Planes, Trains & Automobiles—Season 2

January 29th, 2016

This is the second year in a row that we’ve made a cross country trip from New York City to Los Angeles. If you recall, last year Paul and I had a big adventure crossing the country by train. I loved it, but Paul is such a big guy that he had some trouble with the wee quarters and bunk beds onboard.

Originally, we planned to fly out to LA, but our flight was scheduled to depart on the day of the biggest snowstorm in NYC history. Fortunately, we’d made the decision to drive. Paul needed to be in LA a few days later to make a guest appearance on John Stamos’ hit show, Grandfathered, and likely we wouldn’t have made it if we’d gone with the original plan.

Instead, we decided to drive. For the trip, Paul bought me a new car. He said I could have any car I wanted and recommended a Mercedes like he has or a Range Rover. I wanted an American car and after he figured out I was serious about that, he said he’d buy me the best American car they make and he did. It’s a platinum version of the Ford Explorer with all the bells and whistles, and it drives like a dream.

So after we figured out our ride, we had to determine the route we’d take. There are three main ways you can go. We settled on the new version Route 66 trip. Before beginning that journey, however, we headed north to Canada for Paul to appear in a film. Originally, I had a part in the movie as a bar owner, but I bailed after the situation wasn’t to my liking. Hey, it’s a hobby for me and if I’m not happy doing it, I’m out.

In Canada, the temperatures were below zero and we ended up driving through a whiteout blizzard. The Ford handled the whole situation perfectly. Likely, we’d have been goners in the Mercedes.

Following work on the movie, we headed back to the good old USA. We enjoyed crossing from Windsor, Canada to Detroit across the big bridge. It all looked very pretty in the snow from afar.

Next, we headed to Toledo where we spent our first night back in the States. We woke that first morning to what looked like a scene from communist Russia outside our window. Toledo is a blue collar kind of town generally and somehow we managed to land ourselves in the part of town housing a bunch of power plant workers in the middle of an industrial park. It seriously looked like something out of China or Russia.

Not wanting to hang out there too long, we got up the next morning and headed on down the road to breakfast where I introduced Paul to Bob Evans. It’s kind of funny to me that he’d never been there before, but I can report he liked the food. Hey, when you’re on the road, it’s important that the food be quick and consistent and for that Bob Evans is a winner. Last year, I introduced Paul to Cracker Barrel which is another reliable road trip dining destination.

We ended up not getting too far down the road to Plainfield, Indiana, and made it a little longer by taking a route through Indiana to a little town close to where I grew up. Our next stop was Madison, Indiana, which is by far my favorite small town. We looked around and Paul loved it. We started with Hanover College where I went to school and then made it to picturesque Madison. There was a light snow falling and that made the entire scene look very Currier & Ives. Afterwards, I convinced Paul to keep an open mind that if we ever left the city and moved to the country this would be the place we’d go.

Journeying on, we headed down the road to St. Louis where we stumbled upon a great Italian restaurant. Paul is an expert in this area, and he was just thrilled. The proprietors wouldn’t let us pay and sent us along with two bottles of wine. I looked at our schedule and realized we were way behind schedule. We also ended up at the bottom of the barrel foodwise. Paul ended up buying Oscar Meyer bologna and eating that on white bread with ketchup. Fortunately, we made up time by stopping only for gas and snacks.

All of this put us in Amarillo. We arrived twenty minutes before the Texas Roadhouse was set to close. The famous Big Texan restaurant where we ate last trip would have been a much more desirable location. It’s a fun place and should be a staple for anyone taking this route.

If you remember anything from this blog, this is it. DO NOT STAY OVERNIGHT IN AMARILLO! It’s great eating there at the Big Texan but Amarillo (particularly the western part of the city) stinks. It’s an intolerable stench that just won’t go away. Luckily, we were so exhausted that we collapsed into bed. That didn’t help, however, the next morning when the awful odor was still there. Trust me, we drove out of Amarillo at record speed. I looked up the problem and evidently there are lots of cows there and with cows you get lots of smelly cow caca.

So remember, never stop in Amarillo unless you pack a gas mask.

Our next stop was much better. We landed in a wonderful place just before Flagstaff, Arizona. It’s called Winslow, Arizona, and if that sounds familiar it’s because there’s a famous line in The Eagles’ song Take It Easy that talks about it. We discovered an amazing hotel. Back in the heyday of trains, a certain Mr. Harvey built this place which hosted big Hollywood stars of the era like Clark Gable, Mary Pickford, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and other legends of the screen.

The hotel is called La Posada and it’s a gem of a place. Seems like its right out of a movie. When we didn’t think our visit could get any better, we learned that they want to name a suite after Paul because he’s a movie legend. How wonderful and deserving. That was the most special part of the trip and made driving the rest of the way home a joy. So sometime in the future, we’ll be taking the train back to Winslow for the dedication of the Paul Sorvino Suite and to honor the tradition and history of the hotel.

Arriving in LA, we toasted another successful trip with a dinner at one of Paul’s favorite restaurants, Cafe Med. The next day, he filmed Grandfathered. I ended up playing one of the “party girls” in the episode. Paul and John Stamos were incredible together. John is so nice and talented. He showed us a picture of his own father who looked just like Paul. If all that wasn’t enough, we ended up the evening on the red carpet of the LA Art Show we’d agreed to co-host with stars interested in the arts like Anne Hathaway.

I highly recommend traveling the country like this at least once in your lifetime. We live in the best country in the world. It’s an experience like no other.

So get in your Ford and get your kicks down Route 66. Just make sure to take time to stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona—it’s such a fine site to see! Then be sure and stay in the Paul Sorvino Suite at the La Posada.

Happy trails until next year!

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One Comment

  1. Suzanne
    Posted Jan 29 2016 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed reading this and also enjoy reading your tweets! I’ve traveled cross-country by car as well and agree with you that anyone who has the opportunity should do so.