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Troy: Alright hello and welcome. The date is February 19 and you’re listening to the 48th episode of Big Rig Banter. I’m your co-host Troy Diffenderfer.
Lenay: And I’m your favorite co-host, Lenay Ruhl, and today’s episode is brought to you by the Pilot Flying J app, saving you time at the pump and money in the store. Now, you may be wondering what all you can do with the app. Well, you can reserve an overnight parking spot, you can book a shower, you can start fueling from inside your cab, and best of all – you can save money every single day on food, on drinks, on gear for your rig – and more. So, go ahead and visit the app store or Google Play Store and download the Pilot Flying J app today.
Troy: Lenay, how are you doing today?
Lenay: I’m pretty good, how are you?
Troy: I’m doing good. So, I have this story that I wanted to tell you.
Lenay: Oh no.
Troy: It’s embarassing. It happened awhile…
Lenay: Is Lydia mad at you again?
Troy: No, she’s actually not, and it’s not actually… she’s like, involved, but it wasn’t me. But I wanted to tell you a while ago, but I still was embarrassed.
Lenay: Oh no, ok. I’m ready.
Troy: Ok, so you know we moved into the house.
Troy: You’ve been there.
Troy: It’s a duplex, so we have two front doors.
Troy: So, outside we have two mailboxes too, which I like, assumed…
Lenay: Oh no (laughing)
Troy: …was obviously for both residents. So, for the last month we’ve been getting all this mail in the other mailbox for different people, and nobody’s been coming to get it. So, we kept putting ‘return to sender,’ ‘doesn’t live here,’ and stuff like that. So, finally I just got fed up with it and I was like, “Dad, just come over and cut the one mail box off.” Because I figured if the mailbox isn’t there, then the post office can’t deliver the mail there so then I won’t have to worry about it.
Lenay: So, we’re talking about like, old school mailboxes mounted on wood, right?
Troy: Yup exactly. So, the other morning dad came over, cut the mailbox off and I was like, “Alright, that’s great!” So, I’m at work and I get a frantic call from Lydia, my wife, and she explains basically that she was talking to the mail man. The mail man goes up to the mailbox, looks really confused, and Lydia goes up to him and she’s like, “Oh, you know, they don’t live here anymore. We just cut the mailbox off.” And the mail man gives her a funny look and turns around and points to the house across the street and says, “That’s their mailbox.”
Lenay: (laughing) oh no.
Troy: So, needless to say – and keep in mind we literally have not interacted with any neighbors since we moved in.
Lenay: Oh geez, way to make friends Troy.
Troy: I know, so we basically cut our neighbor’s mailbox off, and he was not happy. He actually, I mean, and I was freaking out because that’s a federal offense, I’m going to jail.
Lenay: I was going to say…
Troy: Yeah, like I was ready to give you the address to put money on my books.
Lenay: Right, Well, I would have. I would have.
Troy: Thank you. But yeah, so he like, actually our neighbor called the cops on us and the police officer understood. He kind of laughed about it and we ended up putting the mailbox back up
Troy: But, I mean, I feel like that’s an honest mistake.
Lenay: Way to go. First what, two months, in the new house and… (laughing)
Troy: Yeah so. I had to tell it. In hindsight it’s funny, and like, I told my mom when it happened, panicking, and she texted me back and said, “I’m crying because I’m laughing so hard.”
Lenay: (Laughing) I bet she was. I can’t believe you didn’t think to just double check the house number before you chopped it down.
Troy: I know.
Lenay: Or, I don’t know, like, how long was your house not a duplex?
Troy: I don’t know. The stuff I don’t think of as a new home owner.
Lenay: (Laughing) I know. Well lesson learned, right?
Troy: I know, but let’s just jump into today’s episode. I’m excited. I think this is an episode that we’ve wanted to do for a while. I think it’s going to be an interesting one for sure.
Lenay: Yup, for sure.
Troy: Lenay, I think we’re both pretty big foodies, you know, we definitely – I think the first thing we always talk about Monday morning is what we did or where we ate over the weekend.
