“I been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota,
Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota,
Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma,
Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma…”
Even though I’ve not completed Johnny’s full list, I will be checking quite a few off this trip. Our long-anticipated, on again/off again move to Atlanta, GA is finally happening and it’s a trip, in more ways than one. Yes, Sportsfans, Nativenapkin has finally taken his show on the road.
Making that final drive away from someplace I have not only lived in for the past three years, but also have so many connections with, via family, friends and business, is rather disorienting. I have driven down The Five dozens of times in my life, but this is only the second time in history that I have driven past the Windmill Farm near Altamont, knowing I will not be breezing back by them in a week or so, when vacation is over. I won’t be rolling up my window to stifle the manure smell as I near Harris Ranch (Hey! Cows!), nor will I be gassing up in Santa Clarita at the top of the Grapevine before heading back up through the heart of the Central Valley. No, like Thelma and Louise, we are going to just keep going, but we will hopefully stop just a little bit sooner than they did on our visit to The Grand Canyon later today.
So, here we are in Flagstaff, in State #2 of our Nine State Tour. The first stop was in L.A. Not “L.A., proper,” but the vapid and widespread area we Nor-Cals will often mistakenly refer to as L.A.: The Valley. Most Angelenos will bristle at having Riverside County, Pasadena, or anywhere else in The Valley referred to as “L.A.”; but to most of us who live North of Monterey, anything south of Santa Barbara is considered L.A. (It has been only been on a couple of rare occasions that I have experienced the real L.A. and, as much as it grinds against everything in my makeup as a Bay Area Boy to admit it, I have seen why Angelenos love their City like we do ours.)
This trip bypassed our friend Angela, the Wine Gique’s beautiful little bungalow in Larchmont Village, in favor of the Mother-In-Laws in Sun City in Riverside County. We must have been emanating Guilt Waves both strong and wide-ranging, as she rang us as we were passing very nearby her exit. She gave us a good and thorough tongue lashing for not coming by to stage a repeat performance of the now-legendary Coq Au Vin dinner we enjoyed the last time.
No, not this time. We are zooming by, out to stay two nights in a La Quinta (Spanish for “Next to Denny’s”) in San Bernadino, of all places. What a depressingly depressed area this is, with no less than three shuttered restaurants within sight of our hotel. We had a lovely time at the M.I.L.’s, though, eating two very good meals that we prepared ourselves. We wanted to have as many home cooked meals as possible before embarking on what was sure to be six days of fast food-franchised-formula-concept restaurant meals as we make our way across The Forty.
Here in Flagstaff which, if you listen to Yelp, Urban Spoon, or Trip Advisor, is pretty much a Restaurant Wasteland, we actually found some of the best thin-crusted pizza I have ever eaten. A small chain called Oregano’s has an outpost here and, even though we had to help the manager clear up some fuzzy logic his POS system had imprinted on our bill, it was fantastic. Tomorrow will hopefully be some great Southwest or Mexican during our stop in Albuquerque, then a fat-ass Rib Eye at Red Primesteak in Oklahoma City. Memphis is our last night on the road, and I don’t think I need to tell you what we’ll be eating that night.
I think I’ll rewrite that Johnny Cash tune with new lyrics:
“I’ve eaten everywhere, man;
I’ve eaten the Rib Eye, rare, man.
Of Ribs I’ve had my share, man…”