Friday, December 30, 2022

‘Dinner’ + The 'Long' Route to Charlevoix Michigan

…continuing with our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond.  Despite the current weather, it’s nice to remember warmer times… The ‘dinner’ portion of this post took place in Petoskey Michigan.

We’d had a substantial lunch so our goal this particular evening was something a big lighter in a casual dining venue.  How was I to know that the 2 different sides of this establishment were indeed very different?  We had to wait for a seat…

To avoid a longer wait, we accepted 2 seats at the bar.  That’s when we discovered that perhaps we’d strayed a bit from our original thoughts as regarded our evening meal.  But, now we were committed and the idea of waiting any longer for a table was quickly dismissed. 

We found ourselves in the Pour Kitchen and Bar instead of the Tap 30 Pourhouse.  The bar at Pour Kitchen is impressive with almost endless options.  

The dining area in Pour Kitchen is small but it was very busy indeed.  The most significant differences between the adjacent Tap 30 Pourhouse and the Pour Kitchen and Bar are found in their menus. 

While Tap 30 Pourhouse offers such basics as Chicken Wings, German Pretzels, Burgers, a Chicken Sandwich and an Italian Beef Sandwich, they do get a bit more exotic with Truffle Cheddar Fries, a Sweet and Sour Lettuce Wrap and a Roasted Lamb Rice Bowl.  Even with the more exotic offerings, Tap 30 Pourhouse is a conservative dining option as compared to its sister establishment next door.

Pour Kitchen and Bar’s dinner menu starts out with Sushi varieties, then migrates into Oysters, a Farm Board Charcuterie, Sweet Potato Curry, an Australian Lamb Rack ($48), Wagyu Coulotte ($48) and Day Boat Scallops. ($42.00) The menu does include a Poke offering, a pasta dish and a Wagyu burger.  Let me say, this menu wasn’t what we expected…

For an appetizer, we ordered the Shrimp Pipián. ($24) Pipian, aka green mole, is a sauce used in Mexican cuisine that is made with pureed greens and then thickened with ground pumpkin seeds.  It was very attractive and tasty but we weren’t overwhelmed by the number of shrimp.

As for beverages, I ordered water with lemon but Laurie decided to try the Moulin D’issan, a 2018 Bordeaux wine from France.  It was described as having ‘juicy flavors of black cherry, red plum and cassis, earth and cigar ash.  A 6 oz. portion was $16…but I noticed that the restaurant’s on-line menu now shows it for $14.  “Earth and cigar ash”…really?

What to order next?  We needed something else to tide us over until the next morning.  Our choice was the Salmon Sushi Roll. ($19) It featured cold smoked salmon, avocado, shishito, cucumber, scallion, tobiko and spicy mayonnaise.  FYI, shishito are small sweet and slightly smokey peppers from Japan.  Tobiko is the roe from a flying fish species.

There is no doubt that Pour Kitchen and Bar is upscale and it has an imaginative menu.  Given the pricing however, for us this level of dining is reserved for special occasions.  To learn more about Pour Kitchen and Bar in Petoskey Michigan, go to  To learn about the adjacent Tap 30 Pourhouse, go to

After checking out of our hotel the next morning, we stopped at a local bakery for our morning repast.  I had determined that I wanted to explore the area a little more and, as a consequence, we took the ‘long route’ to Charlevoix Michigan.  Normally, it’s only a 17 mile drive from Petoskey but I’d chosen a 30 mile variation…

Along the way, just a tad off of US Hwy. 131, we came to Walloon Lake Michigan.  The lake is narrowly separated from Lake Michigan but it is connected to Little Traverse Bay by the Bear River. Europeans first settled the Walloon Lake area in 1872 when it was known as Bear Lake.  The original post office was named Bear Lake but that name was already in use elsewhere in Michigan.  The name Walloon Lake was suggested by a local butcher after he saw the name on an old railroad map.  It is speculated that the name came from a group of Walloons from Belgium who had settled in the area many years earlier.  The ‘town’ has a population of only about 270 residents…

