Category Archives: Travel
Custer State Park, 13329 U.S. 16A, Custer, South Dakota 57730. (605) 255-4515
Along a lonesome highway in the middle of nowhere, in a town that’s seen better days, The Orange Top Diner is a real slice of Americana. It is a country-style diner with limited counter seating but plenty of booths and tables. Diner cartoons hang on the walls and a faded photograph of a family of raccoons rescued from a dumpster hangs over the register.
State Route 17 and Interstate 87 run parallel to Harriman State Park and follow the Ramapo River. East of Tuxedo Lake sits the once prosperous village of Tuxedo. It resembles a ghost town these days, with boarded-up businesses along the highway, but The Orange Top Diner stubbornly hangs on.
The usual diner crowd of old timers drinking coffee was there to greet me on my visit. I ordered the Big Boy Special–two pancakes with one egg and meat for $7.75. They must not have a lot of fat people in town if that’s considered the “big boy,” but it was enough to fill me up. My scrambled egg and bacon was piled on top the pancakes, but the bacon was delicious and the grease didn’t spoil my pancakes like at some other places.
The Orange Top Diner has a typical diner menu. The food is simple and affordable, though dinner items are on the pricey side. Only one breakfast item, steak and eggs, is priced above $10.00. Their signature sandwich special, the “Happy Waitress,” is an open-faced American grilled cheese sandwich topped with bacon and tomato, with French fries, cole slaw, and pickles for $8.25.
A long-lost cemetery, forgotten burial ground disturbed by a construction project, and mass graves are often the setting for horror stories. After all, most of us expect our mortal remains to lie peacefully in the ground, visited by relatives and loved ones. When those remains are disturbed, we imagine spirits of the departed to rise up and voice their displeasure. The macabre history of McBurney Park in Kingston, Ontario, is like a perfect storm of cemetery-themed horror. Locally known as “Skeleton Park,” this 4-acre plot of land was once a burial ground for mostly Scottish and Irish immigrants. Approximately 10,000 were buried here between 1813 and 1865.
The park is located between Balaclava, Alma, and Ordnance streets, just a few blocks northeast of downtown Kingston. Burials began informally in 1816, but it officially became known as the Common or Upper Burial Grounds in 1825. The cemetery quickly filled due to several epidemics, including a devastating a typhus outbreak in the 1840s. Corpses were buried quickly, sometimes just a few feet below the surface. Many of these hasty burials fell victim to a criminal ring called the Resurrectionists, who sold bodies to medical students at Queens University. They sometimes filled the empty coffins with rocks to prevent sagging in the soil and the discovery of their crimes.
I loved visiting Donley’s Wild West Town in Union, Illinois with my dad as a kid in the late 1980s. My favorite part, aside from panning for fool’s gold, was the live action gunfight. They’ve changed the gunfight into a slapstick routine, but it’s all in good fun. I shot some footage and put together this video in the style of an old black and white silent film.
Located at the juncture of Highway 17M and Schunemunk Road across from Airplane Park in northern Monroe, Empire Diner is a mix of classic and modern styles. They have a variety of delicious desserts, including four shelves of cheesecake.
Empire Diner serves breakfast all day and has an entire gluten-free menu. Aside from the usual diner fare, they have a nice selection of appetizers, lunches, and dinners, including fifteen different wraps to choose from.
On my visit, I ordered the Belgian Waffle Deluxe, which came with bacon, ham, and sausage for $10.99. The food was great. Although I don’t generally like ham, I ran nine miles that morning and needed the protein. The menu is a little on the pricey side. My whole meal including tip and a drink came to over $17.00.