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Heaven on Earth

A Restaurant Review by Bob McKay

The name of the place is "Heaven on Earth", and it's located on I-5, exit 86 in Azalea, ORE., on the east side of the freeway, and just 500' north of the exit ramp on the frontage road. It isn't a typical "truckstop"; it is a roadside cafe, but she caters to truckers, and always has loved them. In fact, your thermos will be filled with coffee for free with a CDL (this keeps the locals from mooching...), and a message that appears on the back of the menu, as well as over the register says, "If you bought it, a truck brought it."

Christine Jackson bought the place about 15 years ago after it had failed 10 times as a roadside business. Her secret for success was to provide great quality food made from scratch, great service, a pleasant environment, and Christmas lights all around the place year-round to lure people in from the freeway. She later bought  the place across the street, expanded it, and turned it into their headquarters for their "Oregon Apple Butter Farms" business, and subsequently created an adjacent, larger truck parking area. 10 or 12 years ago, we could only squeeze-in about 6 trucks next to the restaurant if everyone parked straight. Now, there's ample truck parking right across the street next to her headquarters, and busses now park where the trucks used to park. She doesn't advertise because she doesn't need to: word-of-mouth is her advertising. She is a Christian, good-looking, and employs many wayward girls that need some training in life or a place to smooth-out the speed bumps on the road of life, and Christine has had GREAT sucess in doing this great deed.

 
Now, for the food review...!
 
There are several things that set this place apart from others, foremost being that everything there is made from scratch. Secondly, their world-famous cinnamon rolls are at least 5" tall, and about 8" across. They are so big that they can only fit 6 into the baking pans. If you are into pastries, pies, turnovers or any other doctor's no-no's, then this is the place for you to sin in secrecy. Their home-made Apple Butter is pricey, but highly addicting.
 
Thirdly, they have an all-you-can-eat chili, soup, or beef stew that is served in a freshly-baked bread bowl, which you can eat afterwards if you still have any room left. The stew is my favorite, with huge chunks of beef, potatoes, and all sorts of goodies that make it wonderful. Fourthly, when you walk in, the smell will just lift you off of the floor: fresh yeast rolls baking, or cakes, stew, turkey, cinnamon rolls, apple butter- you name it, the smell is incredible!!! Mmmmm....
 
Fifth, their omelettes are outrageous, and very satisfying. Finally, each and every meal comes with a freshly baked yeast roll, along with home-made peanut butter, apple butter (highly addicting-be careful!), and Oregon marionberry jam.
 
Prices on the menu are initially a little high, but she gives truckers a discount at the register (which ticks-off the RV'ers...) Besides, I'd rather pay a little more to get great quality food.
 
If you have every eaten there, then you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't been there yet, just ask anyone who has run up or down I-5 or I-84 about it, and I'm sure you will hear many comebacks on the C.B. telling you to go there.

The Ghastly Gast Haus,

A Restaurant Review by Skip Gatermann

What could be more perfect than four couples celebrating Valentine’s Day Dinner at lovely German Restaurant in St. Louis, MO? The entire experience turned out more like a Valentine’s Day nightmare.

We had dinner reservations for 6:30 PM at the Gast Haus, a new German Restaurant in the posh Lafayette Square Neighborhood. The host greeted us at the door and took us instantly to our table. The dining room was impressive with a fine mural of the Brandenburg Gate covering a large wall. The seating was comfortable and the rest of the décor was what one would expect from a good German restaurant.

We should have gotten the first hint of trouble when it took twenty-five minutes for our server to take drink orders. With those taken, she did explain some of the menu items. She disappeared. Twenty-minutes later she arrived with the beverages and took our orders. They had several specials for the day which included an appetizer, salad/soup course, main course, and dessert. The server disappeared with the orders, and we resumed chatting. I began to notice that the water glasses were not being kept full. This troubled me. The keeping of full water glasses I consider to be the mark of a fine restaurant. Our appetizers arrived at 7:45. By this time all eight of us were wondering just what was happening in the kitchen. The food was divine. Everyone had ordered something different, and everyone found the food to be perfect. However, we still had to beg for water.

We stopped our server to ask what was going on with the service. She told us, "If I told you they would fire me!" That did it. I called for the manager. He seemed to be an agreeable fellow, little did I know what he was really like, and he scurried off to the kitchen to see just what the problem was. Then we had trouble finding him. Our main courses arrived at 9 o’clock. My pork loin stuffed with cranberries and raisins was nothing short of a masterpiece of the culinary arts. Then I caught a glimpse of the manager and was in hot pursuit of him. I blasted him for avoiding us, not solving the service problem, and for his lack of explanation. He merely maintained a stupid smile on his face, and he offered little in the way of easing my displeasure. Our server reappeared. She said it would not be long until dessert arrived. "I pray it will come before midnight?" I asked in a surly tone. It did. It came at 9:35. The only thing that came quickly was the bill.

We did not wait for her to pick it up, because it was after ten o’clock, and we feared we would fall asleep, because it was getting late! I took my bill to the manager, which gave me another chance to display my loathing for the man. He said the best he could do was to deduct 15% from the bill. I told him four hours of my life was worth hell of a lot more than 15%, and that he would never see any of us again. This news did not seem to phase him, nor did the threat of letting the world know what a terrible restaurant he ran.

Unless you want to sacrifice four hours of your life for German cuisine, avoid the Gast Haus at 18th and Chouteau in St. Louis.


Trucker Restaurant Reviews

Normally in a truck stop, you never want to get exotic when you order food. It's usually best to stick with the basics, since those are harder to screw up. As a rule of thumb, NEVER order Mexican food at a truck stop unless you are a glutton for gastrointestinal punishment and have some seriously good antacid tablets along with you, like Tetralac, which is available at Wal-mart.

