You’re in Almost Heaven!

My family originates from the beautiful Appalachian mountains of southern West Virginia. We grew up in and/or near the small, quaint town of Pineville in Wyoming County. This little town has the quintessential courthouse, and boasts a well-known landmark — Castle Rock.

Courthouse and Castle Rock landmarks in Pineville, WV.

Castle Rock, a well-known landmark in Pineville, WV.


Pineville Courthouse

Pineville Courthouse — Wyoming County Seat. Reminds me of a scene from the movie “Back to the Future!”

During the 1950’s when I was a kid, I can remember what a special treat it was to get take-out food from the Pinnacle Drive-In, where “car hops” came to take your order and deliver it to your car window. While waiting for your order (this was not fast food), there would, undoubtedly, be other people pulling up to order. Folks talked and laughed, listened to their car radios, while waiting on their meals. It was a whole other time! Sometimes I long for those days…

As we grew up some things changed, such as new schools being built or combined, and subtle little changes in the landscape around  the small towns. But nothing drastically ever changes there. And that’s a good thing, because it makes one who has moved away feel that there is such a thing as going home again.


This is the authentic Pinnacle Drive-In submarine sandwich that I ordered in October 2013…that was way too long ago!

The large submarine served at the Pinnacle Drive-In, Pineville, WV.

The Pinnacle Drive-In, Pineville, WV.

My husband and I made a visit to WV in October 2013, and reinforced our knowledge that one thing that has never changed is the Pinnacle Drive-In. The small parking space in front, combined with the intimate chrome tables and chairs of yesteryear inside, keep customers happy. What are they so happy about, you might ask?

For one thing, the Pinnacle serves a unique sandwich that is simply listed on the menu as a “submarine.” This sandwich is unlike any other submarine, as it is always made exactly the same way every time…no cold cuts here, nosirreee! This submarine comes large or small and consists of a fine-textured turkey salad, bacon, cranberry sauce, lettuce and tomato on a French bun that has been “crisped” in hot oil. If you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing. In addition to these outrageously delicious subs, the Pinnacle serves other menu items, of course, and one of those is their famous hot dog! Served with chili and coleslaw on a bun that is butter-toasted on both sides, makes this hot dog one of the best ever, bar none!!!

This is no joke! Folks travel from far and wide to return and reclaim these delectable memories of their youth! Whether you’re a fan of the subs or the hot dogs, you’re in “Almost Heaven,” literally, when you have one in your hand and let the tastes and smells take you back to those distant memories!

Some of my family members still live in Pineville or surrounding areas, in fact, our ancestors settled in the area and built towns there, including Pineville, Oceana and Mullens. But some of us have moved away in search of better employment and opportunities for our children. A handful of us ended up in East Texas. We like to get together every once in a while to create what we consider the equivalent of Pinnacle Drive-In subs, which we call simply “West Virginia Subs.”

Some of our Texas family enjoying homemade WV subs (imitating the Pinnacle Drive-In subs) on our West Virginia Subs Day!

Some of our East Texas family enjoying homemade WV subs (imitating the Pinnacle Drive-In subs) on our West Virginia Subs Day!

One such get-together happened last week on September 26 in Jacksonville, Texas, where ten of us gathered to re-create our long, lost Pinnacle subs – our West Virginia Subs. We’ve done this enough times now, and we know how much of each ingredient we need, so we assign a list to each person. We set up an assembly station and start the creation process, down to the last detail – wrapping the subs in wax paper, complete with the toothpick sticking through it! Oh, man, we are truly transported back to those West Virginia hills that we love so well — if only for a moment in time!


Robin gives the sign of approval!

Homemade WV subs made with loving care!

Homemade WV subs (small size) made with loving care!

Janie and Delma

Everyone helped, except the guys, and they just reaped the rewards!


Sonja started preparations the day before!

Trilla and Delma

Three dozen small size subs were prepared and almost all were eaten at once!

If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Pineville, West Virginia, do yourself a favor and pull up to the Pinnacle Drive-In and place your order – submarine or hot dog! You won’t be disappointed!

You’ll find this little eatery on Rt. 16 and Pinnacle Avenue in Pineville, WV, phone 304-732-7785. If you’re looking for an awesome, picturesque setting for a nearby vacation get-away, try Twin Falls Lodge, which is located in Twin Falls State Park just up the road.

Twin Falls

Until next time, this is yours truly, with all my memories old and new of the Pinnacle Drive-In subs…priceless!


Antiquing in Livingston with the Three Foodies

Fun Americana Day!

