After leaving North Platte, the Hawthornes are hungry. All we have for breakfast everyday is a paltry Continental breakfast. For me, that's a piece of whole wheat toast, Kathy, with some butter, honey, and/or jelly. Orange juice and coffee. I snack on fruits and yogurt snatched from breakfast. And we don't eat again until mid-late afternoon. So by mid afternoon, we want nourishment. Armed with my trusty AAA TourBooks - which, if you're going on an extended trip, are absolute MUSTS to have - I locate a sandwich shop in Ogallalla, Nebraska, which looks quite promising. First some history. Ogallala was named for the Oglala Tribe of the Dakota Sioux. Ogallala became a railroad town and cattle-shipping point after the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1867. Cowboys, drifters, and settlers helped make Ogallala a booming cow town. Most of the cattle were herded up from Texas by cowboys anxious to let off steam after the long drive. Ogallala soon became a rowdy and violent cow town known as the "Gomorrah of the Plains." Trail driver, Andy Adams, wrote in his book "Log of a Cowboy," "We finally scaled the last divide and there below us in the valley of the South Platte River nestled Ogallala, the Gomorrah of the cattle trail. From amongst its half hundred buildings, no church spire pointed upward, but instead, 3/4 of its business houses were dance halls, gambling houses, and saloons." One trail boss, who let his drivers go into Dodge City for recreation to let off steam when they arrived there, refused to let his cowhands come into Ogallala because of its wild and unsavory reputation - thus giving rise to a phrase that Ogallala was the "town too tough for Texans." I have a question. Once again, as in the case of Cape Girardeau being named for Jean Baptiste Girardot, if the town is named for the Oglala tribe, then why did they change the name to Ogallala? Whatever the name, I'm having fun pronouncing it. All the way from North Platte to Ogallala. I start sing-songing the name, using different pronunciations and syllabic emphases, and different voices, all much to Mr. Hawthorne's chagrin. This continues for many miles. I notice Mr. Hawthorne's white knuckles on the steering wheel. Nevertheless, I forge on. O-ga-la-la O-ga-la-la o-GA-la-la o-GA-la-la And then ... in the midst of my O-GA-LLA-LA-ing, Mr. Hawthorne suddenly chimes in ... "I can't stop this feeling ... " Oo Ga Chaka! Heh. It was pretty funny. Guess you had to be there. As we eat our way across this great country of ours, Mr. Hawthorne and I eschew "chain" restaurants or anything that smells like a chain. We want to try the holes in the walls, the Mom and Pop operations - the little people who make this country what it is. We found such a place today - Homemade Heaven Sandwich Shoppe in Ogallala, Nebraska. And what a little Homemade Heaven it is.
When we walked in, we both gravitated to the dessert display. Fresh homemade pies and oh, those pretzels. Note - when I get home, I will have to make pretzels. Is somebody taking notes on all these things I want to make when I get back home? I need to make a list.
Over twenty different types of sandwiches were offered with an intriguing selection of fresh breads. It was hard to decide.
The homemade pretzels. Soft and chewy on the inside. Salty and crunchy on the outside. When the owner of this wonderful establishment saw me taking pictures of her pies, she thoughtfully came and turned the cut sides toward me so I could get better shots.Coconut cream pie. Apple pie. Strawberry/rhubarb. Pecan. Chocolate with meringue. After drooling over the pies, we were ready to order lunch. Mr. Hawthorne had a hamburger vegetable soup in a clear, rich broth. So good. Sweet potato chips. A delicious and different spin on regular chips.
The sweet potato chips were served with a terrific homemade dipping sauce that I'm trying to deconstruct - mayo, maybe a little rice vinegar since it had a sweet/sour tang, some Ranch dressing, and a hint of smoke, possibly chipotle, maybe barbecue, or perhaps hoisin sauce since the proprietors were two lovely Asian ladies.
I had the French Dip sandwich with thinly sliced tender roast beef and Swiss cheese on homemade French bread with au jus. It was wonderful.One of the owners, Jen, had no trouble persuading us to leave with a slice of one of their heavenly homemade pies. More choices to make. Mr. Hawthorne picked the coconut cream. Jen knew he'd been eyeing the cherry and she knew I'd mentioned earlier how good the homemade pretzels looked, so she actually put both in a bag and GAVE them to us. The two owners are sisters. What a wonderful lunch and what lovely, gracious ladies. Thank you so much. We are honored to dine at your establishment.