We started the day off with a visit to the International UFO Museum and Research Center in downtown Roswell. Founded by former Army Public Information Officer Walter Haut, the man who was originally ordered to disclose the capture of a flying saucer to the public in 1947 the museum contains the most information on the incident collected anywhere. I know opinions on this subject differ, so I’ll just leave these pictures here:
After a quick stop for breakfast we left town headed for Flagstaff, AZ.
After a 8 hour drive from Roswell we decided on a quiet night and exploration of Flagstaff in the daylight.
We woke up and headed out to the Riordan Mansion to start our day after breakfast at the hotel. The mansion was built to be the home of the local timber barons, twin brothers who married sisters in the late 1800s. The home was built in 1904, and while technically a single home it is in reality twin cabins joined by a 1000 sqft family/game room. Amazingly the family was very conscientious of the furnishings, and made an effort through three generations to preserve not only the home but all of the original furnishings before donating it intact to the community as a museum.
Built in a combination of the local craftsman and Arts & Crafts styles out of mainly lodge pole pine it is an amazing dwelling and worth a visit if you are in the area.
From there we headed up the hill to the Lowell Observatory, named one of the Worlds 200 most important places by Time Magazine, and the location of Clyde Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto in 1930 among other feats.
We left the observatory and stopped at a fun diner on Route 66 called Galaxy Diner, featuring chopped steak burgers and amazing milkshakes. It was a fantastic meal and definitely deserving of the Fat Boy seal of approval. I had the Galaxy Bacon Cheese Burger with Onion Rings. While I might have preferred a little less lettuce it was a perfectly cooked and seasoned burger, and the bacon was crisp without being burnt. The onion rings were perfectly done, crisp on the outside with enough bite left to the onion that it didn’t slide out of the breeding when you tried to take a bite.
From there it was on to visit Josh and Val, Coop‘s cousins in St. George, UT where we spent the night. We kept them up late talking until around 3am somehow, and had a wonderful time. We both look forward to seeing them again soon.
We left Josh and Val after a quick stop to see Josh at work and say goodbye, then stopped off for breakfast before starting our drive to Anaheim, CA at The Black Bear Diner in St. George, UT. I had their Pineapple Upside Down Cakes, and was happy with my choice. Fresh pineapple caramelized in brown sugar and butter then covered by their sweet cream pancake batter and fried up, they were a great meal. Coop wasn't as impressed with their Eggs Benedict, apparently the hollandaise sauce was cold and the flavor of both it and the ham was off. I've always been happy with the chain's food and service in the past, so I'll give the St. George location the benefit of a split decision based on the insane holiday (father's day) crowds but not the Fat Boy seal of approval for now.
We made it to our hotel in Anaheim about 7:30pm and met up with some old friends for dinner at Karl Strauss, a nationally franchised brew pub with very decent food and beer. Many locations have a full bar but unfortunately their Anaheim location ended up not being one of them. The beer was great across the board, as was the food. My shrimp and grits was well spiced and the grits were perfectly softened. I prefer more sauce, but outside the deep south the dish is rarely done perfectly. The appetizers were uniformly superb, and we had a great night before needing to leave the next morning for Reno and a couple of days with another old friend.
At dinner, our friends recomended we stop at an old Route 66 landmark in Glendora called The Donut Man that has an amazing Strawberry donut this time of year. We made the stop and were glad we did. We each got a fresh strawberry donut, and I added a buttermilk bar (my test of any donut shop).
After eating our donuts it was a long drive through the desert to Reno and a visit with our friends Jon and Kaci. They had just moved into their new house over the weekend and it was great to see them and catch up on their lives. We spent two days in Reno and didn't set foot in a casino, a first for us on a road trip. I'm not sure if we're getting boring or just growing up!
We took Jon's Jeep out on Tuesday, spending most of the day driving around in the hills outside Reno on offroad trails, some rougher than others.
We rolled out of Reno headed for a long drive home to Oregon on Wednesday morning, two weeks after I flew out of Portland. Along the way we made one final stop to visit my little brother and his family in Ashland, OR and had a great dinner at Smithfields Pub & Pies. They specialize in savory pies, hand made across the street at their original restaurant and then flash cooked to order at the pub.
Just as chef Neil Clooney's food blew me away a few years ago at Smithfields, these pies and basic snack staples are elegant in their simplicity. From the slightly sweet balance of the pickled veggies to the warming spice of the curry roasted cashews and salty smoked balance of warm greek olives with local artisanal blue cheese the quick appetizers are sublime. The sausage rolls with the sharply acidic house Worcestershire were a revelation. However the showcase, and rightfully so, was the flaky perfection of the pork shank pie with kale, smokey blue cheese, and thyme. I ordered mine with onion gravy instead of parsley (english pies differ from their American peers in their lack of gravy inside the crust), and had the mint mashed peas on the side. It was one of the best pub meals I have ever tasted, and makes me wish it were here in Portland for me to eat at every day or two instead of my unfortunately infrequent visits to Ashland.
If you find yourself in Ashland, you can't go wrong at either Smithfields restaurant.
Another four hours found us home and unloading after two full weeks of travel. Our trip covered 4,206 miles spanning 11 states and 3 sovereign nations (Ute, Navaho, and U.S.A).