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Everything posted by printersdevil78

  1. ^Thanks! But I don't do it *just* to provide a good report... I do it because I love to eat! In this round: Vegas, baby! My wife and I took a trip to Nevada last July, and the highlights are below. (No barbecue this time... sorry!) Enjoy! A few weeks later, Kelly and I flew out to Las Vegas for a few days’ vacation. By the time our plane landed and we got to our hotel, we were really hungry. We were hoping for lunch, but since it was 9:30 a.m. in Vegas, we had to settle for brunch at the Bayside Buffet at Mandalay Bay. The buffet itself was nice (if very expensive), but my favorite part was the filled malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts). Kelly has a “thing” for Irish restaurants, so the next day we made our way over to Nine Fine Irishmen in New York New York for lunch. “Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize!” We were seated in the upstairs section, right across from this tribute made of firefighters’ patches sent in from around the nation. A pyramid of butter! Just like in Ireland! We started with the fried pickle appetizer. I prefer chips to spears, but what are you gonna do? Kelly got a grilled turkey Panini, which she really liked, plus some potato salad that didn’t really taste like anything. I got a breakfast consisting of runny scrambled eggs, corned beef hash (but not really), home fries from around the world (or something like that), ham, and a sausage that had the texture of Jell-O and tasted like feet. That afternoon, we took a break at Taqueria Canonita at the Venetian (I know, Mexican food at an Italian-themed resort…). Our table was right next to the “canal.” We stopped mainly for drinks, but we also ordered chips and salsa (yes “ordered”… despite what you may have heard, there’s practically nothing complementary — or cheap — in Vegas anymore). The salsa was so good, I sipped it with a swizzle stick! It was funny at the time… you can see in my bloodshot eyes how tired we were. We finished our snack at Canonita with the dessert of the day, which was some sort of lemon-berry pastry. It wasn’t bad. Not as good as the salsa, though. As we lounged at the table after receiving our bill, we watched a couple get married in a gondola. That evening, we went downtown to Freemont Street to partake in several things I was hoping to do, one of which was the Heart Attack Grill. Noted! They have two truck scales, one outside and one inside. If you step on one and it registers 350 pounds or more, lights flash, an alarm sounds and you get your food for free. (A large neon sign out front explains this; unfortunately, it was blocked with construction equipment while we were there.) If you hit 350 pounds while eating there, anything you order after that will be free; you’re allowed to weigh in after each burger. Once inside, you are dressed in a hospital gown and given an “admission” bracelet before being seated. This is what the bracelet says. Each burger is called a “Bypass,” from single (one patty) to quadruple (four patties). This was Verne Troyer’s gown. The walls are covered in pop culture references realigned to promote the restaurant and its celebration of all things gluttonous. Take, for example, this panoramic recreation of “The Last Supper,” with the restaurant’s founder in the position of Jesus, feeding his fast food mascot disciples. There are plenty of re-themed movie posters, as well. Da Vinci would be so proud…. Near the indoor truck scale sits this blood pressure machine. Unlike those found in pharmacies, however, the patrons who use it aren’t checking their health… …they’re trying for the high score! There’s probably some social commentary in there somewhere in that more than half of the “top achievers” are from Texas. I didn’t exactly feel comfortable asking one of the waitresses to pose (though they’re happy to do so), but this mannequin offers a good approximation of the Heart Attack Grill uniform. A giant-sized package of Lucky Strike cigarettes and a large paddle hang from the ceiling. The cigarettes symbolize the largest meal offered at the restaurant, with which they are served for “dessert.” (And, yes, we’re talking about a real pack of unfiltered cigarettes, not the candy kind.) The paddle… well, that symbolizes something, too. Specifically, it symbolizes what happens to anyone who doesn’t finish their food. Spankings are also a (free) menu item. Really. The restaurant was not crowded by any means, but it still took an inordinately long time for a waitress to find our table — long enough that had I not come to Freemont Street specifically to experience the Heart Attack Grill, I probably would have left. Fortunately, when we finally were able to place our order and the food arrived, it was really good. You’re looking at a bacon-chili cheeseburger (Single Bypass), chili cheese fries (which Kelly promised me she would eat some of, otherwise I wasn’t going to order them; I’m not sure the two she had really made much difference in the long run) and a real-sugar Mexican Coke. By the time we were done, there was still plenty of grease to be had! In the end, you’re not billed for food, but for “medical services.” Notice that tax is referred to as “Obama’s cut,” although last I checked, sales tax was one of the few things the federal government didn’t lay claim to. (Stop giving them ideas, Heart Attack Grill!) Up next: more unhealthy dining in Las Vegas!
