Welcome to Flyover America

Travel Blog  •  Sophia Dembling, Jenna Schnuer  •  01.08.09 | 4:41 PM ET

united states mapPhoto by Marxchivist, via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Hi. We are Sophia Dembling and Jenna Schnuer. Sophia lives in Dallas, Texas (but was Manhattan born and reared), and Jenna in Queens, NY (aka “not Manhattan”), and we are both writers who are in love with America. Every diner and prairie and highway of it. The places that many people consider flyover territory—Lincoln, Nebraska; Lubbock Texas; Bayonne, New Jersey, and the like—grab hold of us. Flyover America is as much a state of mind as a place. We like to think of it as anywhere in America that isn’t Manhattan or L.A. Flyover America is packed with stories, discoveries and soul. And it’s got some great malls, too.

As well as writing about people and places in Flyover America, our own little corner of World Hum, we hope to get a good conversation going with you. Talk to us. Yell at us. Debate us. And, hell, get started now. Here’s some of what we love. Tell us why we’re wrong.

Favorite Flyover America ...

Small Town

Sophia: Cody, Wyoming
For its proximity to Yellowstone National Park; for the spectacular Buffalo Bill Historical Center; for the creaky old Irma Hotel, built by Buffalo Bill himself; and for the collection of vintage guest ranches in the adjacent Shoshone National Forest.

Jenna: Cordova, Alaska
Because two eagles followed me around for a day. (Really. It happened.) And, out for dinner one night, some tough-guy fishermen at the bar spent the evening debating the strengths and weaknesses of various “American Idol” contestants.

Tourist Trap

Sophia: Las Vegas
Bring friends, stay just two nights (any more is overkill) and take it on its own outlandish terms. Goofy fun. And that includes the Liberace Museum.

Jenna: Gatlinburg, TN
Within a few blocks, you can go from the Ripley’s Aquarium (it confuses me, but it’s kind of neat) to a fantastic local crafts cooperative and, in the mountains above, you can stay in the ultra-stylish Lodge at Buckberry Creek. And, after a hearty breakfast, you can go horseback riding through the Smokies. Just like that, everybody’s happy.


Sophia: Are you kidding? I’m not getting mixed up in this debate. Suffice it to say: sliced beef or pork ribs.

Jenna: That little place with the colorful seats off the main road in Tompkinsville, KY. (Make a right when you see a plume of smoke headed your way.) Give me a minute—I’ll remember the name.

Travel Activity

Sophia: Horseback riding
Even plodding nose-to-tail trail rides, if the scenery is right.

Jenna: Ultralight flying
Wait, no, horseback riding. Wait, no, snapping photos. Wait, no ... please don’t make me choose just one.

Driving Album

Sophia: Simon & Garfunkel’s “Wednesday Morning 3 a.m.”
I’m goofy for the singalongability of anything Simon & Garfunkel, but this folky first album is perfect Americana. (Don’t take my word for it, sing along yourself to this timely tune.)

Jenna: Lucinda Williams’  “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” or “Yummy,” the best mix CD I ever made.
I’ve road-tested Car Wheels in several states. It always works. “Yummy “is (mostly) ‘80s tunes—my favorite musical decade. Yeah, I said it.

Road-Trip Movie

Sophia: “Badlands”
So sue me. Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen are a nasty pair but I love the bleak landscape of the Dakotas.

Jenna: National Lampoon’s Vacation
I was 13 when it came out. Some things just stick.

Sophia Dembling

Dallas-based writer Sophia Dembling is co-author of the Flyover America blog and author of "The Yankee Chick's Survival Guide to Texas." She would love to hear your tales of America, so drop her an email.

Jenna Schnuer

Freelancer Jenna Schnuer writes about travel, food, culture, books, and life's quirky bits (and bites) for publications including American Way, National Geographic Traveler, Southern Living, and many others. She also co-writes Flyover America, a site filled with quieter stories from around the U.S. Send Jenna an email or, if you're so inclined, follow her on Twitter.

23 Comments for Welcome to Flyover America

Kristin Ohlson 01.08.09 | 6:26 PM ET

Cool blog! Waving to you from Cleveland…

Uncle Vegas 01.08.09 | 6:30 PM ET

Wow. Go girls.

Mikel 01.08.09 | 6:34 PM ET

Lovely! Can’t wait to read more….

rachelbirds 01.08.09 | 6:53 PM ET

Can’t wait to read more. Shout out from tiny town, Freeville, NY (pop. 503).

Howie S. 01.09.09 | 12:13 AM ET

Very cool. How often will new text be entered?

Jenna Schnuer 01.09.09 | 12:37 AM ET

Thanks all. We’re slated for about four times a week but I have a strange (and strong) feeling you’ll hear from us a little more often. We’re both, well, a bit giddy over the whole thing. (I promise: the giddy school girl enthusiasm popping up in my post will be tempered by plenty of sarcasm and other less sunshiney ways.) And, seriously, we hope you’ll join in the conversation.

Amy Rea 01.09.09 | 9:09 AM ET

Congrats from another lover of flyover places!

Cynthia 01.09.09 | 10:20 AM ET

I am really excited about this.  I’m sure there will be great things to come.

Sophie 01.09.09 | 10:28 AM ET

Thanks everyone! We’re excited, too. Finally an outlet for ruminations on my favorite places nobody thinks of going!

Michael Yessis 01.09.09 | 10:32 AM ET


One thing, Sophia: Cmon! Spill on at least a favorite barbecue spot or three. Or let me know this: What do you think of the barbecue in Lockhart, the so-called barbecue capital of Texas? I’ve gone there and sampled Kruez and Smittys. So good. I still crave them both.

