pretty bored throughout the day. Were they new this year? I can't imagine this continuing going forward with as little interest as anyone demonstrated in them.

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    The Caribbean stand included seashell art!

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    And this snazzy beer tap!

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    The gamba fritters (basically shrimp hushpuppies) were sort of the "poster child" of the festival.

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    This is what they looked like in person, along with tres leches con mermalada de pina. They were OK; the pickapeppa dip they came with was the best part. The dessert was OK, as well; it tasted like sweet cake with crushed pineapple on top, which is basically what it was, I guess.

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    On to Germany!

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    I'm not sure what the wooden spoons represented, but the "silver" plastic steins screwed into the building's exterior were a nice touch.

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    The currywurst with curry-spiced ketchup and roasted potatoes was good.

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    German wine!

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    Germany also featured a special artisan's market for the festival, but only some of the vendors sold edibles. At least one of them sold handmade soap.

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    On Friday nights during the festival, this stage in the park's Oktoberfest section featured live music. As we were not there on a Friday night, the stage featured nothing.

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    In addition to the food stands, there were a couple of standalone alcohol stands, as well. This one featured wines from Argentina.

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    Some of the stands were squeezed into areas where they didn't really fit, causing bottlenecks, like this one representing Italy.

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    The Italy stand's decor predominately was made of wine corks. The stand featured only desserts, most of which are available at Olive Garden, so we skipped it.

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    A little of the bottleneck in front of the Italy wine tasting flag.

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    More bottlenecking at the Spain stand.

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    Decorations made from plates and utensils!

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    Small stands like this were stationed outside some of the food booths, representing regional culinary plants and herbs.

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    Spain's regional representative was fortunate to have both a fan and a shady spot to stand. It was hot and humid throughout the day.

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    I was disappointed with the food from the Spain stand. That's bacon-wrapped scallops with rice on the left and two chorizo empanadas on the right. Both were just OK, though the scallops were the most expensive item at any of the stands.

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    Fun with fondant! That's a cake, if you can believe it.

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    The Asia stand didn't have anything our local Chinese restaurant doesn't, so we saved our tastings for other booths.

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    The areas around most of the stands were decorated with flags. At Asia, they went a step further and added Chinese lanterns, as well.

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    The Greece stand represented another bottleneck, directly across from the entrance to Escape from Pompei. I also wasn't sure I was ever going to get to order here; the people in front of me apparently had never heard of "food" before and proceeded to ask the cashier many, many, many questions, such as what it was, why you would want to put it in your mouth and how you make it small enough to go down your throat-hole. I timed them; they literally asked questions non-stop for nearly 10 minutes.

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    Fortunately, the halloumi (grilled Greek cheese with honey and pistachios) was well worth the wait! It was amazing, my second-favorite tasting of the day.

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    Our last food stand stop was the new Virginia stand.

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    I don't know what makes tulip poplar honey any better or worse than any other honey, but they had it!

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    For our last tasting, I selected the bacon and cheddar hushpuppies with honey butter. They were great, and my wife proclaimed it the best butter she's ever had.

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    Nearby was another stand-alone alcohol stand, offering scotch tastings.

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    Near the end of the day, we had reservations on a Date Night cruise on the Rhine, offered specifically for the festival. During the afternoon, they offered similar "Wine on the Rhine" cruises, though kids were allowed on those. The Date Night cruises included music and were for adults only.

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    There's our ride!

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    These were the entertainers for the half-hour cruise. It was advertised as a 25-minute experience, but ours actually lasted nearly 40, which was nice. We had good music...

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    Good scenery...

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    And good wine! The cruise also included a fruit, cheese and chocolate tray. The strawberry was tart for my taste, but everything else was good. I understand that in past years, they also threw in a couple packets of crackers, which, at $55 per couple, would have been nice.

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    After the cruise, we got to see the food stands lit up for the evening. Overall, we had a good time, and even the "worst" food we tried was really good!

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    Thanks, Busch Gardens! See you again soon!

  4. Assuming the headsets don't all break in the first year and they abandon the project, I think these could easily tie into Fright Fest and, for the parks that have it, Holiday in the Park, as well. It's not hard to imagine changing the programming to simulate fleeing from a coven of broom-mounted witches or vampire bats or (insert flying malicious ghoul of your choice here). Or maybe you're hitching a ride on Santa's sleigh.

     

    This seems like a good way to breathe new life into old coasters. If it works at Six Flags, I can see other parks (especially chain parks) getting in on this.

  5. The local newspaper today covered the new "cart coaster" -- a mash-up of a go-kart track and roller coaster -- at Jolly Roger Amusement Park in Ocean City, MD. Photos and video here.

     

    Jolly Roger on fast track with world's first cart coaster

     

    Jon Bleiweis, DelmarvaNow 10:08 a.m. EDT May 19, 2015

     

    Take the thrill of a roller coaster and the competitive spirit of a go-kart.

     

    Put them together and you have the Cyclone, what is being billed as the world's first cart coaster, and it's here on Delmarva — at Jolly Roger Amusement Park's Speedworld in Ocean City.

     

    Construction on the five-story attraction started the day after Labor Day and finished around the end of the year, according to Dean Langrall, director of sales and marketing for Jolly Roger Parks.

     

    The wooden course, at more than 1,500-feet long, was built with 22,320 square feet of lumber, 78 pilings and 83,000 stainless steel bolts.

     

    "We call it a cart coaster because it really is like a roller coaster except it's with go-carts where you control your own speed," he said. "If you're in a roller coaster, the speed is controlled for you."

     

    Jolly Roger bought 40 new go-karts — half single seater carts and half two-seaters — for Cyclone. At 9.5 horsepower, the vehicles have twice as much power as their regular cars.

     

    The course is wide enough for three-wide racing, Langrall said, adding all 40 cars could be used at one time, if need be.

     

    That horsepower is needed right at the start of the ride, as the driver drives up, in a spiral, five stories before emerging onto a straightaway in the open with a small hill. Drivers then race down a second similar spiral structure to get back to ground level.

     

    The typical race will be three to four laps long, Langrall said, who added the ride's top speed is unknown.

     

    Cyclone is the park's latest way to try something different and stand out from the competition, he said.

     

    "This is about as much excitement as we could get on the piece of property that we had," he said, adding two tracks were knocked down to accommodate the building of Cyclone.

     

    While the official ribbon cutting and grand opening of the attraction is set for Friday, Cyclone has been in a soft opening phase for several weeks, Langrall said.

     

    Giving the ride a try recently were Steven Maietta and his 5-year-old niece, Kylie from Long Island, New York, who exited the ride impressed and excited, as they had two more chances to ride it again already purchased.

     

    Steven Maietta, who has visited the park for years, said Cyclone makes it worth coming to SpeedWorld again.

     

    "The corkscrew going up and down, it's fun, it makes you feel like you're going really fast," he said. "When you go over the hill, it feels like you're going to leave the air — that's how fast — then you're coming down and it's just as much fun as going up. It's a really good time."

     

    Kylie was looking forward to another chance to take on the track.

     

    "I like fast," she said.

     

    One must be 58 inches tall and 12 years old to drive a single cart, 58 inches tall and 16 years old to drive a passenger cart and 36 inches tall to be a passenger.

  6. And... we're into 2014! Enjoy!

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    Summer 2014 began with a trek to northern Pennsylvania to visit Conneaut Lake Park… while I still could. En route was a visit to The Snowman in Portersville, PA.

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    No, seriously. It’s a snowman!

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    Unlike most snowmen, this one serves tasty frozen treats.

