Central Oregon’s Painted Hills, in the John Day Fossil Beds national monument.
The road trip is over. We wound 2,500 miles onto the odometer, took 414 photos, visited 15 friends, crossed the continental divide 9 times, and gawped at 13 volcanoes, 7 sandhill cranes, 4 snakes (50 percent rattlesnake), 3 eagles, 2 harlequin ducks and 1 sopping wet beaver.
We rolled back into town Sunday afternoon to find a 4 foot south swell marching against the cliffs on the west side. Tragically I was in no shape to surf. A freak accident involving a carnivorous Oregon hearthstone had left my pinky toe the color of a western sunset and feeling roughly the size of the U.S.S. Macon. I would post a picture but some of you have probably eaten recently.
We consoled ourselves at Los Pericos, a new Santa Cruz taqueria that has developed some sort of proprietary technology for cooking carnitas. They stew the meat in pepper and bay leaves, then shred it and press it against a hot griddle till the frayed edges are brown and crisp as breakfast potatoes. Serve it with nachos made from thick corn tortillas fried that day, add a tamarindo Jarritos, and it’s Welcome to Santa Cruz!
Taquerias are a cutthroat market in Santa Cruz, and Los Pericos occupies an ill-fated location that has seen at least five establishments close their doors in the last four years. But the periquenos really want their restaurant to make it. They’ve posted signs with large letters offering vegetarian options and student discounts. Menudo, served on weekends, draws the true-believers.
Once you’re inside, the scruffy proprietors make special trips to bring you disposable plastic forks and napkins. If at any moment they find you chipless, they hurry over, gesturing at the makeshift salsa cooler with a grand sweep of the arm. Then they go back to the grill to assemble your mountain of carnitas. I hear the rest of their menu is good, too, and I plan to explore it someday. But not just yet.
In my hazy post-carnitas aftermath, I discovered that President Bush has flip-flopped on climate change – I suppose we should be grateful for small (and hopelessly tardy) mercies. The New York Times realized that water quality at SoCal surf spots is sometimes yucky. And someone posted an unbelievable amateur wildlife clip from Kruger National Park in South Africa. All I can say is it’s only 8 minutes and it involves some lionesses, some water buffalo, plus a cameo or two. Watch the whole thing and don’t fast forward or you’ll miss the shockers (thanks, Andy).
Finally, Jenn, here’s a Mt. St. Helens shot for you. I’m not sure our pilot knew there was such a thing as a flyover advisory. There’ll be more trip pictures up on Flickr just as soon as I remember my password.
A warm thanks to everyone who provided us with beds, beers, fun times, happy pets, good music, and large hunks of roasted animal during the road trip.