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Photo by Tom Fowlks

– If the waitress asks, “Do you want gravy on that?” the answer is always yes.

– Skip Starbucks. You’ll get more local color, and valuable intel, buying coffee at the diner.

– If you pass a guy sitting on the side of the road tending a smoker, circle back. There’s a good chance it’ll be the best barbecue you’ll ever eat.

– Same goes for roadside pie stands.

– There is a limit on the number of energy drinks you should consume. You’ll know you hit it when the streetlights start leaving vapor trails.

– Always reach for a local soda if the gas station stocks them. Favorites include: Cheerwine (North Carolina), Big Red (Texas), Fitz’s (Missouri), and Moxie (Massachusetts).

– Never buy a gas-station hot dog past 5 p.m.

– If you must settle for a restaurant that looks only O.K., order a burger and fries. It’s hard to mess that up.

– It’s a proven fact: Mini doughnuts (chocolate-frosted, naturally) for breakfast bring good luck during the morning bite.

– Summer sausage, a brick of sharp cheddar, and crackers qualifies as a perfectly acceptable dinner on a road trip.

– Bring twice as much jerky as you think you’ll need.

– Same goes for antacids.

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