  2. More food pictures to enjoy. So... enjoy! The next day, following an exceptional visit to Marceline, MO, I traveled to LC’s Bar-B-Q for what many reviewers called the best burnt ends in Kansas City — which, de facto, would make them the best burnt ends in the world! You will notice that there are no photos of the outside of LC’s (with bars on every window) nor the inside. Here’s why: As soon as I entered the nearly empty restaurant, a very large, seemingly very angry man yelled across the room, from behind the counter, “What you want?” I walked a little closer to read the menu board, and as I did, the man reiterated, “I said, ‘What you want?’” Not wanting to anger this gentleman further, I approached the counter and immediately asked for a burnt ends sandwich. He responded, “For here… or to go?” making it very clear with his inflection and body language that “to go” was the correct answer. I believe the meal cost a little over $8. I handed the man a $10 bill and did not ask for change. A few minutes later, another gentleman, wearing a wife-beater T-shirt, came out of the kitchen/smoker area and thrust a plastic bag containing a Styrofoam container dripping with barbecue sauce into my hand. I knew that was my cue to leave. I drove a couple miles and pulled into the parking lot of a Sonic Drive-In, where I spread a freebie newspaper I had picked up in Memphis over the passenger seat and carefully extracted the box from the sauce-saturated bag. It contained no napkins and no fork… but approximately one full pound of the plumpest, tastiest-looking burnt ends I had ever seen, covered with about a gallon of sauce, between two slices of white bread. The kind folks at Sonic were nice enough to provide me with a plastic fork and some napkins, as well as a cherry limeade, which turned out to be very necessary as the peppery sauce almost overwhelmed every other taste bud in my mouth. I could have done with a lot less sauce, but as the reviews stated, these were, far and away, the best burnt ends I’ve ever had. And I’ll only have them once because I’m definitely not brave enough to try for seconds! Again, for most people, a pound of smoked beef would have been enough for one dinner. But, as we have established, I’m not most people. And this people, as a certified Kansas City Barbeque Society judge, was not about to end his visit to Kansas City without a stop at the world’s famous Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque. Inside, the restaurant is fairy bare bones, starting with the ordering line. The brisket and ribs were good… …but the real star here is the sauce, some of the best I’ve ever had. Following an evening at Worlds of Fun, I took a late-night drive south toward Branson so the next morning I would be within driving distance of Silver Dollar City. Smokehouse jerky? Sounds good to me! Yak’s on the left, kangaroo on the right. Both were good, tender and spicy. How about some fresh-fried pork rinds before taking a spin on Outlaw Run? This is before the Texas Giant incident… so a couple more pounds won’t make a difference! This looks like a good place to find cinnamon bread! Sadly, it was not. Even more sadly, the person at the counter told me they no longer sold cinnamon bread at the park. Choking back tears, I settled for a giant cinnamon roll instead. Temperatures were in the 90s that day, so a nice Sioux City Sarsaparilla from the old general store seemed like a good way to cool down. As I was perusing other shops on my way out of the park late in the afternoon, what to my wandering eyes should appear… but cinnamon bread! Oh the joy! The rapture! I ate half at the park and saved the other half for later. Of course, I didn’t need it after dinner at this place! For the uninitiated, Lambert’s Café is the “home of throwed rolls,” meaning that when you ask for rolls… they throw them to (or at) you. It’s also the home of jumbo-sized portions and all-you-can-eat side dishes. There are three locations; this is the one in Ozark, MO. And Coke drinkers, take solace, for Lambert’s serves The Real Thing™. The posted wait to get in was nearly an hour. Fortunately, as I’ve stated in the past, there’s rarely a wait when traveling solo. I perused this model train and other junk hanging on the walls and from the ceiling for less than five minutes before I was taken into the dining area. And speaking of the dining area… this is it! Even the drinks are huge (and apparently blurry) at Lambert’s! This was my first roll. Caught it on the first try! For my main course, I ordered the pork belly (basically a huge pile of thick-cut bacon). Also making an appearance are fried okra, fried potatoes, pinto beans, coleslaw, cornbread and sorghum in which to dip the throwed rolls. It was all splendid! The next day, I passed through Tupelo, MS, on my way back to Atlanta for my flight home. As far as I can tell, there are exactly four things in Tupelo: Elvis’ birth home (which is so small that my current television would not fit in the building) and related tourist complex, a grocery store (in whose parking lot I made a U-turn), a traffic light and Johnnie’s Drive-In. This would be Johnnie’s Drive-In. Thankfully, they don’t keep their barbecue to themselves. An Elvis connection? In Memphis? Inconceivable! The drive-in’s interior is pretty small. In fact, this is pretty much all of it. But this is the real reason most people come here. Apparently Johnnie’s was a favorite hangout of Elvis’ when he was a teenager. No doubt Elvis ate many of Johnnie’s barbecue sandwiches, so who was I to pass one up? It was,,, OK. About the kind of barbecue you’d expect to find at an average drive-in. The real attraction for me, however, was the doughboy, a hamburger with dough mixed in with the beef. Johnnie’s supposedly started making them that way during World War II (though since meat rationing ended in the U.S. within a year of Johnnie’s opening, one wonders whether it was just a patriotically convenient excuse for cost-cutting). It was… unique, and I’m not really sure there’s anything I can compare the flavor to. It didn’t really taste like a cheeseburger, but it wasn’t horrible. I wouldn’t go out of my way for another one, but if I was someplace and it was on the menu, I might consider it. Of course, as a drive-in, Johnnie’s also offers an opportunity to eat doughboys… in your car! My last restaurant stop on this vacation was Bob Sykes’ Bar-B-Q, located in Bessemer, AL. Having just made several stops in the nearby city of Birmingham, parts of which were nice enough but much of which made me wish I had instead chosen to visit a cleaner, friendlier area — like Detroit — I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’m happy to report that, after being approached by a toothless panhandler in the parking lot, I found the inside of the restaurant to be quite nice. A local middle school cheerleading team was even bussing tables in exchange for donations to go to some tournament. It was very Mayberry-esque. The open grill greets all visitors to Bob Sykes’… and as good as it looks, the aroma was even better! The restaurant has been here for more than half a century. That’s got to be a good sign! This is what I ordered… …and this is what it looked like! Unfortunately, despite the welcoming atmosphere, community friendliness, longevity and heavenly aroma at Bob Sykes’, the food was just… OK. The ribs really didn’t have much flavor, and I’m not sure the pulled pork would have, either, had it not been for the sauce. The “homemade” pecan pie reminded me of ones I’ve gotten from the freezer section of Walmart… but it was OK for what it was. Eh… not so much. Still, a pleasant little diversion.
