South of the Border……Revisited. It’s been a few decades for me, and the DH had never been to South of the Border in his thousands of miles of traveling. I think maybe there might be the DH and two other people on the planet who haven’t visited this icon of Roadside America which began as a beer stand in 1949.
We were up and on the road by 6:30 this morning, after a night in rest area just south of Jacksonville. It was great to see the sunrise going over the bridges on the loop around Jax.
With our previous bus, we were ready to quit after 300 miles in a day, and usually felt pretty beat up. This is the first long haul out in the Monaco, so we decided to just play it by ear, roll with the punches and see how long a day it would take to feel pretty beat up.
Taking our time, and stopping often, we still did about 400 miles today and were off the road by 4:00. When plotting the end of the day, we realized we would be at SOB, and decided to stop and check it out. All we wanted was a place to get off the road for the night, some quiet and a good meal. The signs for Camp Pedro had me reading some reviews from the passenger seat. Clean, but neglected and tired looking, but they do have 50 amp service, long level sites…..what more could we ask.
I called ahead to be sure they had an open spot, but when we pulled in and saw three other campers, I realized that had been a wasted call. The sites are laid out very close together and if they had been full, it would have been better to stay in a rest area. But we had one whole loop to ourselves, until nightfall when I counted three more neighbors.
Communicating with some of our friends back in Florida, we had been taking some heat about being sucked into the Tourist Trap of the Century, and how no one could believe we wanted to stop there. We figure if we can plug into 50 amps, run both air conditioners, do a load of wash and get something to eat away from the sound of idling tractor trailers, for 22.00, it’s a steal of a deal. They also have the fastest free wi-fi I’ve ever experienced in a campground.
Now we needed food…..good food, tired of food that comes in paper bags, we pinged out to friends who had been here recently and asked for a good referral. Nothing. So we decided to take our chance on the Peddler Steak House.
Ever have those meals that you just can’t stop talking about?? This was one of them. Will be long remembered, and we will probably change our travel route on the east coast to include future stops here. It wasn’t cheap, steak dinners ranged from 18.00 to 34.00, but I would have paid that for the salad bar and fresh bread alone.
Having left my camera at the RV, all I had was my cell phone to record this event. My pictures just don’t do it justice, but we both agreed that it was probably the best filet and prime rib we’ve had in several years. Our waitress, Julia was a real gem and explained that the Peddler isn’t really part of SOB, but leases the spot there. The dining room has a sparkly ceiling, and dark drapes covering the curved windows. It’s a giant sombrero shape building, but once inside it’s all 1950’s and you expect to see Dean Martin walk through.
I had to look up some history on this place and discovered that in 1949, Alan Schafer found the perfect location for his beer stand, just over the state and county lines from dry alcohol prohibited counties. His business expanded to over one square mile of kitsch requiring it’s own infrastructure, police and fire departments. His success was termed an economic empire, by local standards and Schafer became reclusive, building complexes of inter-connected houses, and hiding apartments in the back of the shops and restaurants of SOB.
I bet there are some stories here if these giant statues could talk. Couple more quick shots from my phone as we drove through the heart of SOB for my friends who wanted to know what it looks like today.
Now I am feeling a little beat up, so that’s it………
Until next time, Happy Trails,
Janet, Randy and Molly