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    Plastered on a T-shirt hung in front of the stand on a breezy day, this yeti moved a lot more than the one at Animal Kingdom!

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    Can’t afford a Yeti right now? Charge it to your Diner’s Club!

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    So this is the Yeti milkshake — ice cream, syrup and crushed ice blended to a pleasant consistency and topped with whipped cream. It was yummy!

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    An overview of The Snowman’s seating area.

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    Goodbye, giant snowman! We’re off to ride the Blue Streak!

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    After an afternoon at Conneaut Lake and early evening at Waldameer, we stopped by Sara’s in Erie, PA, for dinner.

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    This is the view from the parking lot. For those who haven’t been, that blue “bridge” is the portion of Ravine Flyer II that crosses the street before returning to the park proper.

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    Let’s all go to the drive-in…

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    They serve both kinds of food… new and used!

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    Mirror, mirror, on the motorcycle…

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    Lots of neon at Sara’s.

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    Time to dine!

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    I had a coupon for a free footlong hot dog with the purchase of a footlong and fries, so that’s what we did. They were tremendous!

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    The fry seasoning was unique, as well.

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    But Coke Freestyle is the headline!

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    This gate is where drive-in customers stop to place their order; it’s lifted so they can go through once the order is placed (and also keeps cars from blocking the path to the bathrooms). The building in the background is Sally’s All-American Diner. It’s supposed to be good, as well, but was closed when we were there. Based on the Sara’s/Sally’s website, I can’t figure out if it’s just overflow seating for Sara’s, if it’s an actual restaurant in its own right, or if it used to be a restaurant and is no longer in business.

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    Check out some of Sara’s’ outside décor.

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    Sara’s is located at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park, which according to the tourism material provided, receives more visitors annually than Yellowstone National Park.

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    Need to pee? Just following the yellow brick road!

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    Wait… that doesn’t look like a bathroom.

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    And that’s a Texaco station!

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    Oh, I see. The bathrooms are inside the Texaco building! Sneaky, sneaky!

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    The next day’s adventure included a visit to Penn State University in State College, PA. But what does Penn State have to do with roadfood?

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    Here’s a hint….

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    Here’s another….

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    And here’s the answer!

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    A little history for you.

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    A view of the inside.

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    Here were our choices this day. I opted not for Peachy Paterno…

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    … but for chocolate chip cookie dough!

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    This oversized commemorative “scoop” dug the first dirt for the new building in 2005.

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    Go Nittany Lions!

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    After a couple “culture” stops… and a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World… our final destination that evening was Springettsbury Township, PA.

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    We were at Springettsbury Park to see a performance by the Surf City All Stars. I read a book about them, from their formation as the backup band for ’60s surf rock legends Jan and Dean during their comeback as a nostalgia group in the ’80s to their time working at Disney’s California Adventure to their establishment as a stand-along touring act, during my first TPR trip in 2008 and have wanted to see them ever since. They don’t play too many shows on the East Coast, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity.

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    But all that aside… this is why this stop is included in the Roadfood thread! I had heard good things about Bricker’s Famous French Fries, which had a stand at the concert.

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    For better or for worse, they seemed like just standard frozen fries with an optional vinegar-and-salt topping. Oh well.

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    For breakfast the next morning we made our way to the Etters, PA, outpost of Maple Donuts.

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    I wish I could receive my mail via doughnut!

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    Noted!

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    Take home a dozen…

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    ...which is 13 in Maple Donut-speak!

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    We opted for a half-dozen (which, sadly, is not six and a half). If I remember correctly, they were (clockwise from upper left) maple crunch, salted caramel and pretzel, apple, coconut cream, sour cream and bowtie.

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    lol

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    Our next stop was the potato chip tour at Utz Quality Foods in Hanover, PA. Unlike Hershey, this is a glass-enclosed tour of the actual factory, not a theme park recreation.

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    No photos allowed on the tour, unfortunately, but there was one photo op….

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    Afterward, we took a short drive to the Utz factory outlet.

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    No photos in here, either, but the historical building was cool. Unfortunately, my 13-year-old car started acting up that day, so we had to cut the vacation short. It cut off twice on the way to Knoebels and died on the way home. I ended up having to buy a new one that week.

     

    Up next: My new car and I hit the road to New England!

  7. As always, thanks for reading! I promised a couple 2013 leftovers before we head into the 2014 Roadfood adventure... so here we go!

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    In November, I took my sister on a bus trip to New York, a place she's always wanted to visit, as an early Christmas present. While there, I purchased some roasted chestnuts from a street vendor.

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    For those who have never seen the inside of a chestnut, here it is! And for those who have never tasted one... well, they're just plain awful. At least these were. Maybe they're an acquired taste. I can't imagine why anyone ever would have written a song about them.

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    For several years, a friend of mine has spoken the praises of Ellen's Stardust Diner in New York. I told my sister about it, and she was very interested in checking it out.

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    Here's a look at the inside. It's a little cramped, but they make good use of the space available.

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    Very retro!

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    Did I mention it's very retro?

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    Along the walls are plaques honoring New York's past Miss Subways winners.

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    But the real reason to visit Ellen's Stardust Diner is the singing waitstaff!

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    They day we were there, they sang everything from Elvis to One Dimension.

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    My sister was less than impressed... though some of the songs were OK.

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    The same can be said for the food. Not altogether impressive... but OK. My sister tried a quesadilla...

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    ...while I got loaded waffle fries.

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    Kelly, Lauryn and I rounded out 2013 with what has become our annual Thanksgiving weekend trip to Lancaster, PA. Our first day there, we stopped by Dienner's Country Restaurant, where Kelly's grandparents took her as a child.

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    Dienner's is actually a small buffet... but what it lacks in size it makes up for in taste!

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    Here's my first plate. Clockwise from top is sour beef, ham, sauerkraut, filling (the Amish word for stuffing), macaroni and cheese, and what I thought was the restaurant's best dish, hot buttered noodles.

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    The desserts were good, too, but the chocolate cobbler at the left was the only one I was able to finish completely. I was so full that I just kind of tried a bite of everything else.

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    The next day, we visited the Wilbur Chocolate Co. in Lititz, PA (an earlier trip there is posted in this thread), to do some Christmas shopping. We ended up parking near this little bakery and decided to stop inside.

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    Well, of course, we couldn't leave empty handed! The cupcakes were good -- not great -- but I'm a firm believer that there's no such thing as a bad cupcake!

     

    Up next: Pushing forward into 2014, with stops throughout Pennsylvania, New England, upstate New York and Wildwood, NJ. All aboard!

  8. Time for another update! After my big summer trip, I spent most of the rest of 2013 at home on the Delmarva Peninsula... but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of good restaurants there! Here are a few of them.

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    On the way back from a day trip to see Kelly's grandfather in August, we stopped by the Vanderwende Farm Creamery in Bridgeville, DE.

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    The building itself is unassuming...

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    ...but the pasture out back guarantees all the milk, cheese and ice cream inside is fresh!

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    Cookies and cream for me.

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    Here are the rest of the flavors.

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    After Hopkins Farm Creamery (reviewed earlier in this thread), Vanderwende's is my favorite ice cream stop in Delaware.

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    Kelly’s birthday was a couple weeks later, and to celebrate, I took her on a mini restaurant tour. In late 2012, the Irish Penny Pub opened in the strip mall across the street from my office in Salisbury, MD. I’d eaten there a couple times, and it was decent. I mentioned earlier Kelly’s fascination with Irish restaurants, so we started her birthday restaurant tour here.

