I've achieved something perhaps unique in the history of car trips: I managed to return home--after 8+ hours of driving--with the car cleaner than when I left.
Since the car dealership where we get our car serviced is almost an hour away--but on the way from our place to my mom's place--I got the car serviced this morning on the way to return her home. They very kindly took care of the mildewy smell that was starting to emanate from the floor mats. Thanks, Toyota dealership! They also washed the car, but they might as well not have bothered: it was quickly speckled and then coated with dirt from semis.
Once I got to Mom's and unloaded her, I took advantage of a little vacuum cleaner she has to vacuum out the car (after I'd thrown away the mountain of crap that had accumulated). Our car was, quite honestly, disgusting. And it was all the back seat, where my 1-year-old daughter and her mother, my beloved wife, sit. I'm not saying whose fault the mess was, but I am saying that it was disgusting. But with a little time, I had it shipshape and looking good.
Around noon, we were around a small town in the middle of nowhere--in other words, fairly close to my childhood home. Mom wanted to stop at a little place that truly is in the middle of nowhere, a sort of track-stop-slash-local-hangout. They serve "home cookin'" there. It doesn't look like much: clean and homey, but a little shabby, which is to say that the covers of some of the seats at the bar (they don't serve anything harder than black coffee, incidentally) are split, all of the old thick red plastic "glasses" that they serve beverages out of are chipped, and the carpet looks quite old (albeit fairly well maintained).
There's a sign on the cash register--which echoes the sign by the entry--informing you that they are sorry, but they don't accept credit cards, debit cards, or personal checks. Here's the thing, though: it's signed "Judy." I don't know who Judy is--presumably the owner--but how often do you see a sign stating a businesses operating practices with an individual taking responsibilty for the policy? Doesn't happen, except for delightful little podunk establishments.
Speaking of delightful: let me tell you about the prices. Sandwiches were priced from $2.50 to $5.95. Dinner entrees ran from $6.95 to nine or ten dollars, except for the steak, which was $14.95. Slices of pie were $2.50.
It's quirky though. Mom ordered a soup and an order of pasta salad, which they brought her in no time at all. I ordered a sandwich and sweet potato fries ($2 to add the latter). Those things took--and I'm estimating here--forever. Let's just say that Mom got a piece of pie to go with her meal at the same time that I got my meal. Like I said: quirky. And a little frustrating, but you've got to take the whole package.