September 27—October 1
We headed Southeast early the morning of the 27th. Loading up with $1.99 gas at the Flying J east of Louisville,
and then headed south on I-75 at Lexington, KY. We decided to avoid Knoxville and most of I-40 by getting off of I-75 at Corbin, KY (The Col. Sanders Town) and Following US 25 thru eastern Kentucky.
Here is a BBQ place we passed by. It reminded me of the Airport, Haircare, and Tire Center used so often in the Ron White Comedy routine. These guys have a combination business, but check out the restrictions they put on their customers.
We wandered thru the Cumberland Gap National Park
area and emerged at Cosby, TN to find that tour buses had surrounded the Carver’s Apple Orchard and Restaurant
. We were disappointed at the huge crowds there and in Pigeon Forge, our alternate choice for lunch. Finally in a bit of desperation we stopped at Bennett’s Barbecue
in Pigeon Forge. Not a bad choice, but not good enough for me to ever bother going back, either. No photos and no review. Skip this one if you are thinking of it. We had tried to go to the famous Apple Barn
, but it was a minimum one and half hour wait and the tour buses had almost completely blocked the parking lot by that time. So we ate poor food, then headed east across the Great Smokies National Park
(nice ride), to Cherokee, NC, our first night’s stop. Lucky for us the Motel was extra nice, and dogs were happy as could be. I’ll give the lodging and town a “B” Rating, while the food for the day was barely a “C-“. Janet wandered around some of the Cherokee tourist stops, including this one named for the Great Spirit of Tennessee “SUNDANCER”.
Thursday Morning we followed US 19 over to Ashville, NC then down I-26 for lunch at the Beacon Drive-In
. This was a good stop. We found the place to be everything that everyone has claimed it to be. The gentleman taking our orders was helpful, but I couldn’t understand a word he passed to the kitchen regarding our orders! If I had it to do again (maybe someday) I will try the Fried Chicken. As it was we settled for Bacon-Cheeseburgers, mine with “Plenty” (The Rings and fries combo). Then we added some ice cream for a treat.
A stop for gas in rural South Carolina also got us the directions to a U-Pick Apple Orchard so we could stock up on a couple of bushels of fresh apples.
We followed some beautiful country roads back into Georgia at Clayton, then turned north to get to Dillard in time to check in at the motel before going to the Dillard House
to see if it was as good as we enjoyed the first visit a couple of months ago. It was!
I shot a photo of the Dillard House from the site of the beautiful Prep School across the valley. It shows the lovely landscaping at the Dillard House and surrounding fields.
Last time we were there the place was very busy, having just hosted the BBQ festival. This Thursday evening things were fairly calm. The place was only half-full, and the service was as good as ever.
We enjoyed the full dinner, with the high points of the meal being the squash casserole and (for me) the creamed corn. A footnote to this report will include the recipe for the Squash Casserole. It is the best winter squash dish I have ever enjoyed. The Fried Chicken is outstanding, with a light-Panko-Like coating, anf the Beef was fork-tender!!
Friday Morning found us sightseeing again as we headed Southwest from Dillard to Helen, GA. We stopped at a little BBQ stand in Helen to get a Sandwich to add to our picnic materials (courtesy of the previous night’s dinner at the Dillard House).
Helen provides a bunch of nice picnic areas along the stream that runs thru the town. We had a nice time eating, then walking the pooches along the riverbank for a couple of hours.
Then we loaded up and headed into Metro Atlanta to meet One-Iron and Debbie for dinner. Traffic was yuckie, but we got ourselves checked into our motel and met the “One-Irons” right on time. As you see the “Irons” enjoy a fine automobile for their ‘get-arounds’ It was easy to spot them in the traffic in Marietta!
We visited a favorite spot of theirs in Kennesaw called the Trackside Grill
. We were welcomed like family and really had a nice dining experience.
First on the list was a sample of their Fried Green Tomatoes, A very tasty way to start the evening.
Then going around the table, here is my Ribeye Steak with the garlic potato and some Onion Rings.
Janet had some great Swordfish with Artichoke Hearts and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, over those same garlic potatoes.
Larry did the Country-Fried Steak with Asparagus spears. Not your typical Truck-stop arrangement, but really good according to the One-Iron comments
Debbie was the healthiest of all of us with a beautiful Green Salad.
Following dinner we walked a short-block up to the Southern Rail Museum, home of “The General”, the famous locomotive from the Civil War epic “The Great Locomotive Chase” (and Disney Movie of the same name). In addition to the locomotive the museum houses several displays of Atlanta’s Civil War experiences in both photo-history and relics from that period. Debbie is a member of the Board of Director’s for the Museum, so we had an expert guide for our tour.
After a great dinner and tour we said our ‘goodnights’ and returned to our motel to get some rest!
Saturday morning the traffic was much easier to deal with, and navigating around Atlanta to get to Fort Benning was a ‘piece of cake’! We met with Eric, Janet’s son, and did some shopping and relaxed for a bit, before heading to “Ezells Catfish House” for a good dinner. Ezells started back in the 1930’s as a real old-fashioned Fish Camp on the river near Columbus GA. It moved into it’s ‘new location’ in the 1940’s and has been a staple in the community since.
While they do offer both Whole Catfish and Calabash Shrimp on ‘AYCE’ dinners, we opted for the Shrimp and Catfish Fillet Plate with Janet choosing the Blackened Catfish. All in all the fish was very good and the HushPuppies were the best I have enjoyed for a long time. They contained lots of jalapeno bits and kennels of sweet corn in the cornmeal to add some new twists to the onion bits that are the center of the little dough-balls.
After a good night’s rest (again) and a quickie breakfast that you don’t
want to hear about, we departed Columbus mid-morning on Sunday and headed to Birmingham AL where we joined up with I-65 for the run North. We did stop in Decatur, AL to have a BBQ lunch at “Big Bob Gibson’s”. The combo plates of Brisket and Pork Shoulder (me) and Pork and Chicken (Janet) were good, and the side dishes were ok too. I added the photo of the BBQ Baked Potato that was delivered to a neighboring table to show how large it was. We were eating kinda light on Sunday, with a lot of miles to cover, so the Potato was not on our list of “have to have’s”.
We passed thru Nashville at about 4 pm, without stopping and arrived home just at Sunset (7:30PM). The trip was just over 1500 miles, but expenses were down a bit due to the $1.99 gas we found in several places. It was great to see the One-Irons in their home grounds, and spending a day or two with Janet’s son was a good thing to do also. All in All, it was a very nice ‘Long-Week-End’ trip. I hope you enjoy the photo-reports. I look forward to the day that I have something faster than "Dial-Up" net service. This has taken a long time to assemble and post.