Most truck stops have "locals" (patrons from the local area) that tend to hang out in them. This is especially true in smaller "mom and pop" type truck stops and restaurants. Locals seem to like to watch truckers and tourists come and go.

Rating Guide:
  • 1 -- Don't even THINK of stopping here unless you are desperately hungry!!!!!!!!
  • 2 -- Average truck stop food, so-so
  • 3 -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry
  • 4 -- Really good food, make a point to work your schedule so you can stop
  • 5 -- Outstanding food. Unfortunately truck stop restaurants like this are RARE !!!!

Photo by Rob Clark

Starvin' Arvin's Restaurant, I-70 Exit 19, Grand Junction, Colorado inside the Conoco Truck Stop

This restaurant is located inside the Conoco Truck Stop just south of the I-70 Exit 19 exit at Grand Junction, Colorado. The truck stop looks like a simple fuel stop that has only a Subway sandwich shop inside. The restaurant occupies roughly the eastern third of the building. There's a red neon sign on the side of the building that says "Starvin' Arvin's" right next to the Subway sign, but there's really no indication that it's a restaurant. The cook told me that the restaurant has been in business for 7 years. I've driven by it for years without bothering to stop since I really didn't even realize it was present.

"Starvin' Arvin's" has excellent food. I had the "Smothered Chicken" and it was excellent. The "value" version of it comes with the basic entree along with one side dish and bread. Everything was surprisingly tasty. The bread was a yeast roll and was absolutely excellent. I sat at the counter looking right into the kitchen and every bit of finished food that the cooks sat up in the window looked extremely appetizing.

For desert, I had a slice of peach pie topped with whipped cream. The pie was also excellent.

Truck stop restaurants with this caliber of food are rare indeed.

Overall Rating -- 5 -- Outstanding food. Unfortunately truck stop restaurants like this are RARE !!!!


Rosa's Mexican Restaurant, Hwy. 59 North across from Tyson Foods Noel Complex, Noel, MO.

While I was picking a load up at Tyson Foods Noel Complex, I walked across the street to Rosa's Mexican Restaurant, which is next door in the same building to Rosa's Mexican Foods, a Mexican grocery store.

I had the buffet, which was quite reasonably priced at $5.95 in the evening for all you can eat. The food was tasty. The buffet included shrimp (unpeeled) as well as various beef fajita meats, rice, etc.

Overall Rating -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


Joey's Fine Italian Dining, 6594 Thompson Rd, Syracuse, New York, I-90 Exit 35

I was waiting for a trailer's refrigeration unit to be repaired at the Syracuse, New York Thermoking Dealership, and I was hungry so I went out exploring the local area (tractor only, not pulling a trailer) to find something to eat. There was a Denny's Restaurant across the street, but I figured I'd try a locally-owned place first. I was able to easily park my tractor, though if I had a trailer hooked to the tractor I wouldn't have been able to park in their parking lot.

Joey's Restaurant is actually two restaurants in one. The upstairs portion (which happened to be closed when I was there on a Saturday afternoon) is more of a casual traditional diner. The downstairs portion is the more formal Italian restaurant that I ended up eating in.

Their menu has a wide variety of Italian and seafood items. They keep the lighting very low for mood effect. I had their Lasagna, which was excellent. The waitress service was quite good.

You should be forewarned that the menu is pricey. The lasagna meal along with iced tea together came to $20 dollars.

Overall Rating -- 5 -- Outstanding food. Unfortunately truck stop restaurants like this are RARE !!!!


T/A Truck Stop, Kenly, North Carolina, I-95, Exit 106

Oh, I guess I'll never learn. I ordered the new "Ultimate Shrimp Pasta" that recently showed up on all T/A restaurant menus. In most T/A restaurants, this dish is actually good. What a mistake it turned out to be to order it at the Kenly, North Carolina T/A !!!!!

The shrimp itself was so-so. The pasta was cooked right, which was a plus. However, the sauce was absolutely AWFUL !!!!!!!!! It tasted like French salad dressing heated up, perhaps mixed with a bit of white gravy. YUCK!!!!!! I couldn't eat it !!!!

To her credit, the waitress did give me a piece of pecan pie without charging me for it to make up for the hideous sauce.

Overall Rating -- 1 -- Don't even THINK of stopping here unless you are desperately hungry!!!!!!!!


T/A Truck Stop, Jessup, Maryland -- I-95, Exit 41

Another place to avoid like the plague. I had spaghetti with meatballs. Unfortunately the spaghetti was "mushy." Spaghetti or any type of pasta MUST be cooked in boiling water -- it CANNOT be "slow-cooked" without becoming "mushy."

What is it with restaurants along I-95 in Maryland? Is there so much traffic going by, with such a huge captive number of customers needing to eat that they can get away with serving crap instead of decent food?

Overall Rating -- 1 -- Don't even THINK of stopping here unless you are desperately hungry!!!!!!!!


Roy Rogers Fried Chicken, Belcamp, Maryland -- I-95 Mile Marker 82 "Maryland House" Service Plaza 25 miles north of Baltimore

This is one of those places you want to avoid like the plague!!!!! The food is awful. I had a "chicken salad" and it was easily one of the worst salads I've ever had in my life. I ended up throwing half of it away. Their salad dressing is awful.

Overall Rating -- 1 -- Don't even THINK of stopping here unless you are desperately hungry!!!!!!!!


Ranch House Cafe, Olancha, California -- West side of U.S. Hwy. 395

I happened to stop here late in the summer evening just before sundown. I was hungry, and there aren't too many places to eat near where a truck can park along U.S. 395 in California.

I had their "Pork Special." It was served with mashed potatoes and gravy, along with a few steamed vegetables. The food was excellent.

