American Made Jerky

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Great Ocean Road: One of the World's Best Drives

By Mark C O'Loughlin

The Great Ocean Road in Victoria's southwest is one of the world's most iconic drives. If you remember your junior maths you might recall the 3r's - reading, riting and rithmatic. Well, Australia also has its own version of the 3 r's. The Reef, the Rock and the Road. The Reef of course is the Great Barrier Reef. The Rock is Uluru and the Road is the Great Ocean Road.

The Great Ocean Road begins in the seaside town of Torquay and finishes near Warrnambool. It's a drive of more than 100 kilometres along perhaps the most spectacular coastline that Australia has to offer. At times you will find yourself driving along meandering roads which sit comfortably between grassed sand dunes and a calm sea and at other times you will be hugging roads which cling dramatically to cliff faces with raging seas beneath.

You never know what to expect when you drive along the Great Ocean Road. It is of course largely dependent on the weather. Beautiful, still sunny days will produce an ocean with an intense blue which is not often seen in other oceans and the sea can be very calm. The following day may be just the opposite, especially if huge Southern Ocean swells arrive. The Victorian coastline is known for its big swells. These are generated a long way away and roll onto our coast with thundering applause much to the delight of surfers.

I would think the major attraction of this road for tourists is the drive itself. If you are coming from interstate or overseas then you will probably be needing to hire a vehicle. What kind of vehicle you hire will depend on what type of holiday you want to have. There's lots of hire companies in Melbourne where you can hire vehicles. If you intend to take your time and slowly make your way along the road then you might like to consider a campervan. This will enable you to stop overnight at tourist parks along the way and there's plenty of them. This is an inexpensive option and then you then have your hard earned money to spend on yourself rather than accommodation.

If, on the other hand, you are fortunate enough to not have to worry about money, then you might consider hiring a sports car. The Great Ocean Road was built by returned ex servicemen from World War One and I'm sure they had no idea that they were building a road that seems almost purpose built for sports cars. Don't drive over the speed limit though. Indeed, you will have little chance because this can be a very demanding drive and gives little opportunity for speed. Happy driving!

The Great Ocean Road passes through a number of small seaside towns and you will find a large range of accommodation available to suit all budgets. We recommend you try Great Ocean Road Accommodation. This website lists a large array of accommodation venues and also has lots of information on things to do and things to see.

Article Source:'Loughlin

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Food Review: Back Porch BBQ, La Grange, Texas

I was driving down Highway 77 through La Grange, Texas, on my way from Dallas to Corpus Christi, a few days ago and decided to stop early so I could have a full, rested, day on the coast the next day.

It was about dinner time and all I had eaten was "road food"....snacks, burgers, etc., and I was ready to eat a real meal. I checked the motel guest information for a decent place to eat. The one that popped out was The Back Porch BBQ.

Now, to be honest, the main reason I decided to get some food from there was that it was nearby. I was tired and didn't want to make a fuss or wander all over La Grange looking for some place to pick up food to bring back to the room. All I had to do was drive about three quarters of a mile back up the access road, and there it was...on the corner of US Highways 77 & 71.

Located in older wooden building, as I drove up into the parking place, I noticed how neat and clean everything seemed to be. That was the same impression I got when I entered. Despite the "back country" chic look, everything was spic and span.

As if it wasn't clean enough, a young lady was busily cleaning as I entered. She was very pleasant as she took my order, and apologetic that they did NOT have turkey that day nor bread pudding.

However, I got the brisket and pulled pork with potato salad and went back to the room.

The pulled pork was delicious, as was the potato salad, but the die for!

Very tasty, it was thick cut yet easy to chew...important, since so much brisket is tough or not very flavorful.

It is a local business, and, if I understood the sign, not open for very long when I passed through. It is a family-owned business, owned and operated by Derrick and Korin Burnett.

Located at the intersection of US 71 and US 77 in Lagrange, Texas, The Back Porch BBQ is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, but open 11 AM to 8 PM, Monday, Thursday and Sunday, and 11 AM to 9 PM Friday and Saturday. Their phone number is 979-968-1580 and their email is

Definitely a thumbs up for this small-town restaurant: excellent food at a reasonable price.

