How are your summer travels going? Have you reached the point where you just can't face one more fast-food hamburger?
I've felt that way. Here are a few roadside establishments that have saved me. Most of them offer buffet dining, meaning restless kids won't have to wait. Most offer the child favorites of mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.
* Maryland Route 15, between Frederick and Gettysburg, Pa., the Thurmont exit, offers two of these restaurants, Mountain Gate and Cozy. Salads, a half-dozen hot vegetables, carved meats -- these are the antidotes to Big Macs. And 24 kinds of homemade pies, if you're so inclined.
* Virginia Interstate 85, Exit 39, between Richmond and Raleigh, N.C. The Nottoway Inn offers complete, home-cooked, inexpensive meals. The hot yeast rolls are like Grandma's. Southern fried chicken and chicken-fried steak are favorites.
* Virginia Interstate 95, Exit 54 (Temple Avenue), in the Petersburg area, has an Arby's that is unlike any fast-food place I've ever seen. Start with hot vegetables, potatoes, turkey and chicken, fruit and lettuce salads or the traditional sandwiches or the Mexican buffet and the Eskimo Pie dessert bar. This place has carpets, sculptures, atrium ceilings and two fireplaces. And table service. A sign of things to come? I hope so. Head east on Temple Avenue for about a mile. The Arby's is on the right. It is an experience.
* Pennsylvania Interstate 78, the Shartlesville turnoff (Exit 23), between Harrisburg and Allentown. The Haags Hotel has one of the many restaurants on this route that offer Pennsylvania Dutch home cooking. Chances are the cashier also baked those desserts that greet customers in a glass showcase. Enormous portions for about $10 a meal. At least try a bite of the shoe-fly pie.
All of these places are within a mile of the freeway. They are lifesavers, leaving one comfortably sated, rather than heading for an emergency room.
Dr. Gridlock would like to hear about your roadside fast-food spots.
Also, there is a Web site that lists some alternatives. Visit www.roadfood.com.
A Driver's Pet Peeves
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Please permit me to vent my frustrations. Here are examples of people whose licenses probably should be yanked:
1. Drivers who make turns (usually right turns) from the center lane merely because they don't feel like waiting in the line of cars in the right lane, which are also making right turns.
2. Anyone who "blocks the box." This includes Metrobuses. The other day I was stuck at K Street and Connecticut for an entire light cycle because a Metrobus going east on K Street blocked the entire intersection.
3. Anyone who stops more than four feet behind the car in front, effectively blocking access to turn-only lanes.
4. People who drive slower than the speed limit anywhere except the right lane.
Just this evening, I was stuck behind a driver on Virginia Route 50 going 30 mph in the left lane. He had "official government plates." This guy clearly lacks the mental capacity to be running any aspect of government.
From the sheer number of these miscreants, it appears all of the above are given a free pass to clog traffic.
No. 1 is a chronic problem, particularly in Montgomery County, according to my mail.
No. 2 refers to downtown Washington and is one of the major causes of gridlock. We need a permanent crackdown. To report bad driving by a Metrobus operator, call 202-637-1328. Get the bus number, direction, date and time. You should have plenty of time to do so while waiting for the bus to unblock the intersection.
No. 3: Awfully selfish. Give them a toot.
No. 4: This occurs everywhere, as do the 75 mph drivers on the Beltway and Interstate 95 in Maryland.
What bad driving habit most annoys you?
Dr. Gridlock will be online from 1 to 2 p.m. tomorrow. Log on to www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline.
Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.
You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org or faxes at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.