Friday, November 28, 2014

On this trip, every meal’s an adventure


From page A2 | July 12, 2012 |

As the Red-Headed Girl of My Dreams, the Above-Pictured Columnist and our four young children set a course due north from our East Davis home, we all swore an oath: no movies in the van and no McDonald’s.

Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those choices. It’s just that if we want to eat Happy Meals and watch “Toy Story 2,” we can do that from the comfort of the couch in our living room. Even Mount Shasta under a full moon can’t compete with Woody and Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang.

As for McDonald’s, I’ve always been a fan, even on road trips. Sometimes, especially on road trips. Consistency can be comforting when you’re rolling through a strange town with limited choices. McDonald’s also can be a godsend when the unexpected events of the day land you at your destination long after every other dinner option is closed for the night.

My sweetheart and front-seat companion brilliantly suggested that we get each kid an inexpensive camera to call his or her own and the plan worked to perfection. Suddenly we were pulling over to snap photos of deer and totem poles and odd-shaped boulders and large houseboats and even the occasional mural on the outside wall of a small-town hardware store. With no distractions inside the van, all attention was focused outside.

As for our informal culinary ban, it extended to Subway, Burger King, Taco Bell and several other familiar faces, which more or less guaranteed we’d be spending a bit more at mealtime and sometimes regretting we were forced to eat the local Bubba Burger instead of a Big Mac.

We convinced the kids it would be an adventure to eat in new and unique restaurants in towns we’d never seen before, fully admitting that this course of action might result in some truly awful meals. Or perhaps an extraordinary experience.

The first test came in the upper Sacramento River town of Dunsmuir where “Urban Spoon” directed us to a local restaurant where the help was clearly flummoxed by the sight of six people sitting at the same table, four of whom requested children’s menus.

We left disappointed, frustrated, hungry, way behind schedule and much poorer than if we had just grabbed a quick bite at the Burger Barn down the street and eaten while we drove.

Interestingly, though, this “bad” experience was the topic of much lively conversation the rest of the evening and into much of the next day as we headed north across the Oregon border into Klamath Falls. The “adventure” part of the meal plan was working out just fine, even if our taste buds were not satisfied.

Speaking of children’s menu, it became apparent on this trip that they are all printed by one company in Emporia, Kan., featuring as they do a choice between mac-and-cheese, mini corn dogs, chicken strips, peanut butter and jelly and grilled cheese, all with a choice of sides (choose two) including applesauce, canned corn, plain white potato chips, carrot sticks and pork ‘n’ beans. No kid has ever ordered the pork ‘n’ beans, but it remains on the menu nonetheless. $4.99 per kid, add $3 for hot chocolate, milk or lemonade.

And, because there are six in your party, they add on an 18 percent gratuity without even telling you, leading the unwary to double tip more often than not. “Adventure.” Remember that word.

Then again, the next day at the popular 900 Wall Street in trendy Bend, my sweetheart ordered a prime rib sandwich that became the gold standard by which all other meals were judged for the rest of the trip. For a while, I thought we’d have to double back through Bend on the way home just so she could repeat the experience. As for me, if we ever land at Wall Street again, I’ll order a platter of their spicy deviled eggs (just $1.50 for two), better than anything on McDonald’s extensive menu.

Much farther up the road, in north central Washington, the mighty Grand Coulee Dam beckoned, with its string of small towns — Coulee City, Electric City, Grand Coulee and Coulee Dam — and a wide variety of local restaurants and drive-ins. It’s the land that chain eateries forgot. But, despite the many choices offered, we picked the one where that word “adventure” came back into play and made us forget all about Dunsmuir.

The pattern repeated itself as we meandered throughout the Pacific Northwest, sampling the good, the bad and the mediocre. Bigfoot’s in Seaside, Ore., had outstanding fish ‘n’ chips, while Pig ‘n’ Pancake in the same town was superb with its pan-fried razor clams.

To be sure, they weren’t all “happy” meals on this journey, but every place where we ate gave us something to chew on for the rest of the trip.

Mission accomplished.

— Reach Bob Dunning at





Davis MRAP didn’t go far: Woodland

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

Shop-local focus highlights Small Business Saturday

By Bob Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Looking for the gift of life

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

The artistic process of a neighborhood legend

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Gorilla death prompts S.F. Zoo changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Bob Dunning: MRAP your arms around this

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Holiday shopping in full gear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

Tell us your Putah Creek stories

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Explorit: Water expert will speak Dec. 15

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A3

Ceremony Tuesday celebrates MU bus terminal

By Dave Jones | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Locals come through for families in need

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Travel the world at Logos Books

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Dormant-season pruning tips offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Junior high students set walkathon fundraiser

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Horse owners needed for online survey

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Enterprise holiday decorating contest is back

By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: A4

Free bike clinic, ride set Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Flyway Nights talk focuses on sea otters of Elkhorn Slough

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Chamber of Commerce lays out 5-year plan

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Holiday gifts galore available at crafts fair

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Shakespeare folio discovered in France

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Students come together for sustainability

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Workshop will answer financial aid questions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Christmas Bird Count workshop planned Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Watch, then make, a holiday floral decoration

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

Wolks share their unique perspective on Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9



Behavior straining friendship

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Tom Elias: Utilities look to soak small users

By Tom Elias | From Page: A6

Cheers and Jeers: Thankfully, no jeers

By Our View | From Page: A6

Many thanks for a great benefit

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

It all started at the bookstore

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

What can we do to help?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

What if we really need it?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6



Seahawks shut down San Francisco

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Aggies out-Fox Utah State after dramatic Les shot to forces overtime

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Defense, depth lead Aggie women to home win

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Youth roundup: 10 titles for the Diamonds Level 3 gymnastics squad

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4 | Gallery





Mumbo Gumbo plays for post-Thanksgiving dance party

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

‘Horrible Bosses 2′: Fire ‘em all!

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery



Sonata evolves into more sophisticated car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery



John Walter Neves Jr.

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



Comics: Friday, November 28, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B3

Comics: Friday, November 28, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: A10