The Back Porch BBQ on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Personal Review of Best Western Grand Marina Shoreline Motel, Corpus Christi, Texas

First of all, please allow me to set the stage.

My wife and I used to travel a great deal, both for business and for pleasure. In the last few years, she has developed several health issues which make travel very difficult for her, and I lost a major source of income, and we have become the typical older retired couple on a fixed income. Due to weakness and balance problems, my wife must walk using a cane, or a walker for longer distances.

We have also become caregivers for a disabled daughter with three children whose husband left her, so, when the opportunity for a couple of days on the coast presented itself, we were, as they say, cautiously optimistic that we could go and enjoy a mini-vacation.

We used to stay at Best Western facilities almost exclusively, since we had a dog and most Best Western motels are pet friendly. We have had several reasons to travel in the last couple of years, including two funerals, and had accumulated several points on their rewards program and a free night voucher which had to be redeemed by June 30th.

We were teetering on the edge when a small cash windfall tipped us over the edge, and we headed for the Best Western Grand Marina Shoreline Motel in Corpus Christi.


While the building was a bit imposing at a distance, driving up to the entrance reminded me of some Greyhound bus stations I had known back in my younger days. However, there are 15-minute parking spaces for checking in and unloading. Once checked in, this did allow me to get my wife inside while I parked the car.

They do have covered parking. It's a bit tight in spots if you have a larger vehicle, but not bad, except for the sudden drop off as you pull away from the entrance of the motel. One note on the parking, by the way, I noticed that in the morning, portions of the tiled walkway seemed to be a bit slick...possibly from dew or spray.


The lobby, and the people were nice, and there is a great wood carving of a Dutch sailing ship near the elevators. If you have a lot of luggage, or a large party, the elevators can be a bit cramped. When my wife and I got into one with a luggage cart, we barely had room to turn around, and my wife opted to stand with her back to the door just because it would have been too hard for her to adjust her position.

A note on the elevators: One had a tendency to close the door almost immediately after opening. It did not retract very quickly either, and I did get a small bruise on my arm from the door. By the time that happened, however, I was so mad that I did not notice it until later. That was after the events of the first night...see below. I took quite a jolt from the door, but I work out and am in pretty good shape for a 68-year-old. My wife, on the other hand, could easily have been knocked off balance by the door, and there's no telling when it comes to small children.

Our room was on the eighth floor with a magnificent view of the bay and the marina. I must admit that the view was worth going to see, and we considered ourselves lucky to be there and were happy we had come....until....


The first small glitch came when I went down to the lobby to get some cash. They did not have an ATM and I either would have had to get the car out and drive, or walk in 90+ degree heat, which I do not handle well at the moment as I am receiving hormone treatment for prostate cancer. I had wanted the money so that I would have a tip for the server when my wife and I went to the 11th floor Sky View or whatever it's called for our "free" drink.

Since they did not have an ATM and I had not thought to get cash (my bad, as they say) I told my wife that I would get my free drink and then order one and pay for it so that I could tip the server.

The bar on the 11th floor does not open until 5 PM, fine with us, so we decided just to watch some TV and rest from the trip. I could not find a TV channel guide in the room, so I called the front desk to ask if I could get one. I was informed that if there was not one in the room, they could not get me one. Seriously people! A classy joint like that doesn't have extra TV channel guide available?


By the way, you would think that such a "grand" establishment would have a business center to die for, but not so. There is one computer on a desk in the lobby. It does have a printer, but you may have to wait in line to use it.


Anyway, around 6 PM we went to the 11th floor bar. Again, a spectacular view, and I cannot say enough good things about Michael, the host/bartender/server. He was very friendly and helpful to us and everyone else there, and gave us a lot of good information about the area.

However, your one "free" drink per person per night, has its pitfalls. First of all, if you are a beer drinker like me, don't expect to get a good beer for free. After I choked down a rather disgusting thing called "Shiner" something or other, I ordered, and paid for, a Corona. I'm not an expert on beer, but I have been drinking beer since I was twenty-one, nearly half a century. I have lived in Germany for six years and drank many German beers, Dutch beers, and even English beers, and I have to say I will probably never try another Shiner, just as I will never try another Starbucks "coffee"...which tastes an awful lot like what I used to get from the mess hall at 2 AM when I was the Duty NCO.

