Remember way back in May when I asked for cross-country road trip help? Well, on June 8th we got the heck out of rainy Vancouver and headed east. Well, a super quick overnight stop in Seattle to visit with my best friend and another overnight dip into Portland, because it’s been over 2 years since our last PDX trip, and then, finally, we were on the road heading east. As soon as we crossed the Cascade mountains, we were hit with sunshine and a heatwave that didn’t let up until we crossed over the Cascades again.
We packed a lot into our 3 week holiday. There was a lot of driving – 11,000 kilometers worth (that’s over 6800 miles, to you Americans). But there was a lot of exploring, tons of iced coffee drinking, a heck of a lot of playing auntie and so much new baby holding (though not enough for my liking). Instead of recapping every single moment, I’ll share the highlights of our trip, many of them food related! And a few observations too.
First stop, Salt & Straw in Portland where Cornelius and I shared a cone of almond brittle & salted ganache ice cream. Our fantastic mexican feast at the Red Iguana in Salt Lake City. Pineapple upside pancakes at Snooze in Denver – a no-contest best breakfast of the trip goes to these serious pancakes. I’ll have to try to recreate them soon! The Gothenburg Historical Museum in Gothenburg, NE for having such a charming little museum, complete with an amazing barbed wire collection (these kinds of stumbled up on treasures makes road trips so wonderful). The hoards of fireflies at Knob Knoster state park in MO – I’ve never seen so many fireflies in one place and it helped make for an incredible camping experience. The City Museum in St. Louis, MO – thanks readers for the heads up on this crazy place!! Cincinnati, I had no idea you were such an interesting city (we stumbled into a dead zone of an incredible old neighbourhood going to ruin that neighbours the gentrifying Over-The-Rhine neighbourhood & then discovered a cool, diverse little ‘hood called Northside where we found a nice vegetarian cafe for lunch).
And then there was Detroit, which pretty much blew my mind. I loved it and at the same time, felt so sad for a city that felt so empty and abandoned. Yet there was a lot of hope and I could see that from the amazing art that rose out of neighbourhoods: from the Hamtramck Disneyland folk art found in an alleyway to the jaw-dropping Heidelberg Project. It was in contrast to the gorgeous old skyscrapers, like the Guardian Building, found downtown. Detroit, you left me curious.
We spent a good 24 hours in Chicago and noticed how much it has changed since we had been there last (9 years ago). Wicker Park got seriously gentrified. Our hotel was amazing and we crammed in so much art and loved exploring the Millenium Park area. Also, if you’re ever in Lincoln Park, make sure to grab some sandwiches and a delicious Arnold Palmer (made with pink lemonade) at the Bourgeois Pig Cafe. As we headed west, I immediately felt at home crossing into Wyoming. What can I say, the west is the best (but I’m biased, of course)! We spent 2 days (not enough time) exploring Yellowstone National Park and in that time we got soaked by a geyser, saw bubbling mud pots, watched a family of buffalo (including baby buffalos) walk by and got blown away by the majesty of the place.
Now for a few random tidbits & observations:
- the midwest has a lot of red pick up trucks (and a lot of big vehicles in general). East of Bend, OR there aren’t a whole lot of Smart cars.
- east of the cascades there weren’t many recycling options. And styrofoam was strangely prevalent – I never see styrofoam here in Vancouver.
- mosquitos like me a lot (which is why I’m so glad Vancouver has very few mosquitos, if any). Scratching mosquito bites was a common theme of this trip.
- a Southern accent is really, really charming.
- with all the driving we did, we sure saw a lot of road kill. While looking for a state park to camp in Wisconsin, we almost hit a pheasant that came flying out of the woods and a few miles down the same road, a deer raced out of the same woods. Luckily, our car has great brakes and we didn’t contribute to the road kill count.
- I’m not a fan of humidity. My frizzy hair & sweaty face agree.
Our trip was great and I’m already hoping we can head back to Yellowstone (maybe in the winter?). But after all the driving we did, our car got rammed just as we were almost home. We were in line at the border crossing in Lynden, WA when a car came barrelling out of the dairy parking lot across the street. They hit our back wheel so that it was un-drivable and we had to get towed across the border. We were all a bit shook up and it certainly put a damper on the tail end, but boy, were we ever so glad to get home!
Now, let’s get on to this rosemary lemonade which I request you get started on right away. I drank this just before we left for home at Fiamma Pizza in Bellingham. They stole the recipe from Seattle’s Cafe Flora and I’m so thrilled to have the recipe to share with you. It’s found in the Cafe Flora Cookbook along with a few other great looking recipes. This drink is refreshing and tart and woody from the rosemary and I could easily drink gallons of the stuff on a hot day. And thankfully, a day after we arrived in Vancouver, summer hit with a vengeance. There’s no heatwave here yet, but every day has been oh so lovely. Perfect lemonade sipping weather.
Another glass, please!
elsewhere: I’ve got some catching up to do! Please head over to check out my last few Poppytalk posts. First, you’ll find a delicious and easy couscous & arugula salad loaded with cucumbers and those bitter greens! Looking for a healthy waffle option? Check out these delicious whole grain waffles that are light and crispy! Got a picnic coming up? Try this buttermilk southern style coleslaw!
(recipe adapted from the Cafe Flora Cookbook)
8 6″sprigs of rosemary
4 c water
1 c sugar
6-8 lemons (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups worth, depending on taste)
4 c cold water
small rosemary sprigs for garnish (optional)
First make some rosemary tea by bringing the 4 cups of water and the rosemary to a boil in a medium saucepan. Let simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Discard rosemary. Stir in sugar until melted. Cool on countertop and then move mixture into the fridge. When cold, add in the lemon juice and cold water. Stir and taste, adding more lemon juice if you like more of a pucker. Pour into ice-filled glasses and enjoy. Garnish with sprigs of rosemary, if you wish.