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    I know it looks dark in this photo, but the restaurant itself is really nice inside, with old barrels (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) converted into tables, as well as a number of booths, regular tables and a bar.

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    A friend of mine who frequents the restaurant recommended trying the Irish egg rolls, stuffed with corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, onions and cheese. I had never tried them before, so why not?

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    They were awesome!

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    I opted for the Reuben with pub fries, which, up to this point, had been my go-to here.

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    Kelly ordered a “build your own” burger with bleu cheese and bacon on a pretzel roll. She insisted I try a bite. Holy cow! I’ve never gotten anything else here since, and I usually come back about twice a month. It’s seriously the best hamburger I’ve ever had that I didn’t make myself. If you’re ever in the area, I strongly, strongly suggest you stop by and try one. (Kelly got onions on hers, but I prefer mine without.)

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    That evening, after dinner at a Bahama Breeze franchise in Christiana, DE, we made our final stop of the day for dessert at Shuckers Pier 13 in Dover, DE.

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    The interior is rather homey.

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    I mean, this is the service area, for crying out loud!

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    But despite the restaurant’s name, we weren’t here for seafood. Doing some online research, Kelly determined that Shuckers was the closest place to our home that served our favorite cheesecake from Junior’s in New York (discussed earlier in this thread)! Mine was original…

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    …while Kelly lived a bit more dangerously with a combination cheesecake and chocolate cake.

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    I took this photo of the locally famous Kirby and Holloway Family Restaurant sign on the way home. The restaurant opened in the 1940s and was a landmark in Dover... until it burned down five months after this picture was taken.

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    A week later, I had some time to kill between appointments in Salisbury, MD, and decided to grab some lunch. Paul’s Pizza was right across the street from my next stop, so I figured I’d give it a try. The restaurant had recently opened in a building that formerly contained another pizza parlor, Route 12 Pizza.

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    The interior was festive.

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    Beach-themed, even.

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    The pizza was pretty tasty, but the crust was a lot crispier than most “New York” pizzas I’ve had. There definitely was no folding happening here!

     

    The bad news is, this particular restaurant closed down late last year and has been reborn as another eatery. The good news is that Paul's Pizza is still around, having reopened in a nearby shopping center.

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    In early November, Kelly, Lauryn and I decided to take a day trip to Newark, DE, to attend the Delaware Saengerbund’s annual German Christmas Festival.

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    The band and dancers were great, but they took up a lot of space. This place was wall-to-wall people, and there was absolutely no chance of getting a seat. No one who was lucky enough to have one was about to give it up for any reason.

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    Of course, the biggest reason we were here was the food! It was served cafeteria style. Each of these ladies staffed a chaffing dish, and if you wanted some of what she was serving, you’d say so. Then, at the end of the line, you paid for whatever was on your plate.

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    This was some of the best German food (and hands down the best sauerkraut) I’ve ever had! There’s spaetzle, sausage and a German meat patty covered in the finest gravy these lips have ever tasted. Too bad I had to eat it standing up in the lobby, off the top of a baby grand piano.

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    For dessert I snagged a piece of hazelnut cake. Unfortunately, it didn’t really taste the way I expected it to. When I think of hazelnuts, I think of something like Nutella. This tasted more like sour-ish fruit… which I guess is probably what it was supposed to taste like, but it was a surprise.

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    It took me a long time to make my way across the room to the German candy and cookie vendor, and it took the couple running the candy and cookie booth even longer to ring up my order, but I did end up with an assortment of confections, both for myself and for Christmas gifts, by the time they were done, including these pfeffernusse cookies.

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    They were subtly sweet, almost like stale spice cake with 10X sugar icing… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

     

    Up next: some 2013 leftovers in Lancaster, PA, and New York City!

  9. Thanks, all! I've never been to Dick's, but it sounds like a place to check out if I get back to Seattle.

     

    And speaking of Seattle... this update contains the last of the photos from my 2013 Pacific Northwest/Northern California trip. Enjoy!

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    On the way back to our hotel after Otto's, we passed Annie’s Donuts, which was on my list for breakfast the next day. We decided to get a jump on things and stop in.

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    The interior was very ’70s.

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    The selection was pretty large.

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    We’ll see about that….

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    Our assortment included a regular glazed, chocolate frosted, sour cream, buttermilk (that’s the one without a hole) and two raspberry fritters, for which we had high hopes. I really liked mine, but my dad thought his was just OK.

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    Unfortunately, I pulled a muscle in my back either the day before our vacation started or the day we left, and it got progressively worse as we went on. By the time we made it to the Rheinlander for an authentic German dinner that evening, I was in considerable pain.

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    They really did up the “German” exterior.

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    Inside, too!

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    My dad, having not gotten his fill of sausages at Otto’s, opted for a German sausage platter.

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    I, on the other hand, ordered a sampler that included sausage, cabbage, hot German potato salad, two types of schnitzel…

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    …and a Bavarian pretzel!

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    Like Otto’s, the Rheinlander also had a mustard buffet… granted, a slightly more refined version.

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    Though we opted for indoor seating, we spied a few diners enjoying their meals on the patio on the way out.

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    After a visit to a somewhat sketchy immediate care center the next morning to get some pain medication for my back (I got a discount for paying for my prescription up front, in cash…) and a truly amazing afternoon at the Enchanted Forest (if you think Challenge of Mondor is trippy, try it on oxycodone!), we stopped for dinner at Big Stuff Barbecue in Cottage Grove, OR.

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    Based on all the signs and bumper stickers we saw, there is a tremendous amount of civic pride in Cottage Grove. The walls of the restaurant were decorated with vintage photos from the region.

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    The hand-cut fries were pretty good.

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    The beans were OK, as well. I tried the pulled pork sandwich, while my dad got a brisket sandwich. Both were pretty good, though if I had to do it again, I would have gotten my sauce on the side; it was hard to taste the flavor of the pork whatsoever with so much sauce on top.

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    Outside, a series of freshly painted Coke murals decorated adjacent buildings.

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    This really was a nice little town.

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    After setting up camp (OK, renting a hotel room) in Crescent City, CA, for the night, we spent the next day touring the California Redwood Trail. On the way to Rohnert Park, from which we would leave the next day for San Francisco, we pulled off the highway in Cloverdale, CA, in an attempt to find someplace for dinner and stumbled upon Pick’s Drive-In.

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    Unfortunately, it was closed for the day.

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    A bit further down the road, we discovered Zini’s Diner.

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    Zini’s was a very bare-bones restaurant located in a strip mall, but its food proved to be quite tasty.

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    I started with a bowl of clam chowder.

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    My dad, having regretted not getting the turkey dinner at the Rheinlander a couple days before, made up for it here.

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    I opted for the bleu cheeseburger.

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    When it comes to dessert, my dad is always on the lookout for peach pie, though it tends to be a rarity. Not at Zini’s!

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    I, on the other hand, opted for the chocolate crepe, which was good but very rich.

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    No new Roadfood for us the next day, as we skipped lunch to fit in tours of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa and Lucasfilm and the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, then had dinner at In-N-Out Burger, which already has been covered in this thread. On our way back to Seattle the next day, we passed the Del Norte County fairgrounds and decided to stop for a short break. Why?

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    Farmers market! By this time, we had been driving for awhile and were looking for an excuse to stop and stretch our legs, so why not?

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    We really didn’t expect to buy anything, but when I saw this stand, I was intrigued. Apparently it’s so popular that it has to advertise the days it will be at the farmers market (first and third Saturdays).

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    So I took the bait and ordered a breakfast burrito.

