"We're hooked on so many foods we never would have tried before," say Stan Posner and Sandra Phillips-Posner, co-authors of the travel guide book "Drive I-95."
They start their list with "Berger cookies in Baltimore, Polock Johnny's sausages, chocolate mice at Broadway Diner, crabcakes at G&M restaurant, Datil Do-It in St. Augustine, Florida, Thanksgiving dinner on a bun at Capriotti's in Wilmington, Del., Sweet Georgia Brown sauce in Brunswick, Ga., Buz 'n' Ned's BBQ in Richmond, Va., and Peppe's Pizza in New Haven, Conn."
You can get hungry just reading the list.
If you aren't a foodie, maybe you'd like to see rats playing basketball in Richmond, try sleeping on a horse farm in Maryland, or stopping by a garbage museum in Connecticut.
They've found these tasty goodies and quirky attractions while they spend as many as nine weeks a year driving along Interstate 95 and exploring every exit.
They're looking for the extraordinary and the mundane to make your life easier and more enjoyable as you travel to New England for leaf peeping or skiing, or as you tackle your first or annual snowbird visit to Florida.
And, for the most part, every listing is within a traffic light or two from the interchange so you're not driving out into the boonies. "Drive I-95" could make your road time and these little detours more pleasant and interesting than your destination.
Every January and February, the Posners drive from Virginia to Florida and back again, and then in October they visit Maryland through Maine. That amounts to about 4,000 miles a year, including the 110 miles of I-95 that run through Maryland. They check every interchange for tasty restaurants (and those that are good for children and families), drug stores, public restrooms, hotels that accept dogs, ATMs, radar traps, radio stations, 24-hour gas stations and interesting things to see and do. They also provide exit-by-exit maps, history and trivia.
Perhaps best of all, you can use their book going north or south, and each page covers the map and information you need along a 15- or 30-mile route that should take you from 15 to 30 minutes to drive. No master's course in map-folding or map-reading is necessary!
The Posners started taking road trips with their children in the late 1970s and started writing about their destinations in the mid 1990s.
Stan says, "We always missed having a great driving guide where everything the traveler needs is in one place, easily readable and accessible, rather than fighting with state maps and AAA guide books, which are not coordinated with each other.
"It's very difficult to pinpoint one's location on a large state map, since the exit numbers are usually not shown, and the guide books go alphabetically by town or, God forbid, county. Drivers need to know what exit they are at, and they do not know or care about county boundaries.
"One of our associates, Dave Hunter, did the I-75 guide called "Along Interstate 75", and he encouraged us to do I-95, since there was a vacuum: Nobody had ever done a comprehensive guide on I-95. So we jumped in head first after some research."
It took about 18 months to organize themselves, do the research, and write and publish their first edition. which was released in 2003. Maps had to be designed and drawn, and they had to come up with a plan for the layout of the first and subsequent books so they stay consistent. They found a printer, a wholesaler and distributor, and a publicist.
Although they'd already published 18 books in Canada, where they live (including the popular "Smart Shopping Montreal" series), the book business is totally different in the United States, says Stan, and they had to learn their way around our book world.
Along with the book updates, they maintain a Web site, http://www.driveI95.com and issue a thematic newsletter every other month. It may feature chocolate stops, including one shop in Massachusetts that has chocolate-dipped Twinkies (Winfrey's) and another that sells chocolate-covered prunes (Furlong's Cottage Candies), a Maryland store that has chocolate sponge (Rheb's), a Florida store with chocolate pizza (Peterbrooke Chocolatier) and another one with chocolate meltaways (Hoffman's Chocolates).
Other newsletters have highlighted green places to stop along the interstate (including the National Park Service's Oxon Cove Park/Oxon Hill Farm, where you can milk a cow or ride a tractor), six places to sing and dance, irresistible coffee stops, ice cream, "green" eating, free things and holiday fun.
They also produce what they call a drog, a driving blog, at least once a week. With their other books and services, they're blogging about once a day. They have added apps for the iPad using GoodReader and are working on phone apps for Android andiPhone.
For those who prefer to stay in Maryland, "Drive I-95" lets you learn about a great crab house (Woody's Crab House, exit 100), an artists' collective where you can find goods made from such recycled items as wood, glass, typewriter keys, buttons and cutlery (Studio 432, exit 93), and the home of the best sweet potato pie your Thanksgiving guests ever tasted (Henry's Soul Café, exit 3B).
"Drive I-95" and their other books are available on their Web site, and through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other book stores, and as a PDF that can be downloaded to your computer, laptop or iPad.