Bread on the Road

Before I bring you all back into my kitchen, and we return to the baking that helps keep me giving, and sane, I just wanted to leave you with one last road trip post.

About bread!

Yum… Having been born a baker’s daughter, I’d say that I’ve always had a high awareness for the quality, look, smell, cost, labor of, ingredients in, and especially the taste of bread. So, when I lived in France, I was in heaven. I bought baguettes on occasion, and boules, and country loaves… I could tell the bakeries apart–and learned to turn my nose up at those that flash froze their products and baked them off later… I learned to love (and eat daily) chaussons aux pommes (pastry filled with cooked apples or applesauce).

When in Italy I shunned most of the breads and learned to make homemade pasta.

When in Colorado I was dismayed by the many soft, enriched, nutrient-boosted white breads with super long shelf lives, and finally decided to try to bake for myself.

This short story is getting long!

Anyway, even though our 5,244 mile road trip was a whirlwind, we did have to eat. And along the way we stumbled on a few very bread-worthy moments. Here they are:

I asked the server at Teddy’s Deli in Keystone, South Dakota about this bread after the first bite. “Where’s it from?” I mumbled and chewed and exclaimed, pointing to the swirled rye bread on my sandwich. “Montana,” he said. “All the good bread comes from Montana,” he added. Who knew?! And even before eating this sandwich I’ve been dreaming of making a really fabulous rye at home. We love our rye crackers, but I have yet to bake a fabulous sourdough rye, or pumpernickel, or really any sort of rye that I’d want to repeat regularly. After this sandwich, I’m on a quest!

We looked ALL over Keystone, South Dakota for a place to eat breakfast. We wanted eggs, and something other than donuts… And finally we ended up at Peggy’s Place, which my sister-in-law charmingly called “Cathy’s” because she just does that sort of thing. After seeing these massive cinnamon rolls, then tasting them, we came back two days in a row. Who wouldn’t?  

Moving on to Montana, but still stuck in rye mode, I purchased this small loaf of dark rye at On the Rise in Bozeman. Yum.

Here’s the storefront, and below is a rack of hearth bread with the listed prices. Montana is a big grower of winter wheat, and I’m tempted to purchase some wheat directly from this company, a Montana family of farmers who seem to love their trade. But look at those prices?! Makes you want to bake your own hearth bread, doesn’t it?

In Washington we mostly ate at home (at Harvey and Linda’s, I mean!), and there I baked up a fresh batch of buttermilk biscuits right off a recipe card that looked to be about 40 years old. Honored.

And in Oregon, I thought about pulling out my starter, which I’d kept secreted away for the whole trip, but didn’t. We were sidelined by snow and other things and before you knew it, we were home!

Now it’s your turn. All you beautiful people come from hither and yon. I’d love for you to post your favorite bakeries or breads that you find in your part of the world. It’d be fun to compile a list of faves for that next time–that next road trip, that either you–or I–take.

How ’bout it?

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Hit the Road, Jack

Nineteen days on the road. The first three days we clocked 29 hours of sitting, so I stopped counting hours in the car after that. Five people, in one rented (thankfully large) car,

What did we do?!

Played the Harmonica

Fiddled with Yarn

Really, REALLY Enjoyed Picnicking at the Rest Stops

Sang

Were Weird with the Cousins

Stopped at Diners

Exercised

Looked at the Scenery (and the cows… and the giant buffalo statues…)

Scoped out license plates

Chatted with the Highway Patrolmen

Loaded and Unloaded the Car

Read

Slept

We also snacked, and listened to audio books, and Mad drew pictures on her arm, and Andrew sang SO loud–and sometimes all was quiet, and we simply looked out the window at the changing scenery…

If you like details, then here is the tour–Santa Barbara, California to Las Vegas, Nevada to Glenwood Springs, Colorado to Fort Collins, Colorado to Randolf, Nebraska to Keystone, South Dakota to Bozeman, Montana to Goldendale, Washington to Portland, Oregon to Crater Lake National Park to Fort Klamath, Oregon to Lassen Volcanic National Park to San Jose, California–then once again home, to Santa Barbara.

5,244 miles

Many dollars in gasoline

Will we do it again next summer?

No way. That would be pressing our luck–plus, we’re hoping to revisit la sourceand let our sourdough starter soak up some more yeasties from the place of its origin–if we can drum up a few free plane tickets. Anyone with a few free plane tickets?

