The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Virginia Trip, Day 1: Touchdown in Louisa

Roy Roger's fried chicken
Friiied chicken

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd rather eat at McDonald's."

Thank you, Roy Rogers fried chicken from a rest stop off the New Jersey Turnpike, for giving me such a thought. You suck. And you're overpriced. But when I'm at a rest stop at lunch time and don't know when I'm going to eat again, I take what I can. And given the choice between Nathan's, Arthur Treachers, and Roy Rogers, I somehow went with your undelicious, greasy fried chicken. Why? Whhyyyyy?

Roy Roger's fries

At least your fries were fine. Crisp. Potato-y. I should've just eaten those. If only I were vegetarian.

I know—what could I expect from a rest stop? The food doesn't have to be good; people eat there because they have no choice. Humans have to eat and pee, and that's where a rest stop comes in: to fulfill those two needs to an acceptable degree until you reach civilization.


But man, even the smoothies sucked. Tristan got a smoothie since it was one of the few vegan items available, but he wasn't expecting a bucket of 30% fruit-based matter and 70% frozen water. It was the thickest, iciest smoothie I had ever forced up a straw, more solid than liquid and only slightly more drinkable than shaved ice, although a spoon would've been a more appropriate utensil. Lee Anne illustrated our struggle with the chewable smoothie with her drawing of a Poofy shaking and squinting with blood-churning effort.

On the road.

My Jeep of merry Virginia-lovers—Tristan, Lee Anne, Lihan, and me—scootled down to...Virginia.

The sun! It shines.

And we made it! To Tristan's home in Louisa! In all its lush green beauty...

[pat] kitty [/pat]
Lihan and Lee Anne get friendly with the kitties

...And high cat population...

Hoppy...I think

...And sleepy dogs.

For dinner, Tristan's parents whipped up a huge-ass pot of vegan-friendly borsch full of chopped beets and onions. Thick chunks of garlic and onion sourdough bread sopped up the liquidy bits. Frighteningly, I forgot to take a photo. Completely out of character, I know. And pointless for a food blog.

Tristan's friends Ryan, Dan, and Katie joined us later, resulting in the need to find sleeping quarters for seven people. And that meant...

need more light!
The light...the liiight.

Camping. And setting up our tents by the blog of my car's headlights.

something for the tent..
That's not a cape.

Which took a lot longer than if we had been aided by the sun.

Since I had never slept in a tent before, I had really been looking under the moonlit sky...nah, that's a lie; I wasn't really looking forward to sleeping outside with only a few layers of synthetic material between my body and the bug-filled lawn. But I wasn't dreading it either. I think extreme exhaustion is what drove me to fall asleep. Awesome.

Honestly, it was nice. I woke up to see the early morning sun unencumbered by buildings and concrete and pollution. Unfortunately, I only enjoyed it for about a millisecond before hobbling across the lawn while clutching my cell phone and water bottle, trying not to release the contents that had built up in my bladder over the night.


Marie / August 6, 2008 2:36 AM

Tristan's home looks so idyllic and peaceful, I'm envious of your trip! However, not of your Roy Rogers stop. :P

mia / August 6, 2008 6:08 AM

but why, pray tell, did you need to take your cell phone and water bottle with you? Besides, it's not really camping if you don't pee outside ::laughing:: But you were close!

roboppy / August 6, 2008 8:34 AM

Marie: It is idyllic and long as you don't have to do work on the farm. ;) I didn't mention that Tristan's brother Fletcher had to shear a sheep that night in preparation for the Agricultural Fair!

Mia: Cell phone = alarm clock! Haha. I didn't need it though; having to pee was a good alarm clock. I know it's not real camping; I took a shower before I went to sleep. As for the water, I usually have to drink something in the middle of the night when I start coughing (i have a semi-chronic cough)..and I also had my inhaler... :( I don't think my body is built for camping.

