Post #565 Best Little State Ever

March 11, 2018 at 1:53 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We live in the smallest state in the country.  I’m not kidding, it’s so small you could carpet the whole place for less than $100.  We’ve been here for nearly a year, and we’re still discovering all the fun quirky places to spend our time.  We look at magazines; we ask our friends and neighbors; we watch things pop up on FB; and we drive around just looking at things and getting used to the way roads are set.  In the last few weeks, we’ve explored a few places that we found as we drove from one place to the next.

One place we found I couldn’t tell you the name of, but it’s one of the best antique stores we’ve ever been in.  The stock changes each time we go there.  It’s on multiple levels, and has a maze-like layout so there are always nooks and crannies we haven’t explored.  It has a good mix of the kinds of things we go to antique stores for.  We’ve picked up several things to decorate our apartment.  The one area that we always hit is their “general store” area.  It’s an area blocked out near the front by the check out that holds all kinds of craft stuff and supplies.   It has “old tyme” foodstuffs, nostalgic candy and soda, preserves, sauces, dried veggies, candles, pot pourri, and that kind of thing.  Last time we were there, we bought half a pound of cinnamon infused dried rose hips.  Kept the place smelling good for weeks.  From the outside, it looks like someone’s old garage that’s falling apart.  Inside, it’s a treasure trove.  It suits our personality.

We collect diners.  As we’ve driven around, we’ve passed several out of the way diners you wouldn’t expect could make a living being so isolated but they always seem to be busy.  Parking always is a challenge at these places, but once you find them and get past the hurdle of the parking lot, they always deliver on the food.  One that we went to when we first got here and we’ve never been back we refer to as the Snoopy One.  It was set up in the really old style of diner with the silver front and rail car design.  The food was wonderful, but the seating was very tight.  The restroom was an afterthought and truly the size of an airplane’s.  But we loved it while we were there.

When we’re taking a particular drive, one that we do a lot because we love the scenery, we pass two diners.  One of them caught my attention and fired my imagination simply because of the name.  So, when I got out of the hospital and had recovered my spirit, we took a drive and stopped for lunch at the Tavern on the Hill.  It was a gray rainy day, windy, chilly, and we wondered if the place was open.  It was just after noon, the flag in the parking lot said OPEN.  We went in and startled the only waitress in evidence.  She seemed so surprised that I had to ask, “Are you open for business?”  She said yes and invited us to sit anywhere.  It was a nice rustic feel, wood floors, wood pub style tables, large windows with a view of the field across the road, and the gray drizzle that persisted in falling unabated.  I got a burger and Partner/Spouse got some breakfast dish.  They were both excellent, but since we were truly the only customers in the place, it was easy to make sure our food was good.  We had several opportunities to talk with the young girl, who insisted that they were usually much busier, and she couldn’t understand where everyone was.  But apart from the intriguing name, there really wasn’t anything to make it stand out.  We might try it once more when it’s livelier, but likely not any time soon.

Another one we kept noticing during our drives was a small, self-standing place that was always busy.  If there had been buildings around it, it would have been the stereotypical hole in the wall.  But the name showed a quirky sense of humor so we decided to go one late morning.  It’s called Middle of Nowhere Restaurant.  It’s the only diner/restaurant for a few miles; it’s on an out of the way road; the whole area is hidden by tree so the name seems to fit it.  But it’s always busy and our visit was no different.  We had trouble parking, trouble walking from our car to the door, and trouble getting to our table since it was busy.  But any restaurant that’s busy on a Thursday at 10 has got to have something going for it.  Like any good diner in the middle of nowhere, the other customers were practically a floor show.  And the wait staff and cooks were hilarious.  I don’t even remember what the topic of conversation was, but it kept us giggling the whole time we were there.  I got another burger (I seem to be on a burger kick these days) and Partner/Spouse got another breakfast dish.  It came with home fries which were great!  Everything we had was delicious.  It’s a keeper.  The highlight of the visit, for me, was watching a dad with three sons at a nearby table.  He was conducting business while giving his sons breakfast so had to step away from the table several times.  At one point, the boys were ordering, and the smallest, who looked around 7, asked for 3 Belgian Waffles.  I chuckled to myself since I had read the menu pretty closely.  He’d misread one item, Belgian Waffles with 3 toppings.  The motherly waitress tried to explain to him that Belgian Waffles were fairly large, but he insisted.  His eyes bugged out when he saw his plate.  His dad kept snorting into his coffee.  The kid was still working on them when we left, but he’d already managed to finish more than half.  So cute.

Part of the quirkiness that we so love about this place is how warm and welcoming people are.  We never expected to find that.  Since this small state abounds in small towns, finding local shops is easy.  We found an independent candy store where we blew the budget on candy.  They had everything.  We have a number of local markets we shop at when we want specific items or because we like the butcher or the pies.  We went to a local dairy farm that has an on-site store and got an 8 inch chocolate cream pie made from their own cows’ milk and cream.  It was the BEST!  Everything a chocolate cream pie is supposed to be.

We were in one local independent market the other day.  It has good meats and good produce, and is a good place to pick up forgotten items.  We don’t get baked goods there because they always seem to taste of chemicals, and because there are so many other places where we can get them.  But we wanted some fresh cut meat so there we were.  One of the more fascinating things that happen in these independent markets is they will sell quirky, and locally made products that you won’t find in the larger chain stores.  We found this:

It’s not local, but it’s certainly quirky.  It’s a chocolate bar and it really says Pigs N’ Taters on it.  When you read the small print, it says it has bacon bits and crushed potato chips in it.  We haven’t had the gumption to try it yet, but when we do, I’ll let you know how it goes.  Salt and chocolate are terrific together, but I’m not so sure about bacon, potato chips, and chocolate.

In many of the places we go, we’ll pick up something we’ve never tried before and quickly become addicted to.  I’m currently working through my third jar of sugar-free raspberry preserves that’s locally made.  With the diabetes and all, it’s a good thing it’s sugar-free.

As always,

 

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