Ernest Hemmingway’s parents built a cottage on Walloon Lake in 1899, the year that Ernest was born.  His mother, the children and a nurse or nanny would pack up the necessities for the summer and then take a ship north to Harbor Springs.  From there they would take 2 different trains to a depot at Walloon Lake.  Then the family would take a boat across the lake to their summer home.  Not a simple trip!  Ernest’s father, a practicing doctor would make the trip to the cottage several times each summer but the rest of the family spent all summer here.  As a teenager and as a young man growing up, Ernest Hemmingway spent many summers in the area.  Ernest and his first wife actually honeymooned at the family cottage.  Today, the cottage is a National Historic Landmark.

Given the sign indicating that the Walloon Lake Inn had been established in 1891, I ‘had’ to take a photo.  I have since learned that the Inn serves as a fine dining venue as well as a special event destination…such as for weddings.  The restaurant’s menu is very nice…but it rivals Pour Kitchen and Bar as regards cost…so it’s not a place for a casual meal.

…and then we spotted the old time Walloon Lake Hotel.  Wrong!  Faked out again... This old looking hotel is actually a new structure that was built to look old and to fit appropriately into the surrounding community.  The Hotel Walloon was built in 2015.  It has 32 spacious guest rooms, private balconies and elaborate front porches.  This boutique hotel is Northern Michigan’s only privately owned AAA Four Diamond Hotel.  To learn about accommodations and rates, go to:

The original Hotel Walloon was opened in the 1890s.  In 1900 the “New Walloon Hotel was built near the town’s steamer dock.  In 1905, the Village had a boat livery, 3 stores, a post office and 2 churches.  Cottages popped up as northern retreats were likened to today’s beach vacations.  Part of Walloon Lake’s attraction is its laid back atmosphere as compared to nearby Petoskey and Charlevoix.  

Our next waypoint was in Boyne City Michigan, a town of about 3,800 residents.  First settled in 1856, Boyne City is located at the eastern edge of Lake Charlevoix, 14 or 15 miles from the City of Charlevoix and Lake Michigan.  Boyne City was the home of the White Lumber Company, which owned the Boyne City, Gaylord and Alpena Railroad.  The railroad brought forest products to the lumber company.  At one point back in the 1970’s a tourist train operated from this depot.  That attraction used old English locomotives to pull the trains.

Time to eat our goodies and drink some coffee.  The view of Lake Charlevoix was interesting with a couple of fishermen working along the shore and a boat trying to avoid a rain squall.  Lake Charlevoix is not a small lake.  It has 56 miles of shoreline and it covers 17,200 acres.  There is an outlet from this ‘safe harbor’ for small boats via a small lake and the Pine River.

I just liked the ‘look’ of this large building along the shore of Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City Michigan.  I believe that it is a marina/clubhouse that is associated with a waterfront condominium community.  Note the pool at the right of the photo.  A rain squall was coming in at the time…

Note: Not only does Michigan have lakefront shoreline on 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, it also has 10,031 lakes of 5 acres or more with 10 of those, covering more than 1,000 acres.

Whenever we take road trips, I do my best to find a ferry boat crossing somewhere along the route…or sometimes just a bit off the route.  This is one of the smaller ferries we’ve been on over the years.  The little Ironton Ferry operates during the late spring, summer and early fall.  It connects Boyne City and Charlevoix…a short cut…crossing the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix.  The second photo shows the opposite shore with it's ferry terminus.  The photo was taken  just after departing from the Boyne City side.

This cable ferry takes about 5 minutes to cross from one side to the other.  Cost is $3.00 per vehicle…and the “Charlevoix” only holds 4 vehicles at a time.  Operating hours are from 6:30 AM until 11:30 PM. 