Jenna Schnuer 01.09.09 | 10:41 AM ET

I know it took me more than a minute but, as promised, here’s the name of the BBQ place in Tompkinsville: Backyard BBQ. It’s at 293 Old Edmonton Road. But, when you’re in the area, you also need to go to Frances Bar-B-Que in Hestand (damn their pulled pork is good). Ah, vinegar-based bbq sauce and slaw—how I love them so.

While I’m at it—while there is some fine BBQ in Memphis, I have tried the famous BBQ bologna and will never do it again. The BBQ spaghetti, too. I know some people love them but I am not one of those people.

Sophie 01.09.09 | 10:50 AM ET

Barbecue spaghetti? All wrong. BBQ bologna sounds interesting.

I’ve had Kreuz and yum indeed. Haven’t tried Smitty’s yet.

I also like the hot links from the Southside Market in Elgin—we usually stop there and stock up on our way home to Dallas from Austin.

And for a barbecue day trip, we zip down to Glen Rose. It used to be Hammond’s for ribs (get there early on Sunday or they run out) now we like Ranch House. We stopped there the first time after driving down to Glen Rose only to find Hammond’s had burned down (which happens from time to time). Ranch House was just a shack then, but it’s expanded to a full restaurant. Our first time there, my husband asked for barbecue sauce and hurt their feelings.

Hm, it’s been a while since we’ve made that trip, which usually includes a stop for antiquing in Cleburne…

Oh, and in Nashville, we always make a trip to Jack’s for pulled pork sandwiches.

Jenna Schnuer 01.09.09 | 10:53 AM ET

S—I’ll be right down.

As for the BBQ bologna, it was a thickness thing. I like my bologna thin (well, I did as a kid—hadn’t had it in a while) but this was a huge hunka hunka bbq bologna. Biting through thick bologna is all wrong.

Sophia 01.09.09 | 11:22 AM ET

Oh, say, BBQ fans—my epicurean editor friend David Bailey blogs about BBQ in ‘Cue Confessions.

Jim Benning 01.09.09 | 11:38 AM ET

Great start! Really looking forward to this.

Sounds like San Diego, where I live, might qualify as flyover country. It often feels like it is. So I’d just like to give a shout out to Phil’s BBQ, hands down the best barbecue on the Cal-Mex border. Which explains the near constant line out the door.

Kathy S 01.09.09 | 12:06 PM ET

This is so cool. I will be checking it often!!!!

Sophia 01.09.09 | 12:13 PM ET

Yes, in our strange way of thinking, San Diego is indeed flyover country. So is Queens, where my esteemed co-blogger lives. We want to show the love to all underdogs.

Mary Jacobs 01.09.09 | 4:22 PM ET

re: Road Trips

OK, this is probably too close to the coast to qualify as “flyover,” but I just saw the movie Twilight with my daughter (age 16) and found the setting - Forks, Wash. - hauntingly beautiful.  I had the thought that I’d like to see it, and it turns out a lot of teenaged girls had the same thought:

Mary Jacobs 01.09.09 | 4:24 PM ET

re: Road Trips and movies

Saw Twilight with my 16-year-old daughter last night, and I found the setting - Forks, Wash. - incredibly beautiful. I had the thought I’d like to visit, and it turns out a lot of teen girls have had the same thought:


Mary Jacobs 01.09.09 | 4:25 PM ET

Well, I repeated myself because I thought the first comment didn’t go through.

Oh well. Cool blog!

Jenna Schnuer 01.09.09 | 4:28 PM ET

Wow—looks like it wasn’t just the Twilight stars who found sudden fame. Thanks for sharing that story Mary. I love this:

“At Sully’s, 32-year-old Eleanor Currit waves a pair of plastic vampire teeth in the air a standard side for any customer who orders the Bella burger.”

And, really really really, we’re defining flyover as everything (coast to coast) outside of LA and Manhattan. I live in Queens—home of NYC’s two airports—and I still consider this the flyover zone. So whether it’s landlocked or looking out on the ocean, we’d love to hear about your favorite places across the U.S.

Kathryn 01.13.09 | 8:51 PM ET

My favorite BBQ place is Ridgewood BBQ in Bluff City, TN. Great BBQ and the Blue Cheese Bowl is also fantastic. If the waitresses are busy, and you have a booth next to the open kitchen, the cooks will serve you right over the counter. The locals all left before 8:00, but we were too busy eating BBQ and blue cheese to notice. The busman (if your over 70, I don’t think the term busboy is right) patiently sat in a booth until we left. While we paid, he cleaned up, and the rest of the staff walked out with us. They take closing time seriously, but it makes sense. It’s so far off the beaten path that it probably takes a while to commute home! Worth the trip though if you’re ever in that part of Tennessee.

I can vouch for Yummy as one the best mix CD ever! It goes especially well with an RV, Alaska, and the open road!

Can’t wait to read more!!

Becky Lee 02.13.09 | 4:29 AM ET

Jenna, I love your tourist trap - Gatlinburg. We will be in the Smokies this June & while we’ve decided Dollywood is too expensive, we will be going to Ripley’s Aquarium. We’ve been there before & love it.  know a lot of people like Cades Cove in GSMNP & I prefer the Mountain Farm Museum at the Oconaluftee. We stay at Wyndham Smoky Mountains (it’s one of our favorite Wyndham Resorts). I couldn’t believe that the week I picked this year was such a good week. There are so many festivals going on that week & most are free. Not bad pricing for a tourist trap. I can hardly wait to go.

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.