This is somewhat of a tourist area of California. The building is in a rustic style with all sorts of interesting landscaping details, with the Sierra Nevada mountains serving as a backdrop.

Overall Rating -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


Cici's Pizza, Joyce Street, Fayetteville, Arkansas -- I-540 north of Fayetteville, exit 71 business north to light, then turn left, then left again towards Home Depot, Cici's Pizza on the right in strip shopping center

Cici's Pizza is a national chain of pizza restaurants that is geared towards their buffet items. Their buffet contains many different types of pizza, such as barbeque pizza, jalapeño pepperoni pizza, etc. They also include a couple of different types of pasta along with alfredo, meat, and marinara spaghetti sauces. They have a nice selection of tasty sweet deserts, along with a salad bar. The price for the all-you-can-eat buffet is quite reasonable. Drinks are self-service. Custom pizzas along with call-ahead carry-out service are also available. Their food has taste, which is often missing in many restaurants of this nature.

Overall Rating -- 3 -- Above average, worth making a stop if you happen to be hungry


George's Restaurant, West Fork, Arkansas -- I-540 Exit 53, a mile east of the freeway in town past the railroad tracks and over the bridge on the left

George's Restaurant is a hidden gem. It's not a truck stop, though on occasion you will see trucks squeezed into their gravel parking lot. The building doesn't look like anything spectacular, and the seating and tables aren't anything fancy. However, the food is absolutely spectacular and worth traveling for. George, who is the owner and cook, specializes in cooking high-end Italian dishes as well as excellent gourmet deserts. He also prepares excellent pizza as well as a variety of sandwiches and other regular American food fare.

One of specials I have frequently is chicken with asparagus and pasta. It is basted in a white wine sauce. This restaurant puts places like Red Lobster and Olive Garden to shame.

The "specials" menu is not to be missed. If you eat here, don't waste the experience on a cheeseburger. The prices are very reasonable at lunch -- expect to pay under $8 for a great meal and a drink at lunch. Evening meal prices, which include a generous food portions, are in the $12 to $14 range including a drink. West Fork is a "dry" area of Washington County Arkansas, so no liquor is served.

Overall Rating -- 5 -- Outstanding food. Unfortunately truck stop restaurants like this are RARE!!!!


Popeye's Fried Chicken, anywhere you can find a store

Popeye's Fried Chicken franchise stores are slowly popping up in many different places, including inside some truck stops and even turnpike service plazas. Popeye's Fried Chicken is fast food with taste.

Overall Rating -- 3 -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


All American Truck Stop, Frystown, Pennsylvania -- I-78, Exit 10

I've eaten at this truck stop a number of times. The food is decent, but today there was a big problem. All of the restaurant employees seemed really angry with each other.

I had about an hour or so to eat before I had to go so I could make my delivery appointment in Allentown, PA on time. I ordered Chicken Parmesan. I made myself a salad from their salad bar. I finished my salad, and then I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally the waitress said my food would soon be coming. Then I waited some more. In the meantime I was chatting with another driver that got his food quickly. While I was waiting I couldn't help but notice the really harsh exchanges that were going on between my waitress and the other restaurant employees.

Finally, I time was running out and I told the waitress to have them put it in a "to go" box as I had to leave soon. I waited some more. The waitress told me she wasn't going to charge me for my food since I'd waited so long. She blamed the supervisor in the kitchen for the long delay. After waiting a bit more, I told her that if it wasn't ready just give me some of their chili to go instead. Then the food was finally ready. She gave it to me and I left her a $1 dollar tip.

The food is good at this place, but the animosity between the employees really gives me a bit of pause. It makes me wonder if an employee might one day decide to bring a gun to work and "go Postal." In this day and age that's a real concern!!!!!

Overall Rating -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


McDonalds Restaurant, Searcy, Arkansas -- U.S. Hwy. 67, Exit 42

I happened to eat at this McDonalds because it was convenient to the Wal-mart warehouse where I was unloading at. Is McYuck a word?

I had some sort of new taco salad thing that was new on their menu. It was okay but contained very little McHamburger. I was disappointed with it considering it was $3.99 by itself.

The McEmployees were typical younger McTeenager types. It always makes me nervous when teenagers wait on me in a fast food joint -- especially teenage boys full of raging McHormones -- you never know what they might be doing to the McFood and then laughing at you under their McBreath as you turn your back on their Super-Sized McTestosterone-gourged bodies to go for napkins, drinks and straws. McDonalds may take issue with the "McJobs" term, but it does more in my mind to define the McIdiot types of McTeens that tend to hang out in these sorts of McPlaces.

Overall Rating -- 2 -- Average truck stop food, so-so


Marathon Truck Stop, Spiceland, Indiana -- I-70 Exit 123

This place "Kathy's Kitchen" has to qualify as the world's worst truck stop to eat in!!!! It's located at exit 123 about a quarter of a mile south of the Flying J truck stop on the opposite side of the road.

I made the awful mistake of eating there. The big problem? Well, have you ever heard of sulfur water? You know, you turn on the faucet and you get that pungent rotten egg smell? This truck stop is obviously on its own well water.

Guess what, they cook with the well water. The COOK with sulfur water!!!!!!! They make their tea and coffee with it. Any food that requires water as an ingredient has sulfur water in it!!!!! Need I tell you what this does to the taste of their beverages and food?

I had a cheeseburger with mashed potatoes and gravy, along with iced tea. The mashed potatoes and gravy were horrific. The tea was terrible. If you have to eat at this exit, go to the Flying J or any other restaurant you can find other than this one!!!!!!!

Overall Rating -- 1 -- Don't even THINK of stopping here unless you are desperately hungry!!!!!!!!


