So I got back from a week long road trip vacation with N last week. We had a really good time and we still like each other after spending all that time together (even in the close quarters of my car). We saw lots of cool places and things and we ate a lot of good food. There were a couple places where the food was just so-so or not so good, but overall, the food on this trip was quite tasty. I kept a list of what we ate so I could share it with all of you. 🙂
Our first day on the road we stopped at a truck stop diner in Iowa for brunch. It wasn’t anything special, just the typical breakfast diner fare. That night we stopped for dinner at a steakhouse in Indiana where they served warm bread with cinnamon butter as a starter. The cinnamon butter was delicious and I’m going to have to learn to make some at home. For our meals, I had a bison burger that wasn’t bad and N had a steak that also wasn’t bad. I also had a margarita and when the waitress brought it to me she said that if I thought it was too strong, the bartender told her they’d make another one. I looked at the waitress with raised eyebrows and replied, “I have no problem with a strong margarita.” Can a margarita actually be “too strong?” To be fair, I am a tiny female person and perhaps the bartender and waitress thought that due to my size I would not like a strong drink. I happen to know, however, that I prefer strong drinks and besides, I was only going to have one margarita, so there was nothing to worry about.
The next morning we enjoyed a decent complimentary continental breakfast at our hotel in Ohio after I ran three miles on the treadmill in the hotel fitness center. We stopped for lunch at another diner in West Virginia but it was not so good. The food was not even memorable and definitely not very healthy. Both of us left with full stomachs but also with disappointed looks on our faces. Thankfully, we had a better dinner when we got to our next destination in Pennsylvania. The hotel at which we stayed had a small binder in the room containing recommendations on what to do and where to eat in the city. One of the dining recommendations was not far from the hotel, so we decided to check it out. It was right along the river that ran through the city and even though it was fairly warm and humid out even after dark, we decided to sit outside. N had a small glass of whiskey on the rocks and I had a glass of Lambrusco wine. We shared a cup of lobster bisque, which was pretty tasty. I had baked tilapia with a baked potato and N had scallops. When the waitress brought N his scallops, she said that the chef was not happy with how the scallops turned out and so if N didn’t like them, he could order something else. But if N thought the scallops were okay then they wouldn’t charge us for them, since the chef wasn’t satisfied with them. N tried the scallops and decided they weren’t too bad (especially at the low, low price of FREE).
For the next two days we ate breakfast in the hotel at their complimentary continental breakfast buffet. It was your standard hotel breakfast buffet fare and it wasn’t bad. Our second night in Pennsylvania we ate at a place that pleasantly surprised both of us. We randomly picked it out of the restaurants we found in the downtown area of the city and it was a lucky pick. It was a sort of upscale pub type place with a large selection of beers from all over and a wood fired oven that they used for pizzas and other food items on the menu. We both had a glass of the Wood Chuck pear cider beer, which was good, and shared a plate of bruschetta as an appetizer. I had a tasty wood fired pizza with three cheeses and meatballs for my meal. N had a piece of delicious wood fired Scottish salmon served on a plank of wood with a side of green beans and small potato pancakes. Overall, we were more than happy with our meals and if we’d had room we would have ordered the Nutella pizza from the dessert menu (that’s right, I said Nutella pizza).
The next day we spent at Hersheypark, an amusement park themed around Hershey’s chocolate. We had a small lunch in the park of smoked mac ‘n cheese and smoked corn on the cob while we waited for the rain to pass so that the rides would start running again. We ended up going on 10 roller coasters that day and had an absolute blast. Shortly before we left we shared a Hershey’s chocolate covered funnel cake with Hershey’s chocolate chips on top. It was sickeningly delicious.
