Crackers on my mind I noticed a sheen of frost on the grass this morning. It made me think of how, for many years, our thoughts would turn toward Florida. Then we would start making plans! A vacation starts, or should, when you turn the key in the lock and climb into your trusty vehicle for the trip. And part of the fun of being on the road is the things you see, the places you pass, and especially pit stops on the way to wherever you are going. If you follow my column you know how much we like eating out… food adventures! And we have always had some on our trips to Florida and back. Of all the eateries, some of our favorites are Cracker Barrels. Now there is a problem… those places are so doggone popular, if you stop at mealtime they are crowded, noisy and you feel like you’re wasting time. We have found a way to beat that. When we travel we are on Davis time. We like to get tucked in early, and thus we are ready to get up early. When Cracker Barrel opens at 6 a.m., no crowd! We get right in, and the staff is ready for business. One of our favorites is on the east side of Tallahassee, Florida. We stay in a nice motel right close. So we are up early, packed, and have our heads on straight. One time we parked in front of that restaurant. Frosty morning, and a young man was out sweeping the fallen leaves off the front entrance way. We were traveling in Marion’s car. When I shut the driver’s door, it didn’t catch all the way. So I bumped it with my hip, and all hell broke loose. The burglar alarm went off. The young man almost dropped his broom. I hastily relocked the door thus canceling the alarm. When we got to the front door, he had it open and said, “I almost stuck my head in and hollered for them to get the grits going… there are some awfully hungry people out here!” And I might mention here that I’ve never had a bad bowl of grits at a Cracker Barrel. Inside, warmth from the big fireplace and smells of food cooking. We did have grits, and pancakes, and bacon, and eggs! Cozy times like that… on the road again! The Chief Accountant and I, together. Doesn’t get much better than that! Another favorite pit stop on our Florida journeys was the Cracker Barrel at Cullman, Alabama. We stopped there so often we got acquainted with one of the managers named John Malone. He bought us coffee one day and we talked. He told us his wife for a birthday present bought him some Cracker Barrel stock. And he recommended that we get some… should have done that! Later on I wrote a column about that place and how we enjoyed stopping there. I sent a copy of it to John. Next trip, when we came in the door, I didn’t see our friend. I asked one of the girls, “Where is John today?” She replied, “Oh, some guy up north wrote a newspaper article about him. We had it up on the bulletin board, and finally somebody sent it to headquarters at Lebanon, Tennessee. They promoted John and gave him his own store in Mississippi!” Well, go figure! I wish we could have stopped to see him at his new place, but we never did. We have been in so many Cracker Barrels, and never had a bad meal in one. I love their breakfasts. Another favorite is the hash brown potato casserole. Another revelation is their biscuits and sausage gravy… daughter Deb’s Gary says actually you can get gravy on anything there. I’ve not tried it on a salad! When the waitress takes our order, she always asks, “Would you like corn muffins or biscuits?” Then I say, “Yes!” And she brings us some of both! One time for a Christmas present I made our kids a pad of new two dollar bills. I had them glued in with a cover like a book of coupons. They all got a kick out of that. When son Rob was driving home from Florida, he stopped at a Cracker Barrel for sausage gravy and biscuits. On the way out when he went to pay, he took out his pad of two dollar bills and gave some to the waitress. Alarm bells went off, and she didn’t know whether she wanted to take them or not! We’ve had many good meals at the Cracker Barrel right here at the Oshtemo exit. Now I heard that it has closed, and they have even taken down the sign. I’m curious about the reasoning. I know there was a terrible tragedy enacted right out in the parking lot. Horrible when a shooting like that takes place. Do you suppose they felt there was some bad karma lingering? So many restaurants and so little time! Many of our good eating experiences have been on our trips. In my mind all the Cracker Barrels where we have eaten are now part of the golden tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!
Watervliet Library News Teen Table Projects: January CubeeCraft: Super heroes to make & take. In Stitches Knitting Group Jan. 11, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Bring a current project or interest; they’ll help anyone get started! Adult Reading Program Jan. 14 – Feb. 23 3 prize levels; 5 books per level. First place: Fuzzy Socks; 2nd: Mug & Cocoa; 3rd: Eye Mask; Grand Prize: $50 Gift Card, Oasis Hot Tubs Make-it-Monday Jan. 14, 4 – 5 p.m. Crafts, projects and games second Monday of every month for k-6th graders. This month: Cardboard rocket launcher. Third Monday Book Club Jan. 21, 7 – 8 p.m. Great books, fabulous conversations! Ask for a copy at the desk. This month: Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance. Special event: Beginning Genealogy Jan. 24, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Ever wonder about ancestors’ lives or if family lore about Great Uncle George is really true? Here’s the place to get started! Join long-time genealogy & local history enthusiast Carole Kiernan, as she guides participants through the basics of family research. Refreshments will be served. Story Hours Wed. 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. & Thurs. 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Picture books, crafts and fun designed to inspire the love of reading for ages 3 – 5. Library Garden Park Purchase a Legacy Walk brick and celebrate a memory! Bricks are $75; 13 characters, 2 lines. Pick up a form at the library. Yoga Mondays 9 – 10 a.m.; Wednesdays 7 – 8 p.m.; Fridays 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. (NEW); Chair Yoga – Wednesdays 6 – 6:30 p.m. Call 463-6382 with questions on any Watervliet Library activity.
Coloma Library News Read with Spirit Spirit, a certified therapy dog will be at the library on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Children may sign up for a 15-minute slot by stopping in at the front desk or calling the library at 468-3431. Reading to therapy dogs is a fun way for children to build reading confidence and fluency. Book Club The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls. Generally, depending on demand there are titles available for check-out at the front desk. The book club is always looking for new members. Stop into the library or call 468-3431 for more information.