The Three Foodies take in the Courthouse Whistle Stop

The Three Foodies take in the Courthouse Whistle Stop

Three friends, each from different countries and culture, yet we came together in friendship to share our love of food, life and the good ol’ USA.

After our previous daytrip outings to sample Indian cuisine at Bombay Sizzler in Spring, Texas, and Filipino food from Sarap Pinoy Restaurant in Humble, Texas, the Three Foodies were up for some local East Texas fare. We may be in what people consider the southwest, but there’s plenty of southern cooking going on here, too!

So we set the date, and off to Livingston we went. In less than one hour we were shopping at Downtown Treasures Antiques, while waiting to have a leisurely lunch next door at the Courthouse Whistle Stop!

The Courthouse Whistle Stop is aptly named, as it sits directly across the street from the Polk County Courthouse in Livingston, and the railroad passes by the courthouse, as well. Their serving dishes are vintage plates and saucers, none of them matching, which lends to a very down-home, country feel.

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From the menu, I ordered the southern-style appetizers for our group, such as fried green tomatoes, fried okra and jalapeno poppers. For our meals, each ordered a different dish, including chicken and dressing (a casserole recipe), grilled chicken sandwich, chicken tenders and chicken Alfredo. Yes, we ate lots of chicken! But the appetizers were what set the stage! We talked about old movies, such as “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Steel Magnolias.”

The view from our table inside the Courthouse Whistle Stop

The view from our table inside the Courthouse Whistle Stop

Joining us for lunch was a good friend from Onalaska, Nita. My vehicle was full of donations that were delivered to Nita to benefit a favorite local Onalaska charity, Kids’ Free Clothing Exchange (KFCE), which serves the clothing needs of struggling families from seven surrounding counties. So, today was a good day all around!

After lunch, the Three Foodies explored enticing antique stores along Highway 59-S to look for more “treasures.” We found trinkets, gems and more at Junk in the Trunk, West Lake Antiques  and Antiques and More Consignor’s Mall. Arceli found a treasure — a sterling silver blue topaz ring, and for a very reasonable price. I had to drive back a few days later to buy the framed Egyptian papyrus that I spotted that day and should have bought, but didn’t. These things often happen when you’re antiquing or flea-market shopping. It’s all part of the adventure!

Looking for treasures at Antiques and More Consignor's Mall

Looking for treasures at Antiques and More Consignor’s Mall

On our way back, we stopped for dessert at the Happy Days Diner on S-59 at Shepherd. We were hoping for pie, but found cobbler instead! Arceli and I tried two: pecan cobbler and the blackberry one! Both were toppled with soft-serve ice cream! Shalni stuck with the ice cream.

Shalni and Arceli are happy at Happy Days Diner in Shepherd, Texas.

Shalni and Arceli are happy at Happy Days Diner in Shepherd, Texas.


Another full day of shopping, fun, food and friendship! Now, we’re thinking about where to go next. Shalni wants to take us for more Indian food in Houston – shopping, too, of course!


Can’t wait!

Friends, food, shopping — a great combination!

Shopping after lunch at the Spring Antique Gallery!

Shopping after lunch at the Spring Antique Gallery!

Here is how two friends and I became “The Three Foodies!”

I’ve been friends with Arceli, a native of the Philippines, for several years, as she is also my hair stylist at Mills Branch Salon and Spa, which she owns. I met Shalni, a native of Sri Lanka, under different circumstances, when she owned her dry cleaning business near me. The three of us have become “The Three Foodies” for the love of food and of native culture.

Both of these ladies are strong, smart business women, and I admire their personal sense of style; but most of all I love their spirit! We often get together on Arceli’s day off to explore new and exciting foods, and we like to throw in some shopping along the way! Whether it’s antiquing in the Spring area of Houston, in Livingston or the outlet mall on Rt. 290 — we shop like we mean it! Sometimes we find treasures or bargains we can’t live without. Sometimes we just look and celebrate with the other ones who found their perfect something!

It all started one day when we decided that we should plan a day to go try a restaurant featuring Indian food, with Shalni as our guide. Although there are other fine Indian restaurants in Houston proper, for our first outing Shalni took us to  the Bombay Sizzler in nearby Spring, TX. The menu consisted of a wide variety of Indian dishes, which were served buffet style. We tried everything, including a couple of kinds of curry! The meal was complete with a mango lassi! So good!

On our way home, we happened to be passing by The Antique Gallery of Houston in Spring, so I mentioned that it would be a good way to spend the afternoon. We were there at least two or three hours but only made it through approximately half of the gallery! Next time we plan to search the other half!