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    The result? Amazing! Far better than the ones I get at Sonic.

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    As we approached Seattle many hours later, I started looking on my iPad for potential restaurants for the final meal of our trip. The Pick-Quick Drive-In in Fife, WA, sure sounded good!

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    The outdoor dining area was very picturesque…

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    …and much better than the alternative across the street!

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    It took us awhile to place our order due to a rather lengthy line, and it took even longer for our number to be called when the food was ready. But when we got it… wow! The burgers were great, and the shakes were tremendous. Mine was butterscotch.

     

    Up next: a return to the Delmarva Peninsula for some ethnic fare, pizza, ice cream and even cheesecake!

  10. On this leg of the adventure, we head down to Portland, OR. Enjoy!

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    That evening, having eaten lunch at Wild Waves, we stopped by a Burgerville in Portland, OR. Burgerville is a very localized chain with several dozen restaurants, all in the Portland metro area.

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    More faux-’50s décor.

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    Burgerville prides itself on using only locally sourced ingredients. The burgers were good, the fries and onion rings were OK, but the shakes were out of this world. Chocolate for my dad, blackberry (seasonal only) for me.

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    And then it was time for dessert. This place has long been on my food-stop bucket list.

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    After a 10-minute-or-so wait in line, stained glass windows greeted us at the entrance. Those 10 minutes offered a very unique look at the city that is Portland.

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    The young gentleman offering to draw the people in line as dragons for a mere $5 each certainly was doing his part.

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    Pennies aren’t weird enough for Voodoo Doughnut.

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    This is the scene beyond those stained glass windows.

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    But this is what we’re really here for!

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    A display case offers a visual aid for ordering. And they even have vegan doughnuts. Weird!

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    At Voodoo Doughnut, you can order doughnuts by the box…

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    …or by the coffin!

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    Creepy stone-face man says, “Hurry up and choose your doughnuts so I can get back to being weird!”

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    And the winners are…

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    Two random iced doughnuts for my dad and a signature voodoo doughnut for me! He’s filled with jelly so it looks like he’s bleeding while you eat him. The pretzel stick doesn’t represent a cigar; it’s supposed to be a stake through the doughnut’s heart. Apparently the baker was so busy being weird that he missed. (You know, the more I think about it, maybe “weird” is really just a euphemism for “high.”)

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    I tried an apple fritter, and we both got one of Voodoo Doughnut’s famous maple bacon bars. I’ve had these from other places, and they were always OK. Voodoo’s struck just the right balance of sweet and salty. I thought it was the best doughnut of the trip.

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    The next morning, we headed out for Pine State Biscuits, with two locations in Portland (not to mention a booth at the Portland Farmers Market). Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, one of those locations closed shortly before our vacation, so we spent an unfortunate amount of time cursing the GPS and trying to find a restaurant that no longer existed. Once a friendly (weird!) local set us straight, we made our way over to the one that was still in business.

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    After standing in line for about 15 minutes (fairly typical at Pine State, I understand), we were greeted with a menu board and a list of rules.

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    This is pretty much it for the indoor seating area, though patio and sidewalk seating was available. We were fortunate to find an open table.

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    This would be the Reggie Deluxe — a breaded, fried chicken breast with bacon, gravy and cheese on a freshly baked biscuit — and a side of hash browns with ham, onions, mushrooms and cheese. I thought it was the best breakfast of the entire vacation. (My dad disagreed, largely because we had to stand in line for it.)

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    From there, it was off to do some sightseeing. First on the list: Candy Basket Chocolates.

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    We were hoping to schedule a tour of the Candy Basket factory. Unfortunately, they were not available the day we were there. However, we had another reason for visiting: behold the famous 20-foot chocolate waterfall!

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    Noted!

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    The factory store is a candy lover's paradise!

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    It’s decorated with all measures of candy and candy-making equipment.

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    I liked this Popeye chocolate mold the best.

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    My purchases were rather modest, but good! They included a small box of Clodhoppers (chocolate-coated cookie crumbles)…

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    orange sherbet squares (I’m not even sure how to describe these — they were kind of like orange-flavored white chocolate, but the consistency was more like solidified cake icing that melted on the tongue)…

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    And a big bag of assorted taffy to take home to Kelly, with unique flavors including cheesecake, carrot cake and birthday cake.

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    After a few more tourist traps, it was time for lunch at Otto’s Sausage Kitchen, also in Portland.

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    The sausage-surrounded pig means it’s good!

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    While Otto’s does have a very small area for ordering hot foods to go, it’s predominately a German specialty grocery store.

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    This is more along the lines of what we came for.

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    We had to go outside to get it. No frills here; an Otto’s employee cooks up sausage fresh from the store on a home grill modified from an old oil barrel. Drinks are available from a nearby cooler.

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    Don’t forget the mustard buffet!

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    “Sausages of distinction”? We’ll see about that.

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    Truthfully, they were pretty average.

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    But sausages weren’t our only reason for coming to Otto’s! I also wanted to try some of the store’s homemade jerky. Honestly, it, too, was just OK. While it was a cut above gas station jerky, it was very tough and kind of reminded me of a cross between regular jerky and a Slim Jim.

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    Oh well. If nothing else, Otto’s is still a great place to have your wild game processed and fish smoked.

     

    Up next: More Portland and a descent into the wilds of northern California!

  11. Well, it's been another months-long hiatus, but I'm finally back for another round of Roadfood photos.

     

    Good call on Schmidt's, PKI! I'd really like to get back there sometime. And the German festival sounds good, too!

     

    In the meantime, we now return to Pike's Place and beyond in Seattle. Enjoy!

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    This place was pretty neat… and it smelled heavenly!

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    I bought a chocolate fish to get the salmon jerky taste out of my mouth.

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    In researching the market prior to our visit, this was one of my must-try stops.

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    Apparently crumpets aren’t hot-weather food. Who knew?

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    The place had a major “Alice in Wonderland” motif going on.

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    What time is it?

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    Groat time!

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    No, I mean crumpet time! The one on the left is a Vermont crumpet, with maple butter, cream cheese and walnuts. The one on the right is cream cheese with pesto. Both absolutely amazing!

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    My dad found the crumpets a little too frou frou for his taste and opted instead for a frozen yogurt cone from Shy Giant.

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    Cherry-chocolate chip, to be exact.

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    There were plenty of other places we would have liked to have stopped for snacks had we not already had dinner plans, including Three Girls Bakery.

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    Honestly, is there anything in that window that doesn’t look phenomenal?

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    Eventually, this is where all the food ends up….

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    Areas around the market also beckoned with fresh foods, novel items and unique décor, like these clotheslines in Post Alley. Apparently they originally were strung up in 1978 as part of some art installation. Those clothes have been drying for over 35 years!

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    Nearby, El Mercado Latino caught my eye.

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    Again, there’s nothing here I wouldn’t like to take home!

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    I settled on some chili-lime pork rinds, which proved to be very spicy, as well as a bag of plantain chips that came in handy later on in the trip when restaurants and gas stations were few and far between.

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    Around the corner, the Virginia Inn is one of Seattle’s most historical restaurants.

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    Biscuit Bitch is not.

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    Yes, please!

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    This place was almost enough to convince me to cancel our dinner plans at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Almost.

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    I settled for a Mezzo Mix, the only one I’ve ever had outside Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola and Club Cool at Epcot.

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    Finally, it was time to bid Pike Place Market adieu.

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    Before heading to dinner, we stopped to check out the amusements at Pier 57. We didn’t eat there, but we found a couple of fun restaurant signs.

