I’ve known for almost a year that I would be moving, this spring, to California. The day it was confirmed, I walked downstairs from my office in the English department, got on the phone with my friend Mary, and then began pacing the parking lot. At one point, I looked up and noticed the giant magnolia tree in front of me, and I started to cry. Why? Because it dawned on me that they wouldn’t have magnolia trees in California.
I’ve made my peace with the move, which is good, because folks, we are on the road. Our cat is freaking out, our stuff is en route to California, and we’re headed west. I’ve (sort of) joked on Facebook this week that I am calling our journey west “Westward Hoecakes.” It’s a fitting title, I think. I’m headed west, where I am excited to keep cooking, and eating, and learning, and um, eating. This Southern girl is switching coasts, and that’s a big deal.
My intention was to eat my way across America. I’ve asked for recommendations and suggestions for places to stop and eat. Today, after our first day of driving, exhausted and sore after several nights of sleeping on an air mattress, and several days of intensive cleaning, we ate not at a cool local restaurant, but in the restaurant downstairs at our hotel. I bought a pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups for dessert.
When you cross into the state line from Virginia to West Virginia, the sign that welcomes you to West Virginia promises that the state is “Wild and Wonderful.” And I think that’s what my intentions were for this road trip. That I would see parts of the country I’ve never seen before. That our cat would be super psyched to ride in a car with us from one coast to the next. That we would find charming, delightful little restaurants with good pie or interesting doughnuts or something equally enticing.
And we still might, dammit. We still might. But not today.
Today, my wild, wonderful intentions are just that – intentions. Ideas. Hopes for our future. At the end of the day, I can’t say I’m sad that I ate merely mediocre lemon-pepper chicken and green beans for dinner. I’m just happy to be in a real bed, with a bedside lamp, and a book to read. My hope is that a stop at my in-laws’ house will put me back on track, and I can really, truly begin my campaign to eat pie every day of this road trip. Because, really, what is more wild or wonderful than a pie-a-day diet and the wide open road?
Keep up with my travels with photos and observations and some blog posts along the way by following me on Facebook or Twitter (@danastaves). I promise every day won’t be so defeated like today is. And if you have great ideas for where I should stop along the way, or regional foods I must try, please let me know!