Monday, September 5, 2011

Drivecation 0-11: Day 11

Our vacation goes up to 11!  Today was a challenging day to find a breakfast place, being the holiday.  We ended up driving through Eureka, which is a town roughly the size of Elko, but severely lacking in any kind of cultural center.  Elko has a pretty cohesive rustic charm, and this just seemed all over the place, a freshly restored and painted building done up in a turn-of-the-century style and on the next block, an abandoned, rusted out killin' shack.

Yelp led us to a bagel place, but they didn't publish their hours, and turned out to be closed.  It was just as well, because just down the street was a nice little breakfast place called Old Towne Coffee and Chocolates.  I ordered a plain bagel with fresh blackberry jam, and Gregory ordered a lox and cream cheese bagel.  The bagels were light and easy to chew: everything we like in a bagel.  They had a Mexican mocha, which was basically Abuelita with a shot of espresso (if you haven't had Abuelita, it's a yummy chocolatey drink now available in your local grocery store.  Ask for it by name!).  Gregory ordered a Chai and was faced with the option of sweet or spicy.  He went for spicy, which surprised me, and when it came, surprised us both, really.  Boy was it ever.  Cardamom up your nose!  It was also hot like a cup of lava, and remained so for quite some time.  I'm surprised it didn't melt the cup.  It took about four hours before we could start to sip it, but it was possibly the best Chai I have had.

We decided to continue our drive south, which took us away from the coast and slightly inland, and hopped off of Highway 101, and took the Avenue of the Giants, which was basically a smaller windier road through lush Redwoods.  These were slightly different from the day before, in that the temperature was much higher--in the 70's!--and the forest floor was less lush.  It was more dirt and less overgrown, the occasional fern and clover, and also more varied tree types.  But the Redwoods were no less impressive.

We hiked on several trails and took a ton more pictures, and just spent time looking and enjoying the wilderness.

We continued down the Avenue, which eventually ended and rejoined Highway 101, which took us over the mountains and back to the coast.  Call this road what you will, "that goddam road," "the mangler," "the vomitorium."  This is the windiest highway in the universe.  Lombard Street has nothing on this.  You can't get going fast enough down Lombard to even make you queasy.  I didn't really get car sick, but felt a little uncomfortable and I was driving.  Gregory felt a little uneasy, but I think that it was mostly due to my driving, since he made me pull over so he could drive--well, coupled with the cartoon-like sheer cliff, fall-to-your-death-if-you-drive-off-the-shoulder, didn't help either.

We finally made it to the California coast and headed for our next destination: the town of Fort Bragg, a speed bump in the highway on your way to San Francisco, which, the only speed bumps I can think of are roadkill.  So, yes, a dead-animal of a town along the northern California coast: welcome to Fort Bragg.  I'm kidding.  Let's go with wounded animal.  Yes, a badger-with-a-mangled-rear-leg of a town: Fort Bragg!  You're welcome!

Speaking of meat, for dinner, Gregory ordered a bacon-wrapped filet mignon rare, and I a porterhouse medium rare, with brandy-cream sauce, garlic mash, and veggies.  The veggies aren't anything to write home about (are they ever?), which I find so strange.  The last couple of experiences with the steamed or grilled veggies have been so whatevery, clearly they are some afterthought, or obligatory thing that has to appear on the plate due to some regulation.  You can't think of anything better to do with carrots or squash?

Did I mention our waiter was Tom Selleck?  He didn't have an alligator to wrestle, but that's probably because it was 55 degrees outside.  What is up with this crazy weather?  Is it always this foggy and miserable on the NoCal coast?  In August?  It feels like LA winter, including the cold bite in the sea air.

Anwyay, Gregory's steak arrived not only rare, but European-rare.  Mine was American medium-rare, and the leap was surprising.  It was yummy, though.  Seared and even a little cold on the inside.  So tender and delicious... Tom brought us Creme Brûlée for dessert, since it was the only thing they made there (the other options were food-service items, and we wanted some home-cookin'), and this was the thickest brûléed creme I have ever had: it was thick like cheesecake or spread.  The sugar layer on the top wasn't thick enough for my personal liking, but overall it tasted good, and it was in front of us so, like dogs, we ate it.  We bade Tom farewell, and returned to our room at a Holiday Inn Express.  I don't know if all the HIE's have the same soap, but ours smells like gingerbread, and it is all I can do to keep from absently gnawing on my arm, as I type this.

Tomorrow we need to get an early start to make sure we maintain our schedule.  One of our objectives is to meet up with Joshy and he has limited time between his jobs tomorrow to meet, so that means an early dinner, which also means an early everything else if we want to cram in as much in as possible before our arrival in San Mateo no later than 4PM.

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