But that’s then, and this is now, and …we’re HOME!

California

When I was a little girl I used to sing and tap dance for folks in wheelchairs at rest homes. I sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and School days, school days, dear old golden rule days… and I especially liked to tap the Shuffle Off to Buffalo. I remember rarely being nervous, but also marveling at some of my friends who were actually quite good at being little girl and boy performers…

One obvious song from the olden days kept inching its way to the front of my brain this last week as we drove the long road through Oregon, into Northern California where we visited Lassen National Volcanic Park–into San Jose where we stayed with beloved and longtime friends–and finally home. Home! I’ll leave you with the lyrics, and a few last photos of our time away. What a whirlwind–I’m still amazed that our family survived 5,000 miles in the car unscathed! And here we are home, it’s still summer, the beach is beckoning LOUDLY, and outside of making a lot of rye bread this coming week, that’s where I’ll be. Well, at the beach, and home doing laundry…

Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of our time away.

Cheers!


California, here I come
Right back where I started from
Where bowers of flowers
Bloom in the spring
Each morning, at dawning
Birdies sing and everything
A sun-kissed miss said, “Don’t be late”
That’s why I can hardly wait
Open up that Golden Gate
California, here I come


Oregon

Portland

For two days before we hit Powell’s Books in Portland, I racked my brain to remember the book I desperately wanted to buy there. Really–I saved the buying of this one book for the biggest bookstore experience I was likely to have in a long time. What author doesn’t want to roam the various colored rooms and floors of Powell’s? Desperately I begged my children to tweeze the title of the book out of me as we approached the store. I moaned. I complained. I swear I almost ranted! Goodness. A very long forgetful moment ended in everyone purchasing something except me–my two sons being especially booky that day. I’m sure there’s a moral in there somewhere 🙂

The Surprise of Snow

 

 

 

 

This whole road trip we’ve been carting around our tent, cooler, and sleeping bags, for this one opportunity we’d planned to camp–at Crater Lake National Park. We stopped in Bend, Oregon to stock up on food, and arrived in the park in the late afternoon.

I was more than mildly surprised that we left summer behind just a few feet into the park. By the time we reached the rim of the crater and stared into the almost 2,000 feet of blue water below us, there were snow banks all around, the chilly air nipped at our bare arms and legs, and I was already talking about crocheting sweaters, hats and mittens out of the extra wool I had by my feet. Indeed, my daughter talked me into quickly beginning a green beanie.

Then, plenty of comedy. Most of the campsites were flooded from the snow melt. The kids were going over protocol if you meet bears (of which there are plenty in that place) while we circled in and out of campsite A, B, C and D, then A again, and B, and C and D again–John Ronan was playing the harmonica–and Douglas and I kept glancing at each other with those knowing looks that come with 23 years of marriage. The fork in the road came when we chose a campground, got out to inspect it and were swarmed by massive, monstrous mosquitos. There were thousands, and we are wimps.

Into the car–over to the lodge for a very pricey sit by the fire and dinner. And just like that, we left the park, making vows of Next Time.

Next Time–we will actually read about the park and know its geographical features.

Next Time–we will show up to find a campsite in the morning like all the other seasoned camper-outters.

Next Time–we will make reservations to simply stay at the lodge. 🙂

The Oregon Range

So, we drove out of the park to find a place to stay that was wimp-proof. On the road we encountered the most beautiful valley, filled with that soft evening light that even makes cows glow with glory. We pulled over and snapped a few photos of this new place…

Then, the first town we encountered, Fort Klamath, had a funky little motel and a vacancy sign in the window. It was late-ish, but we found a clean and comfortable room at Jo’s Motel, equipped with organic coffee, bunk beds, views to the sheds out back, and a complimentary copy of The Secret of Roan Inish.  All in all–perfect! We drank tea and cuddled and watched the movie of the little seal and the little boy and the little girl who swim and boat back and forth to the island of the seals… My John Ronan doesn’t really get it yet, but his name, Ronan, means little seal in Gaelic.

From Portland and all its city-ness (plus Powell’s–and 30 miles out of the city I remembered the title of the book!), to Crater Lake that boasts 54 feet of snowfall this last year and the biggest mosquitos I’ve ever seen, to Fort Klamath and Jo–and her earthy hospitality, I’d say I’d like to spend a lot more time in Oregon.

