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 California, Here We Come!

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Re:California, Here We Come! Fri, 08/9/13 10:17 PM (permalink)
Great report, as always!
I am bound to refer back to it if we ever visit my wife's friend in Berkeley. She was in San Francisco the last time we were out there and we didn't get to Berkeley. But our first stop after arriving at the Oakland Airport was Fenton's. In fact, I remember them having a small ice cream stand in the airport, not too far from the gate that we flew out of.
<message edited by phlmaestro on Fri, 08/9/13 10:18 PM>

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    • Location: Burlington, NC
    Re:California, Here We Come! Sat, 08/10/13 8:30 AM (permalink)
    Great trip report! If I ever start a restaurant myself, it would be very much like Bette's. And if I ever get to San Francisco, I vow to get me some cioppino!

      Re:California, Here We Come! Sat, 08/10/13 9:49 AM (permalink)
      Monday April 22nd, 2013
      The Bay Area is famous for their traffic and saw enough of that over the weekend.  We had no desire to get caught up in the rush hour version.  We pulled out of the hotel at 4:30AM and still ran into more traffic on a Monday morning than you would ever see at home.  Still, we got out of the area no problem, heading east towards Yosemite National Park.
      We kept our eyes peeled for a breakfast stop, eventually finding Waffle Factory 

      in a strip mall in Escalon.  As far as I know, this is a mom & pop restaurant and not part of a chain, though someone out there might know otherwise.  The inside

      wasn't particularly interesting, though did like that one table had a running crew of locals who would sit down and chat over morning coffee.
      We both kept our choices simple.  Johnny went for the Waffle Factory Combo

      with four slices of bacon, two eggs over medium and a waffle.  When asking Johnny how he liked his bacon, she asked, "limp, medium or crispy".  Crispy, of course!  The waffles do appear to be homemade and are thinner than those usual bloated Belgians.  He would have liked it if the syrup was warm, but was still happy with his meal.  My order was the blueberry waffle,

      which was the compote than fresh blueberries, but that is to be expected.  On the side, four run of the mill sausage links.  We shared so that each one of got two strips of bacon and two sausage links.
      Waffle Factory was nothing special, but still just what we needed on this morning.
      Waffle Factory
      2253 Jackson Avenue
      Escalon, CA
      As we continued on the drive, getting closer to Yosemite, the view just got prettier and prettier!

      Much more to come.....       
      <message edited by buffetbuster on Sat, 08/10/13 9:52 AM>
        Ralph Melton

        Re:California, Here We Come! Sat, 08/10/13 10:37 AM (permalink)
        Those are some great pictures of the scenery.

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          Re:California, Here We Come! Sat, 08/10/13 3:07 PM (permalink)
          I think every small mom and pop breakfast place has a table of locals that meet and eat there daily.  I think it is restaurant law!

            Re:California, Here We Come! Sun, 08/11/13 10:20 AM (permalink)
            In my memory, I think they were local farmers, but since it wasn't in the notes I wrote as I went, no way to be sure.
            Speaking of notes, since the trip was months ago, I have to rely on the notes more than usual.  But it is hardly foolproof.  From the previously mentioned Sprenger's, I had written down "DT Time for Johnny".  For the life of me, I can't figure out what that means.

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              Re:California, Here We Come! Sun, 08/11/13 10:32 AM (permalink)
              This may be a solution to your difficulty in remembering details of your meals. 

              You could use this portable video camera to record every bite of your Roadfood experience, then go back later for reference. You might even be able to set it up for live-streaming of your roadtrips (paid subscribers only).  Available for iPhone and Android at Amazon.
              <message edited by JRPfeff on Sun, 08/11/13 10:35 AM>

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                Re:California, Here We Come! Sun, 08/11/13 11:22 AM (permalink)
                If you were in the central valley, they were farmers. 
                Rich farmers, but farmers.

