Friday, March 20, 2009

The Road Trip Back: Travel and Dining Tips

By Millicent K. Brody

I’ve learned it’s easy to take plenty of clothes on vacation, especially when you’ve got a car with an oversized trunk. I’ve also leaned that, regardless of how packed your trunk appears to be, there is always room for a little something extra.

And so after growling about all the “stuff” we took but did not wear on our winter holiday, we growled, hissed, and repacked the car while planning our trip back to New Jersey.

Knowing it is more than 20 grueling hours on the road, we discovered the easiest way to endure a lengthy road trip is to stop, stretch, and change drivers every two hours. We also learned to request a room in a relatively new establishment wherever we stop for the night. (And, if for some reason you’re not completely satisfied with the accommodations, simply request a change. Management is usually very accommodating.)

To avoid heavy business traffic, we schedule our departure for the weekends.
We left Florida at 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 14. In spite of all of the tasty billboards hawking delicious breakfasts of eggs, hot buttered biscuits, oatmeal, and whatever you could scoff down for less than cheap, I’m never turned on by fast-food establishments. Not feeling terribly hungry, we drove for three hours before searching for a local food emporium. Lucky us: We stopped at a Publix Super Market in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where the baker cut a freshly baked Irish soda bread into four chunky parts. My husband ordered a delicious Danish pastry, and would you believe they invited us to have a cup of coffee on the house? Publix in New Smyrna Beach offers free coffee 'til noon. Amazing!

By 1 p.m. we were dipping into goody bags filled with roadway snacks. Along with grapes, chunks of cheese, and apples, we take along small plastic bags of Trader Joe’s nuts and raisins, dried cranberries, and chocolate.

By 2 p.m. we were drooling for lunch. Once again, I plan ahead. Depending on weather conditions, we’ll either eat in the car or head for a picnic table at a Visitor’s Center.

Reaching into our cooler I retrieved two freshly prepared, chunky egg salad sandwiches on crusty rolls accompanied by a choice of bottled water, cranberry juice, or a diet drink.

We always go out for dinner. Should you be in the area of Fayetteville, North Carolina, enjoy dinner at Huske Hardware House Restaurant & Brewery located at 405 Hay Street in Historic Downtown Fayetteville. Not your typical chicken and rib place, the restaurant takes pride in their platters of freshly prepared food, priced well for any budget. Should you be traveling toward Rocky Mount, North Carolina, try the new Outback Steakhouse. Touted again and again by friends who frequent the area, I was particularly impressed with the enormous crowd waiting for tables, and a casserole of steamed fresh vegetables. You’re also able to order an oven-baked potato or sweet potato to accompany your filet mignon. That with an ample-size Caesar salad, cost less than $20. If you’re not heading south anytime soon, there are a number of Outbacks scattered throughout New Jersey. Visit to find one nearby.

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