Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 5 Sacramento to Battle Mountain: They don't call it "B.M." for nothing.

One in a Series of "The TM stands on the edge of something and scares the shit out of me" Photos.

Day 5 marked our initial lurch to the East. It featured a whole lot of pretty scenery early in the day, a strange little interlude in a strange little town, and then a long, dirty drive to the middle of absolute nowhere. It also proved that I'm an idiot. Read to the end to find out how!

We headed East from Sacramento on small California Route 50, and dove wheels-first into the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The TM calls it her favorite place in the world. I'd never been anywhere near that part of the country, but as we left the fairly disappointing city sprawl of Sacramento, and the road began to wind, and the the trees sprouted more frequently along the side of the highway, I could already understand what it was she loved about the land there. It's absolutely breathtaking. The drive circles and doubles back and climbs through the mountains, and follows along rivers and forests as you go. Eventually, as you come around this one curve the whole vista opens up into the amazing landscape. We had to pull over and take some pictures.

I was absolutely astounded by the scope of these mountains. It's deceptive, because the tree-line seems to reach to the top, but as we headed back to the truck, the scale is truly put into perspective. This is among my five favorite photos we took on the trip.

Some more photos of the Sierra Nevadas, for your viewing enjoyment.

We talked a lot, during this portion of the drive, about all of the adventures we'd love to have, and all of the places we'd like to see. It was determined that we'd enjoy the following adventures (Among others):

1) Drive down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). The TM has done this, but I haven't. During this whole trip, I was astounded by the amazing variation in environments in our country, and I think the PCH embodies this in one fell swoop.

2) See Patagonia. The TM really wants to see Antarctica for some reason (I kind of hate the cold, generally). We felt that the land of Llamas and Chinchillas would be a good compromise.

3) Visit Morocco. What can I say? I must have a secret "Almost Famous" thing. There's something sort of magical about the Northern African coast, I think. I mean... I really know very little aside from what I've heard, but Marrakesh is supposedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

4) Spend an extended period of time camping and hiking in Yosemite National Park. I believe the TM would do this forever if it weren't for the cats at home, but she's got her heart set on "at least a couple of months or so". Sounds kind of terrible, but also really, really fun. That makes no sense. I know, but still.

But I digress...

As we left the Sierra Nevadas, we were kind of spat out at the Southern base of Lake Tahoe, right at the border of California and Nevada. It was really pretty, but also kind of a let-down based on the build-up I had in my head.

One thing that we immediately noticed were the casinos. I didn't forget that Las Vegas is in Nevada, and I didn't forget that Reno (our Lunch destination) was in Nevada, but I'd never been anywhere in Nevada OTHER than Vegas, so it never occurred to me that you can literally gamble EVERY WHERE. Like... seriously... at the gas stations. At the fast food places. At the grocery. Ev. Er. Eee. Where.

We sneezed twice and missed Carson City altogether.

As we arrived into Reno (The Biggest Little City something or other), we headed toward our lunch spot, and noticed it was really effing crowded, and I'd wanted to mark our time in Reno by doing a tiny bit of legal gambling.

Let me digress one more time.

As you all know, I am a huge Cincinnati Reds fan. One of the only unfortunate aspects of going on this trip when we did was that the Reds were playing in their first playoff series since I was fifteen (I'm thirty), and I was going to miss at least the first 3 games.

It hadn't escaped by notice that I happened to be in the state with legal gambling on the same day the Reds had their first playoff game since 1995, so I thought I'd try to bring the Reds a little luck by placing a small wager on game one of their series against the Phillies. I placed my wager of 25.00, played a single round of Penny slots, and then we headed to lunch.

Our lunch destination was the Triple-D-Featured "The Dish Cafe". Originally, the TM thought she'd visited this place years before, but once we realized it was only 8 years old, we figured it must have been somewhere else.

That's too bad, because this place is freaking awesome.

The big thing about The Dish Cafe is that features hand-made everything with locally grown things, ecologically responsible things, and most of all... some effing delicious things.

We were greeted with a friendly hello, and we ended up seating ourselves to look at the menu... It was a super tough decision for being a pretty straight forward menu. I love soup and sandwiches, so I chose the half-sandwich and soup combo of the "Mushroom Barley" soup and the Reuben panini. You can see it below.

