J.R. Diner in Syracuse, New York

J.R. Diner, at 1208 Wolf Street, was manufactured by the Rochester Grills Company in Rochester, New York in the late 1930s. It was originally called Griffeth’s Swanky Diner.

Abandoned Paper Mill in Deferiet, New York

In 1899, the St. Regis Paper Company built 52 homes, a general store, and a hotel on a manmade island in the Black River and called it Deferiet. The St. Regis Paper Company at one time employed hundreds of Italian, Hungarian, and Polish immigrants, and up to 1,500 people lived in Deferiet. Today, Deferiet is home to less than 300 residents. The EPA and the village consider the old mill an environmental hazard.

All-American Diner Tour: Blue Dolphin Diner in Apalachin, New York

The Blue Dolphin Diner, off New York State Route 17 in Apalachin, New York west of Binghamton, is a Greek-style diner with a very unique sign and a dolphin statue visible from the highway. This place is a travelers’ favorite and opened in 1989.

On my visit, I ordered blueberry pancakes and a side of their homestyle toast. The toast was great and for 95 cents, you can’t go wrong. A stack of three blueberry pancakes are $6.25. I wasn’t prepared for how large they would be and barely finished. I’d recommend ordering two unless you’re really hungry. My waitress was attentive and the food came out fast. I didn’t put on a white glove, but contrary to some reviews, I found the place clean and well-maintained.

They have a separate menu for breakfast, so I didn’t see what they served for lunch and dinner. The breakfast menu is simple, with one page covering all the classics: eggs, omelettes, French toast (on challah bread – a braided, Jewish bread eaten on the Sabbath), pancakes, and Belgian waffles. Nothing fancy here, but it’s very affordable and the portions are generous.

Blue Dolphin Diner has a 4.3/5 average out of 167 Google reviews and 3.5/5 average on Yelp. Reviews are surprisingly mediocre, which was not my experience. Google-user Scott Bigelow even went so far as to write, “If you’re in a hurry this place will do. Get something fried and avoid the bathroom.” Yelp-user Benjamin V. from Boston, MA said, “I’ve eaten at this diner a few times in my life. Now that I am older, I find the quality of food to be sub-par. Normal diner greasy spoon.”

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Star Trek Original Series Set Tour

The Star Trek Original Series Set Tour is one of the most unique things I’ve seen while traveling, and I nearly stumbled on it by mistake. I was visiting Fort Ticonderoga, when on a whim I decided to check Roadside America for tips on other places to see in the area.

The listing seemed too good to be true. A replica of the original Star Trek set, built by an Elvis impersonator in an old grocery store? Crazy! It also just opened that summer, in August 2016. I didn’t realize I was among the first to get a look inside.

James Cawley and friends began building a faithful reconstruction of the set in 1997 after receiving copies of the original blueprints. They reproduced everything in meticulous detail. What wasn’t in the blueprints, they took from photographs and screen stills.

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JJ’s Miss Syracuse Diner

JJ’s Miss Syracuse Diner is located at 258 E. Water Street in Syracuse, New York. Miss Syracuse Diner, a remodeled Bixler, has been a staple of downtown Syracuse for over 80 years but almost burnt down in 2000. Until 2010, it was known as Galloway’s Miss Syracuse Diner. The Bixler Manufacturing Company built these diners in the 1930s.

All-American Diner Tour: Lloyd’s Diner in Lowville, New York

Lloyd’s of Lowville is a rare classic diner–an actual train car converted into a restaurant. Opened by Lloyd Rasmussen in 1939 at the juncture of Routes 12 and 26 to serve nearby factory workers, it has been a local favorite ever since. Current owner Blair Sandri bought it in 1985, and it still has its original wood furnishings. It’s so beloved, several of its waitresses have worked there for over 25 years.

The rooftop sign looks a little odd because its neon lights have been removed. They were apparently too expensive to maintain or repair, but their removal is disappointing from an aesthetic point of view.

On my visit, I ordered a grilled bacon and cheese sandwich with a side of potato chips for $5.85. It was tasty and reasonably priced. My soda came in a tiny glass, but refills were regular. My waitress was very friendly. Everyone in the place seemed to know each other, but I didn’t feel left out or snubbed for being a new face.

Lloyd’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but its menu is paired down to two and a quarter pages. Calling it “no frills” would be an understatement. They don’t have any custom items, but they do offer homemade apple cake. They also serve homemade potato and macaroni salad in the summer and chili in the winter. The most expensive items on the menu, including a fried haddock dinner, are only $12.60.

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A Trip to Bonaparte’s Cave State Forest

In 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte’s eldest brother, Joseph, who Napoleon installed as king of Spain for several years, fled Europe to the wilderness in Upstate New York. His property became Lake Bonaparte and Bonaparte’s Cave State Forest, located off New York State Route 3 northwest of Harrisville.

According to local legend, his family eluded hired assassins by hiding out in the rocky ledges and small caves on the northwest edge of what is today known as Green Pond. He also supposedly hid Spanish treasure nearby. The following video is my first attempt to make a travel/adventure video. Enjoy!