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    I bought a Peanut Butter Mountain Bar in the gift shop there. It tasted similar to a Cherry Mash (one of my favorite regional candies), only with peanut butter instead of cherry nougat.

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    The next morning, before heading to points south, we visited 13 Coins, a highly-rated restaurant near the offices of the Seattle Times.

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    Each table is inlaid with — you guessed it — 13 coins.

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    Well, the Food Network has rarely steered me wrong yet….

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    The booths here are very plush and stretch from the floor to the ceiling. The whole place was dark and “leather-ish.” It reminded me of something out of 1930s Hollywood.

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    This was the view on one side of our table…

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    …and the other.

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    The Night Owl Lounge was closed during our visit, catering exclusively to late-night diners. 13 Coins never closes… and it’s a lot better than Denny’s!

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    Based on a multitude of online reviews, I ordered the Joe Special, a conglomeration of seasoned ground beef, spinach, eggs and cheese that was really, really good. I also got a side of hash browns, which were amazing. The one letdown, foodwise, was the grilled biscuit. I was expecting something that tasted really special; instead, I got something that tasted really burnt. Unfortunately, we had a horrible waitress, who first didn’t realize we were even there (after about 15 minutes, the greeter walked by, noticed we still had menus and asked if anyone had ever come over to take our order), then screwed up my dad’s order, then pretty much forgot again that we were ever there. We practically had to beg for the bill.

     

    Up next: a visit to Portland, OR!

  12. A few weeks after returning from upstate New York, I headed out on my final vacation of the summer, flying to Seattle, WA, with my father for a trip halfway down the Pacific coast. Enjoy!

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    Following an afternoon enjoying the Space Needle, Experience Music Project and other wonders of the 1962 World’s Fair site, we took a short trip to our first Roadfood stop of the trip, Red Mill Burgers in Seattle.

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    This sounds amazing, especially considering that the Red Mill is renowned for its milkshakes. Unfortunately, its milkshake machine was down the day we visited.

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    The restaurant is done up in a sort of faux-’50s motif, though the old advertising clocks and signs hanging over each booth are vintage. My father would have liked to have had a number of him for his collection.

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    Many of them were for soft drinks, some readily recognizable, others not so much.

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    At Red Mill, you place your order at the counter, then wait for the cashier to call your name. Somehow, the day we went, they not only had several orders under incorrect names (and there weren’t that many people in the restaurant to begin with), but got my name wrong altogether. We had to show them the receipt for them to figure out what went on our tray and what didn’t. Once we got the food, however, all was (mostly) forgiven. My bacon-blue cheese burger was very good, and the onion rings were OK, as well… until they cooled off. Ain’t nothin’ in this world quite as unappetizing as a cold onion ring.

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    The next morning, we began our day with a visit to Top Pot Doughnuts in Seattle.

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    They have a lot of books here.

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    A lot of doughnuts, too!

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    Ready for the big unveiling?

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    I decided on a chocolate-iced original.

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    Top Pot doughnuts are know for their rough, craggy exterior. It was OK, but probably not something I’d order again.

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    The raised raspberry glazed, on the other hand, was very good. My father (who also tried an original glazed) and I both agreed it was the best of the doughnuts we sampled from Top Pot.

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    The doughnuts helped fuel us for a full day exploring Pike Place Market.

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    Pike Place is not just a single building, but an array of buildings that comprise a mind-blowing foodie experience. (Actually, there are a lot of other neat things here, too, including antique stores, magic shops, mini-museums, live entertainment and other attractions… but since this is the food thread, I’m going to focus on the food).

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    This being Seattle, there’s a lot of authorized (and unauthorized) counter-culture graffiti all around.

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    Hey! It’s double-dollar food stamp day at Pike Place!

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    Before getting to the buildings proper, you make your way through a small maze of pop-up tents selling knock-off purses, folk art and other flea market-esque items.

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    You know you’re getting close to the main building when you see this. It’s the very first Starbucks… and there was never a single time throughout the day that it didn’t have a line out the door. I’m pretty sure I saw some people lighting candles and counting rosaries.

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    This is the only place in the world that still officially uses the original 1970s Starbucks logo. Disneyland features a similar logo at restaurants serving Starbucks coffee, with the most obvious parts edited for content.

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    And what goes better with coffee than cheese?

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    Windows in the cheese shop allow passersby to see the cheese-making process in action.

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    It’s just like the Mission Tortilla Factory! No, really, it is — especially since after watching the cheese being made, you can go inside for a free sample. The cheese curds we tried were excellent.

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    Inside the main building of Pike Place, you are immediately hit with both visual and olfactory overload.

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    You also are immediately hit with a crowd of roughly 80 bajillion people. Seriously, it was like this on the main floor all day long.

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    Free samples abound in the market. It’s better than Sam’s Club!

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    While the market includes just about anything anyone could ever want, foodwise, produce and seafood seem to be the leading specialties.

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    Several booths carried these fruit logs. They were really good. Apple pie was my favorite.

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    “Picked fresh daily.”

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    The jumbo grilling scallops are fancy! (The halibut cheeks apparently are not.)

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    When it comes to seafood at Pike Place, this is what everyone wants to see: the flying fish!

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    Yes, they really do throw large fish out to customers that order them. And this is where they do it. Unfortunately, it happens so quickly that my poor little camera couldn’t keep up, so the pictures I did manage of the “flying” fish just kind of look like blurry guys holding their arms out.

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    Pike Place also offers those other two necessities of life: beer…

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    …and jerky. Alder is the type of wood used to smoke the jerky. It wasn’t bad. I also tried salmon jerky. I won’t make that mistake again.

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    Noted!

     

    Up next: More Pike Place and yet another taste of Seattle.

  13. Time for another dose of Roadfood Adventures, this time in the Mid-Atlantic. Enjoy!

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    Two days after returning from Las Vegas, I left for a long weekend with my parents to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. On the way, we stopped for lunch at Jake’s Sandwich Board in Philadelphia.

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    And it was about time! I had tried to visit Jake’s twice before. The first time, I got there, paid for parking and found a sign saying the restaurant was closed for Memorial Day weekend? Really? Where I come from, holiday weekends are when most of the restaurants make their biggest money. The second time I happened to come during a massive thunderstorm, and there was no parking to be had at any price.

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    Jake’s is known for its quality sandwiches, but also for its Five Pound Challenge, the epitome of Philadelphia dining.

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    The winners get their pictures on the Wall of Shame.

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    We did not come with such visions of glory. We just wanted some subs.

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    My mother decided to try some fried pickles, which she didn’t particularly like, so I ended up with most of them.

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    I wanted to try the “crunchy onions,” basically French-fried sweet onion petals. They were very good.

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    The main reason I spent so much time trying to get to Jake’s in recent years, however, was to try its Garlic Bomb sub. It’s a cheese steak served on a roll with garlic spread, with roasted garlic nestled in with the meat, topped with French-fried garlic. Sounds like it should be amazing, right? It had no taste whatsoever. That said, I’d like to return to Jake’s someday to try the “50/50,” which a number of others ordered while we were there. And just what is the “50/50,” you ask? Why, it’s a half pork, half bacon sub, covered with melted provolone cheese and Siracha hot sauce. (Maybe I’d ask for mine without the Siracha.)

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    And for dessert? Why, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, of course!

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    That evening, after a few stops, we headed into Binghamton, NY. Our destination: Sharky’s.

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    Sharky’s is restaurant divided in two, with a bright, worn counter service section in front and a dark, equally worn table service section in the back. There were plenty of locals in there when we arrived (not seen in this photo).

