Scrolling the smartphone in a small town

Over the past 7 days we’ve been traveling…traveling in places where a wi-fi connection or any kind of connection to the worldwide web is patchy and limited. (Hence the failure of posting this week.) And with this connection failure, a disconnected feeling occurs… What’s happening? … What am I missing?

But other great things happen…things we might miss if we’re scrolling our smartphones and not looking around.

A stepping back…a slowing down. A time to take in moments instead of snapping a pic, downloading it to Instagram…tweeting the event or posting it to Facebook. These are solitary moments…sweet moments where the only ones commenting or liking are the ones on the ride with you.

In our travels we ate in small diners…diners and places where everybody knows your name…where the waitress greets each one, hollering from behind the counter, “Mornin’..coffee’s ready!”

Talk of the weather, crops and local happenings is the conversation around the tables. Each greets the other with a “Mornin” as they find their seat. It’s all regulars, locals and community.

So it was quite a surprise to them when our tribe of 6 came upon their establishment. We were greeted with a “Mornin’, sit where you like!”  We settled in at a large table by the kitchen door. The menu was filled with egg, hashbrown and meat combos, french toast, pancakes and other hometown cookin’.  Jon ordered biscuits and gravy and the girls honed in on the short stake of pancakes… one shortstack for each of them.

Our waitress tried to persuade them to share“Now, girls, these pancakes are plate-sized. I’m not sure if you can eat a whole short-stack.”  But my girls were pretty confident, and pretty hungry, so they went ahead and ordered…one for each.

As we waited for our food to arrive, I looked around and took in the scene of it all… ladies sharing toast, coffee and secrets…men chewing the fat and talking of fields, planting, and golf.

As I sat quietly in our corner, I thought to myself: How many mornings have these men shared? How many life events…weddings, births, graduating classes have they seen and shared? How many friends have passed on… no longer sharing in this morning coffee time?

Proudly displayed on the wall are photos of local men and women who have served this country…some who returned and others who gave their lives… some who drank their “morning jo” right here and others who have moved on yet still remembered and honored in this hometown. People are always remembered in places like these.

By the time our food arrived, we had turned a few heads our way. The reasons varied, but I’m assuming our van sporting license plates from New York State had something to do with the head turning. That… and the “regulars” all grinned when they saw the waitress bring the short stacks to the girls.

Wow…does that cook have a way of serving up a short stack!!! Those pancakes measured around 10 inches in diameter and a fluffy inch thick…2 of them make a short stack! We could have fed our whole family on those pancakes!

The food was delicious, the company was sweet and we weren’t there long before we were invited into the diner’s conversation…

“How’s the weather been for your drive?”
“Any trouble along the way?”
“Oh, I see you’re from New York, where ya traveling to?”
Chiding the girls with chuckles and grins… “Couldn’t finish that short-stack, huh?”
“Well, you all take care…safe travels to ya!”

We walked away with our bellies full and our travel-wearied bodies refreshed.

There was no connection to the world-wide web in this establishment… no big screens broadcasting the lastest news or sports but lives were shared…a webbed community connecting across barriers of age, time and travel.

A place where stories are shared, laughter is heard and all are welcomed to the table… That’s home….that’s community… and one of the many things I love about travel.

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