  3. This looks amazing! I can't wait for my trip there this June. Thanks for posting!
  4. Larry, I just posted photos of new (and renamed) rides and signs from SFA's Mardi Gras area in a separate TR, if there are any from there that you'd like to add to the index. Here are a few sign close-ups, as well, in case you need them.
  5. Let me just start by saying this: Everyone knows SFA sucks. Like, majorly sucks. Like if you have the choice between having a root canal or going to SFA to ride roller coasters, you're going to pick the root canal every time. Yep, everyone knows SFA sucks. Everyone, that is, except for my family and me. Now, keep in mind that every time I post that I actually like SFA, it triggers some kind of flame war that usually starts with "You only like SFA because you remember when SFA is really crappy, and now that SFA is only sort of crappy, your memories of the 'old' SFA make the 'new' SFA seem like Disneyland" and devolves into "Kings Dominion rocks! Hershey is the best! SFA sucks and you suck too!" My intent in posting this TR (my first actual theme park TR in at least a couple of years, I think) is not to re-start that flame war, but to show some pictures of the park's new area in case someone, somewhere may be interested. On Friday I left work early with what turned out to be a pretty bad stomach virus that lasted into Saturday morning. Then Saturday evening, I was in the ER until just before midnight for a completely different medical emergency. So when I woke my wife up eight hours later on Sunday morning and asked if she was ready to go to Six Flags, she had two words for me: "You're crazy." (Actually, she said two other words before that, but the TPR filter won't let me post them here.) It took a few minutes, but she soon came to the realization that I had my mind set on going, and once my mind is made up, very little ever changes it. Within the hour, we were off to Six Flags to check out the new hotness of 2014. Enjoy! The first "new" thing we noticed on our way in were the banners celebrating Washington, D.C., landmarks. They did have a couple of these out during Fright Fest last year, but I don't remember them for 2013's opening weekend, so maybe they were put up sometime in between? Either way, the design on each lamppost was different, and most of them were new to us... so there! Also new this year: healthier food options! Granted, I didn't notice them in any of the restaurants we went to... but maybe they were there, buried somewhere deep on the menu. What I do know is that the brisket sandwich at Crazy Horse Saloon probably isn't among those "healthy" options... but it sure was delicious! Yes! We love sneaking peeks! Welcome to Mardi Gras! So, for the uninitiated, Mardi Gras is basically a cohesive theming of the area around Wild One, also pulling in the land where Two Face once sat. The first thing we noticed was a mild re-theming of some existing games, like "Fool the Jester" (nee "Guesser"). Also, Bourbon Shot! (Though we couldn't remember if this actually was a preexisting game or not). Wild One's name remains the same, but it did get an updated logo. Sadly, the historical coaster car outside the station is gone. Not sure if that's permanent or not. New names for some rides, as well. Falling Star is now the Zydeco Zinger. Tower of Doom is now Voodoo Drop. Voodoo Droooooooooop! And the Sonora Speedway is now the Big Easy Speedway (and still an upcharge). A few inexpensive plywood signs to set the mood. Some were more colorful than others! One of the coolest things about Mardi Gras is that it comes with its own new set of costumed characters, most notably King Gator. While not officially announced in the passholder marketing materials (at least not in any I remember reading), this voodoo priestess character also was walking around, making quite the impression. We assigned her the temporary nickname "Voodoo Mama Juju," which fans of "The Office" will appreciate. The bass drummer above was part of a roving percussion group providing entertainment in the Mardi Gras area. Though they weren't bad, I wouldn't classify anything they played as being particularly jazzy or "New Orleans"-y (which would be fairly hard to do without some sort of wind instrument, anyway). Ah, but it's not drummers or games or flashy alligators you've come to see, you say? Well then it's a good thing SFA's newest flat ride was on display (though not yet operational), as well. I draw your attention to the French Quarter Flyers. Let the predictions on snapability begin! Still not satisfied? Well, take a look at this! That would be a new roller coaster. And though it may not be a Eurofighter gigacoaster... it's a new roller coaster at SFA. At one time, a verified photo of Bigfoot (the Sasquatch, not the monster truck) would have been less elusive! Here's the other end. Note that the surrounding buildings are being renovated, as well. We don't know what's going in them yet, but our vote is for a Mardi Gras-themed grab-and-go restaurant and a gift shop. Because you gotta have a gift shop. Capital Railways was down temporarily to provide the entrance to the "preview area," providing an opportunity for a few unique shots. Mardi Gras isn't the only "land" to have new costumed characters. Check out the sheriff in Coyote Creek! I'm psyched that Six Flags is adding unique characters to the park; I just hope that doesn't mean they're getting rid of the DC characters and Looney Tunes. A new show for the stunt arena. Though the show is themed to Roman gladiators... ...it's still set in an Old West town/fishing village. And since the show is played mostly for laughs, the setting absolutely works. They even subtly address it twice during the performance. ("Wasn't this a pirate show last year?") One of my favorite jokes (at least I think it was a joke...) was the division of the arena into a "blue" section and a "yellow" section, a la Medieval Times. At the beginning, one side is told they have to cheer for the blue gladiator, and other side is told they have to cheer for the yellow gladiator. Unless, of course, they like the other gladiator better, in which case they can cheer for him or her instead. And then it turns out none of the gladiators are color-coded anyway. (I also enjoyed the fact that the smallest female character in the show was named "Gigantus," though I was the only one who seemed to think that or the Medieval Times reference was funny). As always, the stunts were first class. Spoiler alert (unless, of course, you've seen any other stunt show, ever, produced at SFA): It ends with an explosion. The park's other new show this season is LOL, which is a blatant ripoff of "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" right down to the names of the individual segments. It's also hilarious, repeatable and probably costs next to nothing to produce, which is a win for both the consumer and Six Flags. Over in Coyote Creek's City Hall (AKA the park's arcade), this cardboard Minecraft mask was available for just 3,300 tickets! And finally, to the haters I have just one thing to say: "Can any park where everyone wins a cape really be all bad?"
