We started our road trip around 6 a.m. on Saturday May 21. The image of coffee loomed large so when Dan stopped at the Safeway I rushed inside — well as fast as I could go at that hour — to Starbucks. Marisa with the beautiful young skin tried to sell me a piece of lemon cake. “It’s only 400 calories per slice and it’s pretty good,” she told me.
I was more interested in her cheerfulness, and journalist that I am, I questioned her. “I get up at 4 a.m. so I’m out of my no-talking stage now,” she said. How we all adjust intrigues me.
Ethan emailed me from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan today. He was sitting by a friend’s pool waiting for pizza delivery. Could be Tucson, Houston or Moscow, I thought. How regular, didn’t sound like much adjustment there. But that also comes with familiarity, since Ethan’s traveled a lot, is more of a global citizen than anyone I know.
Food variety, even in the United States, often surprises me. I wouldn’t expect the thrill of eating the most velvety, tangy lobster bisque in Mt. Shasta, California, but there it was. The menu at the town’s Wayside Grill noted that chef Terry’s recipe had been handed down from his Louisiana Cajun grandmother. It was my favorite dish of the trip. The only seafood bisque that comes close is the crab bisque at Mainely Delights in Bass Harbor, Maine. (Comparison coming up in a little over three weeks. Who wants to go with me?)
When Ethan, Brook and Gianmarco arrive in Southwest Harbor we’ll hit Mainely Delights, our favorite neighborhood seafood joint a few times, I’m sure. It goes with the territory, unlike the Desert Lobster Cafe Dan and I passed a few weeks ago in Mina, Nevada. I wanted to interview the proprietor, discover his inspiration. That was left to my imagination.
On another road trip, a few years ago, Ethan and I stopped at a place in Gulfport, Mississippi. That eatery fit my expectations; extremely bulgy, unattractive people wolfed down horrifically overcooked fried food and dark green canned vegetables. All very depressing, but I wasn’t very happy at the time.
I don’t recall any good coffee or yummy breakfasts on that trip either. Thank goodness that Eugene — with all its darkness and rain — has Studio One, a fabulous breakfast place we’ve returned to repeatedly. Studio One has the best french toast ever! Thick slices of challah sloshed with local berry compote, topped by a luscious almond cream sauce.
Trying to diversify, at one breakfast there I ordered eggs benedict with locally smoked salmon and a dill hollandaise sauce. Yummy too, but should have stuck with the known French toast.
Why veer from a winner? Discuss.
Then there are the California and Oregon (apparently) foodie trends worth knowing about. Intense ginger cappuccino at the Green Salmon Cafe in Yachats, which also had the best egg, spicy jack cheese and mushroom bagel sandwich. And ginger again, this time in garlic home fries served at our Big Blue Cafe breakfast in Arcata, California.
I don’t cook much but occasionally I’m tempted. I’ll try making more dishes with ginger…
And I always want to be at the forefront of change, at least acknowledge it, so I bought some ginger at Trader Joe’s this morning. We make choices daily — in food and everything else. Sometimes it just seems like too much: At the Getti-Up coffee drive-thru in Garberville, California, young hipster woman asked if I wanted light, medium or dark brew. I guess that decision could be useful but I wanted to live more simply at that moment.
The next moment I was happier, biting into their everything chocolate chip cookie, laden with coconut, fresh pecans and moist chocolate chips. I felt like one of the three bears, content because it was just right.
One thing about getting old is becoming more comfortable balancing change, repeating what feels comfortable, and trying something new. On our tiring 12-hour final push home we stopped at the Wildflower Bread Company that adjoins the Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. I had a scrumptious salad with lavender in it and a bowl of coconut chicken curry soup. Both seemed worth taking the leap.