Soon after I left Elk City, Oklahoma, I saw my first sagebrush by the side of the highway. Agricultural fields increasingly gave way to grazing lands. I’m now in the West.
For the past three days, I’ve eaten at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet each night for dinner. Each of these buffets featured some kind of melding of Chinese and American cuisine. The large buffet in Elk City featured french fries, “fried green beans” (a sort of tempura), and “hot buttered potatoes,” alongside the stir-fried vegetables and the fried spring rolls. Here in Grants, New Mexico, at the “Asian Buffet,” I could have had “jalapeno chicken (spicy)” had I wished. None of these buffets offered any kind of tofu dish.
The best meal in roadside restaurants in the middle of America is always breakfast. This morning, I ate at the Elk City Cafe. The waitresses wore t-shirts, jeans, and heavy make-up, and called me “sweetheart” — waitresses have called me “hon” before, but being called “sweetheart” was new to me. The over-easy eggs were perfectly cooked, the bacon was think and tasty, the oatmeal was not watery as it had been in Connecticut nor chunky as it had been in Pennsylvania but exactly the right consistency. The home fries were a little too greasy, but the toast was warm and buttery.
I wanted to take a long walk, to work off some of the grease I’ve eaten today, but it started raining during dinner — with thunder and flashes of lightning — and hasn’t really let up since, and now it’s getting dark. Instead of walking, I drove down the historic route of the famous Route 66 in Grants and looked at the strip:
Grants, New Mexico, looking from an abandoned gas station towards Lotaburger, during a rain storm.