  6. Back again! I could run through a laundry list of excuses for not posting more in this thread, but I won't bore everyone. Instead, enjoy some pictures of tasty food! The morning after Cattlemen's, I headed out to Classen Grill in Oklahoma City for a hearty breakfast before making my way to Frontier City. Thunder up! The inside was pretty typical, but I was glad I finally made it. When I plugged the address into my GPS, it took me to a carpet store about a mile away…. I passed some time reading the advertisements on the table. No carpet shops to be found. Fresh-squeezed orange juice? Yes, please! But this is the real reason I came here: biscuit debris! That’s biscuits covered with ham, sausage, gravy and two types of cheese, with a side of homefries. It’s every bit as good as it sounds! After leaving Frontier City, I ventured on to Robert’s Grill in El Reno, OK. After tornadoes ravaged the area just a week or so before I visited, I was glad it was still there. El Reno is known for two specialty dishes, one of which is its own version of the Coney Island hot dog, topped with chili sauce and a mustard-based coleslaw. This one was really good! The other is the onion burger, a hamburger with onions pressed into the meat and fried. These come highly rated on almost all the “roadfood”-type sites, and I scoured them all to determine that out of all the restaurants in El Reno that sell them, Robert’s got the best reviews. Unfortunately, I didn’t think it had any flavor whatsoever and, after getting about halfway through, I had to cover it with ketchup and mustard just to finish it. It was like eating Styrofoam with burnt onions. Since I was in Oklahoma City (“ooh, so pretty”), I had to get my kicks on Route 66. Specifically, my Route 66 destination was POPS, a gas station whose claim to fame is having just about every brand of bottled soda sold in the United States available under one roof. When I saw this, I knew I was in the right place! Located in Arcadia, OK, the place looks like something out of the mod ’60s, but it actually was built to look that way… in 2007. A close-up of the station’s exterior walls in all their bottled-soda glory! The soda fountain in the back of the station was cool… …but this is what I really came for! I ended up buying 13 different sodas to try, drinking two or three a day for the rest of the trip. First was Lemmy, a carbonated lemonade my father used to drink when he was growing up. It was phenomenal! I really wished I could have brought some back for him, but I couldn’t take it on the plane in my carry-on, and I wasn’t about to pay $25 for a checked back just to take home a $2.50 bottle of soda. I had heard of Nesbitt’s (my dad used to collect soda bottles and bottle caps, and he had several Nesbitt’s), but I had never tried it. It was OK, kind of like a less flavorful Sunkist. The next day, I sampled Nichol Kola and a marionberry-flavored soda. Nichol was another drink I knew about from my father’s collection, but had never tasted. It was sort of like an RC, but with a very distinct cinnamon-like aftertaste that was very good. The marionberry soda also was pretty good; it was like drinking a liquid blackberry. The Brownie caramel cream root beer was amazing! Kind of like drinking a liquid cinnamon bun. The prickly pear soda was OK; my boss brought back some prickly pear hard candy for the office once when he was on vacation out west, and this pretty much tasted like that, kind of like watered-down corn syrup. The huckleberry soda was OK, kind of like a very watered-down version of the marionberry drink. The Howdy cherry jubilee was pretty bad. It tasted like drinking seltzer water while sucking on a Sucret. This was the absolute worst trifecta of the bunch. The candy cane soda tasted like nothing more than seltzer water, with a very, very faint peppermint aftertaste. The spruce beer was interesting and definitely the best of the three; it smelled like Pine Sol and was at least somewhat sweet. The dandelion soda tasted like Alka Seltzer, only much bitterer, so much so that I poured the last third of it out rather than finishing it. This was the final day’s soda lineup. Not sure how the prickly pear got in there again… The peanut butter soda was much like the candy cane soda: seltzer water with a very, very faint peanut aftertaste. The Frostie ginger beer was OK. I’ve had ginger beer from other companies, and they were sweet with a nice aftertaste. The Frostie version was a little stronger, which I didn’t like as much. In all, the Lemmy, Nichol and Brownie really stole the show. They’re the only ones I would really like to have again. After POPS, I headed north to Kansas, where I stopped by Nu-Way, home of “crumbly burgers.” I don’t remember whether there was any booth or table seating inside, but I took a seat at the counter, regardless. I started with the garlic salad, which is really just coleslaw with a LOT of garlic! It was really good and, in my opinion, the best thing Nu-Way had to offer. Here’s one of those “crumbly burgers,” along with some spiral-cut fries. So what is a “crumbly burger”? In other Midwestern states, they call them “loosemeats” “Maid Rites” or “taverns.” It’s basically seasoned, loose-fried ground beef on a hamburger bun, kind of like a sloppy joe without the tomato sauce. I got mine with cheese. It was OK, but like the onion burger before it, really lacked much flavor outside the cheese. I also tried Nu-Way’s take on a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, which I enjoyed so much during my jaunt through Indiana in 2012. The