Huddle House Truck Stop, Cabot, Arkansas -- U.S. Hwy. 67 Exit 16

This is sort of an interesting truck stop. Someone spent some money on the design of the building, which is two stories. The problem with it is that they don't seem to be maintaining it too well, or even bothering to keep it clean. Overall things are running down a bit. The truck parking area is mostly gravel and a lot of it was taken up by dropped trailers.

The convenience store has a surprising array of interesting knick-knack items for sale.

The restaurant itself has plenty of seating and typical for this sort of place, there were a lot of local folks hanging out in it. This part of Arkansas seems to have more than it's share of "hard looking" people in it. Of course I am always silently observing folks as I'm eating.

I had a "Ribeye Steak" meal. It was so-so. The meat was a bit fatty and cut fairly thin. It was okay, but nothing remarkable.

Overall Rating -- 2 -- Average truck stop food, so-so


Oasis Truck Stop, Richland, Missouri -- I-44 Exit 145

I've stopped at this truck stop quite a few times over the years. It has been there for many years. The building and the business itself never seems to change very much.

The food here is decent and you get a good value for your money. The place is nothing fancy, but it's always busy.

Overall Rating -- 3 -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


Brazil 70 Travel Plaza, Brazil, Indiana -- I-70 Exit 23

This truck stop has been here for many years. In recent years they've expanded and remodeled the building and overall facilities a bit at a time. They have a very large truck parking area, which is always welcome.

The food is decent, and is a good value for what they charge for it. They don't try to force you to pay for more food than you want. If you want something small, you can get it. Many truck stops, especially the big chains, will force you to buy fries along with your hamburger as a way of justifying making you pay a higher price per plate and jack up the average price customers pay. This place is independently owned and doesn't do that. I had the spaghetti with meat sauce and it was acceptable.

Overall Rating -- 3 -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


Flying J Truck Stop, Texarkana, Arkansas -- I-30 Exit 7

This truck stop has typical Flying J food. It's an okay place to eat. I've had both the buffet as well as ordering off the menu.

What sets this place apart is the waitresses. I can't help but observe people. Most of the waitresses in this truck stop walked strangely. I don't quite know how to describe it. They leaned forward a bit, and took quick, deliberate, almost robotic steps. It seems to me after a day of walking like this their feet would be killing them and they would be exhausted !

My only conclusion is that there's some specific regional thing going on here in the way women walk that's only happening around Texarkana. I doubt seriously they are even conscious of it. I first noticed that the waitress that waited on me walked this way, which I thought was odd, then I began observing the other waitresses. All of the women working in the restaurant walked with the same gate except for one, who walked normally -- no doubt she moved into the area from somewhere else.

This highlights an interesting fact. There are plenty of regional differences in the way people behave all across the country. It usually has to do with regional language accents and colloquialisms -- this is really the first time I've noticed a substantial difference in the way women who are serving in a restaurant move. In other words, there are regional "body languages" just as there are regional differences in language itself.

It's worth stopping here just to watch the waitresses walk!!!!!

Overall Rating -- 3 -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


Farris Truck Stop, Faucett, Missouri -- I-29 Exit 35

I ate in this truck stop's restaurant in the middle of the night. The place was practically deserted except for two waitresses and a cook and maybe one other customer. I initially wanted to order spaghetti and meatballs, which was on their menu, but the waitress informed me that they didn't serve anything from the "steam table" after 11:00 PM. Oh well, back to the menu. I ended up ordering "Chicken Fried Chicken" which consisted of a fried chicken breast and two choices of vegetables. I initially wanted mashed potatoes and gravy, but, oops again, it was too late in the evening for mashed potatoes. I ordered French fries instead. There were no vegetables available, since it was, you guessed it, after 11:00 PM, so I took applesauce for the other vegetable.

The food was good as far as truck stop food goes. I got the impression that had I arrived before 11:00 PM the other food on their menu would have been reasonably good.

Overall Rating -- 3 -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


Sapp Brothers Truck Stop, Percival, Iowa -- I-29, Exit 10 (Nebraska City, NE Exit)

I had lunch here. The place was busy. There seemed to be a disproportionate number of elderly retired-looking patrons eating there.

I wasn't too hungry, so I decided to go for something on the lighter side. I ended up ordering a BLT sandwich. Like many truck stops, they've got the menu rigged so that you cannot order just a sandwich by itself -- you have to get French fries with it, which ends up jacking the price up. This is a favorite trick of many truck stops. No one ordering any sort of meal or sandwich with a drink gets out of there without spending at least $8 or $9 dollars.

Another gimmick was that they had a big banner up on the wall stating that if they didn't ask you if you wanted pie or ice cream, it was free. The waitress made a point to ask me that immediately when she took my drink order so in her words she could "get THAT out of the way."

I will say that the place was clean and the entire truck stop is decorated in a great way.

The food was okay, nothing spectacular. The menu variety seemed concentrated around fried items. I don't recall any pasta dishes being offered.

Overall Rating -- 2 -- Average truck stop food, so-so


Bosselman Travel Plaza, Big Springs, Nebraska -- I-80, Exit 107

I've always been a fan of Bosselman truck stop restaurants. They offer a large variety of good-quality food. As usual, I ordered a pasta dish here, spaghetti and meatballs. You won't get out of here with a meal and a drink for much under $10, but at least it's worth it!!!!

Overall Rating -- 4 -- Really good food, make a point to work your schedule so you can stop


Flying J Travel Plaza, Rawlins, Wyoming -- I-80, Exit 209

Typical Flying J food. I had the lunch buffet. Nice variety on the buffet. Menu items tend towards being pricey for truck stop food. It's nearly impossible to get out of a Flying J restaurant without spending around $10 dollars or more.

