We’ve all been to wonderful places that bring memories flooding back to us. Places of awesome beauty, like the Canadian Rockies. Places of great excitement like the Grand Ole Opry. Even a quiet spot under a tree at Grandma’s house. Here’s one of the places I remember from my own past.
As we headed for the restaurant, I didn’t expect much. After all, we were in a small town on I-84 in northeastern Oregon with little reason to be of any importance.
It had been a good day. Leaving my sister’s condominium in south Spokane, we discovered some delightful views from South Hatch Street as we dropped down from a higher elevation into the valley where U.S. 195 ran.
Most of the drive from there to Lewiston, Idaho, traverses gently rolling farmland, but a startling change occurs just before we got to Lewiston. U.S. 195, feeds into U.S. 95, which begins a dramatic descent into the valley of the Snake River, where the twin cities of Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkston, Washington, are located.
Due to a late start from my sister’s, we were ready for lunch about that time. We found a nice city park in Clarkston on the riverbank.
You’ve gotta understand how it is back home for us Texans. Most rivers are either dried up arroyos or small, feeble streams. Our major rivers are a muddy brown with a flow rate of maybe a mile a day. When we see a clear mountain creek or river or one that flows rapidly, we get all excited.
The Snake at this point is both. I don’t remember if it’s as clear as a little mountain stream, but it’s definitely clearer than what we see at home, and it definitely flows. I’m sure it has many times more daily flow of water than the Trinity around Fort Worth. We loved sitting in the motorhome and watching the river go by as we ate.
Leaving Clarkston on S.H. 129, we paralleled the river as it separated the two cities and their states. Once away from town, we began a climb of heroic degree. Within sight of town we went from the river level of around 1200 to 1300 feet to over 3000 feet, and a few miles farther along we topped out over 4000 feet. I was afraid our gasoline-powered engine might overheat, but it didn’t—quite.
We spent the next couple of hours climbing and descending big grades as we drove through an almost primitive area of southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. My engine heat indicator would move over toward the redline as we climbed and then make a swift move back toward cold as we coasted down. A bit taxing on both the engine and the driver, not to mention the brakes, which had to keep the motorhome and our tow car under control on the downhill parts.
The country we passed through exhibited an unbelievable beauty. No wild vistas of distant mountains. We traversed a canyon that occasionally opened into a little valley, with the other side of the canyon rising too high to afford any long distance view—but the canyon itself was magnificent.
The area seemed almost unchanged since the days of the pioneers. I doubt if we met more than half a dozen vehicles during the entire 85-mile trip from Clarkston to Enterprise, Oregon. The terrain leveled out as we neared Enterprise, and the rest of the trip to La Grange was nice, but the spectacular scenery was behind us.
Pulling into the RV park at La Grange, I asked the lady in the office for the name of a good restaurant for supper. I told her I was in the mood for a steak, and she told me I had to try Ten Depot Street. The name also turned out to be the address, which she pointed out to us on a little map of the town.
The exterior of the building was unassuming, and the interior, homey and comfortable. I ordered prime rib with baked potato and salad. I told the waitress I wanted the rarest piece in the kitchen. My mouth can hardly stand to have anything dry in it. Whether it’s pancakes with a little raw batter left in the center, brownies a little moist in the middle or extra rare steaks, I want my food moist.
The slab of prime rib the waitress served me was such a bright red I wanted to jump up and hug her. It fairly melted in my mouth. I’ve had a lot of good prime ribs in a lot of different restaurants—some very fancy and high-priced—but none ever any better than in the small restaurant in this small Oregon town. If I’m ever anywhere near there again, I’d probably drive 100 miles out of the way to eat there.
Ø What’s your favorite restaurant?
Ø Do you remember and think about restaurants where you’ve eaten in faraway places?
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Lovely post, David. I would’ve loved Ten Depot Street, too. And the super-rare prime rib. M’mmm! I have lots of wonderful food memories from my travels. Two faves from childhood no longer exist. One was a Mom-and-Pop restaurant in Miami called Tyler’s. It was in a strip shopping center and they had the best-ever fried chicken. Another was the Candleight Inn which was an Italian restaurant full of atmosphere: dark wood, red-and-white checkered tablecloths, Chianti bottles dripping candle wax, the smell of garlic on the air. A visit there was like a mini trip to Italy. Very exciting to me as a little girl.
Always glad to find someone to share a super-rare steak with. Thanks for your comment, Sue Ellen.
Neat post David! I have traveled in 39 of the lower 48 states Washington and Oregon are two I need to see.
There is a small restaurant in Sterling, Scotland that where I had lunch. It is very narrow and is little more than a lunch counter with a row of booths much like one used to find anywhere on Main Street America. I was with my Aunt and her friend Mary both of Glasgow. On reading the menu I found nothing remarkable or Scottish at first and was very disappointed. But as I neared the bottom there was haggis! Haggis was offered atop a jacketed potato with melted cheddar cheese. I asked Mary if this would be a good place to order haggis and was assured it was and she joined me in the ordering. I still dream of going back for more.
Thanks for joing me on this trip, Kathy. You’re more likely to get to Oregon than I am to Scotland. Remember La Grange, OR.
How about that restaurant in new Mexico near Carlsbad caverns adjacent to where we camped a few years ago as one of the worst ever? Ha!
Will any of us ever forget that place, Lynn? Which was worse – the food or the service?