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We traveled from Clarion, PA to Norwalk, Ohio on the interstate 80 West. DSC08263 (Copy)

A bit of rain and cold.

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Another scary, narrow construction corridor. This one warned no vehicles wider than 12 feet. We are 10 and one-half from mirror to mirror, but our body is 8 and one-half.  I saw a big steel truck hub cap reduced to a crushed piece of steel at the end of the corridor. Some driver didn’t have a good day.

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We put up at a very friendly Elks Club in Norwalk. From a wide menu of choices I ordered  yellow lake perch and  forgot to take a picture of it. It was delicious, anyway. But, more about food from Smithsonian’s  Morena Koren.


Indianapolis lays claim to St. Elmo’s Steakhouse that serves this sassy shrimp cocktail. The large boiled shrimp are served with a fiery sauce made of Missouri-grown, horseradish guaranteed to clear your sinuses. St. Elmo’s is a hundred years old and has a tradition of serving their specialty navy bean soup or a glass of tomato juice with each entree. A bit different but with 100 years of popular business, who can argue with that? Sounds good to me. (photo by Lisa Sperlman)

New Orleans Café Du Monde’s famous coffee and beignets  (pronounced ben yays) date back to the Civil War, when the original coffee stand opened in 1862. Du Mondes serves a trademark java black or au lait with a New Orleans twist. It’s blended with chicory, the root of the endive plant, which softens the dark roasted coffee’s bitter edge. Anybody who has traveled to New Orleans stops to try these powdery confections right on the major square in town.  I wouldn’t travel particularly to eat a beignet. For me, once was enough. Then, I’m not a doughnut lover. Du Mondes certainly qualifies as an iconic choice of the locals and the tourists alike. They flock there in droves.

Du Mondes is not the only doughnut that made Koren’s list. The Voo Doo Doughnut shop in Portland appeals to people because it is quirky and creative.  Koren states that when it first opened in 2003, it sold doughnuts glazed with NyQuil and coated with Pepto-Bismol, until the health department stopped the process. But, customers love Voodoo. It serves a voodoo doll shaped doughnut oozing with jelly, another strange offering is a doughnut coated with frosting and Cap’n Crunch. Or you can try dirty snowballs topped with coconut, marshmallow and a glob of peanut butter.  Then there is the Tex-Ass Challenge.  Customers can gobble down a giant doughnut six times bigger than usual within 80 seconds and win their $3.95 back. You just can’t repress a doughnut lover and if that describes you, it’s worth a trip.

Since we are talking West Coast, you might want to wander into the Boudin Bakery in San Francisco. You can buy the traditional San Francisco sour dough the city is famous for in your burger, or grilled cheese or a carved out bread bowl filed with another famous San Francisco treat, clam chowder.  Legend has it that the “mother dough”, a yeasty culture used in each batch of bread, was rescued in a bucket during the 1906 earthquake and is part of the original mother dough developed during the gold rush by a French Immigrant. Its bakers also churn out hearth-baked kalamata olive, walnut and ciabatta breads, as well as loaves shaped into crabs, turtles and turkeys. I love the city and will put this one on my bucket list.

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At Corky’s BBQ of Memphis, has been rated the city’s top barbecue joint 22 times since 1984.  Corky’s meats are slow cooked over hickory wood and charcoal. Every pork shoulder is hand pulled, and chefs meticulously trim each slab of ribs.  Waiters clad in bowties and white shirts serve the ribs two ways: The dry version is basted with a special sauce and sprinkled with a spice and salt rub, while wet ribs are doused with Corky’s Original Bar-B-Q sauce. Both come with a healthy mound of baked beans, coleslaw and fresh-baked rolls.(Photo by Tom Borton.)

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Joe’s Stone Crab of Miami was a star location in Ian Flemming’s book, Goldfinger.  Joe’s  has been serving its signature dish of stone crab legs, a Floridian delicacy, since its real estate boasted only a few picnic tables in 1913 (today, the restaurant seats 475). The legs are served chilled with mustard sauce and come in four sizes, from medium to jumbo. But the restaurant’s best-kept secret isn’t surf or turf—it is surprisingly cheap which loyal customers know and tourists find out if they ask. The locals like Joe’s key lime pie after their dinner.  I’d jump on that meal in a minute. Yum. again, my mouth is watering and I just had breakfast. (Photo Getty Group.)


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