Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Memphis, TN for dinner

Hi all at the Reindl Blog: Noah and I recently traveled to Memphis, TN for dinner. I wanted to share our experiences with you but I can not copy and paste into the blog. Dawn, if you can copy my FB note in here feel free! I did post our story on my Facebook page. Feel free to go there and read it my short story. If we are not FB friends, feel free to friend me to read it. I do have some rules for friending people on Facebook though. You must fit the following: 1. Be a high school classmate 2. Be a relative over the age of 18 3. Be an "old" friend That's it. Of course, I have a couple of exceptions, but they are few (thus the term exceptions). Love to all, Scott

Update Added 9:15 pm from Scott's FB page:  

Hello Facebook Friends:

Noah and I recently traveled to Memphis, TN and I thought I would share our some of the experiences we had on our trip.  Please bear with me; I am not a writer and not an editor.  As you will see I can get somewhat wordy.  If you feel like reading this in its entirety, feel free to read it in sections or grab a beverage and enjoy.  :-)

Why would we go to Memphis?  Neither of us are into country music and neither of us are Elvis Presley fans.  I know Memphis has other offerings, but those two are the big attractions.  About a year ago Noah was watching the travel channel (or Man vs. Food) and watched a show about a restaurant called “The Rendezvous”.  This restaurant is supposed to have some of the best ribs around; Noah has wanted to go eat their ribs ever since he saw the show.

Spring break 2011 was a couple of weeks away, and I mentioned to Noah if he wanted to go to The Rendezvous and have some ribs.  He seemed somewhat excited about the idea, so my planning really started.  Memphis is only 9 ½ hours away.  A few years back Noah and I took a long weekend to Niagara Falls and had a blast.  I figure if the destination is a 12-hour drive or less we should be able to make that drive in a day.  So I finished the planning, found a sketchy hotel and we decided to leave on Monday, March 28.

I made our hotel reservations on the Sunday before we left.  I narrowed the field to one hotel then found a second.  The criterion was pretty simple, cheap and within walking distance to our destination.  That left the Peabody out (too bad, it looked like a very nice hotel.)  The Econo Lodge was our top choice.  Then we started reading some reviews of the hotel.  Dirty was the biggest complaint.  So, I kept looking.  The second choice was $10 more, but the reviews were much better.  The Vista was a little farther from our destination but still within easy walking distance.  I gave Noah the choice; he decided it should be more “sketchy” than nice.  We packed our sleeping bags so we wouldn’t have to use their sheets.

Kimberly and Ayden are home visiting this week so we didn’t have to rent or borrow a car since Kimberly could drop Rita off at work and pick her up.  So Monday, we left home at 6:59 am and swung by downtown Madison to drop Rita off and save Kimberly and Ayden one trip.  Our beginning mileage was 71,572 on the ol’ Hyundai.

The AAA TripTik maps I printed off at home worked great and made an excellent way to take some notes.  If you have ever traveled with me, I love the minor details of a trip.  I love to keep track of them and file everything away.  Years later when we talk about the trip it all helps bring back forgotten memories.  At 7:36 am Noah and I were back on I39/90 at Hwy 12/18 heading for Memphis for dinner!

And yes, when it comes down to it that is why we drove 10 hours – to go to dinner.

We initially made it about 2 hours and decided we should eat some breakfast.  At 9:22 am we stopped at Burger King.  Now that does sound like it is against one of my vacation rules – eating at nation wide fast food joints.  It is, but Noah has never had their breakfast before and they have a dollar menu (cheap for me) so we stopped to use their facilities and pick up some quick food.

Quick was not the name of the game at this Burger King.  The manager was the cashier.  We had to wait at the front counter for him for a couple of minutes.  One of the cooks, of course I use the word cook very loosely, appeared to be a retired woman (good for her by the way) and some young girl in training.  This stop took 12 minutes, much longer than what it should have; but we had some mediocre microwave food that kept us alive for a while.  $7.43 not really well spent.