Nu-Way version was covered with Miracle Whip (or a fair approximation), as is the local custom. I preferred the Indiana version, with mustard and pickles. The Nu-Way model was OK, but like the crumbly burger, lacked much flavor. Besides crumbly burger’s, Nu-Way’s other claim to fame is its root beer, served in a frosted mug, which was very good. The next day’s adventures took me to Nebraska, where lunch was at Shirley’s Diner in Omaha. The décor inside was very eclectic and added to the restaurant’s ambience. Each booth was decked out with memorabilia for a different band. I got the “Bumpy Action” booth, featuring ephemera from a local rock band that, according to Facebook, was the pride of Omaha from 1969-1974. Each booth also included a jukebox system, though I’m not sure if they actually worked. That’s not fried chicken you’re looking at; that’s an Omaha specialty: the cheese Frenchee (or Frienchie or Frenchy, depending on which restaurant you’re at and whether you take the name from the specials board or the menu). An interior view reveals the Frenchee/Frenchie/Frenchy for what it is: a grilled cheese, slathered with mayonnaise, covered with crushed corn flakes and deep fried. Not counting the steak from Cattlemen’s, this was the absolute best thing I had to eat on this vacation! The lunch special came with two of them, plus a ton of fries, for something like $7. They were huge! There was no way I could eat it all, but I didn’t want to throw it away, so I ended up visiting the local Walmart and buying a Styrofoam cooler and bag of ice to keep it cold, then ate the second sandwich and remaining fries on the road for dinner that evening after visiting Adventureland in neighboring Iowa. The cooler, coupled with some hotel ice, also came in handy for keeping my POPS sodas cold over the next few days. For most people, a good cheese Frenchee lunch in Omaha would have been plenty. But I’m not most people, so I hopped into my car and drove over to the city’s premier Czech restaurant, the Bohemian Café. This is what the entrance to a 1924 restaurant looks like. “We welcome you!” Inside, the décor was much what one would expect from an Eastern European-themed restaurant. My meal came with a choice of soup, and nearly every online review raved about the liver dumpling soup, so I went with that. That would be a slice of liver dumpling right there. Despite its slightly unappetizing name, it was pretty good. Many online reviews also recommended the goulash. Those reviews were wrong. While it was OK, there was nothing really special about it, and it took up valuable stomach space that would have been better suited for the dish that was to come. That dish was plum dumplings, which, thanks to my handy new cooler, I was able to get to go. I had to try at least one while they were still warm. These things are amazing! It’s basically a stewed plum wrapped in a very dense doughnut, covered with butter, cinnamon and sugar, and then baked and served with a mixture of chilled sour cream and cottage cheese. I heated the rest up in hotel microwaves for breakfast the next couple days, and while still OK, it was nowhere near as good as it was fresh out of the oven. On my way to Adventureland, I took a detour to Elk Horn, IA, to see the only Danish windmill in the United States. Next door, I spotted this sign for Danish kringle and actually groaned. I was stuffed beyond belief… but how was I supposed to pass up a chance for real Danish kringle in Middle of Nowhere, U.S.A.? So, of course, I went inside In addition to the restaurant, which seemed like the kind of place I would have loved to have tried had I not already filled up on Frenchees and plum dumplings and whatnot, they also thankfully had a small bakery and gift shop. One kringle to go, please! Once the plum dumplings were gone, this became my breakfast of choice. It took several days to eat, and it never dried out or hardened whatsoever. The kringle they sell at Epcot is good… but comparing it to this is like comparing a McDonald’s hamburger to one fresh off your own grill on the 4th of July. It was awesome! Up next: one of the barbecue capitals of the world and my most intimidating restaurant experience to date!
  7. I'm hoping to make this a stop on the way to my planned vacation in Lake George this summer!
  8. Virtually every time a roller coaster accident makes the news, some moron says, "I heard it got stuck upside down in the loop," and/or "I heard people were suing for brain damage because all the blood rushed to their head and stayed there because they were stuck upside down for so long." It would be interesting, to me, for someone to bust that myth. Assuming there's not a brake that gets stuck shut, it would be impossible for the coaster to get stuck in the loop due to some combination of gravity and inertia, right? Or is there some fraction-of-an-inch section at the top of the loop where, if perfectly positioned at exactly the right rate of resistance, it wouldn't valley in one direction or the other? The only other thing I can think of is, on Tilt-a-Whirls, some people swear having heavier people at the ends of the car will make it spin faster, while others say having the heaviest person in the middle will result in a faster spin. Which is true? Or is it both as long as the weight is unevenly distributed in some way? EDITED to add: Now that I go back and read that, I guess both of those (except the "brain damage" part) are more about the body's effects on rides rather than rides' effects on the body. Sorry for not thinking that through all the way.
