Save the Liver!

WP_20150618_16_40_06_ProWe rented a car for the first time for a road trip. After always putting wear and tear on our own cars, it seemed to make sense to avoid that this time. We ended up with an upgrade to a small SUV, a Nissan something something, Which was good as we had a fair amount of luggage. We are driving to Los Angeles for a week-long Mexican cruise, and being on a cruise means more luggage. There is always at least one formal dinner, and it looks like the schedule we have has several parties and events that are at least dressy.

But the Captain’s Dinner (or whatever this Cruise line calls it) is formal, and a good excuse to bring my Tuxedo. Before we left I had to get it tailored, as when I purchased it years ago, I was several sizes larger. I didn’t realize this until I wore it to a friend’s wedding, and I looked like the lead singer from The Talking Heads in it. (apparently, the suit wasn’t the same as it ever was…)

I found a great service called zTailors, which is like an Uber for tailors. You make an appointment, and they come to your home, measure everything, and return in a week. It was great. I did the tux and two jackets. So now for the trip I have my tux, shirt, and a white linen jacket, which should cover me for any formal events. I also took my white Oxacan linen shirt, a great shirt I purchased in Cabo on our last Mexican trip. It’s perfect for drinking tequila in the heat.

We planned on a two day drive down, then a two day drive on the way back. We have done this drive so many times, and it always is a little different. Yulia and I took this drive on our honeymoon, and 21 years later, this will be the first time that Sasha will have a driver’s license on the trip. We’ll have her drive a little so we can all rotate around. It makes it much easier.

Our goal was to go as far as possible on the first day of driving, so we would have some extra time to rest at the hotel on the second day. We had a little bit of a late start in Seattle, and then got stuck in traffic on 520 and 405. It cost us an extra hour. Our goal was somewhere around Sacramento, and that was over 12 hours. We were a little concerned about the timing, but we thought we could make some of that up.

As it turned out, we made great time through Washington. Portland was a bit slow, but the rest of Oregon was unusually clear. We tried to rotate every two hours. It really made the drive easier. Taking a big drive is also a great chance to let your brain decompress, and we had a good time talking about absolutely nothing in particular. It was a great time.

We did a drive change near a roadside diner in Oregon called “Heaven on Earth.” We weren’t sure about going in, the outside looked like a set from a horror film, and I was keeping my ears open for the telltale signs of banjos. As we walked around some hipster looking guy waved us in the direction of the entrance. Inside, it was an amazing looking bakery, with a smallish restaurant on the side. They had piles of cakes, pies, and cinnamon rolls in the entrance. In boxes, they had their specialty, which was a cake-sized cinnamon roll (insulin not included). The whole place smelled amazing.

We sat down, we really hadn’t had anything but some snacks, and needed a real meal. They served Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day. The menu was classic American food, and just what we wanted. Sasha got Bacon and eggs, Yulia had soup and salad, and I got Liver bacon and Onions. All of it was epic. Big portions and everything fresh. The soup was “Chicken Pot Pie Soup” and totally amazing. My liver was excellent, crisp but not overdone.

Yulia commented that we always  look for classic road trip food when we drive, and never find it. We have been driving this road for 21 years, and this place has been open for 40 years. We have driven past it on every tip, and never knew to stop. We only stopped this time to change drivers. We won’t miss it again.

We reserved a hotel here. It was evening, but we wanted to get a reservation near Sacramento so we knew where we would stop. Yulia used her phone to book a place just outside Sacramento, and got a great deal. We did a quick estimate, and with a place just before Sacramento, we would arrive right around 10:30.

We kept driving, Mt. Shasta was beautiful once we got down into California. The highway took us over the Sacramento river, and the reservoirs there. We always loved the view crossing this area, but I had seen photos of the dropping water levels, and had an idea of what to expect. It was still shocking. Crossing the first bridge, the water was so low that we couldn’t see any at all over the railing as we drove. We later had views down, and saw the boats beached at dry marinas, steep hillsides with previous year’s waterlines, and just the smallest volume of water imaginable. This was not a good thing.

We have a regular stop on our drive, The Olive Pit. It’s just a bit north of Sacramento, and we love the olive tasting there. This time we were going to hit it after hours, so no olives. It was still a good place to stop for a fillup. We ended up running later than expected. As we pulled into Redding, a series of flashing lights ahead fired up, and traffic slowed down. Way down. We crawled to the front of the jam to find two California Highway Patrol SUVs escorting a HUGE Wide Load trailer, with several chase trucks. The thing was at least two lanes wide, we were never able to figure out what it was. We hoped to get past the group, but the freeway narrowed to two lanes right as we got to the group. So we were trapped behind them for a good half hour or so. This was when we checked the GPS and realized that our hotel was just past Sacramento, not just before. All this meant we would be arriving just past midnight. Nuts.

Eventually everyone cleated out in front of us. It was a straight drive into Sacramento from there. Long, and in the dark, but easy. Tomorrow would be a mush shorter drive.