Lenay: Accurate, or where we’re getting lunch.
Troy: Exactly, so um, we figure we should probably do an episode on, you know, truck stop restaurants, what to look for. Truckers, you’re going to be on the road pretty often. You’re going to want something a little more than McDonalds and the fast food. You want some place you can sit down and enjoy something to eat.
Lenay: Yeah I mean, for sure, and like, my cousin was on the podcast a few weeks ago and he’s always posting on his Facebook page about different restaurants he tries along the way, and it just got me thinking about the way you and I might decide why we like a restaurant and then how, you know, what might be more important to a truck driver. Because you’re on the road, sometimes for weeks at a time, so what kind of thing do you look for when you go to sit down and have a meal?
Troy: Yeah, so let’s get into some things to look at and some things to consider when you’re looking for a truck stop to eat at. One of the first things would be a friendly staff. I think that’s really important. It’s a very solo job, so I think just interacting with people, even if it’s just the restaurant staff, and having them be friendly and interact with you – I think that’s something I would definitely look for. Just, feeling more comfortable and feeling like you have someone to talk to, at least a little bit.
Lenay: Yeah, absolutely. Over the summer I was traveling in Charleston, South Carolina by myself and so I kept going out to eat, alone, obviously. Some places, the people would be super… I don’t know, not cold, but they would kind of rush me through my meal and assume that I didn’t want to dine and just relax because I was alone, whereas other people just kept refilling my water and making small talk and asking me about my trip. That meant a lot to me, because being by myself, I wanted someone to talk to… not to rush out of the restaurant, you know.
Troy: For sure.
Lenay: Secondly, I think that if I were on the road all the time, I personally would be looking for comfort food. I would get really sick of the typical French fries and a cheeseburger or whatever you can get at a fast food restaurant. I’d probably be looking for some – I mean, not that I crave it often – but like, meatloaf or mashed potatoes. (laughing)
Troy: Mmhm, yeah.
Lenay: Of course, I guess it’s hard to drive when you eat that heavy food. What’s your favorite comfort food? What’s your go to?
Troy: Definitely the mashed potatoes.
Troy: I love mashed potatoes, for sure
Lenay: Me too. I housed some shepherd’s pie last night. Oh my gosh, the mashed potatoes were so good.
Troy: And you definitely want to look at the food quality. You know, if you’re going to skip on the fast food, obviously you want the restaurant food to be better than that. Whether it’s reading the Yelp reviews or asking a fellow trucker what they recommend, or even asking the waiter or the waitress what they recommend to eat. I mean, most of these places are going to have a specialty or a specific meal that they advertise, so I always want to go to a place that has good food. It’s not just sitting down and relaxing, it’s actually enjoying the food, for sure.
Lenay: Yeah, especially if you’re going to spend some money on it. I would say yeah, food quality. I know a lot of times there’s some diners you go to and they’re amazing and then there are some other places that are busy all the time because they’re popular or people recognize the name, but they’re not always the best food.
Troy: And this is just a personal one… I always try and find a place that maybe specializes in a specific cuisine. I know there’s a lot of places where you can get like, crab legs and shrimp fried rice and chicken wings.
Lenay: Or fried chicken from the gas station (laughing)
Troy: Exactly. It’s a lot of places that just because you can cook everything, doesn’t mean you necessarily should cook everything.
Lenay: Yup, that’s very true. Like places with those big menus and you can get like, Mexican food, spaghetti, and seafood. Always questionable in my opinion.
Troy: Exactly. So, I definitely recommend trying to find a place that maybe specializes… whether it’s comfort food or seafood, or Tex-Mex or anything like that.
Lenay: Yeah, and for me I definitely always think about the price tag on the food. You know, I really don’t mind going out for like, a really expensive meal, if I know it’s going to be good. I think we all kind of have an idea of what we’re willing to pay for certain types of food. So, I’m sure truck drivers out there, you know, you talk to each other, you’ve stopped at some places along the road that are way overpriced for what it is and then you’ve been to that hole in the wall restaurant that is cheap and some of the best food you’ve ever had. So, don’t always let the price tag deter you from eating there. You know, it might not say much about the quality.