If you are hungry and have a few extra dollars to spare, order a steak entree. The quality of the meat they use is excellent.

Overall Rating-- 3 -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


Flying J Travel Plaza, Ogden, Utah -- I-15, Exit 360

I'd just eaten at a Flying J buffet for my previous meal, but I was getting hungry and didn't have much of a choice but to stop at another Flying J for supper. I had their buffet in order to save time. I could get in and out quickly. If you order off a Flying J menu, be prepared for a longer-than-usual wait at any Flying J. They seem geared towards their buffet, and not towards speed with regular menu service. Unfortunately, no pasta items are offered. The Mexican items on their menu are actually decent, bucking the typical truck stop's horrid Mexican food.

Overall Rating-- 3 -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


On The Border Cafe, Boise, Idaho -- I-84, Exit 50 Southbound

This isn't a truck stop, nor is it near truck parking, but I ate there and I really enjoyed it. I can eat Mexican and Italian food for every meal if I have to, so I'm always up for trying Mexican restaurants. I'd recommend this place. It's a large, clean building with plenty of seating and also has a bar area. When I was leaving it was moving toward the evening rush and there were people waiting in line to be seated.

Overall Rating -- 4 -- Really good food, make a point to work your schedule so you can stop


T/A Truck Stop, Boise, Idaho -- I-84, Exit 54 Southbound

This is a nice, clean truck stop that looks like it was recently remodeled. It has a couple of fast food pavilions inside, but since it was very late in the evening the fast food vendors were closed so I ate in the 24 hour restaurant. I initially wanted to order their shrimp over pasta special, but the waitress informed me they were out of shrimp. So, I settled for their spaghetti and meatballs special.

After I'd been sitting there several minutes, I found out that the cook hadn't gotten the order for my food for whatever reason from the waitress. Like many restaurants, they use an electronic touch screen system to transmit the orders to the cook. I heard them say something about checking the printer to make sure it wasn't out of paper. The waitress came over and told me it would be a few more minutes and explained why. It was no big deal to me since I had plenty of time and wasn't in a hurry to get my food.

The food was okay once I got it. I tried to pay with my debit card, but for some reason their system wouldn't accept it so I gave up on using the debit card and paid with cash.

Overall Rating -- 3 -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


T/A Truck Stop, Boise, Idaho -- I-84, Exit 54 Southbound

I ate here again. This time I tried one of their new monthly specials, a Mexican taco salad. It tasted okay, but it was a little small for the money.

Overall Rating -- 3 -- Above average, worth making a point to stop if you happen to be hungry


Boise Stage Stop Truck Stop -- I-84, Exit 71

What can I say. I violated my own rule about never ordering Mexican food in the average truck stop. When I asked the waitress if their Mexican food was okay, she hedged by saying that a "lot of people order it." When placed on the spot like that, many truck stop waitresses won't tell the truth that it's awful and should be avoided, nor will they lie and say it's good because they know that as soon as you get the food the lie will be revealed in short order. By saying a "lot of people order it" they imply that it's good without really answering the question. These kind of waitresses would make good politicians!!!

The food arrived fairly quickly. It was physically very hot, but not too tasty. I found myself wishing I'd have ordered something else off of their menu, which had a wide variety of other foods on it besides the typical fried foods that most truck stops seem to concentrate their food fare around.

Though it lacked taste, it didn't mess up my digestion too much. After I got back to the truck I made a pre-emptive strike before any problems could really crop up and took a couple of Tetralac antacid tablets. I took two or three more over the next few hours, another one each time I felt a bit of the taste was coming back up in my throat.

I believe their other menu items would have garnered a better rating than merely "Average." The truck stop overall is clean and very well decorated with interesting antiques and old black and white photos.

Overall Rating -- 2 -- Average truck stop food, so-so


Trucker Motel Reviews

It's occasionally necessary for me to stay in motels or hotels, such as when my truck breaks down. The quality of motels and hotels does vary.

One time years ago I stayed in the "Motel From Hell" which happened to be located near Cleveland, Ohio. It had radiant heat that was built into the concrete floor, and there was no way of regulating it. Even though it was about 32 degrees outside, I had to leave the window open. There were NO curtains on the window!!!! The long piece of furniture that typically would hold a TV and have drawers in it and a mirror above it (not sure what these are called) was leaning forward at a fairly severe angle, making it impossible to set anything on its surface without it sliding off.

If I had to do it over again, I would have never stayed there. I imagine the place is long since out of business.


Winners Hotel & Casino, Winnemucca, Nevada -- I-80, Exit 176

I had to spend the night at Winnemucca, Nevada because my truck broke down and I had to wait for Mack to send a repair part. The Freightliner Dealer that was doing the repairs suggested I stay at Winners Hotel & Casino. Internet access is important to me, and I called to verify that they had some form of Internet access available. They said they had WiFi available. The room was only $27 dollars per night, seemingly a bargain.

Well, I got to my room and set up my computer. I quickly discovered that to connect to the Internet I had to sign up for a $9.95 24 hour account, which I did. The hotel itself is using a third party company to provide the service.

Unfortunately, I was not able to connect to the Internet even after signing up. I spent hours on the phone with a total of four different calls to the technical support line, all to no avail. Though there's a strong WiFi signal present it will not authenticate. Supposedly I'll be getting a refund of my $9.95 from the WiFi provider.

The room itself was very small. The building is obviously old. The window unit air conditioner was old but it functioned well. The 19" wall-mounted TV worked okay.

I took a shower and quickly discovered there was a problem with getting enough hot water to the shower. I had to let the shower run several minutes before I got any hot water. While I was taking a shower, the hot water kept going away and then coming back too hot, obviously as other hotel patrons flushed their toilets. There was only one electrical outlet in the bathroom built-in to the wall mounted lighting fixture that was difficult to plug anything in to. There were a bare minimum of towels.