  9. I can't find much online about it, and a search on TPR didn't turn up anything, so I thought I'd post in case it may be of interest: I just saw on a broadcast of the Hollywood Christmas Parade that MTV is promoting a new TV show called "Happyland," set in a theme park. It sounds like it will be something along the lines of a TV version of the movie "Adventureland." According to the parade announcer, Erik Estrada, the gist is that the park's young employees "have to separate the fantasy of their jobs from the real world of teen drama." Several of the cast members appeared in the parade. It doesn't sound like my cup of tea, but it could be interesting to see some of the backgrounds. Anyone have any info. on which park is serving as the filming location?
  10. As long as I live, I will never, ever forget riding Ravine Flyer II at Waldameer in a lightning storm during my first TPR trip. I also remember (but not as fondly) attending a company picnic at Kennywood as a guest of some friends. As we were waiting for one member of our party to finish her ride on the Thunderbolt, the sky turned jet black, and we high-tailed it to the picnic pavilion the company had rented for the day. We made it just as the first few drops began to fall, but it didn't do us much good; the storm came in so fast and furious that the rainwater quickly rose into the pavilion and covered our feet. It was over in about 20 minutes, but it did enough damage to the park (toppled trees, etc.) that it closed for the rest of the day.
  11. You know, I forgot about the earlier announcement about the blue ice cream. And I hadn't heard yet about the fountain lights. Also exciting! As far as additional "surprises," I like the idea of bringing back the floral clock. I wonder if they would be willing/able to negotiate with Time Warner for the rights to bring back Yogi's Cave for one season. Does that building still exist, or did it get razed to make room for Planet Snoopy? I know it was Treasure Cave for awhile after they got rid of the H-B theming. The last time I was there, they had taken down the signage and closed the entrance off with a couple of trash cans.
  12. Yes!!! This is awesome news! Enough to make me plan a trip to KD next summer, in fact. Interesting that the mold of the frog still has his cigar intact. I would have bet they would have taken that detail out. You know: "Timmy! What are you doing with these Swisher Sweets?" "It's OK mom! The piano-playing frog with the singing mushrooms at Kings Dominion smokes cigars, too! I wanna be just like him when I grow up!" At least they're not stereotyping zombie miners this time.
  13. Back again! I’ll let the photos and captions speak for themselves. Enjoy! In early June, Kelly and I went to Twining’s Lobster Shanty in Fenwick Island, DE, for our second anniversary. On the outside, it looks like a fairly ordinary restaurant… …until you start looking a little closer. It’s sort of a seafood-meets whimsical-meets tropical theme. Our table overlooked the waterfront marsh outside. Having been here before, we knew to order the lobster mac ’n’ cheese as an appetizer. It’s amazing! And here’s the lobster! The most unique thing on this plate is the Old Bay-boiled onions, which are better than onions have any right to be. Less than a week later, I was on a plant to Atlanta for my first vacation of the summer. And after being treated like a criminal at the Dollar Rent A Car counter (because I wouldn’t buy their insurance) and spending a few amazing hours at Six Flags Over Georgia, I made a grueling six-hour drive to Memphis. This sign, a block away from my hotel, was a welcome sight. There was a fairly long wait to get in…unless you were traveling solo and willing to sit at the bar! I was in and had my drink in my hand within five minutes of taking this shot. I’ve extolled the virtues of Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous in the past (but not in this thread), so I knew exactly what I wanted: a half-rack of traditional dry-rub ribs with beans and the restaurant’s amazing mustard-based coleslaw. After dinner, it was time for a stroll down Beale Street. Some cool neon food-based signs before we get to our ultimate destination here. I thought once to stop in here for one of their famous barbecued bologna sandwiches, but I was too full from Rendezvous. I also thought about stopping at the historic Dyer's for a burger, but again, I was too full, and I've eaten here before, anyway. This was the real reason I came down to Beale. Getting inside was tough. Plus there was a cover, which I’m generally opposed to. Plus there was an hour wait for a table. Plus the band was way, way, way too loud. But I stuck it out for one reason. This wasn’t that reason… but it was good! The Lucille is one of the club’s signature beverages. It was so dark inside that until I took the picture, I thought it was blue! Also, I don’t know who Vic Munoz is, but they gave me his table, and I wasn’t arguing! The one reason I was so intent on coming to BB King’s? Fried pickles! I have eaten meals in nearly every state in the U.S., as well as parts of Canada, England and Wales, and these are, far and away, the best fried pickles I have ever had! I discovered them during my first trip to Memphis in 2008, and I was determined to make them a part of this vacation, as well. I wasn’t disappointed! Afterward, I stopped down the street at A. Schwab, a historical dry goods store that now sells mostly tourist crap. I was delighted to find that they carried Aunt Sally’s pralines, which I enjoyed