Our aim, mission, nay, our very destiny beckons us come and partake in the many culinary offerings of the Northwest, but first we had to make our way out of Northern California. Recently, by way of great luck and completely legal means, Jordan acquired a '91 Subaru Legacy for free. It is a female car and her name is Linda. She will serve as both our ride and accommodation for the duration of the trip.
Two hours into the drive we pulled off Interstate 5 into a town housing the academic jewel of our UC system, Chico. We've sworn off Starbucks, Peets and even Dutch Bros., though their cute little windmills tug at a softer side of my heart, in order that we might drink from coffee establishments with an honest authenticity. With the help of Yelp we were able to locate Empire Tea & Coffee. The cafe hipped-out an old railroad car (railroad car crushes windmills like rock over scissors overtime) and parked itself across the street from the university. Upon entering its narrow passageway of a shop we found ourselves surrounded by all things so uncool that you just had to think they were cool, think Urban Outfitters, displaying Donald Trump boardgames, mustache photography and plush velvet recliners.
I prefer black coffee or an americano because I believe that a coffee shop can be no greater than the beans they brew. If you drink coffee so diluted with sugary syrups and whip cream then may God have mercy on your soul. We were pleased to discover that Empire served Old Soul (Sacramento) roasted beans. The coffee was top notch. And fortunately, Jordan and I were trendy enough to emit positively uncool-cool vibrations of our own before hitting the road. For example, Jordan was wearing a t-shirt with a buffalo on it and I talked loudly about how I sport a mustache from time to time just because. We let ourselves out.
Jordan introduced me to a new road tripping game that some of you may find offensive. If you're currently reading this blog as a bedtime story to your children, which is extremely commonplace I hear, please excuse yourself from their room and tell them to start counting sheep or something. Jordan's game involves delicately placing the word "anal" in front of RV names when passing one on the highway. Some of today's finds included "anal" Cardinal, "anal" Envy, and "anal" Wanderer. I'm certain there'll be more to share as the trip carries on. The game provides me with a shameful chuckle that I find incredibly amusing.
We entered Oregon in the traditional way, passing through Yreka up the 5 North, and quickly spotted Ashland on passing road signs. We decided that detouring there would provide another good opportunity to sample food, which is our mission of course, and stretch our legs. Ashland is relatively famous for its hosting the annual Shakespeare Festival, it's also exclusively famous for being the first place on earth I've ever been forced to ride in the backseat of a cop car, but that's a story for another day. We allowed our noses to lead us to the restaurant strip in town and caffeinated at Mix Sweet Shop where they serve Stumptown roasted coffee, bake all their own pastries daily and even make ice cream from scratch. While breathing in the delicious smells floating overhead, Ashland's finest sprinted through the streets. Please watch the video below.
Not only were shirtless men hurdling over bicycles, but the more sophisticated variety walked up handrails. Please watch the video below.
After admiring the flora, fauna and musical performances in Ashland's Lithia Park, we headed over to Martolli's hand tossed pizza, which could be purchased by the slice. We took our slices to go and meandered through more of the picturesque downtown. I was able to eat most of my pizza until a gutter punk (this is just a slang reference for young homeless people who like train-hopping, overalls, Rancid and pit bulls) asked for a bite. I refused at first, but then he asked for the crust as he begged like a dog on the sidewalk. I couldn't stand to see him begging like that as I thought of the way my own dear chocolate lab begs for treats. I handed over the remaining bits of crust, which he gratefully accepted before asking for some PCP and a handgun. I told him I couldn't help with that and then thought of how much sweeter my lab is when she gets her treat. PCP and handgun? Oh Ashland, you amuse me so.
Now we venture on to the motherlode.