It was pretty amazing in every way. The soup was really well seasoned. I usually have to salt soups that are made at restaurants, but this soup didn't need a single shake. The Reuben? Oh lord. That thing was as good as any New York deli sandwich I've ever eaten. The pastrami was super lean, but well seasoned. The bread was grilled perfectly, and the best part? Homemade thousand-island dressing. Well done, Dish Cafe.Well done. Amazing.

The TM ordered a full sandwich. The Melty Mushroom Panini. See below.

It also was really, really good. I only had a bite, but in that bite I knew I would totally order that on a subsequent visit. The TM ate just about every bite....

I'm only not positive about that, because at some point during our meal, we looked over and saw these two ladies eating this dessert. It was difficult to identify off the bat, so we asked, and they said they were eating a "Banana Bread Pudding". We ordered it. [EDIT: Obviously, this is not "banana" bread pudding. It was late when I typed this originally. It was Pumpkin]

Then we fucking KILLED it. That was one of my all-time favorite desserts. It had this great, crispy outside, but as you went deeper into the pudding, it got softer and more dense. The dollop of whipped cream was the... erm.... icing on the cake. I'd say this is the single best item we ate on the whole trip. I can taste it now.

Overall, I give The Dish Cafe a solid 9.5, and I believe the TM gave it either a 9.5 or a 10. I think I would have a hard time ever saying there was nothing to improve, but this is definitely the closest to perfection in a restaurant we saw. It was outstanding.

To be perfectly honest, the rest of the drive to Battle Mountain was pretty dull and uneventful. Oh... except for 3 things.

1) We passed this house near mike marker 148 on I-80 going East that was totally crazy looking, and I want to know more about this place.

2) It was during this stretch we encountered the first "No Hitchhikers, Prison Area" signs.

3) Remember that 25.00 bet I made on the Reds? Well.. You probably heard about how Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay pitched the first playoff no-hitter since 1956. Yeah... you're welcome Reds fans. I'm fairly sure that was my fault. Damn what an effing jinx I am.

Some quick notes about Battle Mountain, Nevada....

Battle Mountain was once called the "Armpit of America" by the Washington Post. I can't say I could find a reason to disagree. We asked the girl at the Super 8 desk what there was to do in town, and after some of those blinks that make noise like the cartoons do, she pulled out this little line drawing map of the town that pointed out 5 buildings. 2 were pizza places, and 3 were casinos.

We were hungry and thought we may as well check it out, so we drove to "Downtown" Battle Mountain, passing Donna's Whore House on the way. Seriously. A brothel.

We ended up eating at The Owl Casino and Diner. We asked them if they had a gift shop, or if they had souvenirs (because the TM likes Owls) and they basically laughed at us. Or would have laughed had this horrible place not sucked out all of their humor. It was depressing, Y'all. That's what I'm saying here. It was super, super depressing. The casino portion of the Owl had 4 people or so playing slots. Drunkenly cheering at every 3 dollar score. The place next door was no better.

We left as soon as possible.

I wish we'd managed to remember to get a picture of it, but we felt it was fitting that they've carved a giant "B.M" into the side of one of the mountains. BM indeed.

Oh... and why am I an idiot? Because I planned this particular route, not just for Day 5, but for Day 4 as well, to go through the Redwood forest. Did I actually take any time to look to see where the Redwoods actually are? No. Did I see a single, damned Redwood at any point during our trip? No. Was I bummed? Yes.

I guess that PCH Road Trip will finally be the time I drive through a mother-effing tree.


Kasmira said...

Dish was de-lish! But the bread pudding was pumpkin, not banana.

We WILL see the redwoods babe, I promise!

Erma J. said...

I am really enjoying reading about your trip--please keep it going. You didn't miss much not seeing the redwoods--they are just big trees. When you drive into the forest, the trees are so big you can only see the tree ahead of you.

Hope you don't mind--I used one of our pic of the Sierra Nevadas as the background on my computer.

We flew to Reno from Texas one time and then took that drive to Sacramento--and as I remember it, Sacramento was a disappointment.
We were in Reno during the week and it was not crowded but oh boy, when we came back on the weekend, it was a busy place.
Erma J.

Kasmira said...

BTW - you share your initials with Battle Mountain. :)

CindyinSC said...

I've only been to California twice - both times on business in Sacramento - and Sacramento is wonderful! The people were very friendly and the Capitol is beautiful with lots of good restaurants downtown. And, there is a section downtown across the river called Old Sacramento which is touristy and reminded me of Frontierland at Disney World. I also shopped at both malls and saw my first Forever 21 store. I'm loving reading your blog - I love road trips!