Our next outing will be to find some local food of the Philippines!

The Three Foodies discover Bombay Sizzler!

The Three Foodies discover Bombay Sizzler!

Enjoying the Mango Lassi!

Enjoying the Mango Lassi!

Meandering through Northeast Tennessee

Even though it was overcast and raining, nothing could dampen our spirit of adventures as we meandered along the Sunny Side Trail in Northeast Tennessee. From the Bristol Speedway to the Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol is a rare find. Add the surrounding many quaint little towns with charm oozing from each like butter from a big piece of cornbread, the Sunnyside Trail will brighten your outlook on life – it did for me!
Please follow this link to my article on this topic in The Tribune Newspaper: Thanks for visiting Trilla’s Travels!

Race fans' paradise!

Race fans’ paradise!

In the category of quaint little towns, Jonesboro is hard to beat!

In the category of quaint little towns, Jonesboro is hard to beat!

The Tennessee/Virginia state line runs along State Street in Bristol.

The Tennessee/Virginia state line runs along State Street in Bristol.

Must be Heaven – Brenham, TX!

Must Be Heaven is good for the appetite and good for the soul.

Must Be Heaven is good for the appetite and good for the soul.

The best things about driving US 290 between Houston and Austin, are the quaint little towns along the away.
We almost always make a stop at the Chappell Hill Bakery & Deli, in Chappell Hill, where we have found some of the best BBQ lunch options in the state. And we never leave without our sausage kolaches, fruit kolaches and/or sticky buns!!! Sometimes we even get a pie!
On a recent road trip traveling US 290, we discovered Must Be Heaven, a charming, down-home Texas sandwich and ice cream shoppe in Brenham. Here we experienced the good ol’ days of handcrafted sandwiches, homemade soups and pies and, of course, Bluebell Ice Cream.
The café is full of memorabilia from the past. I found a pleasant surprise in the lady’s room — a small collection of vintage hats. It just made me smile!
The Must Be Heaven café is located at 107 W. Alamo Street in downtown Brenham in a charming area of gift shops and antique stores. Its charm and warmth are calling me back!
As a native of West Virginia (which everyone knows is “Almost Heaven”) and as a Texas transplant, I truly appreciate the rustic and vintage setting at Must Be Heaven.
It seems I have discovered a hidden gem, and I’m collecting as many as I can find!
So if you find yourself driving along on US 290 between Houston and Austin, remember to look for “hidden gems” along the way.
Until next time…
Vintage hats - hidden away in the lady's room

Vintage hats – hidden away in the ladies room

W. Alamo Street in Brenham, TX

W. Alamo Street in Brenham, TX

Remembering Hurricane Katrina

Angel Tree

Angel Tree

Today is the 8th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. More than 1800 people died as the storm ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005.
One year ago, my husband and I took a road trip along the Gulf Coast, heading from Houston to New Orleans to Biloxi, and on to Mobile.
As we drove along the coast, we couldn’t help but notice all the damaged property still evident in the New Orleans area, and all the empty lots where houses once stood overlooking the Mississippi shore.
It was in Bay St. Louis where we spotted many extraordinary wood carvings in the medians and along the coast.
When we stopped to eat lunch at 200 North Beach Restaurant at Bay St. Louis, we asked owner Ann Tidwell about the tree that stood just a few feet from the restaurant. The tree’s branches had been carved to look like angels.
She explained that the tree once stood in the yard next door, and that it had saved the lives of two people and a dog. They had held onto the tree for many hours as the storm and high waters raged.
It is certain that a story such as this one about the horror of the hurricane accompanies all the wood carvings that we saw along our drive.
We were told by Tidwell that chainsaw carvers “from the north” came to the area after the storm to make beautiful memories from the storm, by creating carvings of the old trees.
By the way, this restaurant has an excellent menu, and we enjoyed our lunch sitting outside overlooking Bay St. Louis. Hope to return someday!
Built in 1905, the 200 North Beach Restaurant in Bay St. Louis, MS.

Built in 1905, the 200 North Beach Restaurant in Bay St. Louis, MS.

Remnants of Hurricane Katrina have been captured by art along the Gulf Coast in the form of wood carvings. This Angel Tree stands across from the 200 North Beach Restaurant as a haunting reminder of the 2005 storm.

Remnants of Hurricane Katrina have been captured by art along the Gulf Coast in the form of wood carvings. This Angel Tree stands across from the 200 North Beach Restaurant as a haunting reminder of the 2005 storm.