Hello Bloomington, IL, good bye I39 and hello I55 – please take us to the IL State Capitol.  Springfield came and went.  I liked to announce every county we entered to Noah and any city that we entered.  This really annoyed Noah, so it continued for our trip there and back.  Hello St. Louis, MO!

We took I55 through St. Louis.  AAA had us going that way and skipping the bypass and I really wanted to drive by the Arch.  FLASHBACK ALERT!  We were there a long time ago when Noah was much younger.  Audrey did not join us on that trip, but Kimberly and her cousin Meaghan were with us.  That was a great trip, except of course for our van getting broken into and a lot of our stuff was stolen and a window broken.  Noah took a number of photos of the Arch as we drove my.  Hmmmmm, this might be worth a drive down later.  Maybe we can time it right and see a Brewers’ game here at the same time.  At this point, I figured I was a great vacation planner because we made it through St. Louis without any traffic difficulties.

Just south of St. Louis at exit 180 in Pevely, MO we decided to stop for gas and make a sandwich.  The time was 1:02 pm.  The mileage was 71,968.  In this tank of gas I averaged 66 mph and 25.6 mpg and drove 397.2 miles.  We put in 15.227 gallons of gas at $3.489 per gallon for a total of $53.13.  This stop took 15 minutes.  We gassed up, used the restroom, and made a sandwich.  It took only 3 minutes longer than our Burger King stop.  That is AMAZING especially when you take into consideration that the pumps did not have the pay at the pump option.  So I had to go in, have them turn the pumps on, go back in to stand in line again and pay.  Really, they don’t have pay at the pumps.  Wow!  And were off….

As we are driving Noah sees this billboard for Boomland!  Tell me, who wouldn’t want to stop at a place called Boomland!  Let’s pull of the road and it appears Boomland is huge!  It is connected to a gas station, general store and a McDonalds.  We walked into the general store figuring we can just walk over to Boomland.  Nope, can’t get there from here.  Back outside and we walk over to the lighted open sign and the door is locked and it is dark inside.  Boomland is closed?  Wait, there is another door lets go there, maybe this is just the storage area.  Nope, door is locked and the sign says to have the general store clerk open the store for you.  Well, we were not going to do that.  As we were walking back to the general store I look at a door and said to Noah, "It looks like there is nothing behind that wall.  I open the unlocked door and it was a fake wall to make the building appear bigger.  Great laugh for us!  Back to the general store to use the bathrooms and we are off again.  The bathrooms were disgusting.  I always figure you can tell how good a store or restaurant is by the condition of the bathrooms.  It was not a surprise.  We stopped here at 2:36 pm and stayed for 18 minutes.  Our longest stop so far.

Arkansas has an interesting on-ramp/off-ramp system.  Their ramps are like 10 feet long.  Made us laugh.

Hello Memphis!  Our hotel is about 1 mile off I40.  We switched from I55 to I40 around West Memphis.  We arrived at the hotel at 5:01 pm.  This was a 10 hour and 2 minute trip door to door with a swing through downtown Madison and three stops totalling 45 minutes.  Not bad.

We checked into the hotel and parked our car.  As we were checking in and talking with the front desk clerk I mentioned we just drove 10 hours to eat ribs at The Rendezvous.  She told us that The Rendezvous is closed on Mondays.  What!  We just drove 10 hours for dinner and the place we want to eat is closed!  My feeling of being a great vacation planner just vanished.  You would think that I would check the hours of the primary destination of our trip!  Unbelievable!!!  Now what the heck are we going to do!  A tear almost comes down my eye.  But wait, this isn’t the end of the world.  How can we make this little (little, really this is NOT a little negative) negative into a positive and still make this trip worthwhile?  The front desk clerk then tells us that tonight we will have wet ribs and tomorrow we will have dry ribs at The Rendezvous.