Once you get past your free drink, prices are going to be fairly hefty, so, if you're on a budget, stop by a package store and buy your's much cheaper.

My wife, who seldom drinks alcohol, decided to try a mixed drink but almost gave up because of all the things that are NOT available for the "free" drink. She and Michael eventually negotiated something innocuous and we concentrated on just enjoying the view...which would have been better with clean windows, but let's not quibble.

On our second night, by the way, I skipped the "free" drinks and just bought us a couple of drinks and had some really tasty pulled pork sliders and my wife had some wings....which she said were okay, but about the same as you could get anywhere else.

We were still happy to be there and, after spending a lot of time just soaking in the view, we went to bed.


The beds were comfortable, the AC was efficient and we drifted off to the land of nod...until about 10:30 PM when we suddenly were awakened by some very loud, and very bad, music. Not sure where it was coming from at first, I finally was able to figure out that it was coming from one of a collection of bars about a block away. Apparently, one of the bars had some sort of outside facility and played music out there.

I assumed that the noise would abate eventually, but it kept going and we finally called the desk around midnight to ask if there was anything they could do. They told us that the police had been called and seemed to be as upset as we were that this was happening.

As it turned out, we later learned that this noise is an ongoing problem at this hotel and several people have complained about it. Check other sites such as We had not brought our computers to cut down on the weight of our luggage, but my wife found several complaints on her smart phone.

Despite the police having been called, the noise continued unabated until nearly 2 AM. By then, I was so angry and frustrated at the situation that I could not fall asleep until after 3 AM. On th first night of my vacation at the Best Western Grand Marina Shoreline Hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas, I got about three hours sleep.

We only could stay one full day, so that kind of shot my tourist mood all to hell.

The next morning, I learned from a hotel staff member that the Corpus Christi police had showed up but sat around and did nothing, apparently because their "noise meter" was broken...and I guess because their ears didn't work either.

Breakfast is served on the 11th floor (other side from the bar). Again, a great view, but the food is nothing to write home about. There's plenty of it, and plenty of selections, but I got just as good in army mess halls. The eggs are powdered, by the way, so, if you like eggs that look and taste like eggs, skip 'em.

On the morning of our departure, even though watching our budget, we skipped the free (unappealing) breakfast and stopped at the Radisson over at Corpus Christi Beach near the Lexington (I'm from Pensacola and had to see the Lady Lex one more time), and had a great breakfast in their dining room.

By the way, we have stayed at that Radisson before and really enjoyed it, but they did not allow pets, and that is when we started staying at Best Westerns. Not an issue any more as we had to put the old girl down last year at 17 1/2 years of age.

Quite frankly, I must say that I cannot remember a stay I enjoyed less than the one at the Best Western Grand Marina Shoreline Motel in Corpus Christi. However, it gets worse.


On checking out, I knew that, even though I had used bonus points and free night voucher, I still had a small balance of $70+ to pay. When I went to check out, the young lady at the desk said that there was no charge.

Since La Quinta in Pensacola had given me a free night for some problems about a year previously, I assumed she was telling me that the Best Western Grand Marina was cutting me some slack for the bad experience I had...well...experienced!


Shortly after I got home, I was checking my bank statement and saw a charge for $70+ dollars to the Best Western Grand Marina. I tried to send emails to email addresses on their website and listed on other review sites, but all my emails came back as being undeliverable. Finally, I received an email from Mz. Hernandez, the Front Office Manager in which she explained the amount I was charged but did not address the fact that I had been told that I was not going to be charged. She concluded with "I hope that you will consider staying with us again so that we can have another chance to provide you with a superior experience"...

In other words, I know you got burned last time, in the same way many others have, so come back and let us do it again.

Sorry, I'm not a gambling man.

By the way, if YOU are looking for a working email address for the Best Western Grand Marina Shoreline in Corpus Christi, you might try

I hope this rather long, and personal, review of the Best Western Grand Marina Shoreline Motel in Corpus Christi, Texas has been of help.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Barcelona, Spain: Old and New at the Same Time

Barcelona Spain is a city with a past...all the way back to the Roman Empire, actually.

