Sonic Drive-In / Lander’s River Trips – Birthday Camping 2011

Sonic Drive-In
156 Route 17 North
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604

On my 16th birthday, my friends asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate. My answer; “let’s BBQ!” 22 years later, I still uphold this tradition with 2 BBQ’s. 1. The annual Kev and Rev’s Awesome Parking Lot BBQ at the Nassau Coliseum stop on the Warped Tour and #2. Birthday Camping at Skinner’s Falls Campground. The camping trip is by one of my favorite weekend’s of the year despite the fact that it has rained ALL 6 YEARS we have done the trip.

Skinner’s Falls Campground is run by Lander’s River Trips, a company that was founded in 1955. They have 10 locations along the upper Delaware river for camping, rafting, canoeing and in general getting out of the big city. The campsite at Skinner’s Falls is always ridiculously well maintained, clean and staffed with friendly people who want to help campers enjoy a fantastic outdoor experience. For us that equates to what is essentially a 36 hour tailgate where the grill is only turned off so we can all float down the river on rafts. We only have 1 rule hard rule enforced during birthday camping, no one touches the grill but me without my permission.

It’s about a 3 hour ride North West from New York City and the minute you cross into the camp ground, you are guaranteed to lose cell phone reception. We break up the drive with a stop at Walmart for camping necessities and then at Peck’s Market in Narrowsburg, NY for food & beer.  For this year’s trip we also made a stop off to eat some Burgers for lunch at Sonic Drive-In. I’ve had $120 in gift certificates burning a whole in my wallet for ages and seeing as how we had a rental car and it was en route, sounded like the perfect excuse to feed my friends.

It’s 1959 and two men, Troy N. Smith Sr and Charles Woodrow Pappe change the name of their drive-in root beer stand in Seminole OK, then named “Top Hat,” to Sonic. A revolutionary fast-food experience was born into a franchise that now proudly boasts more than 3500 locations in 43 states, including Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, just a few miles outside of Manhattan. Sonic Drive-In is a franchised, modern day version of the 1950s car hop drive-in. There are no dining rooms available and motorists order from their very own two speaker menu and then eat right in their car. Most locations offer a few picnic tables for those looking to eat sans motor vehicle but there is no dining room to speak of. Sonic’s are more common in the South and Midwest so for us city slickers, this was truly a unique experience.

With $120 in gift cards, I suggested that everyone go buck wild and order everything on the menu that even remotely struck their fancy. That’s exactly what they did, one after another with the most popular item coming out as Chili Cheese Tater Tots.

Once all the food arrived, via carhop, to our picnic table, we put all the sides in the middle as if we were having a fast food dinner served family style. French Fries, Onion Rings, Tater Tots, Chili Cheese Tots, Mozzarella Sticks, Cheddar Peppers & Popcorn Chicken was strewn about the table amongst all the Burgers, Chicken Sandwiches, Breakfast Burritos & a mountain of condiments.

I started off with Sausage, Egg & Cheese Burrito which is just about my favorite breakfast food Sandwich on the planet. That’s one of the great things about Sonic … breakfast is served ALL DAY! It could’ve used a little more ingredients and less Tortilla but overall, a satisfying experience. From there I moved onto my Super Sonic Double Cheese Burger. I ordered it no tomatoes and no pickles. Should’ve known better and just gotten it plain with Cheese. I loathe Ketchup on a Burger and unless its spicy Mustard, I don’t want that either. Regardless, for a fast food Burger, Sonic delivers the goods, especially on the double Patty which also means Double Cheese. If there is anything that makes a fast food Burger tastes great, it’s EXTRA slices of processed Cheese Food. Health concerns and freshness desires aside, I will always have an appreciation and craving for it’s salty goodness.