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    My mom opted for something a little more traditional than I was after, ordering a seafood platter (but with pierogies).

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    I didn’t travel all the way to Binghamton to eat seafood! First up on my plate was the City Chicken, not really chicken at all but marinated pork, skewered on a stick and fried crisp.

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    But the thing to get at Sharky’s is the spiedies. And just what is a spiedie, you ask? Well, originally it was skewered chunks of lamb, marinated in spices and grilled over hot charcoal, served with Italian bread. Today, chicken has taken the place of the more expensive lamb, but the principle remains the same. They were good… but to be honest, my dad and I both preferred the City Chicken.

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    The next day, after spending hours upon hours touring the National Baseball Hall of Fame (it really was neat), I stumbled upon Schneider’s Bakery in Cooperstown, NY.

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    This apple cider doughnut really hit the spot!

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    It’s a good thing I stopped for a snack; there was a long wait to get into our next destination: Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q in Oneonta, NY.

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    “See your dinners barbecued on our giant charcoal pit.”

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    But first, let’s take a stroll around the grounds. There’s Brooks Park…

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    …this nifty vintage vehicle parked outside the gift shop (which has its own building, separate from the restaurant)…

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    …and the sauce factory, where Brooks’ famous barbecue sauce is bottled for sales and distribution. Not pictured are The Coop, a stand-alone ice cream stand, and the giant charcoal pit, which was closed off for rain when we arrived.

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    Inside, the restaurant itself was massive.

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    This homage to ESPN was part of an ongoing sports theme in the lobby décor, spotlighting mainly the New York Yankees and college teams affiliated with the Brooks family.

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    Take that, foul loaf!

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    The “bar-b-q” in the restaurant’s name refers not to the traditional pulled pork, brisket and ribs, but strictly to chicken, which all three of us ordered. I got mine as part of a combination dinner with pork, which I took to mean pulled pork. When it arrived, the pork was represented by a delicate slice beneath the chicken. And how was the chicken? It was… OK. I’m not a big fan of eating chicken right off the bone to start with, and this certainly was nothing like the local fire departments cook up for their fundraisers, but it was fine for what it was.

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    The bucket on each table for discarded bones was a nice touch.

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    My mom ordered a slice of carrot cake for dessert, which was huge. She said it was good, but she couldn’t finish it.

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    My father and I, on the other hand, had no problem finishing off our crème de menthe sundaes. They were not only unique, but mighty tasty, as well.

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    Along with some sauces and rubs for my barbecue-addicted friend back home, I picked up a packet of these maple-coated sunflower kernels in the gift shop to try. Let’s just say I prefer the crème de menthe sundae….

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    Over the summer, I had some good Roadfood fortune occur within about a mile of my home when a grossly overpriced Italian restaurant, which operated in an old bank building, closed and became an Irish pub.

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    There’s not much space inside the Pint and Pub in Millsboro, DE, which often necessitates a wait for a table. But the wait is well worth it!

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    On my first visit, I tried the Scotch eggs. And what is a Scotch egg, you ask?

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    It’s a hard-boiled egg covered in sausage, rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried. And it’s delicious! The Pint and Pub serves its version with onion straws and grainy mustard.

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    Kelly opted for an Irish chicken stew with soda bread, which she enjoyed.

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    I, on the other hand, stuck to tradition, ordering an open-faced corned beef Reuben. And what a sandwich it was! The Pint and Pub brines and peppers its own corned beef on site, and the effort comes through boldly in the taste.

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    For dessert, Kelly ordered a pair or flavored crème brulees. She said they were excellent.

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    I sampled the bread pudding, which, while not the best bread pudding I’ve ever had, was good enough that I’ve ordered it several times since.

     

    Up next: The Roadfood tour travels to the Pacific Northwest.

  14. I spent yesterday at Kings Dominion on a trip that was postponed from June due to car problems, and I must say that the park did almost everything right for its 40th anniversary. Matt Ouimet continues to prove he has a certain knack for saying "yes" to all the right ideas.

     

    It was great to have the singing mushrooms back, and the Candy Apple Grove signs were spot on. The return of Safari Village was fun, and the fountains on International Street looked awesome. The KD40 show was good (and, unlike Kings Island's 40th anniversary show, park specific and air conditioned... though they should have better proofed the park factoids that aired prior to the performance -- I spotted two typos), and I loved the historical displays inside the entrance gift shop (especially the original figure from Journey to the Land of Dooz). After having been denied by my parents two decades ago, I even finally was able to get a blue ice cream cone (though it didn't have much flavor, and the portion size was completely out of control). My biggest regret is missing the Clown Band, which is off on Thursdays.

     

    My one complaint is the lack of quality 40th anniversary merchandise. Maybe it was there earlier in the season, and I just missed it? All I could find were some expensive cups and a few T-shirts featuring the mushrooms. I read online that there were commemorative pins, but aside from a framed set in one of the displays, I couldn't find any. During Kings Island's 40th anniversary season, I bought a throwback T-shirt with the park's original logo; I was hoping they would do the same thing for Kings Dominion, but I didn't see any. A 40th anniversary pressed penny would have been nice (I got one of them made during Kings Island's 40th, as well), but again if there was one available, I never saw it... and I was looking.

     

    I also was hoping (though not expecting) for some additional singing mushroom merchandise, specifically maybe some plush. I saw one plush mushroom in one of the displays, but none for sale. Since all of the mushrooms' songs are either park specific or old (public domain) standards, it seems like it would be easy to issue a CD with all the songs (I have one from Monster Mansion at SFOG). There also was a video playing in the display with original park commercials and interviews with early executives that seems like it would have made a very nifty souvenir DVD, again at almost no extra cost since the source material was already there. But again... no such luck.

     

    One more observation: If you've never ridden Boo Blasters on Boo Hill without shooting, as if it were a regular dark ride, there are some fun dialog and animation surprises in there that you've probably never noticed before. Not sure if most of it was there before the post-Scooby Doo re-theme or not.

  15. Hofbrauhaus looks like our kind of place! Had we known about it, we definitely would have paid it a visit.

     

    At this point, I'm officially over a year behind in updating this thread, so I'll try to pick up the pace a bit... but no promises. In the meantime, here are some more Vegas eats. Enjoy!

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    What better way to wash down a Single Bypass burger than with a deep-fried Twinkie! This is why the Mermaid Casino on Freemont Street has long been one of my favorite stops in Vegas.

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    Except we missed the comeback of the Twinkie by about a week. Oh well, Cloud Cakes are close enough.

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    For those unfamiliar with what a deep-fried Twinkie looks like… behold!

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    And this is what it looks like on the inside! Notice that the cream sort of turns into a gooey custard… which, of course, is the best part!

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    By this point, Kelly was dead tired and insisted we go back to the hotel. I agreed… until we passed the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino and I saw this!

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    Du-par’s is a legendary small restaurant chain in Los Angeles, and I figured I’d likely never have the chance to try it, so when that chance jumped right out in front of me… well, how could I not? Even though I already felt like I was going to explode.

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    A lot of people swear by Du-par’s pies.

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    I mean, how hard would it be to resist a pie that looks like that?

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    But resist I did, because as good as all those pies looked, the one dish Du-par’s is famous for, above and beyond everything else, is its pancakes. Even though I could eat only a few bites, they were heavenly. We took the rest back to the hotel in a box. Kelly told the waiter that we’d lost everything at the casino, and the leftover pancakes were all the food we would have to sustain ourselves for the next three days until our flight back home. He was amused.

