I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Johnstown, Colorado.
Greetings from Johnstown, Colorado
N 40° 21.7583’ W 104° 59.0529’ Elev. 4986’
I first wrote about the legendary Johnson’s Corner just over two years ago. It’s one of those places that I usually stop at whenever I’m passing nearby because it’s just so damn good. So good, in fact, that Johnson’s Corner is programmed into the SS Me So Hungry’s GPS so we’ll know exactly how near or far it is.
My original intention was to dash in and get a roast beef dinner and a piece of German chocolate cake to go. I was hoping to beat out the worst of the first snow of the season and, with any luck, get at least part of the way across Wyoming before it became unbearable or they closed the Interstate or … who the hell knows? It’s Wyoming in Winter and anything can happen — quickly.
Having done Wyoming in Winter countless times before I knew what I was potentially in for. And it ain’t pretty. Indeed, it can be absolutely brutal:
I’ve been there when the snow “fell” horizontally; when the wind blew so hard you could look in the mirror and read the side of the trailer; when the windshield iced up so badly you couldn’t see a damn thing and it was all you could do to find a safe place to stop and knock the ice off the wipers; when road conditions were so horrible and you were so “puckered” you had to use a pry bar to uncouple a certain part of your anatomy from your seat; when it was so bitterly cold that you had to park ass-into-the-wind in hopes of generating enough heat in the cab to be “comfortable”; when, if you’re finally lucky enough to find a place to park, you got to spend a half-hour the next morning, wet and freezing to death, crawling around underneath the rig hammering on frozen wheel drums trying to free-up the brakes. Did I mention that it ain’t pretty? Winter Wonderland, my ass!
(Helpful tip: When driving in snow turn on the defroster before you need it. More importantly, put the sun visors down to trap the heat and help warm the windshield.)
So… I went into Johnson’s Corner and the offerings on the Specials Board were Pork Rib Tips, Seasoned Red Potatoes, Vegetable and Roll for $7.29, and Hot Meatloaf, Open Faced w/Smashed Taters for $6.99. Both of them sounded pretty good. I’d had the meatloaf before and it was great. So I asked my server, Emily, what was more fun. She said the Meatloaf. Okay, I said.
As I was waiting I kept staring at the Specials Board, thinking the Pork Rib Tips sounded pretty good, too. So I ordered that as well. After all, you can’t possibly have too much food when you’re crossing Wyoming in Winter. Did I mention that it ain’t pretty?
The Pork Rib Tips were a really great treat. I couldn’t believe how heavy the box was when I picked it up. There must’ve been three pounds of meat in there, which took up two-thirds of the box. I had two meals of it and still had some meat left over.
The Rib Tips were strips of virtually boneless rib meat, although it did contain those weird little white cartilage things. It was served covered with a great, somewhat spicy barbecue sauce. They were extremely tender, though not quite fall-off-the-bone tender. Still, there was so much I got kind of burned out on it.
The Seasoned Red Potatoes were also a treat. I think they were spiced with a bit of cayenne pepper as some of the bites were downright hot. Thankfully the cayenne wasn’t overpowering. The corn was standard-issue canned corn, which I kind of like occasionally.
I’m pretty sure they make their own rolls at Johnson’s Corner. They have a full-blown bakery there that churns out all kinds of great stuff. This particular roll was lighter than air. It was also invisible — Emily didn’t give me the roll! For shame. I would’ve gone back in to fetch one but the weather was coming and time was of the essence. However I will remember to whine loudly and complain hardily during my next visit.
The Open-faced Meatloaf was likewise great. The meat and the smashed taters (they’re term) were both served on pieces of white bread, smothered with a great brown gravy. Johnson’s Corner has great mashed potatoes and gravy. That they serve them on a piece of white bread always kind of cracks me up. Starch on starch smothered in gravy thickened with starch. You’ve got to love it. This may also be an indication that there is probably not a nutritionist on staff at Johnson’s Corner.
The German Chocolate Cake is quite a deal. At $3.29 for a giant slice you can’t go wrong. The slice is one-sixth of the homemade two-layer cake. It’s got German Chocolate frosting on the top and between the layers, chocolate icing on the outside. The slice is humongous enough, and rich and sweet enough, that it takes me well-over a half-dozen tries before I can finish it.
It was truly fortuitous that I stopped at Johnson’s Corner when I did. I ended up making it only a short way across Wyoming (to Laramie) before I surrendered and parked the yacht. But it all worked out. After all, I had a giant stash of great foods to enjoy as the snow fell.
And so we roll.
Johnson’s Corner, 2842 SE Frontage Road, Johnstown, Colorado
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.