I would not stay here again unless I had to.

Overall Rating -- 2 -- Average motel/hotel, so-so, generally not recommended

Rating Guide:
  • 1 -- Don't even THINK of stopping here unless you are desperate!!!!!!!!
  • 2 -- Average motel/hotel, so-so, generally not recommended
  • 3 -- Above average, clean rooms, the air conditioning and  plumbing works
  • 4 -- Great place to stay, worth paying a few extra dollars for

 

 

Proper Nutrition

I've recently become aware of a major problem in the typical diet. It's impossible to get all the 90 minerals and other nutrients the human body needs from foods alone.

 

Most diseases that we all sort of accept as being a standard part of the "aging process" or simply chalk up to "poor genetics" actually are the result of a profound lack of nutrition.

 

In recent months I was beginning to experience a few aches and pains. About the same time, I came into contact with someone that was pushing the benefits of proper nutrition, so I decided to perform a little experiment. I started using a mineral supplement sold by Youngevity called Majestic Earth Minerals, drinking

about an ounce of it each day. I didn't modify my regular diet in any other way. After only a week and a half, I noticed a big change in the way I felt. The aches and pains were gone. After that I noticed that the nasty indigestion problem and occasional acid reflux problem I've had my entire life were also cured.

 

Since then I've started experimenting with other Youngevity products. I'm now taking what's called the "Pig Pack" which is a comprehensive all-encompassing package designed to provide the full range of nutrition that the body needs in a monthly supply. Many other small problems that I barely realized I had have suddenly improved.

 

That was a real eye-opener. Without modifying my diet in any other way, I was able to eliminate aches and pains and my chronic indigestion problem without modifying my diet or taking drugs. I haven't felt this good in years.

 

I've never been much of a believer in vitamins, etc. because I was never able to see any real-world evidence they were doing anything. The key difference with the Youngevity products I'm taking now is that they are in a so-called "liquid colloidal" form, meaning that they are in a tiny particle form suspended in a liquid, which makes it possible for the body to readily absorb them.

 

Now my problem is this -- how do I convince other people it's worth spending $135 dollars per month on taking the Pig Pack? Even if someone doesn't care enough about health and nutrition to modify their diet and/or lifestyle, it still makes sense to take supplements if those supplements can provide immediate, dramatic short-term and long-term benefits.

 

The human body is an amazing thing. If it's provided with the proper raw materials, it can easily maintain and repair itself even with the crappy diet I have to eat out here on the road day in and day out. 98% of the huge number of diseases we are afflicted with are completely avoidable if we just provide our bodies with the proper nutrients and not just empty calories.

What Is Podcasting?

What can you do with an MP3 player? The obvious choice is to carry your music around with you. However, the reason I bought an MP3 player is because of the recent phenomena present on the Internet called "Podcasting."

What is Podcasting? A "Podcast" is a sort of homemade radio program produced and published by average Internet users for free distribution on the Internet.

First, there were "Blogs" or "Web Logs." The natural evolution of the "Blog" was an "Audio Blog" known as a "Podcast." The next wave beyond "Podcasting" will be "Video Blogs" which are already rapidly evolving right now.

Using free programs such as "Ipodder" or "Doppler" it's possible to "subscribe" to these "Podcasts." The program will automatically check for fresh content on the Internet and download them to your computer's hard drive.

Why would you want to listen to a "Podcast?" Variety, variety, variety is the name of the game in Podcasts. There are free Podcasts available on a vast and growing variety of subjects. Virtually everyone has something unique to say if they will simply take the time and make the effort to say it. The wonderful thing about Podcasting is the fact that it allows people to say exactly what is on their minds without having to worry about being "politically correct." It is free speech in its most-pure form.

If you listen to my Podcasts, send me an email and let me know at tom@truckerphoto.com. I'd love to hear from you. Send me an MP3 file and I might play part or all of it in one of my Podcasts.


Meet Red


Say hello to my dog Red. It sounds weird, but she's a cross between a miniature poodle (her dad) and a beagle (her mom). I cannot bring Red with me in the truck, so my parents take care of her. She's the most pleasant dog you can imagine. She's extremely intelligent and never barks or otherwise makes a nuisance of herself. She likes to hunt rabbits and does a lot of sleeping. She's about 10 years old. She's got poodle-style hair that doesn't shed, but her body is shaped more like a beagle and she has the big beagle eyes.


President Ronald Wilson Reagan

by Thomas R. Wiles

June 11, 2004 -- Be forewarned, I like being frank. This is my personal world-wide printing press and I'm going to say exactly what I think and believe here. I won't mince words.

This week has been steeped in remembering Ronald Reagan. So much can be said of Reagan. This week has been a "super funeral" of a super man -- a funeral like none other and a man like none other.

The Reagan funeral is the first and only one in my life that I've ever come across, either personally or on television that has real meaning. Most funerals are full of polite empty words mouthed about people who led self-centered, characterless lives.

What is the point of a funeral? Is it not for the living to remember the person who has died? Most funerals are empty events because the character or the "light" of the person being remembered has been hidden and dimmed by selfishness.

Reagan was not a perfect human being. He didn't have to be perfect in order to be a super man. All he did that is so different from most people is that he held fast to developing his values as few do, and he wasn't afraid to express those values in every possible aspect of his life, both publicly and privately. He also was not self-centered in any way, which is key to the equation.

The lesson to us all in the life of Ronald Reagan is not that we have to be perfect, but that we should develop and be true to our own personal character, without being self-centered.