The Ironton Ferry has been serving Lake Charlevoix since 1883.  But, as you can see, the original ferry was very basic indeed!  Note that by the time this photo was taken, a life boat was required for the safety of passengers and the crew.  There wasn't any room aboard so they just kept it tied to the ferry...

The current Ferry, the “Charlevoix” has been in service since 1927.  I included this photo so you could see just how small the ferry is... It makes about 100 crossings per day.  This ferry became ‘famous’ in 1936 when 'Ripley’s Believe it or Not' listed Captain Sam Alexander for traveling 15,000 miles while never actually being more than 1,000 feet from his home.  Alexander piloted various versions of the Ironton Ferry from 1900 until his death in 1948.

Note: As of 2018, Michigan had 18 ferry routes in operation, 13 of which carry vehicles.

That’s all for now… Next we’ll look around Charlevoix and little and then head south along Michigan’s west coast.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Tuesday, December 27, 2022


…yet another break from my long series of posts that stemmed from our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond.

Local dining, acquisitions, the neighborhood and a weird photo that sort of reminds me of a home where my family lived ca. 1951.   

Local dining… I used to put down Cracker Barrel Restaurants as well as most other chain restaurant endeavors…but the fact is that at Cracker Barrel diners do get decent to very good food for a relatively decent price.  I really like their Southern Fried Chicken Dinner. ($11.79)

But the photo above isn’t chicken!  It’s a Southern Fried Turkey Dinner, a special just before Thanksgiving.  I didn’t note the price but it was very good, a nice change from chicken…and a very generous portion too.  

Another visit to see a doctor at Parkwest Hospital in Knoxville… We were finished at the hospital by 10 AM and we decided to see if we could still catch breakfast at Nick and J’s, a popular nearby diner.  How popular is Nick and J’s?  It is ranked as the 5th best restaurant in Knoxville as per Trip Advisor…with 593 excellent/very good reviews vs. 13 terrible/poor reviews.

We arrived just in time to order breakfast.  The cut off for breakfast is 10:30 AM.  My one disappointment was that they were out of their sausage gravy which I'd really wanted to try.  This was the first time we’d managed to be at Nick and J’s in time to have breakfast…

We both ordered similar breakfasts.  The only differences were that Laurie ordered bacon and white toast while I ordered sausage patties and rye toast.  I also had a dab of the sausage gravy that they scraped from the pan but it didn’t serve as a good sample of the ‘real’ thing. 

Our breakfast choice was Nick and J’s Special, 3 eggs, bacon or sausage, toast and jelly and an order of home fries. ($9.50) The eggs were over medium as ordered, the bacon and sausage were tasty but Laurie would have preferred her bacon a bit more crispy.  We both liked this version of home fries.

Nick and J’s is located at 1526 Lovell Road in Knoxville.  Phone: 865-766-5453.  Closed on Sundays.  Breakfast and lunch only.  Website: Nick and J's Cafe – Knoxville Diner, Knoxville Best Diner, Knoxville Best Hamburger (

In the past I may have mentioned that Laurie starts celebrating her birthday (accumulating gifts) in October and the celebration continues through December.  Her birthday is actually in December…

In any case, she has me trained so when she proclaimed that she wanted a multifunctional Keurig K-Café Single Serve Coffee, Latte and Cappuccino Maker, I bought it for her.  She seems to enjoy the latte and cappuccino features and I like the fact that I can make any cup of coffee bolder and I can order up a 12 oz. cup for myself.  None of that fussy coffee stuff for me though…

Another recent purchase was a real bargain.  At a recent estate sale we were able to pick up this large crock pot cooker.  It was almost new and we only paid $25.00.  I will benefit from this purchase as Laurie will use it to make her famous chili and one of my other favorites, a hearty beef stew.

