My 280 Mile Lunch Run

This lunch run had been months in the making. Sometime late last year, on or around our 30th wedding anniversary, my wife Karen had made it known that we hadn’t been to a Big Boy restaurant in a while and that she could go for a classic Big Boy hamburger. What could I say?

We are both fans of the chain, which has its origina in California, but once had a string of franchised locations in southern Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois under the name Marc’s Big Boy (which no longer exists). Karen and I both grew up enjoying the occasional Big Boy double-decker hamburger, which pre-dates a cheap imitation sold beneath the golden arches by a number of years. Whenever we traveled by car, if we saw a Big Boy restaurant near any mealtime, we stopped. So there was a bit of nostalgia surrounding this lunch run.

We left Plainfield fully expecting to take the Interstate across northern Indiana and into Michigan, where one can still find a number of Big Boy restaurants (in fact the chain is now headquartered in Warren), but the radio traffic reports soon had us considering alternate routes. So we took two-lane backroads out of Illinois and halfway across northern Indiana. The backroads were a little gnarly in places, but that only added to the charm of our little lunch run road trip. When we got to I-65, we headed north to pick up I-94 and continue east. In retrospect, that might not have been the best idea.

Apparently we hadn’t waited long enough. Traffic was moving as we merged onto I-94, but not for long. We took the very next off ramp, before we had even completed the merge, and continued cross-country for some miles. When we merged back on, it was only a matter of time before things clogged up again, but we were almost to Michigan, so we just sat back and bided out time.

It seemed as though traffic was always clogging up in one direction or the other all the way out of northern Indiana. I was never quite sure why. And for the record, I have never appreciated sitting in traffic. Never.

But we gradually made our way into Michigan and up to the Stevensville exit. I’m not 100% certain, but I am pretty sure the Big Boy in Stevensville is the first one you’ll find coming into Michigan from northwest Indiana.

I had been to this Big Boy at least once before, during a solo motorcycle road trip a few years ago, so I knew exactly where this restaurant was and that it was a decent one. We looked at the menu, but I’m not sure why. We always order the same thing. I only deviated in that I ordered the Super Big Boy whereas Karen ordered the Classic Big Boy, which in my opinion is still the best choice because all of the ingredients on a Classic Big Boy are in the proper proportions. The larger version is good, but the ingredient proportions are not consistent with those of the Classic Big Boy, which I consider to be the standard. It was all very tasty, though.

Before long we were on our way home, but this time with one adjustment—we took no interstate highways. While this may have entailed driving a few extra miles, I doubt that our back roads route took any longer than it would have taken to sit still in the superslab gridlock. The scenery was better and our stress levels lower.

In the meantime, some storms had been developing over Wisconsin that had the potential to affect us. We never really got wet, though, until after everyone had gone home. Later on a significant storm did roll through, but by that time, we were already home.

We sure had a great time. Thanks, as always, for hanging with me.

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