Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dining techniques of the young and squirrelly.

I packed up early after a cold fidgety night. I packed a damp tent, filled my water bottles, and ducked my bicycle and myself under the closed gate blocking the parking lot after-hours at the ranger station. I wore full winter garb, and my hands were still cold as I began spinning into a beautiful misty morning in Idaho.

I could finally peel off some layers before entering a cafe in a town boasting a population of 23. I was hungry, and the term "cleaned his plate" was invented for me. I swallowed the over-medium yolks whole, letting them burst in my mouth. I wiped the greasy plate with toast before ordering a muffin and a fourth coffee. I did another thing that I like to do: I left my area clean and overly organized. The handle of my coffee mug, and the handle of my ice water "drinking jar" were turned to the left - straight and squared - pointing perfectly parallel to the edges of the counter at which I sat. The mug handles were perfectly parallel to the edges of the folded napkins on which they sat. The napkins were folded square. The mugs were spaced evenly and equidistant from the plate. The silverware on the plate made three silver stripes - three handles pointed directly to the left. My area was free of any errant crumb. All paper trash was folded and combined into the smallest possible package which sat neatly on the plate, above the silverware and directly south and to the center of the two mugs with handles. When I sit at the counter in a cafe, this is what I do.

I met Kurt and Sara beside the road. I saw touring bicycles, and I turned around and pulled over to chat and compare notes.

I got to Grangeville Idaho rather early. I planned to go much further, but a mountain climb into town made me feel tired and apathetic. I could stay in the park for free, and pushing on over another mountain seemed unappealing. A bird in the hand... is worth a grand. Right?

The 100 mile-per-day idea faltered hard. Instead: I napped in the town park toward the edge of the grass. There was DJ playing for a private event toward the center of the park in a pavilion. The first song I heard was Cotton Eye Joe by the Rednex, and it went like that from there. I laid out my tent components to dry. I thought I'd read a little bit. I zonked right out instead, and woke up to someone whispering "is he asleep?" as they walked by. I love life. Did they think I was dead? Who cares if a sweaty guy sleeps in the afternoon? (it's a riddle...)

Kurt and Sara showed up in the park as I was charging all of my phones. I chatted for bit, and then went to get ingredients to mix some secret sodas. I was going to get a cheeseburger, but I saw beer for sale first. Before I had a chance to drink much, Sara politely called over to ask if I wanted to join them for dinner. Yes. I did.

I enjoyed a great dinner with Kurt and Sara, and we all had plenty to talk about. They have a great cooking setup with a Whisperlite - one of the more popular backpacking stoves on the market today. It makes me jealous. We had chicken, pasta, mashed potatoes, veggies... it puts my food purchasing and cooking to shame. Though I've been happy with the addition of PBJ and oats-in-yogurt to my usual diet, it could be supplemented well with a dinners like this. Nick Carman loves his alcohol stove, but when it comes to food prep, he's gifted. Maybe I was meant to be a Whisperlite man...

By any measure, I'm a heck of a lucky guy.

$12.10 - Breakfast at a cafe.
$2.70  - Bananas, yougurt, chocolate milk
$5.10  - Four; Mickey's
Total: $19.90

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