Sunday, May 23, 2010
On The Road Again
On The Road Again!
Once I hit Douglas Pass on my way to Vernal and Flaming Gorge, I think it actually sank in that, yes, I was getting out of Dodge for a few days for the first time since the Christmas/New Year's holiday! Maybe it was the altitude, maybe it was driving over the crest and knowing that my cell phone was turned off and I had left my laptop at home, whatever, On The Road Again!!
Now as some of you may remember from previous ramblings, I steer clear of chain restaurants and fast food when I do my roadies and this trip was to be no exception to that rule. I went on-line and googled the towns that I was driving through, asked for advice from our Facebook and Blog pages and had written down a few ideas.
From the responses I had gotten, I knew that Vernal and Rangely may not be a gastronomical destination for most normal people, but whoever said that I was normal.
In Rangely, I found this little place, The White River Drive-In, which looks like it was a Mom & Pop Ice Cream stand that grew up a little. There was nothing fancy about this place, your basic ice cream cones, sundaes and shakes with a little bit of grill items and pizza added on. I saw that they had a Philly Burger, and with my east coast background, said what the hey. The burger came out, covered with grilled onions and American cheese, but I noticed that it was not your typical food-supplier burger, but one that looked like it was actually hand-made, yea! Being the pepperhead that I am, I had asked for some jalapenos on the side, which I applied to the top and washed it all down with a chocolate shake, all-in-all, not a bad way to start the roadie!
When I hit Utah, the first thing I noticed when I hit civilization were gas stations with a $3.15 gas price for regular, be glad we live where we do, I had paid $2.59 with my grocery card discount!
When I got to Vernal, which was to be my staging point for my excursions to Flaming Gorge and Dinosaur National Park, I had a few places written down from our fans and set out to see what these places looked like, found a few of them and then saw a place, Cafe Rios in a little mini-strip mall on the side of the road. They had a sign in the window that said #1 Mexican Food in the country and while I wondered who they came about stating that, decided that it took huge juevos to state that, so what the hey!
Their special of the day was a Chicken Enchilada plate, with a choice of beans and rice and salad. They assembled the plate, actually a dinner-size aluminum take-out container and topped it all with more shredded Mexican cheese, which melted all over the top by the time it came out. I grabbed a table overlooking the main drag of Vernal and dug in. The enchiladas were great, obviously the tortillas were made there and not store bought, the chicken was perfectly seasoned and the enchilada sauce and cheese was a perfect addition. By the amount of local people that I saw enjoying their food, this is a popular spot for the locals and one that I would stop back at.
Friday, I took off early to check out Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, about 35 miles north of Vernal and stretches up to the Wyoming Border. Now their normal busy time runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, which is why I hit it now, less people!
The road from Vernal takes you up through Uintas Mountains and is a great drive! The Flaming Gorge Unitas National Scenic Byway runs through the Ashley National Forest and through Flaming Gorge NRA. This was such a great drive, with many pull-outs, that I just turned off the radio and cd's, and to paraphrase 'Bruce'.. "rolled down the windows and let the wind blow back your hair". Once I hit Manila, I headed north up the west side of the gorge and ended up in Green River and drove over to Rock Springs, Wyoming to drive back down the east side of Flaming Gorge.
By this time, I was feeling my stomach growl and started looking around for some local eateries and found one of the highlights of this drive-about. I had driven around town and nothing really hit my eye (remember, no chain or fast food!) and had almost given up, when I saw a sign saying 'Taco's, they way they should be!' at a small place called 'Super Tortas Mini Tacqueria', right off exit 102 on I-80, corner of Foothill & Dewar.
Maybe 10 tables in the place, nothing fancy but clean and it smelled great. I looked over the menu and settled on the 'Fortachen' which are tacos made with Steak, Chorizo and Cheese, with a Jarritos Orange Soda.
The server brought my platter by and these were the old-school tacos that I love, four little tacos, with two little corn tortillas on the bottom of each taco, not the mass produced flour tortillas that a lot of places use nowadays. I hit them with a little hot sauce and dug in. Some of the best tacos I have had outside of the Baja!!
I headed down the east side of Flaming Gorge and decided, yeah, time for a little music, not Bruce, not The Dead, but a little 'Birth of the Cool', Miles Davis, perfect driving music for a road such as this!
A few hours later, I ended back in Vernal, with an appetite! I had read in a few places about this place called 7-11 Ranch Restaurant, right on the main drag in Vernal. This place has been around since the 30's and serves home made food, steaks, chops, burgers and the like. I saw that they had a 7-11 Pork Burger with homemade sausage and I was hooked. A huge homemade sausage patty, topped with raw onions and tomatoes came to my table and while this might not have been the most health-conscious meal I have ever had, it was quite good.
The next morning, I was headed out to check out Dinosaur National Monument and stopped by Betty's Cafe, also on the main drag, a spot I had read about and that was recommended by some people I met at a gift shop on the Flaming Gorge Drive.
Just a small place, with a home-style menu, eggs, omelettes and such on the breakfast menu. I saw one of my favorites, Biscuits and Gravy! I love Biscuits and Gravy and when the waitress brought my a plate, almost overflowing, I was smiling! Yeah, this will fuel the drive!
Pieces of nicely seasoned sausage in the gravy, bacon on the side, two huge homemade biscuits, I was in Hog Heaven and the whole bill, with a glass of OJ only ran about $8 bucks!
One of the things I realized, remembered, whatever, was that a meal does not have to be 'gourmet' to be good! You take real homemade food, cooked by real people and yeah, you can have some great food!
Go out and enjoy America! Get off the interstates, get away from chains and fast food and find out what real people cook and eat!
Our website of the week continues this road trip theme; http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/445609. They have some great suggestions for food on the road and some great recipes!
You can now also follow the adventures of Decadence on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Decadence-Gourmet-Cheesecakes/171538834903 and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/decadenceGJ)
We are loading up recipes and discounts on our Facebook page and will also be letting our ‘fans’ know of upcoming events, sales and the like. There are even videos! Check it out and become a fan!