Author of HIT THE ROAD: Across America in a Topless Car

Shares Her Solo Dining Experiences on The Road

Alyce visits Maddox Ranch House — Perry, Utah







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Author/driver Alyce Cornyn-Selby drove from one side of the United States to the other — AND, of course, she ate out alone!


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In April 2002 author/driver, Alyce Cornyn-Selby got into an "open cockpit," very topless roadster and drove from one side of the United States to the other.

Subsequently, Cornyn-Selby contacted SoloDining.com: I am not a restaurant critic by ANY stretch but I found some places that made me feel wonderful and I'd be happy to share them with your visitors.

We were THRILLED to hear from the celebrated author of several books, including, One Thing Worse Than Being Alone — Wishing You Were: Craving Solitude and Getting It.

While driving an open cockpit vintage roadster SOLO coast to coast, she experienced first hand the surprise of finding wonderful people and restaurants on her nerve-racking and hilarious three-month trek.


This is an excerpt from a "Drive-of-a-Lifetime" adventure by Alyce Cornyn-Selby — Going Topless



Maddox Ranch House in Perry, Utah

Idaho became Utah and Seno (the roadster) chalked up the third state of the trip. The familiar Wasatch Mountains, like a dinosaur backbone, crept north-south along northern Utah almost from the border to Salt Lake. They were familiar because for three years (many decades ago) I lived right next to them. My tummy (an organ that never forgets) was anticipating a stop here and I'd purposely eaten early and light that morning in Idaho. I was saving my appetite for Perry, Utah.

The Maddox Ranch House is the "Area's top restaurant and a Utah tradition," according to the Zagat restaurant guide. Originally called the "restaurant out in the middle of no where" in the 1950's, "crazy" Irv and Wilma staked their claim to fame in tiny Perry, Utah.

The restaurant was a small log-type of building constructed on skids so that it could be towed away if things didn't work out. They were practical and . . . well, you never know in the cuisine biz. That was over 50 years ago. From that beginning, a legend was born. This was my own personal restaurant Mecca — I wanted to go back and worship at Maddox Ranch House, three miles south of Brigham City on Highway 89. A traveler couldn't miss it because of the retro 50's-pseudospace-looking sign, a spiky neon thing that would either delight or horrify depending on a person's Funk Acceptance Level.

I was in luck when I pulled into Maddox's parking lot that April noon and saw there wasn't a line out the door. I was not the only one who regarded this place with religious fervor usually reserved for temples. I don't know what the square footage of Maddox is, but it is big and the waiting area ample, full of overstuffed couches and living room decor. The centerpiece of the room is the elevated hostess stand with loudspeaker microphone. Several women hustled behind this guard post efficiently moving people with desperate I-have-come-here-to-gorge-myself looks on their faces.

My standard operating procedure for taking on Maddox is to take most of the gorgeous meal away in a box, preferring solitude when I drizzle famous Utah honey (bees are sort of a role model there) and feel my eyes roll back in my head as a buttery roll slides past my lips.

I stepped up to the stand and time just seemed to stop. I think the theme of the "Twilight Zone" may have been playing.

Behind the counter taking names was a "bouffanted" teenager. As if Lucite-preserved from my Box Elder High School, she had a perfectly rounded beach ball of blond hair. I probably stared longer than I should have but I couldn't help it. I glanced at the stack of newspapers on the counter just to check the date. It was unnerving. I had to make sure that 40 years had indeed gone by. She looked exactly like she had stepped out of my algebra class.

I was a teenager in Brigham City, Utah in the 60's. This was where I learned how to "tease" hair. I was unnerved the first time I saw it done. Back then you weren't ready to go to class until your head was the size of a wastebasket. In my high school yearbook, some of the senior girl photos could not include the entire head of hair. The only good thing about this fashion trend was that a space-helmet sized head made the rest of your body look smaller. Cheerleaders looked like lollipops. I haven't seen teased hair since I left Utah in 1964.


I checked the two other people behind the counter with her. They were coifed the same as if they'd come off an assembly line. The wait for a table was less than two minutes; otherwise I would have made a real fool of myself just gawking. The idea that I had somehow been thrown back in time — returned to adolescence — was truly a scary thought. As it turned out, things in Brigham City and Perry, Utah just didn't change; fortunately I had. Now, I had a driver's license.

Maddox is unique because they grow their own beef (and buffalo, too). "Most store-bought beef in Utah is sage-fed," my mother claimed. But at Maddox, the feed of choice is corn. I'm sure they play classical music; provide massages and lavender baths to the beef too. Here is steak that would make the staunchest vegetarian reconsider. This isn't just food, it's an experience. Here is beef so soft and full of flavor that, if it were an actor, it would be Academy Award winning Jack Nicholson.

However, it didn't really matter whether I ordered beef, chicken or buffalo. I was after the cosmic manna (divinely supplied spiritual nourishment) that Maddox creates with flour and corn meal. The basket appeared almost instantly. And it didn't take me long to empty it although I concentrated on savoring every morsel. With every exhale, I could smell the butter and yeast on my breath. I just wanted to sit there and eat forever. Maddox redefines "hog heaven."

Ice cream came with the lunch order and I passed it up so that I could continue to dangle my fingers in the hot rolls. I would never be satiated. I knew it. And pretty soon the wait staff knew it too. Before separation anxiety grew between me and the breadbasket, I remembered the upcoming 500 plus miles of eastbound travel. By now I was so full of lunch that I'd be a drag on the roadster's mileage. Laramie seemed so very far away.

The only thing that got me out of Maddox was the promise that I would return — "some day." Put it on the list.

As I pulled out onto Highway 89 I took a last, loving look at the twenty-five foot Maddox sign and noticed that it also read: "fine food." Wrong. Carbohydrate utopia would be more accurate.

If they can't take care of you at the Maddox Ranch House, then you're beyond hope. Wherever you are — Boston, Chattanooga, Barstow, Austin — just walk away from your computer, RIGHT NOW! Get into your car and drive to Perry, Utah. You will not regret it.


Maddox Ranch House
1900 S. Highway 99
Perry, Utah 84302
435-723-8545
Cuisine: steak/chicken house
Price range: Reasonable, High quality food with moderate pricing.



Amazon.com readers/reviewers loved HIT THE ROAD: Across America in A Topless Car — ". . . great insight into human motivation."

To buy this book, click: here



The following excerpts appeared in past issues of SoloDining.com, the newsletter. Please click on the ones that interest you:

JACKIE'S TOO in Perkins Cove — Ogunquit, Maine

DINNER IN THE DINER — Chattanooga, Tennessee


Publick House—
very near Sturbridge, Massachusetts

LAMBERT'S — Ozark, Missouri

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