Yes…That is ‘Alexa’ positioned on top of our antique ladies secretary.  I resisted this gadget for the longest time…partially because I don’t like the idea of a ‘live’ internet link hanging around in our living room.  In any case, between Laurie and our son, David II, I was beaten into submission and Laurie had yet another gift… I do like the juxtaposition of Alexa and the antique furniture.

These photo are just a comparative view looking up the street from in front of our home.  The first picture was taken in early November and the second photo was taken about 10 days ago.  As I’ve said before, housing growth in our neighborhood has been crazy.  While the lot right across the street from us has been cleared and it’s full of weeds with nothing happening, the view up the street is changing fast.  The builder for the home across the street defaulted on his contract and the folks who own the lot are seeking a new contractor.  The good news is that we are still seeing our local deer…

This last photo is both humorous and a bit weird!  

While on one of our road trips, we’d stopped for lunch in a local restaurant…which will go unnamed as the food itself was decent.  When we decided to use the restroom, taking turns before we hit the road again, this dual ‘potty’ or dual stool arrangement definitely caught our attention!  All kinds of visuals popped up and were quickly suppressed!  It did remind me of an outhouse we ‘enjoyed’ when my family lived in the country near Jonesville Michigan.  I was in the 4th grade at the time and I will never forget the all brick twin-hole structure…but no one ever shared the dual seat arrangement.  Yikes!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, December 23, 2022

Just Exploring – Petoskey, Bay View and Harbor Springs Michigan

…continuing with our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond.

Since it was still a bit rainy, we decided to drive around Petoskey and the nearby town of Harbor Springs to see what interesting buildings or places that we could find. 

Penn Plaza, which is located at 9 Pennsylvania Plaza, is the site of the first railway depot in Petoskey.  The original depot burned down in 1899 and was rebuilt in brick.  The Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad operated here until 1920, when that railroad was purchased by the Pennsylvania Central Railroad.  Unfortunately, the other side of the building has had an addition that does nothing positive for this historic landmark.  Current occupants of the old depot include 2 architectural firms, another company specializing in interior design, a CPA’s office and an environmental tech firm.

As we drove north from Petoskey, we ‘discovered’ an amazing assortment of Victorian era homes in the town of Bay View.  “The Lilacs”, as this one is named, really caught our eye.  I was unable to find anything directly related to its history except that it is referred to as a “Folk Victorian Cottage”.

In actuality, Bay View is almost all part of the Bay View Association of the United Methodist Church.  It’s an example of two “only in America” community formats: the Methodist camp meeting and the independent Chautauqua.  The Association was founded in 1876 as the country’s only ‘romantically-planned campground.  It was adapted for the Chautauqua format from 1885 to 1915.  This ‘ideal’ Victorian summer community has remained in continuous operation ever since it was founded.

I don’t know how much more ornate or Victorian in style than this huge ‘cottage’ could be!  The color scheme makes it pop too… 

The Bay View Association’s grounds cover about 340 wooded acres and it includes roughly 440 ‘cottages’ as well as 30 community-owned structures.  The Association even has its own post office despite the fact that the ‘camp’ is closed and all the cottages are vacated from November through April.  Owners of the cottages lease the land under their seasonal homes from the Association.  In turn, the owners are charged annual Chautauqua fees and taxes.

The center of the Bay View Association Community is referred to as The Campus…originally Tabernacle Park.  Many of the larger communal structures are located here, including the original 1877 preaching stand and an 1880 book store.  Also, in season, both accommodations and dining opportunities are open to the public.  The ‘Terrace Inn’ and ‘1911 Restaurant’ were first opened in the summer of 1911.

To learn more about the Bay View Association and the opportunities it offers, go to  

Here is yet another spectacular example of one of the larger Bay View Association cottages.  Nearly all of the structures in Bay View were built between 1875 and 1900.  Most were built in the Eastlake or Stick style but there are some cottages that were constructed in the Queen Anne and Shingle style architecture.  Cottages are set on 50-foot lots along gently curving streets that follow the natural terraces of the land.