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    I also had him box up a giant Du-par doughnut to take back for the next day. It wasn’t anywhere near as good as it looked (and couldn’t even come close to touching those pancakes), unfortunately.

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    After eating the leftover pancakes for breakfast the next day, we took a late lunch at Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar” and Grill at Harrah’s, mostly because we had read in one of the freebie guidebooks that the restaurant’s menu included a jalapeno Reuben. We were intrigued.

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    The walls are covered in Toby Keith memorabilia, along with various western-themed beer signs. The waitresses… again, I wasn’t about to ask one to pose, but much like the servers at the Heart Attack Grill, they had a very specific uniform. It consisted of chaps, panties, a tank top… and not much else.

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    The potato salad was served in… are you ready for it? A miniature red Solo cup! You know, because one of Toby Keith’s songs is “Red Solo Cup”! Get it? Ha ha ha! Unfortunately, the potato salad also kind of tasted like a red Solo cup.

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    And I’m sad to say that the Cowboy Reuben, the very reason we came to this place, was even worse. I have no idea how you go about sucking every last ounce of flavor out of corned beef and Swiss cheese, but somehow the chefs at Toby Keith’s managed it. It tasted like wallpaper paste on bricks, the bricks being the bread that was grilled into fossilization. As for the “jalapeno”… I’m sure they probably had one in the kitchen somewhere, and perhaps they were hoping its essence would somehow infuse itself with the sandwich from across the room. At least the fries tasted OK.

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    That evening, we went to the Bellagio to sample its famous buffet.

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    This was the line to get in… and this is just what you could see from the casino. It actually rounded the corner and continued down a very long corridor. Total “standby” time was about an hour. Which is pretty typical.

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    The Bellagio’s buffet may not be No. 1 in Vegas anymore (Steve Wynn’s newest hotel, the Wynn, takes that honor), but it’s still pretty darned good!

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    This was my first plate.

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    I didn’t think the aerial view did it justice.

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    Plate No. 2…

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    …and finally, dessert!

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    The next morning, we took a cab quite a long distance to check out Mary’s Hash House. Kelly wasn’t happy we spent so much money just to get to a restaurant, but what are you going to do?

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    Hash House has been featured on several TV shows.

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    Didn’t see Guy Fieri’s signature anywhere, though!

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    Inside, the place was pretty pedestrian, and the waitress wasn’t altogether friendly or prompt. We later found out that they had just received a phone order for something like 30 breakfasts to go, and things were pretty frantic behind the scenes. Once that was taken care of, the service was much better.

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    Oh well. The wait gave us time to contemplate the custom curtains.

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    We also got a little bowl of partially used creamers.

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    These, however, were much better than the nasty creamers. Toast at Hash House is served with your choice of exotic, house-made jams and jellies. I don’t remember each one we tried, but I know one was jalapeno-something and another was pineapple-something. They were all very good.

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    Kelly raved about her egg white omelet and fresh fruit bowl.

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    I, on the other hand, was not about to go to a restaurant called “Hash House” and not order hash! In fact, I decided on the Super Hash: corned beef, roast beef, ham, chicken and potatoes, all mixed up and fried, served with hash browns and fried eggs. It was exquisite!

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    While we were waiting for our cab back to the hotel, we had time to check out the pictures hanging on the wall in other parts of the restaurant. How can you not love a place where Woodsy Owl has dined?

     

    Up next: a return to the Mid-Atlantic for some regional and ethnic specialties.

  16. Last week I had the opportunity to visit Wild Bill's, which had been on my list of places to visit even before the dark ride project began. The entire complex truly is a sight to behold, but for the purpose of this update, I'll stick to the projects Larry already has covered.

     

    When I started planning my trip (not just to Wild Bill's, but across several Mid-Atlantic and New England states) a little under a year ago, I hoped at least one of the rides at Wild Bill's would be open by the time I arrived. 'Twas not to be, but I asked anyway and mentioned that I knew Larry (thanks, Larry!) and had been following the progress on TPR. Wild Bill was happy to hear that and introduced me to Chuck, who offered me a guided tour. They asked me to extend the invitation to any TPR forum readers to stop by and take a look any time they are in the area. They're very excited that the TPR community is taking an interest.

     

    I do have one minor update from Larry's last photo set, in that the elf is an authentic piece of Macy's New York window dressing from the '50s, but still no word whether it will be included in any of the haunted attractions. I also met a very large, very live snake that is being planned as part of the attraction.

     

    Inside the Pretzel dark ride, Chuck told me he's received some criticism for including the cartoon devil Larry showed earlier, adding that he couldn't understand what all the fuss was about, especially since kids blow out the brains of zombies (and others) in exceedingly graphic video games on a daily basis; his opinion is that, given that example, a cartoon plywood devil probably isn't the biggest threat to the innocence of America's youth.

     

    Walking through what has been completed of the walk-through so far, it felt just like the few Bill Tracy walk-throughs I've had the opportunity to experience, which Chuck took as a big compliment. He also made a point of noting that, unlike many "haunt" attractions in the area, all the "scares" in the attractions will be pneumatically or electromechanically controlled; no live actors. Once everything is completed, this collection of attractions is going to be something very special.

     

    Visually, there aren't too many exterior changes, but I do have a few photos to offer. Enjoy!

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    A good overall view of the dark ride's exterior so far.

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    The walk-through from behind the fence, as visitors would first see it from the parking lot.

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    A close-up of the a gate in the walk-through.

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    A piece of set dressing we haven't seen before.

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    A panel on the outside of Wild Bill's store provides a rendering of the walk-through.

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    Another panel on the store pays tribute to the original Pretzel dark rides. (Others pay homage to everything from Universal monsters to sideshow attractions to King Kong to Bozo the Clown and beyond.)

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    Just to the side of the walk-through is this original panel from the original "Laff in the Dark" ride at Lake Compounce.

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    And finally, across the field, the stage set has been painted and given a name. Looking forward to more updates from Wild Bill's in the future!

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    This semi-legible sign provides some background on the "Laff in the Dark" panel.

  17. Thanks, everyone! To clarify, a lot of the "rides not operating" lines in the TR were for the purposes of dramatization. The actual attractions that were down were the Tilt-A-Whirl, train, Tumble Bug, Music Express, Pony Track, Haunted Hostile (which may be seasonal?), water rides (it may have been too early in the year for them), and Toboggan and Roundup (which have been out of commission for some time and aren't even located in the actual park but in a field near the beach). Everything else was up and running, though the kiddie rides did have rotating operators. Miniature golf also was open, but the one picture I had of it included several people walking by, which didn't really jibe with the whole "this park is deserted and haunted" theme I was going for.

     

    As for the current status of the park, my understanding is that it is expected to continue operating at least through the end of the summer. There has been a proposal that would "save" it (or at least delay the tax sale) through some sort of ownership/management shift, but there's nothing binding at this point. In my opinion, if you want to make sure you get the Blue Streak and CLP credit, the best course of action would be to hope for the best, plan for the worst and get there this season.

     

    Edited to add: Also, there was a crew working on the Tumble Bug while I was there, so hopefully it will be up and running again soon. It would be a nice historical component to add back into the park.

  18. It’s been awhile, a couple years maybe, since I posted an amusement park TR on TPR. Why? Several reasons, one of which is that I rarely feel I can contribute more than what is already being said about the parks I visit. For instance, one of the three parks I visited last weekend was Waldameer. Currently, there are not one, not two, but three Waldameer topics on the first page of the forum alone. Sure, I could make it four… but how many pictures of Ravine Flyer II and the Whacky Shack can you look at before you don’t care anymore?

