Sunday, December 03, 2006

Roadtrip Notes

As I mentioned earlier, we just took a week-long trip to Texas and back, covering 3,000 in a rented Chrysler Sebring. We rented in Aurora since it would have cost three times as much to rent in Chicago, not to mention that the rental tax in Chicago is inflated to soak tourists. Our primary objective was to visit my wife's uncle in Dallas-Fort Worth, and our secondary goal was to visit Palo Duro Canyon, one of my favorite places on Earth.

To make a long story short, the visit to Palo Duro didn't work out, though we passed within 20 miles of the place. We were a bit too late in the season. On the bright side, I managed to visit 14 new counties in Texas and 20 new counties in Oklahoma, completing both. Now I have been to all 254 counties in the Lone Star State.

As for road food, we revisited a couple of regional favorites. First of all, anyone venturing to Oklahoma or northern Texas really ought to try Braum's. We've had their outstanding burgers before, but this time we ate breakfast there, too. The Johnsen men's love for Hardee's breakfast biscuits is legendary, but the Braum's equivalent puts them to shame. The biscuits are fluffier and much less greasy. The cheese is flavorful, a rarity among fast food joints (but after all, Braum's is a dairy). The egg layer is at least 50% thicker than at Hardee's. The meats are tasty as well, and even the sausage isn't greasy.

For a sit-down meal, I recommend another regional chain, The Kettle. I first discovered The Kettle during my 2003 tour of Texas, and this time we ate at the Plainview location. Dinner was so good that we went back for breakfast, a buffet that pleasantly lacked all the pitfalls of buffets (cold food, mystery foods, etc.).

I had the darnedest time staying awake while driving on this trip. Even when I thought I was well-rested, I found myself getting sleepy to the point where my eyes would lose focus and I'd start seeing double. It got so bad that I actually drank a cup of coffee on the way home. Not only do I hate coffee -- I've never ordered a cup before in my life -- but it's the first time I've had any caffeine in nearly four years. Even with that boost, I handed the keys to my wife two hours later and let her drive through southwestern Missouri (the best benefit of the Hertz Gold card is that spouses can drive for no extra charge).

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