Like many of the road-trip stories in my head, this one’s about Route 66. But also eggs, and dust storms, and weird I-don’t-get-it hybrid weather of dust-sun-rain-wind. But we’ll begin with corned beef hash.
Corned beef hash on Route 66, actually. Molly Brown’s Country Café, one of apparently four locations, though I don’t know this empirically since I’ve only been to the one in Helendale, is on one of the Route 66 segments euphemistically called National Trails Highway, but don’t let that fool you. And order the corned beef hash, which might be the best ever if I’d never had Tadich Grill’s:
But since I have had Tadich Grill’s, and will continue to, whenever I can, we’ll call it—a contender.
Oeufs pochée, X-toasted English muffin—and that, as Mario Batali used to say on “Molto Mario,” is the dish.
Unless your dish is chicken-fried steak, because Molly Brown’s is the best-ever iteration of that dish, no additional qualifier needed. I only ever get a mooched bite (or two), because I’m so way gone on the hash, but I know a best-ever chicken-fried steak when I taste it, don’t I. SUPER SPECIAL COFFEE NOTE: I love Molly Brown’s coffee, which one drinks like water all through the meal, plus before and after.
Driving on what I think of as the Helendale loop, the segment of Route 66 that goes from Victorville to Barstow, or vice-versa, depending, you could stop at Emma Jean’s Holland Burger, which isn’t a bad place at all. But drive over the excellent 1930 Rockview Bridge, which, if it existed anywhere east of California, would be venerated as one of the finest on Route 66:
and continue a further just-over-10 miles, making a mental note to return to charming, tiny Oro Grande as you pass through, and eat at Molly Brown’s. Breakfast and lunch only—you can thank me later.
So, Oro Grande. Built on the promise of gold and the cash delivery of cement, charming and tiny as aforementioned, with a lot worth stopping for, if, like me, you’re at all interested in looking at other people’s cast-off junk. I’m not so interested in edited—curated, in today’s hypervocabularization—vintage-ware shopping. What I like to do is sift through passels of stuff and make my own decisions, and this is easy to do in Oro Grande, where there’s a surprising number of unassuming yet merch-packed shops. Pyrexers, especially, might want to pause to peruse. In the Antique Station, a large, rabbit-warren-y place, I saw masses of sets and singletons, including a lot of the awful 1970s colors I adore. Also, not a few pieces of Hall China. That said, I didn’t buy anything because I have too g.d. much stuff already, but I note it here as a public service to you, my reader(s). Would have bought any Midwinter Stonehenge crossing my purview… as my regular dinnerware it is exempt from the do-not-buy rule.
For me, the best find was the little feed store around back of the main strip of shops. Eggs! Yes, again with the eggs, for which we’re constantly on the lookout, gorgeous brown eggs from the building owner’s own chickens, which are soon to be relocated to an enclosure right out back there. If the feed store’s closed, you can buy them from Annie’s Transformed Treasures on the street side.
While we shopped—for eggs, as it turned out–oh and a letterbach for the person in the family who didn’t have one of his own already, the wind was increasing. It was whipping things around when we first parked. Very evocative, for Route 66 Sunday drivers like us, but unusual, according to the locals.
More evocative: A freight train rumbled down one of the parallel tracks just across the street, blasting his horn a bunch of times, maybe even extra because I was standing there gorping.
See that cloud down the street there? Brown sandy dust. It was on its way, right quick. We drove out through it, wild whipping wind, thick dust and grit, a little rain, and, sun. All at the same time. And then, a gigantic rainbow over Victorville when we stopped for the requisite Costco gas.
Thus concludes this Route 66 mini-chapter, and the continuing, not to say neverending, mega-story My Life with Eggs. Assume more to come on both subjects.