But, in the "old" days, it was nothing like what it was to become in the Middle Ages. That era was again eclipsed by another spurt in the middle of the 19th century.

With so many ages in its past, it is easy for the visitor to Barcelona to take a peek at old Roman architecture, marvel at medieval churches, such as Le Seu, and blow a wad of modern money on some pretty neat shopping!

Of course, no visit to Barcelona would be complete without the appropriate gawking at the architectural achievements of its favorite son, Antonio Gaudi. Do not miss visiting Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, and Casa Mila, but be prepared to stand there and wonder, to yourself, of course, what WAS he thinking?

However, Gaudi is not responsible for ALL the imposing sights in the Capital of Catalonia. You cannot go to Paris without seeing the Arc de Triomphe nor can you go to Barcelona without seeing the Arc de Triomf. Same thing, but with a Spanish flair.

MNAC, aka: Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, houses some excellent art, and the rather eclectic market, La Boqueria. Be advised that at La Boqueria, the art is not just on the walls, but in the diverse crowds examining, and buying, the even more diverse, foods available there.

If you begin to lag and sag, you can always perk yourself back up at one of the city's many tapas bars...or just plain bars...if that's your style.

For the family (i.e. kids and kids-at-heart), there are the zoo and the aquarium. If that doesn't wear 'em out, climb up to the top of Montjuic for a view of the city which will awe even young children.

At one time a sleepy little town of little interest to the traveler, today's Barcelona is a place of history, mystery, and fun for all.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hub Stacey's on Seville Square in Pensacola, Florida

I have to admit that the original reason my wife and I went to Hub Stacey's, at the corner of Government and Alcaniz streets in Pensacola, Florida, had nothing to do with least not restaurant.

We were in town for my 50th high school reunion (Pensacola Catholic High Class of 1963), and one of our favorite restaurants on Seville Square had closed. We had been in town many other times and I had always wanted to eat "in the restaurant over there on the corner" because of personal history.

In the 1950's or 60's, it was a grocery, specializing in Greek food and other delicacies and was run by a family who had once had a small grocery closer to our home in Warrington, Florida. My father often went into the grocery at the corner of Government and Alcaniz streets to pick up some cheese or meat which he liked, and to touch base with the family which ran it.

Actually, I think it was this grocery where my father bought the infamous Limberger Cheese which he stuck in the glove compartment...and forgot about for several days until the smell became overwhelming.

Anyway, it was purely for personal pleasure that my wife and I decided to actually eat at Hub Stacey's. We did not know what it served or whether the food was any good.

Simple report is that the food is mainly sandwiches, named after various streets and places in Pensacola, although they do have a wide selection of salads, wings, and appetizers (called 'Munchies').

I had the 12th Ave (a favorite drive of mine in Pensacola), which was tuna salad and melted cheddar on toasted sourdough bread. You can get a whole or a half of many of the sandwiches and I chose to get a half.

Good choice! It was actually about the size of a sandwich I might make at home, and was delicious and just right.

My wife got one half of the LaRua (a street in Pensacola with many historic homes). The LaRua is a toasted Muffuletta loaf stuffed with salami, ham, bologna and melted Provolone cheese. It's served with Hub's own olive salad...and my wife says it was delicious and wayyyy more than she could eat!

Hub Stacey's Downtown Menu.

I got my history fix by going into the grocery store my father used to shop in, and I got a good meal at a reasonable price, and a new favorite restaurant on Seville Square in Pensacola, Florida.

Hub Stacey's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Goldfield Arizona: A Family Ghost Town

I have not been to many "ghost towns", but I have seen a couple. Still, this does not make me an expert, but almost every time my wife and I visit family in Mesa, we like to ride out and take a stroll through Goldfield.

Established in 1892 when a fairly large amount of gold was discovered in the area, Goldfield has had its ups and downs. The first find petered out in about five years, and although another set of investors used newer equipment a few years later to get more gold, that also ran out, and in 1926, the town died a second death.

