It’s October and the leaves are starting to change as we travel down Interstate 81 toward Natural Bridge, Va. The plan was to arrive early at the campground, set up camp and explore. That, however, was thwarted by a terrible wreck that had traffic stopped and backed up for several miles. We sat for over an hour and the traffic was moving pretty slow for another hour. By the time we took the exit for the Natural Bridge, we were tired, grumpy and hungry. Sadly, the sunny afternoon with which we had been blessed was dwindling toward the brisk evening air and the October sunset. We checked in at the campground, then drove to the nearest restaurant, as we were really hungry. When you’re hungry, you’re just not yourself.
The first thing you see coming off the exit is a pink 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood sitting under the sign for the Pink Cadillac Diner and the Budget Inn. We are kind of out in the middle of nowhere and this appears to be the only place to eat. Good thing we were spending the night in our travel van as the old block Budget Inn appeared dilapidated and unkept. And my confidence in the Pink Cadillac Diner wasn’t real high as we pulled into the uneven gravel parking lot. Chris went in to check it out while I walked Charlie. When Charlie and I got back to the van, Matt and his sister Sara were admiring it. So I struck up a conversation. Matt from Georgia and Sara from Florida were headed to Pennsylvania to get their mother and bring her to Florida for the winter. Sara said she had always wanted an Airstream and thanked me for showing it to her.
They had asked around where the best restaurant was, and were pointed to the Pink Cadillac by the locals. Said it was very good. Chris peaked out and gave the thumbs up, so Charlie and I went to meet her. The hostess, dressed in a T shirt and jeans, questioned about letting Charlie in—”he’s a “service” dog, you know. OK, no problem.” Stepping into the Pink Cadillac was like entering a time tunnel. Vinyl green and white tiles in one area, black and white in another, and there was a separate room where people could buy old time ice cream. We were seated at a classic 1950’s style chrome table with a vinyl table cloth in matching chrome seats. We were surrounded with artifacts from an era gone by. There were John Wayne movie posters and pictures of Elvis and other movie stars hanging on the walls.
A grand 1950s juke box that still played the songs was along another wall. A Texaco Fire Chief gas pump sat near our table, with that 23 cents a gallon price showing, I was longing for the days when I could trust my car to the man who wears the star! Chris got a chef’s salad and I had a spicey chiliburger with jalapeños and fries. Huge burger, cooked well. Great fries. The food was wonderful. The service down home with a sense of family and belonging. Just looking at the Pink Cadillac from the outside, we would have not normally chosen to eat there. But as is written in Psalm 107:9, the Lord “satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” We were hungry, tired and grumpy and the Pink Cadillac satisfied our longing souls! Come to find out much later, it’s listed as one of the top 50 diners in America.