2,946 Miles And Back

Here are some thoughts on my recent cross-country trip from Poughkeepsie, NY, to Henderson, NV, via Tucson, AZ.

Luigi's Pizza, Akron, OH - In planning our trip, I tried to find local places where we could eat along the way. Chain restaurants can be great, but I can have Chili's any time. So, on our way to Indianapolis we stopped at Luigi's Pizza. I did some Googling and found this place, which was described as an Akron "institution." Since 1948, mind you. And it was OK. The inside has pictures of famous bowlers on the walls (as Akron used to host a lot of pro bowling events), and it looked like a family-own place with history. But I wasn't that impressed with the pizza, though my dad liked it more. First off, it was $13+ for a (large) 12-inch pie. Here in NY I'm used to 16+ inches for $10-13, depending on toppings. And to be honest, it reminded me of the pizza they used to serve on campus at Geneseo. It wasn't bad, but not my first choice.

Pappy's Smokehouse, St. Louis, MO - Probably the highlight of the trip. I found this place online as well, and it had great reviews. We arrived around lunchtime on Monday and the line was insane - it started as a U in the outer hallway, and then when you got permission you went into the main restaurant where a second line made a big L around the counter. The inside was covered with all sorts of things on the walls, and there was blues music playing. Awesome. And we weren't the only ones who had the idea to come here: behind us we met some people in town from Wisconsin for a conference. They had asked where to go for the best BBQ and were sent to Pappy's.

I decided to have the pulled pork and beef brisket with potato salad and vinegar slaw. My dad had the ribs with slaw and sweet potato fries. And wow. This food was amazing. If it's not in the best BBQ I've ever had, it's in a tie for first. The sauces were also dynamite. There were three of them, all served on the side (because they've got nothing to hide) - regular, sweet, and hot. I mixed and matched. My dad was blown away as well. I don't know when I'll get back, but at least they have a website where you can order the sauces.

Garcia's, Albuquerque, NM - We had a 16-hour day of driving on Tuesday, so we needed something quick and easy. Garcia's was just a fast, tasty (New) Mexican take-out chain not far off the interstate, and the food was good, though admittedly it was a little challenging to eat in the truck while moving. What I was most surprised at was how dense that section of Albuquerque is. Everything was so close together for a city built in the desert, and when we pulled into the little drive-thru parking lot of Garcia's we didn't know if we were going to fit. But we did.

On a side note, New Mexico is huge and beautiful, and I saw maybe the most amazing sunset I've ever seen while driving through it. But after a while, you just want to get where you're going.

Las Vegas, NV - This was my 4th time in Vegas and my shortest visit. I was only there for about a day and a half, and part of that time was spent unloading the truck and bringing some furniture to a 2nd-floor apartment. Gee, wasn't that fun? In my free time, I had Mexican at Baja Miguel's in the South Point, a burger at the Burger Brasserie in Paris, and Chinese at the Coronado Cafe in the South Point. Gambling-wise, I won $40 on a Wheel Of Fortune slot at the Tropicana, broke even on roulette at the M, and lost $40 on blackjack at the South Point. As always, if you don't lose, you win!

We still had the 16-foot Penske truck the first night in Vegas, so we were taking it up and down the strip. It was a trip trying to get it valet parked at the Cosmopolitan resort (no luck), and also at the Tropicana. Aaand my dad hit the valet with the side-view mirror as he pulled away. Classic. The guy laughed.

But to be honest, I was so wiped from the drive and the cold I had developed after St. Louis that I wasn't really into doing Vegas too much. The trip home with a cold was no grand prize, either. Vegas to Memphis, Memphis to LaGuardia, LaGuardia to Grand Central, Grand Central to Poughkeepsie, all with packets of tissues at the ready. It's hard to hit on cute girls in that condition.

And I can't wait to go back.

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