Interestingly, under an 1889 Michigan state law, the Bay View Association can appoint a board of assessors, deputize its own marshal and maintain streets and buildings on collectively owned land.  Bay View Association has always been open to all people as regards events, visits, etc.  The association requires cottage owners to have ‘good moral character’ and that owners be practicing Christians, ideally members of the United Methodist Church.  In 1959 the association did away with the requirement that owners be Caucasian, but other restrictions, including one that set a quota on the percentage of Catholic cottage owners, remained in place.

Needless to say, legal actions have been initiated to change the rules.  A lawsuit on behalf of Bay View Chautauqua Inclusiveness Group against the Bay View Association of the United Methodist Church was filed in 2017.  It alleged religious discrimination under the First Amendment as well as violations of the Federal Fair Housing Act, as well as Michigan’s Constitution and related civil rights laws.  Much of the problem stems from owners not being able to leave their cottages to a surviving spouse or children because of their religion.  Specifically, one individual who would have inherited her parents’ fourth generation cottage, was denied membership and the right to be a co-owner because she had converted to Judaism.  Cottagers cannot sell on the open market and they are left with only a ‘small segment of willing buyers”.  While there apparently have been further modifications to the restrictions imposed by the Bay View Association, it appears that legal actions have continued with some agreements reached and a judge is supervising the required progress.

This is a ‘fly-by’ photo of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Harbor Springs Depot.  It is included on the National Register of Historic Places.  When the railroad built a line to Petoskey in 1874, a major influx of new residents followed.  The Village of Harbor Springs was incorporated in 1880, a branch line was built to service Harbor Springs in 1882 and the depot was built to serve the railway in 1889.  The depot was at the end of an 8 mile short line which was used for summer season trains that were timed to meet up in Petoskey with the Pennsylvania Railroad’s “Northern Arrow”.

The Northern Arrow was one of the named Pennsylvania Railroad passenger trains serving St. Louis Missouri, Cincinnati Ohio, Chicago Illinois and Mackinaw City Michigan.  It was popular with northbound travelers headed for popular Northern Michigan tourist destinations such as Charlevoix, Petoskey, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island.  The last passenger train stopped here in 1961.  The old depot has served several purposes since then.

Interestingly enough, the Bay View Association chose its ‘camp site’ based on the availability of rail service.  The group considered a number of locations but in the end they made a deal with the citizens of Petoskey and the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad.  The citizens of Petoskey paid to extend the railroad to Bay View, the railroad would purchase the site/property, and the Association would improve the property and hold camp meetings there for at least 15 years.

The Shay Hexagon House is located at 396 East Main Street in Harbor Springs Michigan.  It used to be part of a 3-structure complex which included a machine shop and waterworks that had been built by Ephraim Shay.  Sadly, the machine shop and waterworks have been demolishes. 

Shay was born in Ohio in 1939, moving to Michigan in 1864 and to Harbor Springs in 1888.  He was well known as the inventor of the Shay Locomotive, which were typically used in the logging industry.  Upon his arrival in Harbor Springs, he built his octagonal house as his residence as well as a nearby machine shop where he actually constructed some of his locomotives as well as various tools.  Subsequently Shay built a waterworks, which supplied Harbor Springs and Harbor Point with up to 100,000 gallons of water a day.  A reservoir was constructed in 1894.  Shay lived in his house until he died in 1916.  After housing a number of commercial shops, it was purchased by a private owner and it has been carefully restored.

Ephraim Shay invented and patented a geared steam locomotive that was primarily used in North America.  As they could operate successfully on steep or poor quality trackage, Shay locomotives were especially suited for logging, mining and industrial operations.  Roughly 2,770 Shay locomotives were built and today 115 of them survive in various conditions and settings.  Built in 1905, the Shay locomotive shown above operates on the same tracks that it did originally.  It is on the Cass Scenic Railway in West Virginia.  For more information, go to

The ‘Aha’ is an all-steel yacht that was built in 1904 by inventor Ephraim Shay.  He built it as his personal yacht, staring construction in 1891 and, after a number of design changes he finally launched it.  It was built in Shay’s machine shop.  In the 1890s the all-steel ‘Aha’ was a rarity as most boats were built with wood. 

