Evacuation! Road Trip, Endlessly Continued

OK, now I’m ready to get off this road trip and settle down somewhere for some quality time with my computer and a beer. Maybe two. Beers, that is. Mary did the math (only needed one finger, and a calculator), and we’ll have only been home for four days out of the last thirty five by the time we get back to Colorado. Tiring.

Today, we left Billings behind, slightly regretfully since we’d also be leaving behind Fancy Sushi, and looked ahead to the no-doubt bucolic town of Lewiston. At least that’s what we kind of hoped, as our original plan, to drive to Spokane, fell through cause all the hotels were booked. We suspect that the recent rainy weather during June caused all the Seattleites (which I looked up and that is the correct designation for an inhabitant of Seattle, believe it or not) to leave town for the Independence Day holiday in search of sunnier climes. Which in this case was, presumably, Spokane. Thus our path was dictated by the need to have a place at the end of the day where we could lay our weary head

The drive to Lewiston was quite nice, paralleling the Clearwater River much of the way, yielding delightful scenic vistas, if you’re into that kind of thing. I think the scenery could have been improved with a Starbucks or two, but that’s just the caffeine withdrawal talking. Lewiston, on the other hand has no discernible charm, views or anything that would make it interesting whatsoever. Well there’s the pulp plant, but it’s hardly going to attract Grey Lines Tours of fun loving Eastern Europeans. Or maybe it will, they did live through a depressing Stalinist era of their own. The motel we booked was at least fairly new. Can’t say much for the view as it consisted primarily of a construction waste dump which overlooked the river along which was located the aforementioned wood pulp plant. While Lewiston may have been lacking in the scenery department, it more than failed at making up for it with the ever-present stench. When we first arrived, we initially thought someone was cooking an industrial size kettle of sauerkraut. Later we thought it might be the scent of rotting grass clippings, or sewer gas. Well, they say that variety is the spice of life. I don’t know who ‘they’ are but they never spent a night in Lewiston.

And then to top it off, Yelp failed us, and failed us badly, in finding a decent place to get a bite. Lewiston didn’t have a lot of pickings and what it did have, wasn’t all that interesting. However, there was a four and half star restaurant listed with a fair number of glowing comments. All apparently by locals, but that’s normally what you’re looking for, right? Not in Lewiston. Based on our experience if someone from Lewiston says “Hey, this is a pretty decent place to eat!” – run! Run fast, run far, and don’t look back.

The four and a half star rated eatery was a Chinese restaurant. I’d mention the name but I’m afraid it might be like that old Candyman urban legend. Say their name three times in front of a computer monitor and they’ll come with heaping plates of egg fu yung. The horror, the horror. Granted, we were somewhat at fault here. When we checked it out it was obvious that it was an old school Cantonese style Chinese American place. The stuff we grew up eating, and then punted like a bag of rabid marmots, once we discovered Schezuan style places. Well, apparently some of us did. Others were quite content to go back year after year for heaping plates of chow mein. Yes, chow mein, with the crunchy noodles.

We both decided to get combo meals, in honor of the throwback theme. You know, with your entrée you get one egg roll, three fried shrimp, egg foo yung and so on. I could describe each and ever item in the combo meal in exhaustive detail, but I haven’t the heart, or the stomach. We’ll just conclude with a brief description of the starter, the egg flower soup. If I remember correctly, this dish it’s supposed to be a simple broth with some lightly cooked eggs stirred in, perhaps a little diced green onion sprinkled on top. What we got was nothing like that. When the waitress set the bowls on the table, they jiggled. Like gelatin, or jellyfish, or a vat full of gelatinous goo, to be administered on severe burns. There was so much cornstarch in the soup that it had set up, like, as Mary termed it – chicken Jello. It was as awful as it sounds. Normally at this point I’d write something like, ‘and then it went downhill from there’. But not this time. It started at the bottom of the hill, deep in a bottomless crevasse, and never got any better. But there was a silver lining. Although the food was awful, there were immense quantities of it. Like each of our meals was enough to feed three people, if they could get it down. And judging by our fellow diners, the kind of people that had given this place 4 ½ stars, it soon became evident that the glowing reviews were not for the quality of the food per se, but instead for the copious quantities served, and at such cheap prices, too.

We choked down a few bites and then gave it up as a lost cause. All in all, it was not one of the more successful meals we’ve ever not consumed. With the aroma of month old sauerkraut filling our nostrils we tried to get some sleep before another long day on the road, but happily it’ll be our last. Well, till we have to drive home, but believe me, we’re going to drive in a wide, wide arc around this part of Idaho on our way back home.

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