Mom and pops are worth the stop
(I’ll tell ya about 4 of them on Highway 10.)
Gone are the days of free and easy motorcycling around the country. My first motorcycle trip in the upper Midwest was 5 weeks long. That was the summer of 1971. I stayed in a motel 4 nights in the five weeks. Most of the time on the highway, I tossed my sleeping bag on the ground at some campsite. Even in Canada, on north shore of Lake of the Woods, you could find a campground and just crash on the ground.
That doesn't happen much these days. Besides, I’m too old, tired, and crotchety to get a good night’s sleep that way. Once in awhile, I crash in a city park that allows camping, such as in Tioga or Stanley, North Dakota. In Stanley, the park is right across from the courthouse which has its own romantic appeal – in the trees, in a quiet park across from on old domed courthouse.
However, just because I don’t rough it much, that doesn’t mean I go soft-style. When I tour, I make it a point to never eat nor sleep at a big national franchise. (Sorry Applebees, Ground Round, Arbys, McDonalds, Holiday Inn Express, Super 8.) I choose local “mom and pop” businesses. My choice for Mom and Pop motels and eateries is nearly always rewarded with excellent service, friendly people and low prices. It has a romantic appeal that harkens back to 30, 40 or 50 years ago.
For motorcyclists, one advantage of mom and pop motels is the convenience and security of front door parking. Like other riders, I like to park my bike outside the door. It's easy to load and unload, plus the bike is just feet from my bed. With the window open, I can provide better security than some obscure spot in a franchise hotel parking lot.
Highway 10 in Minnesota and North Dakota is a good example of the rewards of bypassing franchises. Eating and sleeping at locally-owned businesses can yield excellent rhubarb pie and low-cost coffee. That's what you get at the Coffee Cup restaurant in Becker, MN. Great food, great service.
When is the last time you received a thank you card from a Days Inn for staying at their place on a road trip? I got one the other day, but not from Days Inn, or any franchise, but from a little mom and pop motel on Highway 10 in Dilworth, Minnesota, the Star Light. It was right after I took a swing through Fargo and Grand Forks to photograph some bridge construction activity for the mykuhls website.
If you take Highway 10 in to Dilworth and you can step back to 1965 at Eddy’s bar and grill. Wooden booths with attached coat racks, seats of Naugahyde, and regular old food without all the green leafy stuff decorating your plate.
Remember I said I’d tell ya about 4 examples of good service and low prices from mom and pop places? The Star Light, Eddy’s and the Coffee cup make three.
Here’s number 4, the Country Rose Café in Dickinson, North Dakota. It used to be the truck stop on the western edge of town until the Interstate took traffic around the city. On old Highway 10, or East Villard you can get excellent food at a fraction of the cost of a big franchise eatery. Swivel stools at the counter. Ceramic cups. Bouncy friendly gum-chewin’ waitress. You can tell the Country Rose has a history. The edge of the counter is worn in front of every swivel stool with the thousands of stool-sitters who had their coffee and pie at the counter.
Why spend $80 to $200 for a place to sleep for a night when you can support a local business AND get the kind of hospitality this country was famous for 50 years ago? Mom and pop stops, whether eateries or sleeperies are the place to stop.
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