Car 33o, Room A, aboard the Southwest Chief.
You can have your beaches. You can have your spas. My idea of total relaxation and rejuvenation is a weekend – or a week – in a private sleeper aboard a long-distance train across America.
Amtrak is my happy place.
Sunny’s eyes just about came out of her head when the waitress at Kick Back Jack’s set these monster blueberry pancakes down in front of her.
My dear wife had her revenge, though: she made it through about 80% of this massive stack, then jumped back into the car and drove another four hours.
Never underestimate the ability of a thin person to make food just seem to disappear.
I had to laugh at and share this shot, because in it I look like I textbook combination of my parents.
While this provides some assurance that my family tree is as advertised, it is also a bit frightening: I look like my parents did when I was a teenager.
Ah, well: aging beats the alternative.
Sunny dropped us at the beach at Sycamore Canyon around 9am. It was a later start than we would normally like, but as it turns out it was a good thing we were rested.
The twelve mile uphill hike wasn’t particularly strenuous, except for a portion where we gained about 600 feet in a mile, and that was only a challenge because it was after 8 miles and 2:40 of steady walking up slope without rest. What is more, Aaron keeps up a steady 3mph pace with a full day pack, so it was a bit more than a leisurely stroll up Sycamore Canyon.
In theory the last four miles should have been an easy downhill stroll to the 101, but fatigue was starting to set in, and even the kid was audibly relieved when our stopping point hive into view as we crossed the freeway.
By the end we had taken a bit over 4 hours to walk the 12 miles, but we had crossed the Santa Monica Mountains, burned 2,000 extra calories, and started our training program for the big prize: the John Muir Trail.
Sadelle’s turkey and roast beef triple-decker is not a sandwich to be taken lightly. There is at least two pounds of deli meat, a half-pint of coleslaw, and six slices of bread on this beast. I don’t want to think of the calories.
A half portion did me in, but Aaron managed to destroy the entire sandwich in a single sitting. It was a remarkable thing to watch. Had he been older or less athletic I would have feared for his health. As it was the only ill effect was an instant need for a long nap and a very late dinner that night.
All of this is provocative, though. The primary focus of the Las Vegas food scene seems to be excess, and quantity is the easiest way to go, from all-you-can-eat buffets to cocktails served in Big Gulp® cups to man-versus-food restaurant entrees like these. Watching my son chew his way in one sitting through the daily caloric intake of a small village, I was struck by how ordinary scenes like this have become in the US. Gluttony may be a deadly sin, but it is a common vice in our lives.
This deserves more thought and more room, so I’ve started gathering string for an essay on big food. Please share thoughts.
So we saved our calories and fats for a day and then went to Eggslut in Las Vegas for breakfast the day before Xmas. The sandwiches were delightful, each handmade to order with care. Even with my shrunken stomach, one sandwich was not enough, so I ordered two, a Fairfax and an Egg Salad.
The Fairfax is the apotheosis of the egg sandwich, with the soft scrambled eggs smooth but not runny, the chives giving a savory boost, all of which in an ordinary sandwich would have made the slice of cheddar redundant. On the Fairfax, though, the cheese deepens the savor, and the siracha mayo comes in to finish each bite with a gentle kick. There is a LOT going on in this meatless wonder, and you will have to keep careful control of yourself to avoid gobbling the entire thing down in less than a minute.
The egg salad would not have been a normal morning choice for me, but I’m glad I tried it. Eggslut alters your idea of plain-old-egg-salad forever, mixing the chopped hard-boiled eggs in a honey-mustard aioli and chives, then laying it all on a bed of arugula before setting it lovingly on a warm brioche bun.
You can get an egg on a bun a lot of places, and you could make it at home for pennies. But the care and exquisite mix of flavors that go into Eggslut’s creations is a satisfying reminder that greatness in the kitchen comes not from the creation of elaborate delicacies, but from the art that turns a prosaic dish into culinary poetry.
Yes, it was a cheat meal, but it was so, so worth it.
Stopped for a moment in the frigid reaches of northern Montana. Look carefully. See the Chinese restaurant?
Yep. Even here in Shelby. Brilliant.
Side note: I hear this one has now closed. But don’t fret: Kowloon Restaurant on Main Street in Shelby is open every day but Monday.
The West Glacier stop, formerly the Belton Station on the old Great Northern Line. She’s a beauty in the snow.
First fresh air stop of the day. Early. Brisk. But undeniably beautiful.
Was it a box dinner? Yes – we didn’t pick up our dining car until we hooked up with the #8 in Spokane at midnight.
Was it awful? NO! It was phenomenal!
Another score for Amtrak!