I don’t often make cross country trips because of time constraints and I prefer to get to my destination immediately. I felt that driving to a destination was a waste of time because of the time it would take which meant less time at my chosen spot. However, I am now retired and have time to explore and have devoted my time to travel writing. As a matter of fact, this trip was the catalyst for blogging. I planned it as a start to blogging. So, when the opportunity came up to drive from DC to Colorado Springs, I took it especially since it was with one of my darling kids.
Amanda married her long time boyfriend, Jimmy, in 2020. To know Jimmy is to understand that he love to celebrate his birthday with travel. He wanted go somewhere different and he had never been out west. So, they invited me for a birthday road trip! He really wanted to go to Colorado to see the mountains and I took a look at the different locations since we only had 10 days. We poured over maps while on the phone and decided that Colorado Springs was the closest to us.
What I learned about driving cross country is that planning the route is important. The main decision points were how long should we drive per day and per session and was there anything we wanted to do along the way. Jimmy and I don’t mind driving and Amanda prefers not to. Jimmy and I can easily drive long sessions and we just decided that we would trade off if we felt tired, there was something we wanted to see, or if someone needed a break.
We came up with a list of ideas for roadside attractions. Some of the stops we wanted to make were the Arch in St. Louis, St. Louis ribs meal, and of course any presidential site I can manage to find that didn’t cause massive delays. Unfortunately, because of timing I didn’t get to see as many as I would have liked. Food on the road is a topic that is extremely important to Jimmy. So, I made sure that we introduced him to some Midwest staples…Mr. Hero and White Castle.
We began our trip in DC on a bright Saturday afternoon. We stopped after 7 hours near the PA and Ohio border for the night. The next day saw us flying through Ohio towards Columbus. Columbus is a very busy city given that it’s the state capital and home to THE Ohio State University. I am a native Ohioan and still love my home state. It is beautiful and interesting. It was time for us to grab some lunch and being Ohio born and raised, I had to introduce the kids to Mr. Hero and Jimmy had never had White Castle. I actually found a White Castle and a Mr. Hero that we’re right around the corner from each other. Way to go Ohio…
We grabbed a few things from each for our lunch. Of course at White Castle, we had to have a few sliders and crinkle fries. Jimmy was not impressed with the infamous slider (seriously???). If you are use to regular grilled meat, then I can see why. These are steamed with onions and served on a soft roll. Mr. Hero, it’s all about the Romanburger. This is the greasiest, most fattening sandwich on the planet. Imagine burger patties with grilled salami, Italian lunch meat, Swiss cheese and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo and a house dressing. To top it off they have waffle fries. The bread is toasted. This divine creation was loved by one and all.
We continued on our merry way through the Midwest. Our next stop was St. Louis, Missouri. It was about ribs and the arch. This was a great stop and I have always wanted to see the arch. What surprised me was how tall it is. Yes, I know the height from reading about it but it’s so different when you see it in person. We walked around the park a little bit to stretch our legs and then began the search for a rib place.
Our hunt for an available restaurant was not easy because it was during Covid and restrictions made it hard to find a sit down but we did. I made several phone calls after searching yelp and consulting Google Maps. We found the BBQ Saloon. The BBQ Saloon is a small place big on flavor, attitude, and service. The owner came out to greet us and then proceeded to show us his new filtration system that keeps the air very clean. He was so proud of that system and I’m really happy for him because it kept his place open. I recently looked them up for the video and I am happy to say that they are still in business.
We decided to share something since we were going to be driving and didn’t want to over eat and sit in the car. I should’ve known better. Jimmy loves to eat and he did (I love it when people enjoy their meal). We started with some fried green tomatoes, which were not on the menu but a special. We ended up with a combo of pulled pork, brisket, and St. Louis ribs with coleslaw, potato salad, and mac and cheese. The star was definitely the barbeque. The ribs were excellent! They were well-done with a lovely sauce and easy to eat. The ribs were tender, juicy and the flavor was strong and mouthwatering. If you are in the area….go!! The food, price and atmosphere make this place a triple threat.
The BBQ Salon was our last interesting food stop before arriving in Colorado Springs. The rest of the meals along the way are inconsequential because we didn’t always want to sit down so we could get to our destination. It was an memorable drive and my first time throguh Missouri and Kansas. I actually found Kansas to be serene, bucolic and actually quite intersesting. It was as flat as I thoguht and it was a haven or wind turbines. Missouri was quiet industrial and rife with sites until we neared Kansas. The one thjing about Kansas is plan your gasoline stops. The exits are few and far apart. Also,the stations on the exits are not easy to find. Next up Colorado….