Iâ€™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 North Baltimore, Ohio.
Greetings from North Baltimore, Ohio
N 41Â° 10.462â€™ W 083Â° 39.101â€™ Elev. 704 ft.
We love Loveâ€™s. So much so that Loveâ€™s Travel Stops are the only truck stops where the crew of the SS Me So Hungry will fuel the land yacht. There are a few reasons for this.
One is that they are kept cleaner than most other truck stops. From the fuel islands to the bathrooms, Loveâ€™s makes a conscious effort to make its properties as inviting as it possibly can. And for good reason: Itâ€™s a highly competitive business to be in. Moreover, Loveâ€™s really goes out of its way to take good care of the commercial drivers.
All truck stops have some sort of Driverâ€™s Reward Program. After you swipe your fuel card, you swipe your Reward Card and are awarded 1Â¢ for every gallon of fuel you purchase. Although a measly penny per gallon doesnâ€™t sound like much, it adds up in a hurry when youâ€™re purchasing an average of 100 gallons of fuel per day; a rule of thumb is a land yacht will average about 6 miles per gallon.
What makes Loveâ€™s Reward Program different from all the others is that after you purchase 1,000 gallons in a month youâ€™re classified as Platinum. You have not only earned $10 in credit, you get unlimited free refills of any size coffee, iced or hot tea, or soda (providing you have your own cup) for the following month. They even have hot chocolate. You also get unlimited showers; other places give you a free shower with a minimum purchase of 50 gallons.
Again, that penny may not sound like a lot until you compare it to what the other truck stops are doing. For example, to earn a â€œfreeâ€ refill at, say, Pilot/Flying J you have to buy 169 gallons of fuel and then if you use the points â€” Bam! â€” all of your points/credits are gone. Pilot/Flying J (itâ€™s the same company) does have a so-called Coffee Club where every sixth cup is free. Thus, if you donâ€™t use any of your Reward points, you pay only $8.45 to get a â€œfreeâ€ cup of coffee. Such unbridled generosity.
Iâ€™ve never tallied it up but, at $1 per refill, Iâ€™m saving a minimum of $50-$60 every month on coffee by fueling at Loveâ€™s. But wait, thereâ€™s more!
You can use the Reward points for any food and merchandise in the store, except alcohol and tobacco. The points can also be used in many of the fast food restaurants affiliated with the Travel Stops, sometimes receiving a 10 percent discount to boot. Additionally, Loveâ€™s always has something or other on sale each month, and quite often itâ€™s a good deal.
In monthâ€™s past Loveâ€™s had been having MunchiesÂ® Sandwich Crackers on sale Three for $1. There are a handful of different varieties of these FritoLay products but my favorite are the ones filled with peanut butter between Ritz-like crackers. There are also peanut butter-filled cheese crackers but they are quite a bit saltier. All of them â€” cheese, jalapeÃ±o cheese, etc. â€” are pretty tasty. I think MunchiesÂ® are easily the best sandwich crackers on the market. And I swear the peanut butter ones are filled with JifÂ®. At least, it sure tastes like JifÂ®.
For November Loveâ€™s had been doing a Buy 1 Get 1 Free promotion on Double S Ranch (now Double S Foods) Natural Style Beef Jerky. This jerky is really good. Loveâ€™s carries two varieties, Original and Peppered; according to the package Double S also makes a Teriyaki flavor but Loveâ€™s doesnâ€™t carry it.
It reminds me of some of the homemade jerky Iâ€™ve had. Although itâ€™s chewy like run-of-the-mill jerky, unlike most of its bone-dry, shoe-leather counterparts, itâ€™s moist and quite tender. The Peppered flavor is Mesquite Smoked and smells exactly like Campbellâ€™s Vegetable Beef Soup. It also packs a little heat that builds up on your tongue after awhile. At $5.79 for two 3.25 ounce packages it makes for a cheap chew to keep your mouth occupied as you drag down the miles. What a bargain.
Iâ€™ve been taking packages of the jerky and distributing them to various folks when I take shore leave. Itâ€™s turned out to be a really a cheap way of buying a little bit of fast-fleeting popularity â€” about two seconds worth, to be precise.
Loveâ€™s also had Two for $1 ButterfingerÂ® candy bars. I donâ€™t eat much candy but I bought a half-dozen of the regulation-size 2.1 ounce bars anyway. Now Iâ€™m stocked with enough candy to last me until about June.
But the sweetest part of these deals is that it doesnâ€™t cost me a cent. I couldnâ€™t begin to guess how many penny points Iâ€™ve gone through over the years. I do know that, in addition to whatever snacks Iâ€™ve snagged, Iâ€™ve made off with a veritable fleet of die-cast cars of varying sizes for my great nephew.
Itâ€™s the little things that makes me love Loveâ€™s â€” from the cheerful greeting when you walk in to there always being a trash can strategically placed right next to the bathroom door so you can use your paper towel to grab the door handle, thus allowing you to make a clean, germ-free getaway. Even my evil twin, crack lead navigator Skippy, particularly likes this little amenity. It makes him feel hygienic. Dream on, Skippy, you mangy, scurvy dog.
And so we roll.
Loveâ€™s Travel Stops, nationwide
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.