Our sketchy hotel room really wasn’t that bad.  We ripped the comforters off and threw them in the corner.  The sheets seemed clean, but we still slept in our sleeping bags.  The bathroom was pink – made be laugh and think of trip to Niagara Falls – that room was pink too.  Only a little mold in the bathroom and we saw no bugs!

The front desk clerk gave us directions to the Blue City Café.  We took a walk to the Blue City Café at the corner of 2nd Street and Beale Street.  Noah orders a full rack of ribs and I order a cup of chili.  We decide to share.  Well, the food gets to us in about 5 minutes.  Much quicker than the Burger King we had for breakfast.  How weird is that!  Well, holy crap that was the best chili and ribs I have ever eaten!  OK, I am glad I screwed up our vacation planning; because if I didn’t we never would have eaten here.  Dinner was $41.62.

We walked around Beale Street.  It reminded me of State Street, but with more bars (is that possible?) and more outside music and sidewalk bars.  Apparently, you can drink on the street in this area.  I bought a Beale Street t-shirt from the clearance rack at the Blues City General Store for $10.87 and Noah bought a poster for the same price at a different shop.

We walked back to the hotel, and I was asleep by 8:30 pm.

Good morning Tuesday!  I slept like a rock until 11 pm when our neighbors started banging on the wall.  Back to sleep and up at 6:30 am.

We checked out of hotel around 9 am and walked around downtown Memphis.  We took the Main Street Trolley and saw where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and some other sites along the trolley line.  We walked around and really wasted time until The Rendezvous opened.

The time is 10:45 am and we go the entrance of The Rendezvous.  The door is open!  We walk downstairs and see someone mopping the floor and a family sitting at a table.  I say to the old guy who appears to work there, “Are we to early to eat?”  He says, “We don’t open until 4:30.”  What you are kidding me I am thinking!  I really don’t want to hang around here until 4:30.  I say, “We drove 10 hours to eat your ribs.”  He counters, “If you want ribs we can serve you ribs and the sides that come with them.”  Graciously I say, “That’s what we came here for was your ribs, where can we sit!”

We found a table and one of the cooks gave us our drinks and said, “Do you want a half rack or full?”  This is my kind of menu.  Not what would you like, but this is what we are serving – how hungry are you!  We each ordered a half rack and I ordered a half rack to go since my Dad wanted to try some.  Again, WOW!  These are some great ribs.  These are dry ribs and you can put BBQ sauce on them if you want.  I have been asked, which ones I liked better.  I don’t think I can choose.  I really liked them both and both had different qualities I liked.  After buying some souvenirs we dropped $78.96.

The inside of the restaurant was certainly eclectic.  The restaurant had very interesting décor and was a lot of fun.  Thank you Memphis.

We walked back to the hotel where we left our car.  We left our “City of Great Ribs” at 11:34 am and started driving to Sikeston, MO.  Now when I planned this trip we were suppose to eat ribs Monday night and leave Tuesday morning and eat lunch at Lambert’s in Sikeston, MO.  The plans changed slightly so we were hoping to eat an early dinner at Lambert’s and drive until we were tired.

On the way we stopped at the I55 MO Welcome Center just after exit 40.  We had a 9-minute stop to stretch and use the restroom.  We arrived in Sikeston, MO at 1:43 pm and we were not hungry.  We found an outlet mall and walked around for a while and tried to get ourselves hungry, but it wasn’t working very well.

We really wanted to experience Lambert’s so in we went.  We both had meals we couldn’t finish, but the Lambert’s experience was a lot of fun.  If you don’t know about Lambert’s you call go to their website,  We spent $27.00 on food and another $23.58 on souvenirs at the gift shop.

It was time to gas the car again.  This tank of gas has 392.1 miles, 65 mph average, 25.4 mpg average and 5:58 in drive time.  We put in 15.901 gallons at $3.319 per gallon for a total of $52.78.  We were back on the road at 3:15 pm.

