May 29, 2014

Getting Burgers and Blues in Jackson, Miss.

Every so often, you find someone with the type of judgment you really have to question.  In my case, that man is Terry Hupp.  So, when we stopped for an overnight stay in Jackson, Miss., on our road trip to New Orleans, we looked to Terry to help us find something – anything – interesting in a town that, frankly, had always left me unimpressed. 

My crew and I met Sue and Terry at Burgers and Blues, which was not far from their hotel in Ridgeland, a suburb of Jackson.  For travelers along I-55, Ridgeland is a hotel and chain restaurant oasis on the north side of the city.  Terry recommended Burgers and Blues based on past travels, and the fact that you could hear decent music emanating from the general direction from his hotel window.  Follow your senses, I guess. 

Tucked away in southern suburbia ... 

May 23, 2014

A pit stop at Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q, Memphis

I have plenty of blogging to get to related to my most recent road trip to New Orleans to check out the scene in between Jazz Fest weekends, and I might as well start with our first stop of note – lunch Saturday afternoon at Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q.

The Interstate Bar-B-Q is perhaps appropriately named because of its location less than a quarter of a mile north of Exit 7 on I-55 where U.S. Highway 61 crosses it.  That does NOT necessarily mean it’s easy to get to, because if you’re travelling south, you do not have the option of turning left onto North 61 as it follows 3rd Street through the south side of Memphis toward downtown.   It’s almost as if the highway engineers intentionally tried to steer you away from the ghetto and toward Mississippi where the casinos await an hour away in the Mississippi Delta.   

May 15, 2014

The rustic beauty of the Buckhart Tavern

One requirement to being a truly great dive bar is character.  The Buckhart Tavern has a surplus.

The Buckhart Tavern is the main – and practically only – attraction in the unincorporated community of Buckhart, Ill., which sits on the crossroads of two Sangamon County highways five minutes east of Rochester, which is itself five minutes east of Springfield.  Look for the turnoff for Buckhart Road as you exit the east side of Rochester on Illinois Highway 29.

The town itself is little more than a few scattered homes, a sand and gravel company north of town, a shooting range and, of course, the tavern.  In short, it has everything a redneck could hope for when it comes to entertainment.  The town is small enough to be slighted by Wikipedia, but proud enough to have its own website (I guess the area soil is amazing for agriculture).  It must be that same sense of pride that makes the Buckhart Tavern so popular with the townies – after all, it practically IS the town. 

May 8, 2014

Blog rebooted: 5 differences between a world traveler and a commoner

It has been an insanely busy couple of months for me, and unfortunately the lack of new posts to my blog reflects that.  However, I've had many blog-worthy moments to record recently, so I’ll be doing my best to catch up in May. 

One lesson that has been reinforced to me in recent months: While I may never be the world traveler I always wanted to be, I can still fully enjoy those small parts of the world I do get to see.  That’s what I’ll be focusing this blog around for the foreseeable future.  I admit, I’m jealous of all the travel bloggers I follow who can go anywhere anytime.  But I think I've finally figured out why they can do what they do and I can’t.  And yes, I find their argument that anyone can do what they do somewhat myopic.  I think the differences between them and me prove why:

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...