There's some "mysterious something" present in Ronald Reagan that came right through the cameras and microphones. Whatever this "mysterious something" is seemed to increase in its quality and presence as his life and career progressed. Fortunately for us the majority of his life was chronicled in movies, on audio and on video, especially during the time he was President.

The majority of American people are good and decent people. The "mysterious something" present in Ronald Reagan is present to a degree in most Americans, and that's why we are stirred so profoundly by Reagan. The Reagan funeral quickly elevated to a phenomenon as the week progressed. For the entire week we've been awash in video of Reagan speeches, stories, etc. It quickly began to build and feed on itself until it has absolutely dominated world news for days.

Ronald Reagan video and audio is powerful stuff. This week we've been awash in Reagan, concentrated in a way that it never was even when he was President. The "mysterious something" is still present in his recorded speeches and perhaps more powerful and moving than ever.

Suddenly in the vast wasteland of media, we've had a week containing real, powerful meaning. It's really astounding. I believe this week of being steeped in Ronald Reagan is destined to have profound and lasting impact on America and the world all over again. It's as if in his death and funeral he, and that "mysterious something" present within him, is being scattered to the winds of the media to the four corners of the Earth.

When we admire the "mysterious something" present within Ronald Reagan, we are actually recognizing the same thing within ourselves. A man like Reagan can and does act as a catalyst, causing us to reflect on and be renewed and redeemed by the same Spirit present within us.

Reagan believed intensely that everything in life happens for a reason, that God is in control of everything. I believe it too. Reagan has been vindicated in every way by the people who once opposed and despised him and the "mysterious something" present within him. God's timing of his death has scattered that Spirit to the winds. The effect of that scattering will be profound, though we will have to wait for history to document its details.


Reagan Quotes

"Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first."
Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States (1911-2004)
 

"[The draft] rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the state. If we buy that assumption then it is for the state -- not for parents, the community, the religious institutions or teachers -- to decide who shall have what values and who shall do what work, when, where and how in our society. That assumption isn't a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea." -- Ronald Reagan, Human Events, 1979.


Political Correctness

by Thomas R. Wiles

We’ve lived with the term “political correctness” for a number of years now. What is political correctness?

Political correctness, at its essence, is a type of ass-kissing. To really understand it, it’s helpful to break it down from the macrocosm to the microcosm. In an office or work setting, for example, the employees frequently must spout the company line or risk being fired. The “company line” is what is politically correct.

An example in my own life was when I worked at a large eye clinic as their computer network administrator. The eye clinic made a ton of money off of LASIK laser vision correction surgery. While I was employed there, I dared NEVER to express my opinion that LASIK should never have been approved by the FDA for widespread use. Had I done so, I would have probably immediately been fired, putting my paycheck instantly in jeopardy. It was necessary for me to spout the clinic line that LASIK was a great procedure and to never, ever mention the very negative side-effects. To put it even more bluntly, I had to lie in order to maintain the perks of my slavery.

When I worked at the eye clinic, I was a slave to it for the sake of a paycheck. Political correctness can only occur among a group of slaves who dare not cross their master.

Virtually every employee is a slave. Further, we are becoming a nation of Socialist Slaves of the State. Political correctness occurs everywhere and comes in many different forms. People with their own direct connection to common sense who are unafraid to express it are always seen as a threat.

Politics arises out of the ashes of destroyed common sense. In a representative republic like America, ideally we should be electing people who have common sense to do our public business. Because so much of our own direct connection to common sense has been destroyed, we live out of our intellect and emotions instead of out of common sense. Common sense becomes a threat to many of us. We tend to instead elect representatives that make us feel good in our altered state, to make us feel comfortable being creatures living out of intellect and emotion.

Lying for the sake of maintaining the perks of slavery or the love of friends who lie back to you is political correctness in action.

The antidote to political correctness is to speak up with common sense. If you lose a job or friends because of it, it’s something you should never have had in the first place.


Digital Camera Tips

Digital cameras have come a long way. With the advent of 3 mega pixel plus cameras they've entered into the realm of traditional 35mm photography. With the right camera features and the knowledge of how to use them, it's possible to take spectacular photographs on a very limited budget.

My current digital camera is a Toshiba model PDR-M71 3.2 mega pixel unit. I've had it for about two years. I highly recommend Toshiba digital cameras.

Toshiba digital cameras seem hard to find in local stores but are readily available on the Internet. The particular model I have has full automatic as well as manual settings. The manual settings come in very handy for night time shots. Toshiba has a built-in noise-reduction feature for time exposure shots, which really "cleans up" the noise otherwise present in night shots, making it possible to capture really spectacular images in limited light. Other models of cameras also have this feature, though it's best to make sure it's present before you buy.

Digital photography is the true "instant" photography. After I started using my first digital camera I noticed that the instant feedback afforded by digital really helped my photography improve dramatically.

One of the most "fun" parts of photography has always been going to the store to pick up the developed prints. Digital cameras give instant gratification. Everyone has had the experience of getting a roll of film developed that has six month old or older pictures on it! By that time you've likely forgotten that you had even taken the pictures and was wondering where they came from!

Another side-effect of digital photography is that, by it's very nature, it encourages experimentation. Some of the best photos turn out to be the weird shots that I wouldn't have "wasted" film and developing costs on.

With a digital camera, all of the cost is up front, as long as you are using rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries. The first thing you want to do when buying a digital camera is to also buy the largest memory chip for it that you can get. Multiple chips will allow you greater flexibility when capturing images away from your computer.

I suggest buying a camera with at least 3.2 mega pixels, as well as at least a 3 X optical zoom capability and a built-in flash. Try to stick with units that will run on standard "AA" rechargeable batteries, and avoid units that use proprietary batteries. My camera uses "Smart Media" memory chips. "Compact Flash" memory chips are also a good choice. Generally don't try to plug the camera directly in to your computer -- it's easier, faster and more convenient to simply buy a USB chip reader compatible with your camera's memory chip that will allow you to simply plug the chip into the chip reader.