The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society worked in partnership with the Industrial Arts Institute in Onaway Michigan.  Work started in 2019 to repair the dilapidated vessel and this finished project or exhibit is on display in Harbor Springs’ Shay Park.

This modest building is known as the Chief Andrew J. Blackbird House or as the Andrew J. Blackbird Museum.  It is located at 368 East Main Street in Harbor Springs Michigan.  Chief Andrew Blackbird, also known as ‘Makade-binesi’ or ‘Black Hawk’, was an Odawa (Ottawa) tribe leader, an historian and a proponent of Native American civil rights.  Blackbird was born ca. 1815 and he served in a number of government posts, including US Interpreter for the Mackinac Agency and as the appointed postmaster of Little Traverse (Harbor Springs) in 1869.

Chief Blackbird purchased this house for his family ca. 1858.  When he became postmaster, the home doubled at the post office.  As postal volume grew, new residents complained and tried to have Blackbird removed.  As a counter to the complaints, he built an addition to the house to serve as the post office.  He continued to serve as postmaster until 1877.  In 1887, Blackbird published a book entitled “History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan. 

Blackbird continued to live in the house until 1908 and his wife and sons lived here for many years, the last of them dying in 1947.  Then it was sold to the Michigan Indian Foundation and it was opened as a museum.  The City of Harbor Springs purchased it in 1964 with the stipulation that if continued to operate as a museum of American Indian artifacts.  To learn more, go to

That’s about all for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Restaurants – New and Re-Invented

…continuing with our break from my ongoing series of posts about our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond.

This post is all about local restaurants near us in East Tennessee.  One is a brand-new venture and another long standing restaurant that is now under new ownership.

Starting with the new dining option, Rice Kitchen Thai Sushi and Hibachi Restaurant is located in the center of Tellico Village, a census-designated place and unincorporated planned community situated along the shores of the Tellico Reservoir in Loudon County Tennessee.  With a population exceeding 7,500 residents, although it is populated primarily by retirees, Tellico Village isn’t gated and there are no age restrictions.

Rice Kitchen has taken over a space in a small strip shopping center that has been home to 2 or 3 other restaurants over the past 10 or more years ago.  To say that the sign on the front of Rice Kitchen or its dining room décor is minimalist would be an understatement.  The interior looks much the same as it has for several years now.  It was a pizza restaurant when we first moved to the area over 13 years ago…

Of course, décor isn’t everything.  It’s really about the food isn’t it?

The Rice Kitchen has been wildly popular since it opened.  When we arrived just before they opened for dinner at 5 PM, there was a line of folks waiting to get inside.  Part of the attraction may well be that it is different from other restaurants in the vicinity… With a couple of exceptions, (Thai Bistro for one), Loudon County and to a great degree, even nearby Knoxville is almost an ethnic food ‘desert’.  Local Tellico Village residents are from all over the USA…usually from large cities…and they crave ethnic food options.

The chef and his staff were very busy indeed as the Rice Kitchen filled up with customers very quickly.  Service was a little uneven due to the rush of customers as well as staffing.

To start us out, we ordered the Sharon Shrimp…shrimp stuffed with Thai herbs, wrapped in rice paper, fried and served with a sweet chili sauce. ($7.49) It was good if not great…but then again the menu is quite expansive so we were learning about our options as we ordered in the midst of a rush of other diners.