during my trip to New Orleans in 2008. Unfortunately, they weren’t as good as the ones I got right from the source. The next day, I set out for Hot Springs, AR, to tour the national park and spend some time at Magic Springs. I was hoping to stop at the legendary McClard’s BBQ (and did end up driving right by it), but I found out in advance that it was closed on Sundays, so I started looking for alternatives. Just about every website I referenced listed McClard’s and Stubby’s as the No. 1 and No. 2 barbecue joints in Hot Springs, so I decided to give Stubby’s a try. Wood piles are always a good sign at barbecue restaurants! As are anthropomorphized pigs! I was vaguely worried when I got inside and there was nearly no one else there. I needn’t have been. It was raining heavily when I pulled up, and it seemed like as soon as the rain stopped, the crowd started. I arrived just in time! Stubby’s is set up cafeteria-style… but this ain’t cafeteria food! On a side note, as the counterman was slicing my brisket, he picked up a burnt end (in my opinion, the pinnacle of good barbecue) with his knife, and I thought “Oh boy! I’m going to get some burnt ends, too!”… right before he turned around and threw it in the garbage! I think I actually gasped out loud. It’s just as well, as I couldn’t even finish what actually did come with the Ultimate Platter: pulled pork, ham, brisket and a huge rib, along with beans, coleslaw and a drink (I think I had root beer). It was breathtaking! I skipped the pickles. After a lackluster dinner at a non-descript Mexican restaurant near my hotel in Murfressboro, AR, that night and a decent lunch at a regional Mexican chain restaurant in Oklahoma the next day, I made my next Roadfood-worthy stop for dinner at the legendary Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma City, OK. The restaurant is located literally right next door to the city’s stockyards. Are you my dinner? Let’s go inside, shall we? Cattlemen’s has a fancy dining room and a more casual café. Because I was dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes, and because I was traveling solo, I chose the café side. A word to the squeamish: if bizarre, disgusting foods make you queasy, you may want to skip the next photo. Now, Cattlemen’s is justifiably famous for its steaks… but it’s also well known for another dish: lamb fries. I hadn’t intended to get any until I saw the guys next to me get an order… and they looked good! I heard they tasted a little like oysters, which I don’t particularly care for, but I figured I probably was never going to have a chance to try them again, so I went for it. And they were awesome! Oh, for the uninitiated… lamb fries are sheep testicles, sliced then, breaded, deep fried and served with lemon and a savory marinara dipping sauce. Normally I wouldn’t order a salad (I know, I know…), but one was included with my dinner. I had read online that the house dressing was the dressing to get… and it was! This mayonnaise-and-cheese-based dressing was amazing! But this was the main attraction! One of the top three steaks I’ve ever eaten, hands down. By the time I was finished with all that, I was completely stuffed. The waitress asked if I wanted dessert, and I said no… then she said the magic words: coconut cream pie. How on Earth was I supposed to resist that? I’m happy to say that, even though I was filled to capacity, it was just as tremendous as the rest of the meal. If I ever pass through this way again, Cattlemen’s is definitely on my “must do” list! Up next: more Oklahoma restaurants, then north to Kansas and Nebraska.
  14. Man, that's awesome! Just the insurance/permits/fire safety standards needed to open something like this to the public in a private residence (not to mention getting an "OK" from the wife...) is daunting; he did all that plus made a kick-butt-looking ride! That's something I'd absolutely love to do someday, but probably never will.
  15. I've been a part of the ChrisHanKwanSivus Gift Exchange since year one, and I'm not stopping now! I enjoy: 1960s-80s Disney park-related items Regional specialty foods World's Fair items Dark rides Anything travel-related Thanks for doing this again, Brandy!
  16. My family and I really enjoy the shows and entertainment at SFA Fright Fest, and we attend every year because we have season passes. But if you're more interested in scare mazes and in-your-face frights, yeah, there are better places to go within the region, most of which have already been named.
  17. If they're anything like the ladies of dubious virtue I see around here, "headless" is an improvement! Thanks, Chuck, for the photos and Netdvn for the reviews!
  18. This announcement is not about Six Flags America getting 10 new roller coasters including a mega-lite; therefore, this announcement sucks!!!11!!!!1!! Come on, people! I think this is great news! I served on a focus group at SFA a couple years ago. The two things everyone in the group agreed on was that the park needed a family coaster to bridge the gap between The Great Chase and Wild One, and it needed an annual holiday event. Now, half of those needs are being met. Plus I like flyers, so that's a bonus! Now, if only they would add a shooting dark ride.... I know I'm setting myself up for another round of flames, but as I seem to say in this thread at least once a year, SFA really took great strides to reinvent itself as a family-friendly park a few years ago, and the fruits of that labor have ripened. A spinning mouse and a new flat ride are excellent fits for the "new" SFA.
