Mission, accomplished! Ray and Wilma Yoder crossed one major bucket list item off Monday when they dined at a recently opened Cracker Barrel location in Portland, Oregon, completing their goal to visit all 645 locations throughout the country.
The pair, who began their fun mission some 40 years ago, have visited 44 states and traveled more than 5 million miles in order to make their achievement a reality.
“Cracker Barrel is our home away from home,” Ray tells The Knot. “During our visits to Cracker Barrel stores over the past 40 years, we have made friends across the country and enjoyed making wonderful memories together. Each of the 645 stores we have visited has been special to us, and we are so happy to celebrate today with our Cracker Barrel family in Portland.”
Ray’s job, when the couple began their expedition 40 years ago in Nashville, was to drive RVs across the country, delivering them to different dealerships and buyers. He told the Tennessean that as luck would have it, he happened to be in Nashville at the Opryland Hotel setting up an RV show when he needed a place to eat; Cracker Barrel was his most convenient bet.
“I wasn’t too impressed quite at first,” he told the paper. But after a few more stops at various Cracker Barrels along his routes, he was hooked.
“Let me assure you, it didn’t take long before I knew it was my home away from home,” he said. Wilma joined her husband in later years, after their children had grown up and moved out of the house. At one point, inspiration struck Ray.
“I said to my wife, ‘We have been to so many. Why don’t we go to them all?’” he recalled. And they did.
At each Cracker Barrel they’ve visited, the couple would order their favorite dishes: potato casserole and one pancake with blueberry syrup and extra butter. En route to the Portland location Monday, Ray told People that he knew what he’d be ordering as an accompanying beverage as well: a cider float.
According to Ray, the item isn’t actually on the menu, but the employees always know to whip it up for him.
“I’m glad to be here,” Wilma told local station KATU. “It’s been quite the experience.”