Our entrées were delivered together on a large plate.  I’m assuming that the idea is that we each were to share part of our individual selections.  Laurie had ordered the Rainbow Roll, with crab meat, avocado, cucumber and topped with slices of tuna, salmon, red snapper and shrimp. ($13.00) I had ordered the Crunch Munch Roll, with spicy tuna, tempura fried jalapeno and cream cheese, topped with spicy crunchy shrimp and spicy eel sauce. ($14.49)

Laurie really enjoyed her entrée and I thought that mine was OK.  Next time I will try either a hibachi or teriyaki offering.

Rice Kitchen is open for dinner starting at 4 PM, with closing at 9PM.  They are also open for lunch from 11 AM until 3 PM.  Rice Kitchen is closed on Sundays.  At this point they do not have a useful presence on the Internet.  Rice Kitchen is located at 206 Village Square Drive in Loudon Tennessee. (Tellico Village) Phone: 865-657-9474.  

Countryside Restaurant is located in nearby Vonore Tennessee.  This restaurant has been serving its loyal customers for many years.  We had eaten here a couple of times in the 13+ years we’ve lived in the area and it was just OK…a fuel stop for folk’s stomachs. 

However, quite recently the former owners retired or gave up the business and Countryside is now operated by a known local restaurateur who has a loyal following and a reputation for delivering good food…basic quality menu items…and who is known for running an efficient operation.

On this occasion we dined with friends Linda and Norm… Countryside was very busy...almost always a good sign.  We didn’t order any appetizers but several interesting choices were available.  Perhaps the next time we’ll try the Chili Bean Nachos, the shredded Pork Potato Skins, Loaded Tots or the grilled Shrimp on a Stick. 

Both Laurie and Linda ordered the Fried Catfish with Hushpuppies, French fries and coleslaw. ($13.00) Laurie chose the buttered corn for her side but other options include mashed potatoes, potato salad, mac n’ cheese, rice, fried okra, green beans, pinto beans, baked beans and turnip greens.  Other seafood options include Mahi Tacos ($15.00), Grilled Grouper ($16.00) and Seasoned or Blackened Atlantic Salmon. ($15.00)

The ladies definitely enjoyed their entrees.  The catfish was nicely done and Laurie reported that the French fries were superior to most others…

For my entrée, I ordered the Country Fried Steak. ($11.00) For my sides I chose the mashed potatoes with gravy and the corn.  The server also brought the green beans…which, unfortunately I can’t eat due to my medications.  The country fried steak was good and the meal, especially given the prices we pay in today’s inflationary environment, was very reasonably priced.

I’d also considered 4 different sandwiches for my evening meal.  They included the Brisket Grilled Cheese ($12.00), the Brisket Hoagie ($13.00), a Grilled Reuben ($11.00), or a Catfish Po’Boy. ($12.00) FYI, sandwiches come with one side.

Norm ordered the evening's special entrée, Grilled Pork Chops, for his dinner.  They came with baked apple slices and for his sides, Norm chose the Tater Tots and Pinto Beans.  The chops looked good and Norm said that they were grilled to perfection.  As it was a special and not listed on the menu, I didn’t get the price for his entrée. 

Other dinner entrees not already mentioned include Beef Tips ($17.00), Southwest Grilled Chicken ($14.00), Hamburger Steak ($14.00), Meatloaf ($11.00) and, Grilled Beef Liver with Onions. ($12.00)

We were happy with our dining experience and we were pleased to discover that the ‘new’ Countryside Restaurant has taken a huge step forward in both quality and variety while keeping prices as reasonable as possible and still make a profit.

Countryside Restaurant is located at 2021 US Hwy 411 in Vonore Tennessee.  This restaurant is open from 11 AM until 9 PM Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 11 AM until 3 PM on Sundays.  They are closed on Mondays.  Phone: 423-884-6673.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Friday, December 16, 2022

Family Road Trip – Thanksgiving Too!

 …yet another break from my ongoing series of posts related to our late summer adventure to Michigan and beyond.