This time around we took I255 around St. Louis – I think that is a little quicker.  And we drove until 6:41 pm when we stopped just north of Springfield, IL at a rest area for a potty break and I decided to change clothes and put on a pair of sweat pants.  This stop lasted 13 minutes.  Turn the page on my map and we stopped again.  Wow, we stopped a lot I thought to myself.  But, this was nearly 3 hours later.

Now is a good time to talk about our radio rules for the road trip.  When Noah was listening to or playing on his iPod we have radio rules.  We do not listen to CD’s.  Boring!  We hit the scan button and when one of us hears a song we like we stop the scan and listen.  But, each of us has Veto powers.  If the song really sucks to the other person, that person can hit the scan button and start all over again.  At one point, Noah decided he could Veto my Veto and finish listening to a song I didn’t like.  Didn’t seem right to me, but he made up a rule so I couldn’t argue with him I guess.

I remember at 8:00 pm passing a Motel 6 with an advertised rate of $37.99.  For 50 bucks I thought, there is no need to stop.  I can make it.  45 minutes later I remember thinking, why didn’t I stop at that Motel 6!

I kept going until 9:21 pm we needed gas.  Noah was freaking out because we had less than 50 miles left and he didn’t want to walk for gas.  We stopped at exit 111, our current mileage is 72,774; we drove 413 miles, 5:57 hours, averaged 69 mph at 26.1 mpg.  We put in 15.697 gallons of gas at $3.696 per gallon for a total of $58.02.  I made a sandwich to eat and we left 9 minutes after stopping.

Helloooooo Wisconsin (to be said like “That 70’s Show).

We made it to WI, but damn am I tired.  We pulled into the WI Welcome Center wayside at 9:57 pm.  Turned the car off, pulled out my pillow and sheet and went to sleep.  I told Noah that I just needed a 20-minute cat nap and I will be able to make it home.  I am sure it took me 15-20 minutes to get comfortable, but I did fall asleep.  Noah had a nice warm blanket and slept like a baby.  I woke up at 11:30 pm freezing.  If it wasn’t cold out I think I would have slept all night.  Off to the bathroom, grab a Diet Pepsi and we left at 11:46 pm for the last hour of our trip.

Home Sweet Home!  We made it home at 12:43 am on Wednesday, March 30, 2011.  Our ending mileage was 72,865.  This last leg at 90.7 miles, 1:35 minutes of drive time, we averaged 55 mph and 26.4 mpg.

Our trip for ribs in Memphis, TN was less than 48 hours but was a great time.  The moral of this story is when you plan your vacation; make sure the place you are going to is open.  Where to next?

Please note I will post some photos and soon as I can get them off the memory card.

Friday, March 25, 2011

This and That

Good Morning Everyone, I know some of you do not have facebook so I want to share something that Monica has started and it has caught on like a laughing baby. She started writing a gratitude journal and saying something she is grateful for each day other than the obvious, God and family. Since she has started that many have either commented on her posts with their gratitude's or written on their own facebook pages their gratitude's. I think this is great and it is what keeps the sun shining on a cloudy day. Thanks Monica for the inspiration and thanks Lexi for inspiring/supporting your Mom! With that in mind I thought I would just share a medical update. I just had a 2 1/2 day stay in the heart hospital for atrial fibrillation. We did a cardioversion to get the upper chambers of my heart beating, they were in a quiver and had not been working since early March. I have had this off and on for a long time but it usually converted on it own - not this time though. I was extremely lucky and it converted with the medicine so I did not need to do the electric shock. So now with new medication I will hopefully be able to keep the rhythm regular and not have to see the hospital again for a while. I do have to give up caffeine so that pretty much means coffee but, there is always hot water and that is not too bad either. So with Monica's/Lexis gratitude journal in mind - I am grateful for the unassuming family that allows me to handle these medical inconveniences without making me feel like a sick person. It is great to be home and back to my usual daily chores.
Feel free to count your blessing here on the blog we would all love to be inspired as Monica has inspired so many already. Julie