Day 309: The Dining Car at the Gryphon

Dining Car exterior

Today’s first was a yummy treat. And an interesting experience when I can have two firsts in the same restaurant space, under two different names! Today I met my friend Georgia at the newly opened The Dining Car at the Gryphon, located downtown at 1027 S Main, in… guessed it….the Gryphon building! Earlier in the year, I had lunch for the first time at The Fork, located in the same space. This is a new venture, with new owners and management.

The Dining Car at the Gryphon, henceforth referred to simply as The Dining Car, opened in October. It has a railroad theme with train memorabilia used as décor. According to Joplin Globe reporter Wally Kennedy, railroad cars used to pull up to the building on a spur on the north side, when the Inter-State Grocer Company occupied the space. It’s an appropriate theme, yet it is not overdone. The atmosphere was comfortable, cozy and clean, and there were many occupied tables while we were there during lunch time.

The Dining Car is managed by Stacy Gamble, former manager of Jim Bob’s, which was destroyed by the tornado in 2011 and then by a fire, after it reopened in its new location. Stacy brings years of experience in the food industry to this new establishment.

The restaurant features American food including hamburgers, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, prime rib, fish, steaks and chicken. There are lunch and dinner menus and one just for kids. Georgia and I browsed the lunch menu and both selected the same item, the Canyon Creek Pass Chicken. This was a pan roasted chicken breast, on a base of mashed potatoes and a large fried portabella mushroom, topped with chopped avocado, feta cheese, and a special gravy type sauce. It was delicious, with a home cooked, satisfying flavor and it was just the right portion for lunch.

We enjoyed our leisurely lunch. Georgia and I have been friends for a long time. It is always good to catch up with each other’s journeys and share the recent aha’s we’ve had about life. She is one of those friends that I can not see for a while, and then when we meet, we instantly pick up where we left off in our last conversation. We share beliefs about life and we are both learning so much about who we are and what our roles are in the world. I appreciate her insights and that we can journey together, as traveling companions. And, The Dining Car just might become our new place to meet for lunch or dinner. There are so many tempting meals to experience on the menu!

Dining Car

Day 308: Rush

Rush movie poster

It was movie night, this evening, after a very chilly and rain soaked day. Curled up beneath a heavy plaid blanket, I settled in to watch Rush. I have wanted to see this film, although I am not a big racing fan. I am so glad I decided to watch, as it was an excellent movie, based on true events and real people.

Rush stars Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Marie Lara. It is directed by Ron Howard, which greatly influenced my desire to see this movie. The action drama is rated R for language, sexuality, brief nudity and some difficult to watch scenes involving the treatment of burns, and has a run time of 2 hours and 6 minutes.

Set during the golden age of Formula One racing in the 1970’s, Rush is based on the true rivalry between British racer James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Austrian racer Niki Lauda (Brühl). Both men began their careers as Formula Three racers and the competitiveness between them begins immediately, and continues during their parallel careers. Both moved up quickly to Formula One racing with Hunt driving for McLaren and Lauda for Ferrari. The movie focuses on the exciting 1976 season, where the well known rivalry brought attention to the racing industry.

The two racers are so very different, in life, love and in their racing styles. James Hunt lives and drives at a fast pace. He moves rapidly through a progression of women, although he was briefly married to Suzy Miller (Wilde), and drives with a seeming recklessness that makes him formidable on the track. He is the epitome of the unruly, sexy, playboy driver. Niki Lauda, on the other hand, is methodical, analytical and while he knows how to get the very best speed out of his car, and himself, he is very aware of the risks involved with driving. He never wants to take a greater than 20% risk while racing. He is less popular than Hunt, has very few friends, and focuses on his job and goes home, avoiding the party life that carries on after a big race. He falls in love with and marries Marlene Knaus (Lara). His decision to marry her is as well thought out as his racing plan. He knows, instinctively, that by loving his wife, he risks losing more on the race track. And knowing that, he will not be as great a driver.

What makes this movie appealing is not the race scenes, which are amazing and action packed. It is the relationship between Hunt and Lauda. Both goad the other to their successes, on and off the race track. The rivalry between them is deep, and yet so is the respect. Lauda is the World Champion for 1975, a title he wishes to keep for 1976. With Hunt running closely behind him, in points, every race counts. At the German Grand Prix, Lauda, who wanted to cancel the race due to unsafe driving conditions, has a horrific accident that nearly costs him his life. He is severely burned on his face and head, and his lungs seared by hot fumes. As he is recovering in the hospital, it is watching Hunt win the next two races that helps him to endure excruciating treatment for his burns. Surprisingly, Lauda returns just six weeks later to compete. The championship comes down to the final race in Japan, with Lauda ahead of Hunt by only three points. Torrential rain makes the driving conditions very risky, and Lauda leaves the race after a few laps, watching as Hunt goes on to finish third, cinching the championship.

What a wonderful movie, done as only Ron Howard can do, and from what I learned on Google after the movie, very accurate. I really enjoyed watching the developing friendship between Hunt and Lauda. Although they began as fierce rivals, trading insults on race day, taunting each other, making fun of each other’s contrasting lifestyles, by the end of 1976, these men had a strong respect for each other. Lauda appreciated Hunt’s lack of fear, his fun nature and his capacity for bursts of speed, while Hunt admired Lauda’s analytical mind, his seriousness about racing and his endurance. The film ends with a voice over by Lauda, in which he shares that Hunt never won another championship and retired two years later. When he learned that Hunt died of a heart attack, at the age of 45, Lauda says, “I wasn’t surprised. I was just sad. People always think of us as rivals but he was among the very few I liked and even fewer that I respected. He remains the only person I envied.”

Rush Niki and James

The real life James Hunt and Niki Lauda