Su-Lin: I'm glad I can introduce you to SUCH WONDERFUL THINGS!!!

sue bette / August 6, 2008 9:19 AM

Your post brought up many not-so fond memories of pit-stops on the Jersey Turnpike, which is filled with quite possibly the worst fast-food in the U.S. -you know when you wish it was McDonald's things have gotten pretty bad.
Hope you enjoy the camping!

Sera / August 6, 2008 9:24 AM

Was it this particular Roy Rogers you didn't like. I've eaten their stuff once or twice at service areas during travel and I remember it being not so bad.

Matt / August 6, 2008 9:48 AM

Roy Rogers on the NJTPK is pretty bad, and definitely over priced. It's a shame, cuz I grew up on Roy's. Now that so many of them are gone, I've found a few places out towards central/western MD that are pretty good, and up to par in their fried chicken. I think it was out in Frederick.

I hope you find some better places to eat on the way back up. I can throw out some suggestions in Baltimore, depending on what you guys want to eat.

Yvo / August 6, 2008 11:35 AM

Dude. Arthur Treacher's. Come on. Any rookie knows that.

Hahahaha just kidding I always map out my trips along routes that include Cracker Barrel. It's way less gross than fast food joints but still cheap. :)

Boots in the Oven / August 6, 2008 11:44 AM

Oy. The biscuit looks pretty sad, too, and I notice it escaped mention - can't have been delicious.

Sigh. Roadfood can be so sad. The actual book Roadfood can be helpful, though, even if they do look at everything through the eyes of connecticuters? connecticutians?

VA looks lovely! Glad you had a good time, it seems.

Christina / August 6, 2008 12:22 PM

Heh, at least the fries were decent. I am always wary of rest stop food, I usually try and bring something along just in case. And nothing infuriates me more than a smoothie with whacked ratios.

I have a tent, I just never got around to the actual camping part! Looks fun!

Stephane / August 6, 2008 12:30 PM

The only thing worth getting at the NJTP Roy Rogers are Curly Fries. I will specifically stop, long before I need to fill up on cheap Jersey gas, just to get Curly Fries. For some reason you can only get them on the NJTP.

Danny / August 6, 2008 1:13 PM

Oh you do not want Nathan's fast food. Noooooo, do not go there at all. I don't know what Roy Rogers chicken taste like but the fast food version of Nathan's is not enjoyable at all. blah.

Virginia looks nice though!

Julie / August 6, 2008 5:00 PM

I drove through Virginia once during a roadtrip from Pennsylvania to Georgia. We stopped at a rest stop with trees all around it, and I took some of my favorite-ever tree photos there.

I've heard nothing but bad things about that chicken shack, but it probably would've been silly for New Yorkers to eat at Nathan's . . .

Steph / August 6, 2008 7:34 PM

I don't know what's worse.. the nuclear mosquitoes that were in that yard, or the horror that is the NJ turnpike. It's official: you can totally kick my ass. :)
- S

roboppy / August 6, 2008 11:53 PM

Sue Bette: Yeah, that food sucks. That's what happens when you have a captive audience. FAAIL.

Sera: I think it was just this one. They can't all be that bad. I figure most make food more...freshly.

Matt: I also grew up on Roys! ...Kinda. I was REALLY little, like 5 or younger, but I remember going. ...Not sure if I liked it much. The place i used to go to turned into a BK or Wendy's.

Oh, I'm already back home!...we didn't stop for food on the way back really. Just wanted to get home, hehe.


Yvo: Now I know the secret! I've never been to Cracker Barrel. :(

Alice: I don't have any Virginian pie! I fail.

Boots: The biscuit wasn't particular good or bad. Much better than the chicken. At least the biscuit was soft and..stuff.

VA is nice! Nice if you're with a local. Like any place. ;)

Christina: When I was little we had a tent that we never used! I may have used it IN the house once just for fun. Ha..ha.

