Pondering life and appreciating the fact that my youngest child is now 21, I drove past what has to be the best hot dog place on the planet. Unfortunately, “The Dip Dog” in Marion, Virginia was closed.

Being in the passenger seat and having a fancy enough phone to search for the answers to life’s questions, I tried to find out what the secret ingredients of the little hot dog shack in rural southwestern Virginia. Like most secret recipes, I could only find out that there was one and the proprietors of the place weren’t about to give it out.

I understood, but I was still disappointed.

Still wanting to figure out some things, I searched the best hot dog joints by state and found a list by “Food and Wine” magazine. I’m not sure that you should trust a fancy food magazine for hot dogs, but they agreed with me, so I trusted them.

That’s kind of the way things are these days, if a news source or talking head agrees with you, they must be right. Correct? No, not really, my best hot dog is probably different from your best hot dog, and that’s just fine.

Like I said, they agreed with me – The Dip Dog is the best hot dog in Virginia; it’s actually on a stick, but they want to be classified as a hot dog. I could bring politics and religion into this claim, but I will not.

Tennessee’s best hot dogs can be found in Nashville, at “I Dream of Weenie.” You have to love that one.

Louisiana’s winner was “Dat Dog” in New Orleans which boasts a duck sausage dog with blackberry sauce, barbecue sauce, yellow mustard and bacon. I’m not so sure about the duck, but the stuff on it sounds good.

This fellow from Chicago moved to Florida and started “Hot Dog Heaven” in Orlando. Supposedly, it’s the best one in Florida. However, I found where one fellow complained that he spent $22 on two regular hotdogs with chili and slaw. I double-checked to make sure this place wasn’t in the middle of a professional football or baseball stadium – it was not.

I’m not real sure, but it seems in that part of Florida, there are a lot of folks who enjoy “Chicago” style hot dogs and are willing to pay “Chicago” prices for them. I would rather pay a dollar and a half for a dip dog in rural Virginia. To each his own I suppose; sometimes people judge the taste of things based on the price.

Continuing to worry about my youngest turning 21, I looked for other things on my phone. When I say “worry,” I just think about wishing I had read more, played more and listened more. Not that I think that I did a terrible job, I did not. I just know that reading, playing and listening to a child doesn’t have a “Chicago” price attached them.

I found what I was looking for, or it found me. It was a quote by the late Reverend Billy Graham. He noted, “No parent is perfect; we all can look back and think of things we could've done to help our children be better prepared for adulthood. And sometimes it's best to admit it to them and encourage them to learn from our mistakes.”

Therefore, I will simply tell my children, who are all in college now (at the same time), “Learn from my mistakes and do the best you can.” Also, “Appreciate the ‘taste’ of life without worrying about the cost – in other words, sometimes the best taste comes from a hot dog that costs a dollar and half rather than $11.”

What is a mistake anyway?

I read where one dictionary defined it as, “Something that doesn’t work out in search for a solution.” I like that one.

I will continue to search for solutions and be thankful that I have good and inexpensive “tastes.”


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