After a few great days with John and Kate, I hopped back on the bike to get moving south again.. The weather has been incredibly warm, and this afternoon when I left was no exception. I did bundle up in my riding jacket but jeans would have to suffice.. By afternoon, I was down to riding in a long sleeved shirt for comfort alone.
Most of the day has been spent on the Interstate, in part to conserve time, and mostly because it was heading in the direction I wanted to go. By the time I got past the city of Mt. Vernon, I was starting to get a bit peckish, but also kinda frustrated that I couldn’t find food other than chain restaurants and franchised rapid-meals.. Yuck. I’d actually resigned myself to skipping lunch entirely and finding a good supper once I’d found my way back to in to the small towns again. Only, this was Sunday, and Easter was coming, so very little in the way of non-essential services (other than gasoline, cheap tobacco and fireworks again) were even remotely close to open..
After stopping at an estate sale in hopes of finding some good antique books (no luck..), I headed down the 45 freeway in the hopes that I’d make it somewhere with a bit of food by nightfall.
In a bit of a lull, I found myself flying down a stretch of open highway, surrounded by trees on both sides when I passed a small BBQ sign on the side of the road. I didn’t quite clue in to what I’d read until in the corner of my eye I noticed the restaurant on the side of the road, and across a gulley that I was rapidly passing. Once I’d nearly flat-spotted my tires, I hauled ThirstyGirl around and headed back for the driveway..
As I pulled up and tried to park my bike on the gravel road behind the smoke shack, I was immediately impressed by the smokers and the building itself. There isn’t much to it, and to call the place rustic would be kind, but it’s an honest, no-nonsense kinda place and the smokers were hand built. To me, this is pure heaven.
Inside the restaurant was built like a place you’d want to hang out.. Signs and memorabilia cover the walls, a collection of model cars and various relics make the whole place awesome!
Smoky Joe himself has build most of the building you see behind him, and the lacquered bartop tables under his arm. He took the time to sit down and visit with me after making an incredible plate of ribs up for me.
To be clear, I was so excited about the food that I’d already dug in before realizing I needed to take a picture for you. I was in such a hurry to get back to my meal that the photo I did take was kinda half-hearted.. It doesn’t do this phenomenal meal any justice, but take my word for it–SO tasty! :) This was only half of my rack of ribs, the potatoes are hand cut and the cole slaw made from scratch. Again, good, honest, food. I cannot stress enough, how much I value good, real food.
Make sure if you’re in southern Illinois, that you make a point of stopping in to Big Daddy’s. It’s just off the highway so be careful not to miss it, but you’ll find Smoky Joe there on the weekends for sure..
Big Daddy’s Barbeque Depot
One mile north of 141 on 45, Norris City
Open: Wed. & Thur 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Fri. & Sat. 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Closed Sunday, Monday & Tuesday
(but call first: 618/962-3602 I think he may have changed the hours. I can’t quite seem to find the card with them listed!)
Try the ribs, try the samiches!
Joe was a true character, and we managed to talk politics, culture and local history all in my short time there.. I was looking for a good place to camp for the night and he suggested heading up to High Knob Campground in the Shawnee national forest to watch sunset with the eagles.
Which I did..
And in [THIS] spot you may even see a video if you check back.. My little laptop had a terrible time doing any sort of work with HD video so if it renders before Sunset tomorrow, I’ll post a video of the sunset from tonight.. ;)
Turns out, this is a fantastic little hideaway, especially for horse and mule riders.. More on that tomorrow..
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