Stephane: Tristan wanted curly fries but they had to cook em first and we didn't want to wait. Waah.

Danny: Yeah, I heard that Nathan's aside from the Coney Island one totally sucks. How sad.

Julie: Next time I gotta go for Arthur Treacher's. Or..uh..Cinnabon...

Steph: Ahh, mosquitoes are worse! I used SO much bug spray last weekend.

SuperChomp / August 7, 2008 7:15 AM

What the hell is that with your fried chicken? A scone?? Or am I being too English..?

Kitties! \o/!

bionicgrrrl / August 7, 2008 4:34 PM

I actually like Roy Rogers Chicken! It's very peppery and crunchy, at least it was when I was little. You know, it would have been a tad out of the way, but you could have stopped at Bon Chon Chicken in Fort Lee for really yummy chicken. Yum....

Graeme / August 7, 2008 6:11 PM

We've all experienced trying to force too-thick liquid through a wee little straw; all that pressure can't be good for your brain... :-\

The cape photo looks a bit like a "Do I look like a Moth yet?" moment.

Tina / August 7, 2008 9:44 PM

I grew up with Roy Rogers...when I was like 4 years old and under. It was tasty, peppery and crunchy. I remembered not caring much for the biscuits though. I'm sorry that the food tanked. :(

(Lee Anne's Poofy is adorable, btw!)

As for Louisa, VA, it looks soo peaceful, relaxing, and well, sleepy. At least your vacation seems to be getting better...

Christine / August 8, 2008 8:26 AM

OMG- Now I want a southern biscuit.

I had fun the other night stuffing my face with dumplings and ice cream. Lets EAT again soon! ;)

roboppy / August 8, 2008 8:54 AM

SuperChomp: It's a biscuit! Close to a scone.. ;)

Annie: HOORAH! Oh, how my list of accomplishments grows.

bionicgrrrl: Oh, if only I had been in a car of fried chicken lovers...Bon Chon would've been SOOO GOOD.


Tina: Omg, I grew up with Roy Rogers too, up to about the same age. And yeah, I liked it as a kid! And I liked it. I think. Not sure if the whole chain tanked or if it's a casualty of rest stop food service.

Bangsil / August 8, 2008 2:05 PM

you know what, Robin.
I find that on highways, it's best to stick with known fast food chains---at least you can accurately EXPECT the food quality that way.
Same for super-touristy places. I had a horrible experience at Applebee in Niagara Falls. The coldest/chewest fries and steak EVER!!! The fries tasted like...the ones you buy from mcdonald except that you had put them in the fridge overnight. I can't believe my family paid more than $100 for those absolute cra%$^# lol

The Poofy's squinty eye tells more than a thousand words about you and tristan's struggle. SOOO CUTE!

Kate / August 8, 2008 4:45 PM

Bahahahaha. Ewwy much. I map it out using road food. Then, I get yummy local stuff. No McDonalds. Or Roy Rogers.

roboppy / August 11, 2008 12:14 AM

Laryssa: Thanks for the link! That was a fun read. :) And I blogged about it on serious eats!

Bangsil: Aw man, I used to go to Applebee's! On my own will. Heh. I'll stay away from the one in NIAGRA FALLS.

Kate: I wouldn't mind going on a road trip to eat awesome food. ...But on this trip I just wanted to go from point A to point B. ;) With unfortunate effects.

Helen Forrest / August 13, 2008 7:59 AM

Hmmm, I sympathise, there is nothing worse than bad fried chicken. I do have a recommendation if you are ever in Brighton,UK. There is a place called 'Momma Cherri's Big House' which apart from having a cute name does very nice fried chicken indeed. Golden brown, crispy coating and tender tasty chicken within. They are well worth a visit.

roboppy / August 14, 2008 12:09 AM

Helen: Don't know if I'll ever go to Brighton, but it's good to know that if I do I have a fried chicken place to go to. :D

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