  19. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to update this thread as much as I would have liked to this summer... but I have a good excuse! I've been busy traveling and doing "research" for upcoming posts! In the meantime, we're back in Niagara Falls. Enjoy! Later, we stopped at Schwabl’s in West Seneca, NY, for our second dinner of the evening (well, my second… Kelly and Lauryn’s first). The inside was dark, but homey. Even the napkins looked old-fashioned! But we weren’t here for the napkins. We were here for the… little article to the right of the magazine cover, proclaiming Schwabl’s beef on weck as one of “America’s 10 Tastiest Sandwiches.” But first… appetizers! Kelly and Lauryn had never sampled poutine before, so we split an order. For the uninitiated, poutine is French fries smothered with beef gravy and cheese curds. Yum! Lauryn decided to get a cup of chili and a side of mozzarella sticks for her dinner. By the time she finished the chili and her share of the poutine, however, she didn’t have room for the fried cheese, so Kelly and I sampled them, then Kelly took the rest to our hotel and had them for breakfast the next day. The sticks themselves were standard… but the sauce they came with was amazing! No plain marinara there. The waitress later told us it was a combination of hot sauce, mayonnaise and horseradish. Getting back to that beef on weck… the sandwich is thin-sliced roast beef on a kimmelweck roll (a sturdy roll topped with lots of salt). In the background are German potato salad and a vinegar-based coleslaw that I really enjoyed. In the middle is a single pickled beet slice, which tasted exactly like the ones my grandmother used to make. Horseradish is the condiment of choice for beef on weck. Schwabl’s serves it in these unique containers, with little spoons inside, so patrons may add as little or as much as they wish. The next morning, we finally made it to Niagara Falls! (Actually, we went the night before, as well, to see the falls lit up, but my photos from then weren’t that great.) Inside the visitors center, a candy store used jelly beans to emulate the rainbow appearance of the falls at night. After a ride on the “Maid of the Mist,” a boat that takes tourists on a close-up view of the falls, we retired to Tonawanda, NY, where we had lunch at this outpost of the local Ted’s Hot Dogs franchise. Ted’s has long been a Buffalo area tradition. My office manager, who grew up in Buffalo, highly recommended it. Taking advice from online reviews, Kelly and I each got an order of onion rings, which were good at first, but kind of started just tasting like grease about halfway through. Just about the only hot dog Kelly enjoys anymore is Nathan’s Famous, and then only sporadically, so she opted for a “sea dog,” AKA a fish sandwich in the shape of a hot dog. Lauryn got the double cheeseburger, and I ordered up a pair of chili dogs, which were tremendous! The charcoal-broiled flavor really came through. In the cups at the right is local favorite loganberry juice, which I enjoyed so much I got a second cup to go. It tasted like liquid blueberries. Afterward, we stopped at the Tim Horton’s next door for dessert. The next weekend, I went with my parents to visit my grandmother in Westminster, MD, for Mother’s Day. My aunt made reservations for the family at Parks Landing. Some background on this restaurant: We also dined here last Mother’s Day, when I was on the diet that helped me lose over 100 pounds. About the only thing on the menu I could have was grilled tilapia, and when it came out, it was grilled all right… the fish was paper-thin and stuck to the metal plate it came on. I ended up having to send it back, and the replacement dish was only slightly more edible. However, it’s convenient to where my grandmother lives, and since she’s unable to travel long distances, we came back again. This was either cream of crab soup or wallpaper paste with jagged shards of crab shell in it; I’m leaning toward the latter. At least the bread was OK. This is a crab fluff, which is supposedly one of Parks Landing’s specialties. Basically, it’s a crab cake battered and deep fried. Only I think after they deep fried this one, they accidentally dropped it in somebody’s gym bag because it tasted for all the world like dirty socks. I took two bites and couldn’t eat anymore. The French fries, on the other hand, were fine… or at least they would have been had they been cooked the same day I ordered them. Based on their temperature at the time they arrived at the table, I’m guessing the restaurant, in an effort to keep up with potential Mother’s Day demand, made a big batch of them around Thursday and just kind of left them in the kitchen all weekend in anticipation of the big day. So Parks Landing is 0-for-2… and I’ll probably end up back there again next Mother’s Day, anyway. Maybe I’ll have a late lunch somewhere else that day and just get dessert. Because for all its faults (and there were a LOT of them), the restaurant’s dessert menu was out of this world. I would gladly have taken seconds on this chocolate lava cake instead of my gym-sock crab fluff. On Memorial Day weekend, I traveled to my hometown of Crisfield, MD, to help run the annual benefit bike ride that I started in 2008 and have written about before in this thread and others. I stayed over an extra day to attend the Crisfield Lioness-Lions Club’s 20th annual Soft Shell Spring Fair. Normally it’s held here, at the City Dock; however, since the dock is still in the process of being rebuilt post-Hurricane Sandy, the festival was moved up one block this year. I think I’ve posted a photo of Smith Island cake elsewhere in this thread. If I haven’t (or if you just don’t feel like going back and looking), it’s basically comprised of very thin layers of cake (usually 7 to 10) alternating with very thin layers of icing, fruit-infused pudding or ganache. As tasty as it is, I didn’t opt for a slice on this day. But I did stand in line for a soft crab sandwich. Again, for those who don’t feel like going back in the thread to read the prior descriptions, a soft crab sandwich normally consists of a couple of whole crabs dredged in a light batter and deep fried, served on white bread. Unlike hard crabs, soft crabs are small and have paper-thin, edible shells. And they are delicious! Six days later, I met my parents at another local event, the 38th annual Fairmount Academy 1800s Festival, held to celebrate the founding of this building, a former school that closed when school districts were realigned to comply with segregation laws in 1969. Inside, visitors get to see a recreation of what the classroom once may have looked like, some experts believe, perhaps. This is the fire escape at the adjacent meeting hall and auditorium. Back then, they knew how to make life-threatening emergencies fun! But this is the reason the festival is being included in the roadfood thread. Yum! Though I must say, as good as it was, the strawberry shortcake didn’t taste quite the same as I remembered it from when I last attended the 1800s festival 10-15 years ago. I guess they’ve gotten a fresh crop of berries in since then. Next up: A couple stops in Delaware, then a driving tour through the South and Midwest!
  20. Larry, I don't know if this is considered "new," but in researching my upcoming trip to Washington/Oregon, I discovered that Oaks in Portland has closed Lewis and Clark: The Big Adventure as of this season. Sadly, that was my main reason for including Oaks on the itinerary. Sigh.
  21. Another vote for the Red Roof in Danville. I stayed there last weekend, and it's been refurbished since my 2008 visit (not that there was anything wrong with it then; it was just a little old). I've also stayed at the Days Inn in Danville, which is very nice and has a few more amenities, including a pool and exercise room.
  22. That Big Dipper looks really special. I wonder if anyone ever stepped up to try to save it.
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