Taking a road trip across America always means one thing – you are bound to drive by or stop at least a few Cracker Barrel restaurants. One couple from a small town in Indiana decided to make a lifelong road trip chasing after Cracker Barrels.
For 60 years, Ray and Wilma Yoder have been married, living together on a farm in Goshen, Indiana. Forty years ago, Ray was in Nashville for work. He drives RVs across the country to deliver them to dealerships and buyers. He was setting up for an RV show in Nashville when he started getting hungry. Ray decided to go with convenience and stopped at the nearby Cracker Barrel.
Strangely, it was not love at first sight. Ray said, ” I wasn’t too impressed quite at first.” But, as he continued to drive around the country, he began to appreciate the familiarity of Cracker Barrel as he drove from unfamiliar town to unfamiliar town. He added, “Let me assure you, it didn’t take long before I knew it was my home away from home.
As their kids grew older, Wilma started to join him on the road. After visiting so many along their travels, one day Ray said, “We have been to so many. Why don’t we go to them all?”
It took a bit longer for their kids to catch on to the plan. Occasionally they would have family dinners at the Cracker Barrel near their farm in Elkhart, Indiana. Once they realized how serious their parents were about this quest, they began to pitch in. Their daughter, Doris Copenhaver, started tracking new store openings and printed any necessary information for her parents since they do not own a computer.
With only a few restaurants to go, however, Wilma suffered a brain aneurysm. They took a year off from traveling so Wilma could recover. Now, Ray does all of the driving, and they have moved away from the hulking RVs and transitioned to a Ford Fusion. They went to their last Cracker Barrel in Tualatin, Oregon, completing forty years of 645 Cracker Barrel locations across 44 states.