Then it hit me. Why go the everyman route and just gnaw down on my ‘Burg? With all these tasty treats laying about the table, I decided to go super stack and create my own New Brunswick, NJ style Fat Cat Sonic Burger Abomination. I added in Chili Tater Tots, a Mozzarella Stick and an Onion Ring into my sandwich. While everyone just looked at me in disbelief, I bit into it relishing every heart stopping calorie that was racing through my system. This move also solved a problem I had not considered, covering up the taste of ketchup. Winning is NOT just for Charlie Sheen.

Sonic Drive-In makes a great Burger that stands on its own against their competitors but definitely has an edge with their awesome sides and unique presentation.

7 out of 10 ounces

Try as we might, the 8 of us ordered a multitude of Sandwiches, Sides, Drinks and Desserts and in the end, even with 4 pages of receipts, we still only totaled out at $76.44! That means I still have another $43.56 to go on my next visit


Lander’s River Trips
P.O. Box 500
5961 State Route 97
Narrowsburg, NY 12764

After our gut busting lunch, we piled back into the cars and pointed ourselves towards Narrowsburg watching the skyscrapers of our fantastic city fade out in the rear view mirror. A few hours later we arrived into town, bought $550 worth of food and beer and we’re pulling into the campground. First things first, and that’s get the tents set up on the far end of the campground, an area we call tent city. Next up, the fire and fire pit seating area. Once the necessities are taken care of, well that’s when the fun starts. I flip on the grill, the Beers get cracked and the camping tailgate begins!

Here’s a quick list of what I made or at least what I took pictures of that got cooked on the grill.

Breaded Chicken Fingers

Italian Sausage and Grilled Corn on the Cob

Skirt Steak marinated in a tangy Hickory, Garlic & Lime sauce

All Beef Hot Dogs

Buffalo Chicken Burgers courtesy of the Bronx Underground crew

Pizza Rolls – you can see one of my grilling secrets, use Coors Banquet beer for steam cooking and to add additional flavor.

Brownies & Blondies
When Robin from the Land of Cake Believe shows up, you know there is going to be some tasty baked goods!

On Saturday morning, everyone awakes to the delicious smells of hot breakfast on the grill. This year we had Maple Sausages, Grilled Whole Grain English Muffins, Hash Brown Patties & Eggs over medium all served with Cheese as a sando.

From there we load up the coolers and hit the river for a rafting trip full of fun.

Once we get back to the camp site the grill fires back up and the food starts coming again, fast and furious.

Hot Dogs & Tater Tots

Not all the wieners that show up at camp make it to the grill.

Pat LaFrieda Burgers stuffed with Parmesan Cheese on Martin’s Soft Potato Rolls

Cheddar Brats, Baked Beans, Chili & Mac ‘n Cheese

Until next year!!

437 Burgers

Aug 12, 2011 – 2:06 pm

The Rev Meter for Social Community
The Rev Meter” is a social community meter for assessing how optimized a bar or restaurant is with social networking. By taking what he considers to be the 10 most important social networks and creating a point system, The Rev can accurately asses how well the business is using social networking as a tool. His goal here is to educate and assist great business to better effectively use these tools.

Sonic Drive-In Bar & Restaurant scores a 4  on The Rev Meter.

Before I dissect Sonic Drive-In’s score, I’d like to say it’s always hard to judge national chains on a scale meant to look how a business performs locally. I will say this though, Sonic Drive-In’s main twitter account is run really, really well and most of their locations also have their own accounts. I gave them points for that even though technically I shouldn’t have. Same for facebook. I was surprised that the Hasbrouck Height’s location was not set up on any of the social networks properly.

4 points or less    You’ve missed the 5 basics and are less than optimized
5 points                 You’ve covered the basics, which is better than most but far from optimized.
6 to 9 points        You’re doing better than most and on your way to becoming a well respected social community whiz.
10 points              Congrats on a perfect score! Are you hiring?

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2 Responses to Sonic Drive-In / Lander’s River Trips – Birthday Camping 2011

  1. Yuki says:

    I did not realize you spiced the Pizza Rolls with beer. I have now learned another awesome to add onto so much other already awesome.

  2. Pingback: Burger King – BankAmeriDeals With Cardlytics | Burger Conquest

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