Monday, August 02, 2010

Food Revolution Road Trip Day 13: Going the Extra Mile

Driving: Moab, Utah to Nampa, Idaho

Food Revolution Challenge:
We discover our hotel is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by only fast food places and go on a quest to find a decent place to eat, only to find ourselves at...WAL-MART?

This year, it's going to be different. In years past we hauled ass from Salt Lake City to Bend, Oregon only to find the drive long and boooooring, to the point where we considered mugging a fellow traveler for his icy cold sodas because we didn't have the foresight to pack anything. THIS year, we resolved to stop in Salt Lake for a coffee/lunch and visit with Loralee, and then make our way just past Boise, Idaho to Nampa. We will stop and have a rest before we continue to Bend.

This year there will be no long, uncomfortable drives, no dying for a drink or so hungry we consider gnawing off each other's fingers. Nope.

The drive was pretty uneventful. You know that you have taken the same route before when you recognize random gas stations and have begun to stop at the same ones year after year. Unfortunately, the visit with Loralee didn't work out because she had found out at the very last minute that she had to travel for a job and wouldn't be home. I was sad to miss her, happy she had a cool new job, and thought of her while we drove through Salt Lake.

We then ate the Purdy's hedgehogs we brought to give her and resolved to just mail some to her in November when it's cold and they won't melt sitting in a mail truck.

The hotel was nicer than we expected. Don't you love it when that happens? Right close to a new mall, too. We checked in, unpacked, noted that it was dinnertime, and that's when the adventure began.

"So, any good restaurants you can recommend?" The hotel clerks usually know what's good. Our hotel is surrounded by every fast food joint you can imagine, their little signs beckoning enticingly. The clerk pulls out a book and begins recommending places.

"This one looks good," Hubs points to Brick 29.

"It's fine dining, and kind of expensive," the clerk comments. I don't care. Just the sight of the menu is making my mouth water. Hubs normally would never have picked a place like this, so being the foodies we are, Jake and I are STOKED. It's in a Masonic Temple, even. How cool is that?

We pull up to the brick building and as we're walking in, Jake and I become more excited. A real restaurant! One where the food sounds so delicious I could lick the menu! Suddenly, we stop. There's classical music playing, and other diners are seated at tables covered with linens, drinking from water goblets, and dressed in suits or dresses. Heart beginning to sink, I look down at my rumpled shorts and tank top and realize that we have made a major faux pas. This isn't just any casual restaurant. This is one you should DRESS UP for. We are not, in any way imaginable, presentable for a place like this.

Disappointed, we sneak back out before anyone notices us. Maybe next year.

We drive to the next place that the hotel clerk recommended. Just inside the doors, Hubs and I stop and gauge the situation. Greasy smelling, sort of dirty, with food that sounds more like a fast food place on the menu.

I don't think so. We hop back in the car.

"How hard can it be to find a restaurant in this town? Are you kidding me?" Hubs is a bit irritated by now, driving as we scour the downtown area to see what we can find. So far, just fast food places. We collectively look in their direction, pause, and then keep going.

"No. NO FAST FOOD. Remember, Jamie Oliver said it's worth it to go the extra mile. Drive. It's worth it." At least, I think it is. I'm soooooooo hungry.

We find ourselves at the other end of town, and still there's no food options. Car dealerships and hotels loom, but there's no FOOD. It's been 1/2 hour so far, and we're all hungry and frustrated, until an idea hits me.

"Stop here," I motion to the Wal Mart parking lot. "I have an idea."

Jake follows as I hop out of the car and enter the store and pause.

"What are you doing? Are you going to buy something to make?" He's not sure what to make of the situation.

"Nope. Watch." I spot two women, probably in their late twenties, walking towards the doors.

They are going to think I'm crazy. No, just tell them you're Canadian, that'll work. But what if they still think I'm crazy? Who cares?

Taking a deep breath, I approach them.

"Excuse me, I know this is odd, but.." I can't believe I'm doing this. "Do you know any decent restaurants in town?"

Their expressions say it all. They think I'm a complete and utter NUTCASE.

"No seriously, I'm from Canada and we're tourists, and we're starving but there's nothing but fast food around here and our hotel is no help so we're not sure what else to do but we can't find any place that is remotely decent..." The words come out in a rush. This is SO embarrassing.

This had better be worth it, Jamie Oliver. I could be eating Subway right now and not making a complete fool of myself asking Walmart shoppers where to find a decent dinner.

Their expressions soften.

"OH! Sure, no problem!" They give me directions to a main road about 25 minutes away where there are a "ton of restaurants". We laugh about the situation, and while they are very sweet I'm positive they thought I was a weirdo. Jake and I thank them profusely and soon we're back in the car.

"I can't believe you did that."

"Neither can I. You know it's bad when you are asking Walmart customers for restaurant ideas."

Thirty minutes later we finally find the road, and spot a Red Robin. By now we are starving, cranky, and while Red Robin probably could be classified as fast-ish food, we don't care. Salads, fresh grilled salmon and veggie burgers will do because we just can't go any farther.

"Mom?" Jake bites into his burger and chews thoughtfully while I dig into my side salad. "He was right. Those extra 50 miles were TOTALLY worth it."

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