But this road trip is coming to an end. We’re all speaking of home, and laundry, figs on the tree, and seeing friends… It’s been a long and beautiful road, this loop to Nebraska and back. California here we come!

Washington

Driving across western Montana, and then eastern Washington there are forests, and forests, and then fields and fields of grain and open land. I wonder if any of it is wheat, but we don’t stop. We keep driving.

And we drive, and we drive. For hours we drive, and I finish the first crocheted bag, and start on a second. And we listen to Alice in Wonderland. And we stop for lunch in Coeur d’Alene and eat at the Beacon on Sherman Street.

And we’re back in the car, eating caramels from Bequet, and we listen to Nora Jones, and Switchfoot, and I ask John Ronan over and over what he can see out of his window. “Trees,” or “grass” or “nothing,” he says.

And we stop for dinner in Toppenish–we eat Mexican food.

And then we arrive at Harvey and Linda’s house! We stretch our legs, and sigh with excitement–that we are released from the red Chevy Traverse, that the landscape will stay stationary for at least a few hours. How many miles have we driven since leaving Santa Barbara–home– ten or twelve, or fourteen days ago?

Clustered around the Saint John the Forerunner Monastery, outside the small town of Goldendale, Washington, live several dear people who once resided 900 miles south. They have built homes, and sheds, and learned to shovel snow and make cappuccinos and ride ATVs. And they tell stories of bears and cat miracles, and give the biggest, fiercest hugs. So, for two and a half days we visit, and go to church together, and walk in the woods, and meet new friends,  and drive the hills, and talk of coffee and Christ and are refreshed.

jk

And then, there are several last good-byes and we are off.

And it’s hard to say good-bye. It seems we are saying good-bye too many times in a row, over and over

we pass through a new place,

see an old friend,

and say good-bye.

Montana

We’ve known several people over the years who were raised in the state of Montana. Like my friend Kristina from my last post, they are passionate about the Montana snow and the mountains, about the wide expanse of the sky and the smell of the forest.

We only had two days to explore the town of Bozeman and its environs (but we did drive the entire state from east to west–phew!) and even in that short time confirmed the notion that each place along this grand tour of ours has its own share of unique beauty–and a whole host of very beautiful and hospitable people.

To all you Montana folk, thanks for sharing your gushing rivers, pine-scented trails, roaring waterfalls, and makeshift bridges (that enticed my daughter to venture across–and almost gave me a heart attack!).

They have really good bread in Montana, too, but I’m saving that for another post.

Cheers–and onward–to Washington!

South Dakota

Many years ago, when I was an editor for a small journal for women, Kristina Roth George wrote a personal essay that we published about her childhood in the Black Hills of South Dakota. (You can find an audio version of that article here.) That article, titled The Glory of God’s Creation inspired me into action–to consistently find a way to immerse myself in nature and its tremendous beauty. For me, that has meant regular trips straight down to the beach, rain or shine, fog or blazing sun. It was a sad realization, once reading Kristina’s words, that I had been living a mile from the mighty waters of the Pacific and hadn’t even looked that way for many months on end. I made a quick turn around and have been going for three years straight, and have the photos to prove it! (I post photos on Facebook–feel free to friend me…)

My time at the beach has had all sorts of consequences. Suddenly, the tides and the phases of the moon are important. I’ve found the beach in all sorts of states of change. One week it was fully covered with rocks, the whole sea bottom upheaved by a storm and washed ashore. Other days I’ve carted all my kids and friends, and have dug in the soft sand for hours. Tide pools. Lady bugs. Wild flowers. Sea anemones. And my beach days have led to trips into our mountains. To snow days, to trail hiking and the discovery of favorite groves of oaks. God’s creation is glorious indeed, and the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of getting away from home and into the elements has enriched my life tremendously. Thank you, sweet Kristina.

And I see why she holds such treasured memories of these black hills here in South Dakota, and why she returns as often as possible. There is a raw and unspoiled beauty here–a serenity mixed into the green and granite. I only wish we had many weeks to explore this place and enjoy the enchantment that surrounds me on every side.

Listen to her article; I urge you to be inspired if you find yourself indoors too often, or stuck in a routine of work, eat, and sleep. There is healing, restoration, and the possibility of adventure and new discoveries while simply walking along the shore, or sitting by a creek bank reading…

And for us, onward to Montana!

Good-bye beautiful Black Hills…