Friday, July 31, 2009

Down Home Cookin'

California has many things. High unemployment, crushing taxes, a large non-English speaking population, sunshine, beaches, traffic, smog, and plenty of good places to eat. What California doesn't have is Cracker Barrel.

If you've travelled around the country at all you've probably seen the brown and yellow sign of Cracker Barrel. If you were smart, you stopped for a meal. For those who have never been, Cracker Barrel serves traditional American food in a country style setting.

Cracker Barrel restaurants have a wide front porch with rocking chairs waiting for a weary traveller to sit upon and perhaps purchase for a modest sum. The waiting area is a mock general store with traditional candies, clothing and country kitsch. The interior of the restaurant is festooned with Americana.

What the Hard Rock Cafe is to rock and roll, Cracker Barrel is to rural America.

The whole thing is hopelessly cheesy and contrived.

I love it.

The menu at Cracker Barrel includes such favorites as pot roast, meatloaf, pork chops, and chicken pot pie. It's good ole fashioned stick to your ribs food. There are no wood fired pizzas or calamari appetizers on the Cracker Barrel menu.

I've only been to a Cracker Barrel twice. The first time was in St. George, Utah. I wanted a change from the ubiquitous Wendy's or McDonald's. I ordered pot roast with veggies.

It was good.

The most recent visit was on our drive to Montana this week. We stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Layton, Utah for lunch. I ordered buttermilk pancakes and sausage. For lunch.

It was so good. The pancakes were crisp around the edges and steaming hot. I could feel my arteries clogging with each bite. That's how you make pancakes.

Too bad I won't be able to go back for a while.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

On the Road, Again

Since my family moved to Montana about 4 years ago, I have tried to get up there a couple of times a year. Last November, we took a few days and drove up for Thanksgiving.

But that was several months ago. Now it's time for a summer trip.

My parents and sister came down for my brother-in-law's sister's wedding a couple of weeks ago. I've been looking for a way to get my kids out of the house and up to Montana to spend some time with their cousins. I seized the opportunity to send Abigail up with Grandma and Grandpa when they went back home.

And then Tabitha and her mother, Terry, decided they would like to go visit Montana too.

We hammered out a plan where I would drive Tabitha, Terry, and Aidan to Montana while Abigail rode up with Grandma and Grandpa. I would fly home after a couple of days and then Terry would drive Tabitha and the kids home.


I got a cheap flight from Missoula to LAX. I asked for and received a few days off from work. We left last Monday morning and met my parents in the lovely town of Barstow. We caravanned through the blistering Mojave Desert through Las Vegas, Mesquite, and St. George.

We climbed out of the desert into the forested hills of southern Utah. We stopped for the night in the truly lovely town of Cedar City. Coincidentally, my youngest sister, Sara, and her husband thought my impending arrival in Montana would be a great time for them to go visit family in California. However, we made arrangements to stay at the same hotel in Cedar City.

My other sister, Judy, and her family were also returning to Montana and decided to stay in Cedar City the same night so we were able to have something of a family reunion. The kids ran around like maniacs but stopped long enough to pose for a picture with Grandma and Grandpa.

The next morning we continued our journey northward. The best thing about the drive to Montana is that it gets prettier and less crowded the further north you go. We cruised through Salt Lake City around lunch time and made a late afternoon Starbucks stop in Pocatello, Idaho. We continued until we reached the bustling metropolis of Dillon, Montana.

Dillon is a quiet little college/cow town on Interstate 15. And it's only about 4 hours away from my parents house in Pablo, Montana.

We woke early the next morning and hit the road. We reached Missoula and stopped again at a Starbucks. Finally, we rolled into my parent's gravel driveway around one o'clock.

The kids have been playing non-stop. We've driven Terry around to show her the sights of the Flathead Valley. Tabitha has started looking at real estate again.

Do I really have to go home on Saturday?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It Doesn't Make Sense

A while back my pastor told us that God had intended for humans to have eternal life on earth. But for the sin of Adam and Eve, we would live forever. He used some Bible verses to support his assertion but I'm too lazy to look them up.

It sounds pretty good. No dying. You never have to lose your grandparents, parents, or children.


Except there's a problem.

That's a lot of people.

There are about 6 billion people living on our planet right now. The number grows most years. There's lots of people making babies out there. It doesn't grow as fast as it could because people die.

If we go back only 7000 years (for the young earth creationists out there) and add up all the people who were ever born, that's a lot of people. I'm no math whiz, but it's a number higher than I can count. If we go back even further, the number gets way bigger.

That's a lot of people to clothe, house, and feed. Not to mention the waste disposal issue.

I know what you are going to say: "The earth was magic before the Fall. The natural laws we have now didn't apply back then."


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cambridge, Massachusetts - Take Two

Let's say you are a nationally renowned African-American scholar returning from a trip to China. When you arrive at your house, the front door is stuck. You enlist the help of the taxi driver to force open the door. A passerby sees two African-American males forcing their way into a house.

The passerby calls the police.

The police respond to a possible burglary in progress. They don't know you live at the house. They don't know you are a nationally renowned African-American scholar. You come to the door and the officer asks you to step outside.

The quickest way to resolve the situation is to provide the officer with identification that shows you live at the residence.

A driver's license perhaps.

Instead of getting indignant and becoming argumentative with the officer, pull out out your driver's license.

The conversation then goes something like this:

Officer -- I'm sorry Mr. Gates Jr. There must have been a mistake. I'm sorry to have bothered you. I hope you have a nice day.

Mr. Gates Jr. -- Not a problem officer. I understand these things happen. Hey, by the way, what's your name.

Officer -- It's Sergeant Crowley. Have a nice day.

Mr. Gates Jr. -- Stay safe.

But that doesn't make the national news.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Apology, Explanation, or Excuse?

About a year and a half ago I started writing this blog. I had access to the Internet and a good bit of free time so I wrote a lot.

Two or three posts a day.

I wrote about whatever random thing that popped into my head. I wrote about my family and all the cute/funny things my kids were doing. I wrote about food. Especially cheese.

I love cheese.

Sometimes I wrote about religion or politics. I'm not very argumentative so I kept those postings to a minimum.

Then something happened.

I was visiting with my sister, Judy, last summer when I saw she was a member of Facebook. I was amazed. She was "friends" with over two-hundred people. She was friends with people I knew but hadn't seen in years (we run in many of the same social circles).

I waited another month or so and then signed up.

Within minutes, I was spending most of my computer time on Facebook. My friends grew in number and breadth. I became enamored with the "Status Update."

Instead of writing my random thoughts on the blog, I was putting them on Facebook.

It was cool and fun.

Cast Iron Skillet has suffered. For that, I apologize.