     

    But Conneaut Lake is… different. It’s not too far away from several popular Pennsylvania and Ohio parks, yet it doesn’t seem to get anywhere near the traffic as, say Kennywood or Cedar Point. Most of the attention it gets on TPR and other sites is more about whether or not it will survive another season rather than what the park has to offer. The last full TR I could find on it is just over a year old. The last one before that is from about five years ago. So today, I take you on a virtual visit to Conneaut Lake Park. And I do it my way. Enjoy!

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    Each year, thousands of people visit picturesque Conneaut Lake, PA. Here, they enjoy the historic Hotel Conneaut.

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    They peruse the memorial boardwalk.

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    They partake of the local cuisine.

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    They frolic on the beautiful lakeshore beach.

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    They gather for outdoor concerts.

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    They cruise aboard the Kaylee Belle.

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    But just beyond this luxurious vacation paradise lies a much more sinister realm, allegedly haunted by spirits from beyond. Spirits… who are unhappy when the living invade their hallowed grounds.

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    This… is Conneaut Lake Park.

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    Opened in 1892, the park served as a source of pleasure for generations of vacationers and locals alike, a place where, for just a few dollars, visitors could enjoy a carefree day of mirth and amusement.

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    But by 2013, strange and unusual things began to take place. Some who came to visit the park… never left.

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    The unsolved disappearances of several guests forced the struggling park to close its doors for good.

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    Today, a brave few still dare to enter Conneaut Lake Park. Some are urban explorers, seeking to photograph the remnants of a once thriving paradise for children and thrill seekers alike. Others come to discover the truth. Did those missing guests go missing for a reason? Were they abducted? Or were there darker forces at work? Today, we attempt to uncover the mystery on… “Ghost Hunters: Conneaut Lake.”

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    Flags no longer fly from these flagpoles at the entrance to Conneaut Lake Park.

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    The ticket booths stand empty.

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    There is no life except the malaria-carrying mosquitoes circling this infested pond… and us.

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    We’re here to find the truth… and we’re going in!

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    Signage throughout the area has fallen into disrepair, causing confusion and disorientation. We’re going to have to figure out navigation for ourselves.

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    The truth… or just discarded Christmas decorations? Did the spirits put those there, or did interference from the mortal world place these objects into temporary storage? We may never know.

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    Rides throughout the park have mysteriously vanished since its closing.

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    Others remain inoperable.

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    The elements have taken their toll on the once loved rides at Conneaut Lake.

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    Suddenly, the Paratrooper starts without warning! Ghostly laughter fills the park!

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    We make our getaway to Park Avenue, a sad and forgotten section of Conneaut Lake.

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    Here, the former Tumble Bug no longer runs.

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    The Music Express is slowly fading into a ghostly form.

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    The bumper cars bump no more.

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    All that remains is the 2-by-4 that once measured riders’ heights… and disciplined those who were too short to partake in the attraction. Could it be their tortured souls that now haunt this beloved former amusement park?

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    Spectral carousel music emanates from this building. We check it out.

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    Stately carved horses hold their pose and await riders that will never again come.

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    A carousel panel celebrates the park’s happier days.

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    The rings have vanished along with the joyful squeals of happy children that once inhabited this special place.

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    The water slides are all dry now.

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    However, you can still get splashed in the rest rooms.

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    Could this be the entrance to the fabled…

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    ...ghost train?

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    The entrance to hell! Could this be where the spirits are coming from?

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    Is that gum… or the spirits of a thousand restless souls, trapped in gum form?

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    And suddenly, we see our first spectre! We make another hasty escape.

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    We’ll be safe in Mouse the Clown’s Kiddieland.

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    Apparently the spirits feed not only on human flesh, but on plywood otters.

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    Here, too, the rides remain silent and abandoned.

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    Some are as creepy as the ghosts that now call this place home.

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    I have one of these! Only mine’s not quite so… haunted.

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    Never more will these once popular attractions cause moments of bliss.

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    More ghostly music emanates from this smaller carousel building.

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    Once more we investigate.

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    Our tickets are no longer valid.

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    Our spirits have a sense of humor… but what’s that just beyond the jet ride?

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    It’s the park’s abandoned pony track. Suddenly, hoofbeats become audible!

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    Could it be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, come to sever our souls? We don’t stick around to find out.

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    Is that the spirit of a former Kiddieland worker, manifesting itself on the Little Dipper platform?

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    It must be, for all at once the coaster begins to move!

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    We run for safety… but instead we come face to face with the devil himself, mocking us from high above his hellish perch!

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    His eyeless minions stare into our very souls. That’s when we notice…

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    …this! What appears to be a harmless carousel decoration turns out to be…

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    …a gravestone for a former Conneaut Lake Park employee! Possibly the one that tried to abduct our very beings from the Little Dipper platform!

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    We witness more ghostly destruction all around us as we run for our lives!

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    The Witch’s Stew provides little comfort as we make our way toward the midway… and what we hope will be holy ground.

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    The desertedness of the abandoned park is once again apparent as we find what we hope is safety among the dusty grounds.

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    There are no sign of spirits at the old Log Cabin Gift Shop. The only “ghosts” we see are the eerie lights cast from the 1990s-era video games inside.

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    Rotting buildings and posts line the otherwise barren landscape.

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    A few flags still fly from their posts, a reminder of days when the park thrived.

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    Midway games remain abandoned, just the way employees left them when the park was hastily evacuated on its very last day of operation.

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    The final “ride” constructed at the park… the Haunted Hostile. But is it… really haunted?

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    Suddenly, picnic tables begin stacking themselves in front of the ride’s entrance as if moved by an unseen force! The message is clear: We shall not pass.

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    Devil worship! So this is how the spirits made their way into the park… they were invited!

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    Meanwhile, portions of the Toboggan begin to disappear into the ghostly realm.

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    Most of the Roundup is already gone.

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    All at once, the spirits send us a clear sign. We are to leave immediately… and wash our hands.

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    But not before we find… the back entrance to hell! Be gone, demon spawn!

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    And then we find it… the entrance to the fabled Blue Streak roller coaster. We assume it to be a safe haven, as the spectres have not yet begun to sink their demon fangs into this otter.

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    For three-quarters of a century, the Blue Streak was the signature ride at this beloved park.

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    Today it sits abandoned, a shrine to happier times.

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    Rest in peace, old friend.

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    Eventually, the ghostly howling stops, and we dare to exit this sanctuary from the damned. If only we could have ridden it. If only we had come to Conneaut Lake sooner. If only we were not… too late!

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    And then all become clear. The devil clown is… mechanical? It’s a setup! Mortals are afoot…

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    …and riding the Trabant!

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    We’re not too late after all! We quickly purchase our tickets…

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    …and get our Blue Streak credit! As for those two missing persons?

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    It turns out they just eloped! Join us next time as we seek to discover… the truth behind the haunted hot dogs of Chicago (or something like that).

     

    Honestly, CLP was a nice little park, full of friendly employees (some of whom, upon seeing me taking pictures, offered to run rides for me so I could capture them “in action”) and a nice atmosphere. It could use some TLC and a LOT more patronage. I was there for two hours on a Saturday and, not including employees, saw fewer than three dozen people. I really hope it pulls through.

     

    That said, there’s a reason I decided to ride the Blue Streak this year instead of waiting one more season. If anyone out there is still hoping to get the credit, I’d say sooner is probably better than later.

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    And so as not to end this TR on a “downer”… here’s a picture from later in the day at Waldameer that I like to call “Pirate’s Gold” or “X Marks the Spot.” That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!

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