Sampling the Mormon scone
We took off on Thursday morning, a day later than expected due to extremely unforeseen car troubles. I say "extremely" because my car, Ricky, is very new and has never exhibited the least sign of illness until Tuesday night, which happened to be the night before I expected to drive thousands of miles across the country.
This particular Tuesday also happened to be my 27th birthday, but it was fairly unremarkable since I spent most of it packing and doing laundry alone at my parents' house. Lunch that day was Spaghettios and tater tots, a nasty little menu that I concocted last year during grad school and which I still cling to, inexplicably. It is best consumed while sitting on the floor and watching the Cosby Show on Nickelodeon from noon to one p.m. That night Randy came over and brought me homemade cupcakes (real homemade, not fake-o Betty Crocker homemade) and Jane and Michael Stern's book Road Food, which we have been referring to successfully on our little trip. Birthday dinner took place at MK North in Northfield, and I had a delicious kir royal followed by an endive and apple salad, and a two-crab plate that included a pair of gargantuan legs and two little crab cakes. Dessert was molten chocolate cake and a glass of port. The waiter at MK North was so good that he noticed it was my birthday just from the presence of a single birthday card lying on the table, and brought the cake out with a candle in it. Very classy of him! Sadly, by that point in the evening my car was already showing signs of impertinance by doggedly refusing to budge from Park and shift into Drive. After much jostling and jiggling, it finally relented.
The next morning, disturbed by this unexpected and potentially serious development, I rushed Ricky over to Evanston Subaru, where they took their time diagnosing the problem. My mom and I went shoe-shopping in the interim in a kind of last-gasp mother-daughter bonding moment. The part needed to fix the car would not come in for a few days, so I decided to take our chances and leave on Thursday for California, using a screwdriver or pen cap to force Ricky to shift into Drive. It all seemed a bit odd, especially given that my last car, a trusty Honda Accord, never had a single problem until I asked it to drive me across the country to Seattle, at which point it essentially collapsed into a rusty heap of snivelling car-ness and exhibited what I cornily like to refer to as the worst car-ma ever.
Thankfully, the car problem mysteriously disappeared this morning in Vail, Colorado, so now it glides silkily into any gear I ask of it without complaint. However, Randy developed his own problem in Vail; namely, altitude sickness. We had a great dinner at Up The Creek Restaurant (goat cheese, sundried tomato pasta and a rosemary roasted chicken, in case anybody cares) and were getting ready to leave when he began to lean forward out of his chair in an odd (even for him) way. Before I could figure out what was happening, he collapsed backwards in a dead faint, eyes rolling backwards like a mad cow, and bonked his head against the plate glass window which was right next to our table. It was pretty damn terrifying to watch, especially the eye-rolling bit. He had told me before that he has passed out on previous occasions, most notably after one beer on a ski trip in Breckenridge, so I had an inkling that this was a faint and not, say, a massive heart attack. I got the two waiters to come over, and we all stood there nervously hovering around while he came to.
This morning we headed west once again on I-70, passing through many miles of incredibly desolate and gorgeous land in Utah. Dinner was at Mom's Restaurant, a little diner recommended by the Sterns, in Salina. I had chicken-fried steak, Randy had the fried pork chops, and we both tried some (Utah) scones, which are similar to state fair Elephant Ears and which really didn't do much for me, I have to say. But you have to try everything once, so we did. The highlight of the meal for me was the arrival of a gentleman who was wearing a belt buckle the size of his head. Now we are settling into the Hampton Inn in Richfield, and anticipating a long, long drive through Nevada tomorrow. Hopefully the Sterns and their book will help keep us out of the grips of the fast food chains yet another day, and I will be able to find an enormous belt buckle to call my very own. Stay tuned.