Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Emily can be a bit of a backseat driver.
In Seligman, AZ we stopped for lunch. This had been tricky so far – lunch, that is. In preparing for the trip, I'd worried about going places to eat or run around along the way and having to leave Emilycat in a hot van. In fact, what we were finding was that there were no places inviting enough so far along the route to want to slide into a booth over.
Instead, we'd order a burrito to go from a window connected to the convenience store or patchwork together a meal from what we had on hand and the refrigerated cases at the gas marts. There was a bit heftier a selection than your average 7-11 of course. Aware as they might be of their strategic locations, these places were sometimes stocked in things like cream cheese, parfaits, and chopped apples, as well as bungie cords and neck pillows. Still. Baby ain't exactly enjoying an organic, gluten-free ride.
We'd left Monterey just hours before the first peaches of the season were due at the farmer's market, a detail I couldn't reckon with easily. Mocking my craving for fresh California produce were establishments we passed like “Wagon Wheel Restaurant” and “Roadkill Cafe.” These names repeated at the various exits. The issue was not chains and franchises, but simply people who thought they were all the very first to be quite that clever.
As she'd done at the last half dozen stops, Emily would just stay with Mike in the van under the shade of the gas pump ports while Isaac and I tried to find a compromise among the limited choices and use the bathroom. We waited in line with our hard-boiled eggs, banana, pretzels and ice cream bar behind a man talking to the cashier about Obama being a traitor to the Muslim world and blah, blah, blah. He finally turned his body enough that I could throw my pretzels on the counter and did so, attempting the hint.
“I've got a six-year-old by the hand and a cat in the van, pal,” I wanted to tell him. “Save it!”
He faded away still mumbling and we heard the bell on the door buzz.
“Whatever,” the cashier said, shaking her long grey hair and rolling her eyes.
“You're the bartender!” I told her laughing.
“I am,” she confirmed.
We left again for the parking lot where everyone was moving to and from their cars, pretending it wasn't hot enough to melt eyebrows.
We settled in, distributed our provisions, and headed off. The road kept stretching east, more mountains presented themselves, signs read “Elk next 20 miles.” And to think, I was so distracted when we left Monterey, I hadn't even noticed the moment we turned away from the coast.