Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

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Truck Stop Time

Truck stop food is a very special kind of comfort food.

I lunched today at Jubitz's Portlander Inn Cascade Grill, after once again getting on a "let's drive!" tear and hitting the road in my Civic Coupe. I took the freeway up to the Marine Drive exit, wound around to the Jubitz parking lot, wandered the main building (the center of a huge truck stop complex, one of the largest and best-regarded truck stops in the country), noted the huge truck cab somehow parked in the lobby (did a full wall get taken down to drive it in?), appreciated that one of the two movie theaters is showing Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, and then sat down in the restaurant.

It's a big space, with a kind of cabin-on-steroids design. It has a fake peaked roof; beneath the peaks are huge triangular photos taken on Mt. Hood in full-on winter. The place should have a fireplace; it does have a nice large clock on a part of the wall where I could at least imagine a fireplace. A gift shop lines one outer wall, with tchotchkes aplenty. But I was in the mood for treats to eat. Meaty treats. Yep, I ordered an 8-ounce flat-iron steak.

I had two Stephen King paperbacks, Night Shift, which I finished (whoa; "The Woman in the Room" is beautiful, difficult and sad) and the first-published 800-page edition of The Stand, which I then started. The placemats*, I was happy to see, were Rick Steber anecdotes about the 19th-century West; I met and enjoyed meeting Steber back in Hermiston in 1997, when I profiled him for the Hermiston Herald. (A detail from then: the photo I took for the article was of Steber admiring the Davy Crockett coonskin cap a kid was wearing. In my draft of the story I called Steber "a member of the Davy Crockett generation." My editor thought I meant that he was as old as Crockett, and knowing that that clearly was not true he edited out that line. No, I meant that Steber had been smack-dab in the target audience for Disney's Davy Crockett TV films! Small-town newspapers: not the place for flowery, or even attempted-flowery, prose...)

I ate steak, fries, split pea soup with ham, V8 juice (with a lemon wedge; new one on me), and baby carrots cooked until sweet. Comforting stuff, which of course was the point. One of the grill's workers noted that I was skinny enough to safely enjoy the steak, and that he was fat (no, he wasn't, not really) so he couldn't have one. I thought to myself I've lost some weight recently; I can afford to eat this, but didn't tell him that. He probably didn't want even a page of my life story; that's for bartenders to hear (too bad I don't go to bars, huh?). Still, we were friendly, which is something else truck stops should be. And the grill felt friendly.

It was worth the trip. I've wanted to go there for awhile: the No. 8 TriMet bus route runs from OHSU to Jubitz, so for at least two years I've been telling myself Hey, one night leave work and ride the bus to Jubitz. It'll be a treat. Now that I'm not working on the hill, that would be a less convenient way to get there. So I drove. So it was another kind of treat.

* Heh. I first wrote "placemeats." Edible placemats! Wave of the future! If someone makes them, I want a cut.**

** But then I'd have liability if people got sick from eating them. Placemeats: probably not a good idea.
Tags: books, language, peregrinations, portland

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