Fortunately, I had time to work out in the hotel room and in the hotel fitness room to counteract all the rich foods (and all the sitting in the car). I was aiming to run on the treadmill one morning, but a nice little old lady was using the one and only treadmill when I got to the fitness room, so I opted for the elliptical. I also used the free weights in the fitness room for a basic upper body work out. I actually packed a separate bag containing only work out clothing and gear for the trip. And I’m very glad I did because we spent a lot of time in the car and had plenty of good food, and if I go for more than a couple days without working out then my body starts to feel weird, almost like an antsy, restless feeling. I made good use of my work out gear on this trip and I think my body appreciated it. 🙂
Our last night in Pennsylvania, we ate at a sushi restaurant and shared several very tasty rolls. We both agreed that it was some of the best sushi we’d ever had. The next morning, we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for coffee and breakfast sandwiches on our way north towards Niagara Falls in Canada. In Niagara Falls we had a phenomenal view of the falls from our hotel room. I mean, our jaws hit the floor when we walked into the room and looked out the window. It was very impressive.
The first night in Niagara Falls, we ate at a local Italian restaurant that we just wandered into that had a cozy, warm feeling to it, not like one of the larger chain restaurants we saw all around. We each had a glass of Lambrusco wine and N ate veal genovese while I ate penne arrabiata in a spicy tomato sauce. Both meals were very good. For dessert, N had a piece of tiramisu and I had warm espresso poured over vanilla ice cream. Absolutely delectable.
The next morning, I got up early and went for a run along the trail that borders the falls and the river. I ended up going about four miles and got a bit of a shower when I ran past the falls. I also had to dodge dozens and dozens of tourists disembarking from multiple tour buses right by the falls. But the crowds thinned as I ran further upstream and eventually it seemed like I was the only one on the path. I passed a couple on bicycles and a man on roller blades, but that was it, until I turned around and ran back to the hotel and toward the falls, then it seemed as though the tourists and tour buses had doubled in number and my path turned into an obstacle course. Overall, though, it was a nice run and now I can say I’ve run in another country. I’m hoping I have the opportunity to add other countries to my list of places where I’ve run.
For breakfast that morning after my run we ate at an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet near the hotel, but it was not memorable. It was okay, just not very great food. That evening we ate at a Japanese/sushi restaurant that was not as good as the sushi we had in Pennsylvania, but it was still pretty good. We each had a bowl of miso soup and a salad to start. N had BBQ eel on rice with a side order of tempura soft shell crab. I had tempura shrimp with vegetables and a side order of salmon sashimi.
After dinner we stopped at a local liquor store for a bottle of Lambrusco wine, which we took back to our hotel room to drink while we turned off all the lights in the room and watched the colored lights come up on the falls. It was relaxing and beautiful and perfect. The next morning after we checked out of the hotel we stopped at a local diner and had a great breakfast. N had peameal style bacon (Google it, it is quite tasty, if you’re into bacon) with toast and eggs, while I had buckwheat pancakes with warm blueberry compote and eggs. It was the perfect hearty breakfast to send us on our way out of Canada and back to the States.
On our way back home we stopped to visit a cousin of mine in Michigan where we had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. N had a rather large burrito (which they said was actually the small size) and I had enchiladas with sauteed vegetables. It was very filling and good. The next morning my cousin made some scrambled eggs and sausage for us and we got back on the road. We made a brief stop for snacks and coffee at a Dunkin Donuts in Indiana that afternoon and finally stopped for dinner in Iowa. We had several rolls of sushi and a couple of saki bombs and finally headed home.
Now that I’ve gotten back into my regular routine after vacation, I am working out as usual and back on a training schedule for my upcoming half marathon. The race isn’t that far off so I’m going to have to ramp up my mileage, but I think I can do it, as long as the heat we’ve been experiencing lately doesn’t do me in. It’s difficult to get up early in the morning and run while it’s still cool because I work third shift and don’t get off work till midnight or 1:00 a.m. But I make do and I plan my long runs on my days off. In fact, I managed to do a slow six miles a few days ago while I was staying at N’s place.
So, the vacation was fun, the food was good overall, and N and I passed a fairly big test in our relationship (in my opinion). We still like each other and had no major problems during the trip. I think if we can still tolerate each other after that length of time together, then we’re doing okay. And now that I’ve got my passport, I’m itching to use it again on another trip with N. I’m thinking overseas next time, somewhere with lots of wonderful food and wine. 🙂