It was, in it's day, a fairly desolate and isolated area, and without the gold, there was not much to attract the visitor. However, in 1966, Robert F. “Bob” Schoose, a long time ghost town, mining, and treasure-hunting enthusiast made a trip to the Superstition Mountains. He instantly fell in love with the area and established a home in nearby Mesa, Arizona.

Eventually, Bob Schoose decided that he wanted to own a ghost town. However, after inspecting the site of the actual town, he was only able to find a few remnants of the original Goldfield. He did not let this deter him and finally purchased a five acre site which was the location of the old Goldfield Mill.

Not having a "real" ghost town, Bob set out to create his own.

Over the years, businesses have been added which give at least the sensation of being in an old town. Even the most casual observer, however, can easily recognize that the "town" is actually not much more than a set, and not even a very realistic one. It is actually a setting dotted with ancient appearing artifacts which gives the illusion of a ghost town of the old west.

Even so, for the city slicker wanting a glimpse of the Old West, the child, or the adult who still remembers old Saturday morning westerns with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, or Rex Allen, can still stir up some of the old feelings just by wandering down (or up) the dusty street.

There is a reconstructed mine tunnel, a narrow gauge railroad, and several sellers of modern, though often old-appearing, souvenirs. There are places to eat, and, as I did recently at my wife's request, the visitor can get a sepia-toned photograph in semi-authentic western garb.

All in all, I would not put the Goldfield Ghost Town at the head of a list of "must visit" places, but, if you are in the area and have nothing to compare it to, or if you just want to get a feel for the past, it's worth a visit. After all, it's free to walk the streets and watch the weekend gunfights. Don't forget to pick up a bag of the Golden Carmel Corn Nuggets or the Churro Nuggets (my personal favorite) at "Mother Lode Mercantile".

If you DO choose to visit Goldfield, one thing you really should do is visit the museum and take your time looking over the exhibits. They are about as real as it gets. Hey! If nothing more, you will at least be able to say you saw Doc Holliday's coat!

You can learn more by visiting the Goldfield Ghost Town website.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Finding Cheap Theme Park Tickets

By Cyndi Mason

Granted, theme parks of all kinds can get pricey. That includes amusement as well as water parks. It's expensive enough to try to take only yourself to one of these places for the day let alone an entire family of four or more. This is particularly true when you pay the regular in season prices. These can be expensive. However, on the other hand, if you know how to look for and locate some deals, there are many ways to find cheap theme park tickets. Not only that, but you can also find ways to save money on souvenirs, food, and many other things.

Something you can do to find cheap theme park tickets is to go to your computer and look on the Internet. There are several major amusement parks like Six Flags that will offer discounted tickets and more special deals when you visit their websites. They must be the official websites, though, if you want to find exclusive deals. You can also look for package deals through travel sites as well as websites for accommodations that are near the theme park that you want to visit. Sometimes they'll throw in discounted tickets if you book a room through their establishment.

You can also find ticket outlet companies that offer tickets for discounted prices. In fact, once you order them, you can print them out right from your computer. This keeps you from having to wait for them to get to your home through the mail. Instead, you can buy them, print them out and use them instantly.

Amusement parks will usually offer special promotions through popular soda companies. Check cans of your favorite soda drink. You just may find some information printed on them or on bottle labels that will tell you how to take advantage of these promotions.

Watch out for fliers and brochures that may be available at your local grocery stores, malls and restaurants. Many of these will have free coupons that you can use at various parks. These can help you save money when you plan your next trip to an amusement park.

Subscribe to newsletters that offer special promotions and other bargains for theme parks. In this way, you'll be informed each time discount tickets for theme parks become accessible through any website on the Internet. This is one of the best ways to know as soon as the tickets are released to the public for purchasing.

As you can see, there are various ways to find cheap theme park tickets. This is true no matter where you live or where you plan to travel.

To make your trip planning even simpler, you'll be able to find many of these promotional offers and discounts for theme park tickets at Theme Park World. That's right! The work and research will all be done for you so there won't be a need for you to traipse all over the Internet to find the best deals for you and your family. So check back often if your family loves visiting theme parks.

Article Source: Finding Cheap Theme Park Tickets