Days 79-80 – Eastward! (Santa Fe-Hot Springs via Oklahoma City)

The drive from Santa Fe to Hot Springs, Arkansas is almost 850 miles. Through the course of it, we pass from the desert into rolling hills with sparse greenery before finally traveling through rich green, low mountains to Hot Springs. The most interesting part, at least for us, are the enormous windmill farms we see along the way. We passed about half a dozen farms, each with 100+ windmills. We’ve both seen windmill farms but nothing on this magnitude.

During the two-day trip, I think about all the places we’ve eaten during nearly three months on the road. Believe it or not, with the exception of one Denny’s in Gallup, N.M., we haven’t eaten at a single chain restaurant the whole time. Of course that precludes all the snacks and drinks we’ve bought at various Shell and Chevron stations but other than that, we eat local.

Sometimes we go for upscale places, like Coyote Café in Santa Fe. Sometimes it’s very low-brow, like the Whiptail Grill near the Arches. It looked like a renovated gas station and was tiny, with maybe a dozen tables. We ordered fresh guacamole, salsa and chips to start then moved on to tacos. Everything was excellent.

We’ve eaten duck, wild boar, lobster, elk, venison, steak, burgers, wraps, salads.

Usually we only eat two meals a day, breakfast and an early dinner. Breakfast is either at our hotel – bed and breakfasts have the best, of course. We’ve had cream cheese-stuffed French toast and fancy egg dishes served in beautiful dining rooms. We’ve also eaten breakfast at many little cafes. One of my favorites was the Alamosa coffee roaster/restaurant. It had the best breakfast potatoes plus scrumptious coffee and an industrial chic vibe that made me want to bottle it and take it with me. At a little spot near Green River, Utah, Walt ordered a huge, iced cinnamon roll that we couldn’t finish.

We’ve tried all sorts of local breweries as well. I’m not a huge beer fan, but I do like a good stout, especially the ones that are described something like “strong coffee and chocolate flavors.” Sometimes breweries also have very good root beers and we’ve sampled more than a few of those as well.

As I’ve mentioned before, my first choice to find a restaurant is to Google “best restaurant” in whatever town and see what TripAdvisor comes up with. I’ll take the trouble to sort through the recommendations, including looking at menus and pictures of the restaurants. I’m not looking for the most upscale or trendy, especially at breakfast I’m just looking for something authentic.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t eaten at lovely restaurants, even in some of the most out-of-the-way places. We had a really nice meal in Thunder Bay, Ontario in a gorgeous restaurant. We ate at a beautiful steak place in Billings, Montana, where we finished with a huge slice of chocolate cake – like the cinnamon roll, one of the few times we couldn’t finish dessert.

Mostly we order dessert to share. We’ll take turns deciding what to order. We’ve had lemon cake, tartufo, crème brulee, cheesecake, among many others. The fried ice cream in Montreal was a standout, as were the banana cream pie/tart at Coyote Café and the chocolate/Nutella creation at Red Rock Canyon Resort.

Of all the ice cream we’ve had, the milkshakes at the Moab Diner and the soft ice cream stand we stopped at after several New Hampshire hikes were probably our favorites. The New Hampshire cones were not only rich and creamy, they were huge. The first time we stopped, Walt ordered a medium and I ordered a small. Mine came out first but it was so big that Walt thought it might be his and waited until the second, larger, cone came out before handing over mine.IMG_4389

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