High Definition Television

I recently moved into the world of HDTV. I took advantage of Dish Network's "HDTV In A Box" offer. I got a 40" RCA widescreen rear projection set along with an HD Dish Network satellite receiver.

HDTV is really excellent, though there's currently somewhat of a lack of programming. I expect this problem to be solved over time.

Generally speaking, stores like Circuit City, Best Buy, Sears, etc. don't do a very good job of demonstrating the incredible HDTV picture possibilities. Below are a few photos I took of my HDTV set.

40" RCA Widescreen HDTV

A crop from the above image.

I took this photo, but was I in front of my HDTV? Clearly HDTV is the next-best thing to being there!!!

I think that as people like me get HDTV sets in our homes, and are able to demonstrate the incredible picture quality possibilities to friends and family, HDTV is going to really begin to take off in a big way.

I've found that I'm willing to watch some fairly lame programming, finding myself absolutely riveted by the incredible picture quality. I can only imagine what HDTV will be like with really compelling programming content combined with the fabulous HDTV picture.


XM Radio Revolution

I've lived with XM Satellite Radio for about two years at this point. Satellite radio is the greatest thing to happen to radio, ever. It's possible to listen to the same satellite stations anywhere in the country as well as down into Mexico and Canada.

Unlike satellite TV signals, XM satellite signals are not cut off by heavy rain. I've driven my truck through the worst of driving rain storms and the satellite radio signal remains rock steady.

It is full digital quality stereo. It's especially useful for anyone who drives a lot -- it's a great entertainment value. Even if you are just commuting to and from work, it's worth the monthly subscription price of $9.95 per month.
  I have the "Delphi SkyFy" unit. When I go in for time off, I take the radio unit itself with me and leave the base unit that plugs into the truck's cassette player in the truck.I also have the "boom box" base unit at home. I can simply plug the radio module into the boom box unit at home

and I've got satellite radio at home when I want it.

The unit also comes with a small remote control. I highly recommend XM Satellite Radio!


 

Pam Anderson
Brooke Burke
Torrie Wilson
Carmen Electra
Tera Patrick
Anna Nicole Smith
Jordan
Dalene Kurtis
Sarah Kozer
Tia Carrere

 Michelle Vieth
Sex Video nc #1 6

2 Clay Aiken
Sexiest Idol #3 68


3 Paris Hilton
'Screwed' Fight #4 45

4 Jenna Jameson
Bares All #5 4

5 Hurricane Fran
Monster Storm New 1

6 KaZaA
File Swap nc #6 148


7 Britney Spears
'My Prerogative' #8 264


8 Poker
Texas Hold'em #9 26

9 Pamela Anderson
Novel Approach #7 264


10 Olympics
Athens Rules #2 5

11 Las Vegas
Hilton Wedding #18 264


12 Kobe Bryant
Verdict is in Re-Entry 1

13 Fantasy Football
National Pastime #15 6

14 Brooke Burke
N4S2: Underground #10 128


15 WWE
Summer Slam #20 264


16 NASCAR
Jeff Gordan #21 34

17 Baseball
Playoff Races nc #17 29

18 NFL
Countdown to Kickoff #24 5

19 Final Fantasy
Multi-player Game #30 262


20 Golf
Vijay Singh #19 6

21 Amy Acuff
Playboy Cover #14 3

22 The Bible
Jesus Chic #25 27

23 Halloween
Trick-or-Treat #29 3

24 Atkins Diet
Lo Carb Nation #13 88


25 Drangonball
Anime Dynasty #16 264


26 Marijuana
Wacky Weed #37 27

27 Pokemon
Pre-Order Crazy #28 31

28 Christmas
Start Shoppin' #26 6

29 Carmen Electra
Mansion Roster #27 14

30 Weight Watchers
Overhauls Plan #11 3

31 Amanda Beard
Breast-Stroke Gold #12 3

32 Anna Nicole Smith
Defends Kirstie #36 20

33 Hilary Duff
Cinderella #31 59


34 College Football
Soon to Kickoff Re-Entry 1

35 Harry Potter
Half-Blood Prince #45 219


36 The Olsen Twins
Mary-Kate & Ashley #32 20

37 Neopets
Mall Tour #34 35

38 Lindsay Lohan
Loves Herbie #23 19

39 South Beach Diet
Attracting Vegetarians #22 3

40 NBA
Season ahead Re-Entry 1

41 Severina Vuckovic
Caught On Tape #50 14

42 Angelina Jolie
Tiger Tattoo #33 5

43 Sailor Moon
Cartoon Princess #39 3

44 Christina Aguilera
No Piercings #40 100


45 Yu-Gi-Oh!
Movie #47 25

46 Usher
"Burn" #43 24


47 Ian Thorpe
Olympic Swimmer #48 2

48 Jessica Simpson
Going on Tour Re-Entry 1

49 Inuyasha
Half Demon #46 9

50 Star Wars 3
Revenge of the Sith

baseline termite fontana, CA
  1. hurricane frances
     2. national hurricane center
     3. hurricane ivan
     4. serena williams
     5. zell miller
     6. jennifer hawkins
     7. halo 2
     8. kobe bryant
     9. map of florida
   10. bush twins
  1. cristiano ronaldo
     2. usher
     3. johnny depp
     4. daniel radcliffe
     5. chad michael murray
   1. shrek 2
     2. harry potter
     3. spiderman 2
     4. garfield
     5. catwoman
  1. bush
     2. john kerry
     3. jibjab
     4. obama
     5. democratic national
         
convention

Ben Barnes

 

 

 

 

 

 


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