Troy: And for some of you truckers, that might be watching your waistline, I think finding a place with healthy options is another good thing to consider.
Lenay: Yeah absolutely.
Troy: It’s definitely tougher on the road, and we’ve done podcast episodes on maintaining a healthy lifestyle while you’re on the road, but it’s definitely possible to find some of these healthier options while you’re out there traveling. A lot of these restaurants, whether it’s salad or mixed veggies, there’s definitely ways that you can still really enjoy a good meal at a truck stop restaurant but also have it be healthy at the same time.
Lenay: Yes, absolutely. And another really important thing that you have to consider is the parking. So, if you’re not actually going to a truck stop restaurant, and you’re just going to some place that happens to be just off the highway, finding parking can be really tricky. You definitely want to call ahead or at least look at the reviews and see if there’s going to be a place for you to park.
Troy: I know. There’s nothing worse than driving by a place that you want to go to and seeing how packed it is.
Lenay: And you can’t park and you’re like – nope. (Laughing)
Troy: We talked about that place down the road from me, and the whole restaurant itself is probably the size of our podcast room.
Lenay: Oh geez
Troy: But it looks really cool and everyone raves about it but every time I drive by there’s cars in the grass parking and I never see a line outside. I don’t know where they fit everyone in, because seriously, it’s like a sardine can.
Lenay: I would not want to go in there. (Laughing)
Troy: But yeah, and then one final thing to consider is just the atmosphere. Maybe it’s a regular place that truckers come and hang out. I think those are the cool type of places, or where everyone kind of recognizes you or welcomes you right away. You know, pull up a seat at the bar.
Lenay: Right, the little local spots.
Troy: Yeah. Talk to some fellow truckers or just some fellow residents. Maybe they can give you some tips on, you know, if you have extra time, checking out the rest of the town and things like that. I love those local spots where they have their regulars and it’s not necessarily a chain restaurant. I don’t know, I think they have a lot more personality and that’s where you’re going to find that comfort food and that home cooked food.
Lenay: Yeah, I agree. I mean I think some of the best meals I’ve ever had, and I feel like I’ve traveled a lot, have the paper towel rolls on the table and they’re bringing it out on paper plates. So, I’m not too picky about atmosphere but I think when you walk into a place – right away – and this comes back to the friendly staff thing, too – you have a general idea whether you’re going to have a good experience or not. If they’re not friendly, if it’s dirty, if it’s like too bright or too dimly lit, or too loud. I hate that. I know I sound like an old lady when I say that but, some of these restaurants, like the breweries, particularly, they’re like, so loud. All the voices echo, and you can’t hear yourself. I think if I were looking for a place to sit down and relax, that would not be my first choice.
Troy: For sure. But truckers, what’s your favorite truck stop restaurant? We want to hear from you. We do have a blog written that covers some of our recommendations for truck stop restaurants, but we definitely want to hear your opinions as well. Reach out to us using the hashtag #BigRigBanter on our social media or just send us a private message. We want to hear where you recommend – what you look for – in a truck stop restaurant, and hopefully we can help some fellow truckers out there find some good food while they’re on the road.
Lenay: Yeah, I’d love to update that blog with some of your suggestions, so send them our way. And don’t forget to leave us a review if you have a chance.
Troy: Alright, well I think that wraps things up, Lenay. I’m going to go home and try not to destroy any of my neighbor’s property.
Troy: And maybe take that guy a six pack or something as a peace offering.
Lenay: Yup, or maybe shovel his snow if it ever actually snows this winter.
Troy: Yeah, that’s definitely a good call. But I’m your co-host Troy Diffenderfer.
Lenay: And I’m your favorite co-host Lenay Ruhl.
Troy: And this has been Big Rig Banter.
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