Monday, July 18, 2011

Road Trip!

Justin and I have embarked on a month-long road trip with our final destination being California. In between, we are visiting Denver, Fort Collins, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon. In California we will hit up San Diego, Los Angelos, San Francisco, Sonoma Valley, Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe. On the way back, we’re heading to Salt Lake City, Rocky Mountain National Park, and then home (with some stops in between). It’s going to be an epic journey and I’m already enjoying every minute of it.

A delicious breakfast.
It took two and a half days to drive to Denver, but the stops at Akron, Ohio and Des Moines, Iowa have been quite nice. A friend’s parents hosted us in Akron and provided us with good conversation, a comfortable bed, and a delicious breakfast. They feel like family. Actually, I mentioned them in a previous post about food hospitality. Our next host was found through couchsurfing. She is a French girl living here for a year working at a computer job. She made us dinner and invited Brazilian friends over. It was fun to hang out with people from different cultures and eat German spaetzle (even though there were no Germans around!).
Spaetzle
On our journey so far, we’ve been enjoying delicious food that we prepared in advance. We can’t stomach fast food, and even if we could, it’s nice to be thrifty. I was won over by a recipe from Smitten Kitchen for the most delicious flatbreads. Justin dutifully made them last week, I froze them, and they were perfect even when eaten cold. I made Lemon Thyme Cookies that keep well, and we just enjoyed the last of them five days after baking them. We grew carrots in our garden and plucked them out of the earth just before leaving. They were a satisfyingly crunchy snack. I can’t remember if they were an heirloom variety, but there was a faint taste of cardamom in them.

Cardamom Carrots

During a whole weekend of driving, entertainment becomes very different than it is at home. Looking at the names of towns becomes fascinating. I saw names in the mid-west for What Cheer, Wahoo, Keokuk (like my name!) and others that are now escaping me. I admired all of the happy wildflowers along the highway. Acres of queen anne’s lace, black-eyed susans, and one that was like a fluffy ground cover with thousands of little pink or white buds. The corn fields got boring really fast, although the sheer expanse of corn fields (and sometimes soy beans) got me thinking again about the strange set up that is America’s food system. I savored the perfectly ripe peach that was not quite ripe when we started out on Friday, but got warmed by the sun in the back seat of the car.

Flowers at our friend's parents house, where we ate breakfast on the deck.

And let’s talk about iced coffee, shall we? I longed for it. Midwesterners, apparently, don’t believe in it (at least not along I-80). I lucked out in Illinois yesterday. As I was about to sell out and buy iced coffee from McDonald’s, I realized that the South Bend Chocolate Company sold iced coffee. It went perfectly with my lemon thyme cookies. Then today, iced coffee just wasn’t showing up at any rest stops. Twice, I hopefully walked into to travel stops, reusable iced coffee cup tucked under my arm, only to find gas station hot coffee. I caved in and bought a cup, blasted the AC in the car to make up for it, and drove on. Only to see a tall Starbucks sign taunting me 60 miles later.

I will keep you posted on our future food adventures for the rest of the trip. There won’t be any recipes, but oh, there will be food!

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