They say you should never give up on your dreams — even when your dreams involve eating a literal lifetime’s worth of flaky buttermilk biscuits.
81-year-old Ray and 80-year-old Wilma Yoder did just that when they finally completed their mission to visit every Cracker Barrel location in America on Monday, a task Ray began over 40 years ago when he was working as a delivery person and spending a lot of time on the road.
“It took the boredom out of being on the road. It has a down-home spirit, and everybody is friendly,” Ray told the Lebanon Democrat in July.
Wilma soon began to join him on his journeys, and the rest is history.
Their adorable (and, frankly, inspiring) story went viral earlier this summer when the world caught wind of their valiant expedition, learning that the Yoders had visited all but one Cracker Barrel location in the United States. The couple planned to visit the last restaurant, located in Tualatin, Oregon, on their own later this year, but Cracker Barrel had other plans. The couple found out they’d be treated to a very special, all-expenses-paid trip to nearby Portland in order to fulfill their dream.
On August 28, Ray’s 81st birthday, the couple officially completed their bucket list (or barrel list, if you will) by traveling to the Portland-area location, where they were greeted as honored guests, given official Cracker Barrel aprons, and invited to enter the restaurant through a hand clap tunnel facilitated by Cracker Barrel employees.
“For the past 40 years, Ray and Wilma Yoder have touched the hearts of Cracker Barrel employees across the country,” Cracker Barrel said in a statement. “We are thankful to have served them so many times over the years and honored to have been a part of many happy memories they have shared during their 60 years together.”
For the Yoders, the warm feelings are mutual. “Cracker Barrel is our home away from home,” they said after their final visit. “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.”
Now all we can hope is that the last buttery biscuit of their journey tasted just as delicious as their first.