In this instance, once again Laurie and I were off on a 10-day family road trip built around the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The first leg of our trip followed I-75 north to I-40 west to I-24 north to I-57 north and finally to I-64 west…and then into St. Louis Missouri for a pre-Thanksgiving visit with Laurie’s sisters and other family members.  Traffic was relatively lighter than I’d expected…but I-24 North was a problem.  Vehicles were stacked up for miles in a construction zone and that cost us over a half hour delay.  Still, it was a nice sunny day to be stuck in traffic!

When we arrived in St. Louis, it was dinner time at Laurie’s sister Bonnie’s house in Maplewood… Bonnie had prepared his special lasagna paired with a side salad, a bit of cranberry sauce and crusty bread.  It was a great way to start our family road trip!

Other than just chilling out and stopping at a couple of locale places that I’ve featured in previous St. Louis based posts, Laurie and I experienced a Holiday event we hadn’t seen before… From left to right in the photo shown above: Bill, Bonnie, yours truly and my better half, Laurie.

Bonnie had purchased tickets to “Garden Glow”, a holiday related light show installed at the Missouri Botanical Garden which is located in St. Louis.  This was the 10th year for this light show.  Despite Laurie and I having met, getting married and our living in the St. Louis area for several years, I had never been to the Botanical Gardens.

The Missouri Botanical Garden occupies 79 acres and it was founded in 1859.  It features the second largest herbarium in the USA, only behind New York’s Botanical Garden.  To learn more go to

The above is a sampling of the fantastical lighting effects and colors that lined the route from the Visitor’s Center through the gardens and back again.  We all especially loved that giant blue tree! 

Somehow we found ourselves following the path in reverse so we encountered few other visitors during the first half of our exploration…and then for the second half we were like salmon swimming upstream. 

As some may recall, the last time we visited a botanical garden…Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha…either I got lost in my wanderings or others misplaced me due to a misunderstanding as to where we were going to meet.  In any case, we stuck together at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

Our next stop was in Omaha for our Thanksgiving feast with our son and his family.  We arrived Wednesday evening and spent several days at the family home.

The selfie above shows both the Thanksgiving table and the gathering of the family.  From the left: David II taking the group ‘selfie’, yours truly, Laurie, David II’s better half Amy, David III, Emmett Lee and RuRu…grandma.

This year I was hoping to escape the turkey carving task…but once again my ‘talents’ were pressed into service.  The table was loaded with food ranging from rolls to massive amounts of turkey to stuffing and sweet potatoes and to green bean casserole to baked macaroni and cheese. 

Of course the best part about the Thanksgiving feast other than the family gathering is the guarantee of turkey and stuffing sandwiches as well as hot turkey sandwiches and hot turkey with gravy over mashed potatoes.  David II and I are bonded over this satisfying post-holiday repast!

We mostly hung around the house during this visit so family photos are in order rather than ‘exiting’ new dining experiences, it’s all about family photos… David and Amy celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary back in June of this year.  They are still best friends and they have provided us with 2 fine grandsons!

David and Amy’s oldest son, David III is now in his senior year at New York University.  It won’t be long before he graduates with his degree in computer science.  Then he’ll will face the reality of job hunting and working for a living.  He’d love to stay in New York City but it’s probably cost prohibitive.  Chicago is another possibility…but time will tell.  Whatever he decides to do or to live, he will do well!

Soon after Thanksgiving, David III had to fly back to NYU to finish the semester.  Then it was Emmett Lee’s turn.  He’s finishing his first semester as a freshman at the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, a school within the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  With David II and Amy, we returned him to the campus.  His dormitory is located in the heart of the University’s campus close to the library, food options, the student union and other key services.  Amy took the photo above with Emmett, some old guy, Laurie and David II.  Back to work Emmett!  

Following the Holiday weekend, Laurie and I headed back home with an overnight in Effingham Illinois along the way.  We had a great time as well as a relaxing time in both St. Louis and Omaha!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave