Guilty Pleasures

We all have them.  The nice part of being old?  I don’t actually feel guilty anymore.  Maybe just mildly embarrassed.

English: Bates Motel Set at Universal Studio H...

English: Bates Motel Set at Universal Studio Hollywood CA. Source: Taken by User:Ipsingh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We used to vacation on a semi regular basis, once every couple of years or so.  We usually took the car, Husband driving until he couldn’t pretend his eyes were open, and then stayed overnight in inexpensive motels  (upgraded once we reached our destination).

There’s something fun about a basic motel.  The ice chest down at the end of the hall, pulling the car into a spot right outside your room, free continental breakfast! Lucky Charms in the morning!  I would get suckered every time, “magically delicious.”  Eww.  But then you could change your mind and stick with Rice Krispies. When I was a kid, those were the only motels we ever stayed in, and I don’t think I understood the difference between the Super 8 and the Four Seasons.  True, there was that one time my mother got fleas from the room we stayed in, but that didn’t dim the glory of the ice bucket for me.  You know what?  Cheap motels still fit the bill when you’re just passing through, and they’re still fun.

The other part of a road trip.  Road food.  And here we reach the guilty pleasure portion of today’s post.  Road food should be quick if you’re behind schedule, slow if you need a break, it should be cheap, have something for everyone.  For people who haven’t done a lot of vacationing, we’ve eaten a lot of road food, especially when you add in the road trips that weren’t overnight, touring boarding schools and colleges for the boys.

Brings to mind cute little hole in the wall places, right?  With the tough talking but spunky waitress serving the best. pies. in. America.

No.  Cause that might be what you get.  Or you might find yourself starving at a table and there’s nothing for half of your family to eat.  Or it might be so tiny that there’s no table for a family of five.  The food could just plain suck.  Or, nightmare of nightmares, you could find yourself on the road with food poisoning.  The solution?

Cracker Barrel, road food extraordinaire.  Rockers on every front porch, all for sitting and for sale.

Cracker Barrel, road food extraordinaire. Rockers on every front porch, all for sitting and for sale.

The food is reliable, they serve breakfast all day (important when you’re a traveling vegetarian), sure it’s kind of cheesy, but it’s also cheap and charming and very clean.

They have big checkers tables set up on the front porch and inside the restaurant, great for waiting with kids.  Even better, there’s one of these for playing with on every table.

The peg game.  How many will you be left with?

The peg game. How many will you be left with?

The food?  Country/home cookin’ style.  Don’t ask more than that, I think it’s a mix of southern, midwest, new england, or other.  And it isn’t just food and games.  Ye Old Country Store is attached to each one, selling inexpensive toys/games, old fashioned candy, blankets, candles, t-shirts, sweaters, and countrified nicknacks.

After drinking 12 cups of coffee, eating pounds of eggs, grits, and hash browns, who doesn't need some candy for the road?

After drinking 12 cups of coffee, eating pounds of eggs, grits, and hash browns, who doesn’t need some candy for the road?

Just sitting, there’s lots to look at in the decor.

Something to see on every wall.

Something to see on every wall.

And of course

Heads Up! I'm never certain if this stuff is for sale or not.

Heads Up! I’m never certain if this stuff is for sale or not.

Heading north for a couple of days tomorrow.  I’m quite certain there’re two buttery, over easy eggs waiting for me.

I’ll save the Lucky Charms for Flower Child.




  1. I happen to like CB. They do have cute stuff in their shops too. My kids love breakfast there. We have been known to drive out of our way just to get breakfast. It is quite reasonable too. As kids, we loved road trips. My dad loved going out to eat. I think going away is our way of escaping life for awhile, even if its a quick trip. lol about the waitresses!! That is SO true. Maybe we should do a reality show about waitresses in those places across America.


    1. We do too 😀 When we’re hungry and driving, it’s pretty common to hear at least one of us say, “let’s go a couple of more exits,so we can find a CB.”

      Road trips are fun, and I think your reality waitress idea is brilliant. Of course, reality tv tops my list of guilty pleasures. 😉


  2. Man, I love the little dried up marshmallows in kids’ cereal. The crunchy cereal bits themselves? Well, Count Chocula is okay. Lucky Charms less so; kind of like less flavorful Cheerios, that.

    Crackerbarrel is decent. I’ve never had a “bad” meal there. We haven’t stopped at one on road trips lately because we don’t want to leave the dog in the car for that amount of time (our big once a year road trip is to the South, during the summer. So.)

    Sometimes you do luck out at the little local joints. But it is definitely a gamble.


    1. A kindred crazy mama! Our bigger road trips have also always been to the south in the summer 😀

      Cracker Barrel is safe and consistent, and an easy way to spend some time before getting back on the road. Generally speaking, the fewer traveling with us, the more likely we are to be adventurous. By now, though, CB is very much a part of our road trip traditions. Like HoJo’s in the ’60’s/70’s.

      We will, however, have to agree to disagree on the marshmallow bits. 😉


      1. I love traveling through the US. I always have the most fun conversations and meet the most interesting people. My most recent trip was last July. I drove to Kalispell, Montana, I walked into a Walmart because I’d heard that they actually sell guns and ammunition. (This doesn’t happen in Canada) So there I was staring at a rifle in a glass case when an older gentleman approached and asked if I would like to hold it. All I could manage to say is “umm I’m Canadian”; to which he replied “never mind then” and walked away LOL!


    1. 😀
      There’s always something fun about staying in a motel, even if it’s a little low brow (as long as it’s clean). I think you’re right, it feels like a score!



  3. Mmmmm Cracker Barrel! We all like that place. There is one in Sturbridge conveniently about halfway between home and CHB. 🙂 The question boy #1 always wants to ask the server and never remembers is why do they call the side “fried apples?” They are definitely not fried- but they are absolutely delicious. 🙂

    Cheap motels, as long as they are clean, are fine with me! My kids love the whole ice and vending machine experience and the price on the vending machine is directly proportionate to the price of the accommodations. 😉


    1. 😀
      Yup, we ate at a Cracker Barrel on our way up to NH yesterday, maybe even the one you go to 😉

      Flower Child also loves the fried apples. Unfortunately, yesterday she wanted to order by.her.self. You know what came to the table was not at all what patchy reading comprehension had her envisioning 😀

      I’m indulging in some of the free continental breakfast coffee as I type 😉


  4. I am from Australia so was not sure whether this was reference to a bygone era or to an actual chain-restaurant that still exists, although have gathered from the comments that it does still exist.
    It sound like a great place for a stop-over / meal.


    1. Yes, it does really exist, a perfect stop for anyone on a budget. One of the nice parts is that the Cracker Barrels are all large, so families aren’t squished. 🙂


  5. I LOVE Cracker Barrel, and after our recent vacation, I can absolutely identify w/everything here! The cool little food places we discovered were definitely one of the joys of the trip for me. Our family was surprised to find that some of our best food was actually from Perkins. 2 other favorites were this restaurant: and the homemade breakfast served every morning at this cool little hotel: .


    1. 🙂 CB is a great deal for all, solid.
      I love the look and description of that wildflower cafe, and the inn looks nice!
      Easy vacations that stay (sort of) in budget let you breathe, so nice ❤

      (Reserving judgement about Perkins;))


  6. I must have been in a few of these places during the “unknown band” era. What’s that sign in the background of the ceiling shot…HULTING ? Sounds German…some road trip. We’ve got a young lady from up-state staying here this week…she’s near the conversion point, saying she wants to move here. Guess that’s not rare, the doing it part is rare. Good to see you’r getting out and about. Taking all those dogs with you? Good luck with that, if you are.


    1. LOL, nope, the dogs stay home when we travel, which is why we’ve been doing abbreviated road trips. We stayed in one motel where dogs where allowed–I noticed none of the other beasts cried all night because they weren’t home. I told this to Big Senile Dog when we got home, but he was unimpressed.

      And yes, wanting vs doing, two very, very different things. 🙂


      1. Big Senile Dog sounds like he’s working an angle. Don’t fall for it, or next he’ll be staying at one of those Puppy Hostels for $250 a day and you’ll be at some place where bits of the neon signs are burned out. Hey…like the “Hot L Baltimore.” Giving away my age again.


  7. My mom was from Virginia and her dad sugar cured hams to sell to supplement his income. As kids when we visited from the west this ham was a real treat, they don’t sell cured hams in the west. At least they didn’t until Cracker Barrel. My mom would make the drive from Vegas to Bullhead City AZ to get some of that country ham and a taste of home. Not as good as Granddaddy’s but pretty close.


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