While I waited my turn (there was a constant stream of customers), I found a short menu that unfortunately sat directly beside a hand written notice that only coffee would be for sale that day. I sighed wistfully when I read about the likes of arugula, fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes. Not today though, not in Bluff, Utah.
When I finally had the attention of the fella that was slinging the grounds, I said, "Boy, I sure didn't expect to see a menu like this in Bluff, - why, it even has arugula! I thought fresh vegetables weren't allowed in Utah!" I found myself desperately wanting to make him laugh. Instead, I apparently hit a nerve: "Not only will you not see good food in Bluff, you won't see it anywhere in Utah! This place is a culinary wasteland!" I couldn't argue with him since he probably hadn't ever tasted Judy's enchilada casserole or Stuart's English toffee or a fresh hot scone from Angie's. I myself had the pleasure of knowing there to be several oases of deliciousness in the vast gustatory desert of Utah.
After listening to several detailed passages about Ship Rock, I was eager to see it appear on the horizon. I knew it to be easily identifiable not only because of its distictive shape, but also because it too rests on a broad flat plane from which little other serious competing rock juts up. It can be seen for a great, great many miles from any approach. I really like the picture on the right that I found on the web, showing off it's strange geology.
I drove along, glancing out the window at that beautiful temple of nature every minute or so, contemplating and easily understanding why people both before me and after me have and will find this place to be sacred.
Ship Rock slowly faded from view and it wasn't long after that, that I ran out of two lane blacktop and intersected America's shining network of interstate byways. The scenery portion of the trip was over and it was time to cover some miles toward home.
I raced around Albuquerque and headed south on I-25 toward Las Cruces. My goal was to spend the night in Fort Stockton, Texas that night and that meant I had a fair number of miles to cover. When I'd gone a good bit south, I spotted a mileage sign that inspired me to formulate an immediate dinner plan - Hatch, New Mexico just ahead. Hatch, as any self respecting foodie knows, is the epicenter of tasty chiles in New Mexico. Every September, local farmers set up stands in the tiny town to vend their freshly harvested and roasted chiles. The stands are all festooned with a profusion of glossy red chile ristras, some even accented with yellow and orange and green. I picked the stand with the most color in evidence and bought packages of both medium and hot peppers to take home with me. I asked where the best place to eat in town to eat chiles was and got a quick reply. I drove to the restaurant and, alas the place was closed! And in fact, when I began to search, I found that every single restaurant in town was closed! Just after six on a Tuesday evening and not a single place to eat a freshly roasted chile except maybe from the ziplock bag I just bought. Oh well, c'est la vie. I was happy enough to have fresh Hatch chiles to take home to Mark. I knew he'd make them into all sorts of tasty things for me.