Kewpees and kittehs

We wanted to see the Kewpee Diner in Lima, Ohio, after reading about it in Brian Butko’s books about the Lincoln Highway, but we wound up taking the wrong alignment east of Van Wert (yes, the Lincoln Highway, like Route 66, was rerouted several times during its history) and missed it on the trip out. This turned out to be a blessing: Unbeknownst to us, the giant Kewpee doll on the front of the building was actually gone the day we passed through on our way to Pennsylvania, having been taken down for restoration work. The newly refurbished doll — which, according to a news report Ron read, weighs about 200 pounds — was back up on the restaurant when we made a special detour just to see it on the way back home.

We expected to find the restaurant closed on a Sunday afternoon, but it was open for business and utterly charmed us with its glorious Art Deco interior and awesome food, including great burgers, thick chocolate malts, and — OMG — sugar cream pie.

In case you are wondering, I have now decided that I need to own a Kewpie doll. I was kind of disappointed that they weren’t selling any as souvenirs. Seems like a missed opportunity. Very cool place, though. Cool in the sense that I would consider making the 820-mile drive out to Lima for the express purpose of eating there. Yeah — it’s that kind of cool.

After the Kewpee, the rest of our trip was pretty anticlimactic, but we did find a great place to stay on the old National Road in Greenup, Ill.:

No fancy neon sign, but the owners were very nice, the building was historic, and the newly renovated room we stayed in was big and comfortable, with a nice couch and a beautiful hardwood floor. Bonus: real keys instead of those annoying electronic cards. Definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area.

On the way out of town, we noticed a covered bridge on an older alignment of the National Road that paralleled U.S. 40. As it turns out, the bridge was only about 10 years old, but it’s a replica of an earlier bridge that had been torn down many years earlier. Mad props to the local government for investing the extra money to build something cool:

They’ve also built a little observation platform, interpretive kiosk, and walking trail near the bridge. Very nice. A couple of semi-feral kittens have taken up residence under the platform:

This one didn’t like Ron much:

I think it’s hilarious when cats put their ears sideways like that. I wish I’d had an audio recorder with me, because this little guy tried VERY hard to sound tough. He was making a strange little warbling, complaining sort of noise that ended in what we think was supposed to be a growl. Very funny. I was half-tempted to take the little booger home, but Greenup is a long way from Tulsa, and Riggy already has one cat. He doesn’t need another.

Hope your summer has been full of amazing adventures, adorable kittens, and terrific cheeseburgers, wherever you are.


More vacation pix

Sorry it took me so long to post the rest of the photos from our vacation. I’ve been harvesting honey, consolidating broodchambers, rendering beeswax, cleaning the house, and steaming the carpets all week and haven’t had a hand free to blog. Mea culpa.

Here are a few shots from Allentown itself. (And you thought I wasn’t looking at anything that wasn’t standing near the third-base line at Coca-Cola Park. Shows what you know.)

You know on any road trip, proper road food takes a high, high priority, so we took some advice from the Noise Nation guys and headed to Yocco’s for a chili dog. Tulsa is proud of its Coneys, but Yocco’s … wow. It didn’t quite dethrone Albuquerque’s Dog House for the coveted Best Chili Dog Emily Has Eaten on a Road Trip title, but it’s definitely the best I’ve had anywhere east of Albuquerque. Bonus: It’s a gritty little joint in a gritty little neighborhood, with local guys coming in to buy 40-ounce beers out of the cooler in the dining area while you eat. Awesome.

Love that map with pins in it to show where Yocco dogs have gone over the years.

They don't look like much, but those chili dogs were fantastic.

Allentown is also home to a spectacular farmers’ market. I won’t go so far as to say it’s better than the Soulard Farmers’ Market in St. Louis, but it’s probably as good. Behold:

While we were in the area, we slipped over to Easton in hopes of seeing the Crayola factory. They don’t give tours any more, though; instead, they’ve set up a “discovery center” or something like that in the middle of town. It would probably be a fun place to take kids, but based on the description we got from a girl working there, I think we would have paid $10 a head to color with 4-year-olds. I can color with Jamie for free, so we skipped the tour. I did, however, get a sign of the excellent sculpture on the front of the building:

Here was maybe the best discovery of the trip:

As I was taking this picture, a resident of this mission — which is about a block from a jail — stopped to tell me about the building and the sign. I asked him whether the neon still worked. He said it certainly did and that it stays on all night, so of course we had to come back after the ballgame:

The guy told me a story about the sign above. The mission is about a block from the jail, and the guy said he used to be an inmate over there and would see this sign from the window of his cell every night. He said he never dreamed he might end up having to live at the mission when he got out, but the sign inspired him and gave him hope. “It’s amazing how something as simple as a neon sign can change lives,” he said.

Next post: Photos from the coolest diner I’ve ever seen.



From the “Oh, no, she didn’t!” files:

Yes, I have binders full of baseball cards. Yes, over 80 of them have this man’s face on them. And yes, out of all those cards, this really was the one I chose to take all the way to Pennsylvania for an autograph.

Why? I dunno. Why do I do anything? I think the more pressing questions here are why this card exists in the first place (I know it’s a Broder, but that still doesn’t explain how the photographer talked him into this shoot) and who told him that mustache was a good idea.


This one’s for the girls

De nada, ladies. De nada.

Pitcher Phillippe Aumont.

Centerfielder Rich Thompson.

Third baseman Tagg Bozied.

Catcher and 2011 IL All-Star Erik Kratz.

Pregame broadcast being filmed, guys milling around dugout, fans tossing balls down for autographs, spectators settling in … gotta love the energy in a ballpark just before game time.

Game face. I think this may be the most intimidating thing I have ever seen — possibly because it’s the exact same look my dad gave me when I brought home that craptastic trig grade in 1992. (Technically, I think I am still grounded for that….)

Bottom of the ninth, one out, and the sky suddenly opens up and pours …

… and pours …

… but the clouds eventually pass, and the grounds crew puts the field to rights so the guys can finish the game. Meanwhile, the rain delay gave me time to visit the souvenir shop and beef up my baseball card collection. You cannot begin to imagine the number of Ryno cards that have been manufactured. Crazy. Then again, speaking as a photographer and designer …

… I suppose I can see how a highly photogenic Hall of Famer might inspire more than his fair share of ephemera. 😉