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                  Re:California, Here We Come! Sun, 08/11/13 12:57 PM (permalink)
                  I have often thought about using my mini recorder for note taking, it fits in my pocket and people are already staring so that is not a big thing. 

                    Re:California, Here We Come! Sun, 08/11/13 3:21 PM (permalink)
                    Interesting suggestion JRPfeff, but the camera makes me conspicuous enough.  The idea of the mini-recorder isn't a bad one, but I would wait until we are back in the car or the hotel to use it.

                      Re:California, Here We Come! Sun, 08/11/13 8:02 PM (permalink)
                      Monday April 22nd, 2013 (cont.)
                      When we reached Yosemite National Park, we stopped to get the obligatory photo with the sign.  While we were taking turns posing, a woman by herself pulled in.  She told us she would be happy to take a photo of both us,

                      so I thanked her and handed her my camera.  When I started to tell her which buttons to push, she told us not to bother, she has the exact same camera.  After we returned the favor and took some photos for her, she asked if I ever use the vivid setting on the camera.  I told her no and she said someone else had recently told her about it while she was vacationing in Italy and she has been using it quite a bit ever since.  After she showed me where it was, I thanked her and she went on her way.
                      That is a long explanation to tell you part of the reason why I'm not completely enamored with my photos from Yosemite.  The vivid setting (which I am sure many of you know) really brings out the colors in the photos, almost to the point of making them look unrealistic.  While it did make a few photos sharper and brighter, more times than not the photos turned out looking fake.  At this point though, I didn't know that and I spent too much time trying it out, like a child with a new toy.
                      Anyway, the drive into Yosemite is maybe the most dramatic of any of the national parks.  You come in on a switchback road, with a beautiful valley right in front of you.  

                      The park ranger at the gate highly recommended riding the shuttle to all the major stops.  This was fine with us so we parked at Yosemite Village and boarded the bus.  This turned out to be very convenient.

                      On our previous visit, about a decade ago, the highlight was hiking to the top of Vernal Falls.  Well, nowadays I am ten years older and eighty pounds heavier.  I got part of the distance and my legs started to bother me, so I sat down and told Johnny to go on ahead.  Maybe it was the higher altitude, but Johnny, who is in pretty shape, only made it to the bridge before turning around.  And his legs bothered him so much for the rest of the day that he ended up asking me to drive when we were leaving the park.  So no long hikes for us.
                      Still, even just riding the shuttle bus, we had access to spectacular scenery.

                      We eventually did get hungry and stopped at a place called Degnan's Deli for a sandwich.  I have eaten some bad national park food over the years and luckily for us, this was much better.  All the sandwiches were handmade right in front of us, asking what we want on it as we walked down the line, Subway style.  Mine was the ham and swiss

                      with lettuce and tomato, red onion and honey dijon mustard.  Johnny went for the Italian and spruced it by buying a bag of kettle chips and putting them right on the sandwich.  The employees at Degnan's looked like college students, who were unfailingly polite and helpful.  This may have been our best experience eating food inside a national park.
                      We spent a good part of the day here and eventually got tired.  Luckily, our dinner destination and accomodations were one and the same and not too far away.
                      Much more to come.....   

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                        Re:California, Here We Come! Sun, 08/11/13 10:08 PM (permalink)
                        I see what you mean about the color in some of those shots. Sure is a beautiful place!!

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                          Re:California, Here We Come! Sun, 08/11/13 10:20 PM (permalink)

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                            Re:California, Here We Come! Sun, 08/11/13 10:36 PM (permalink)
                            Great report as always. Beautiful pictures with and without vivid setting.
                              ann peeples

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                              Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 7:27 AM (permalink)
                              Beautiful pics of Yosemite!

                                Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 7:47 AM (permalink)
                                Monday April 22nd, 2013 (cont.)
                                We were spending the night at a place called Yosemite Bug, which bills itself as a rustic mountain resort.  Those could be code words for a scary overnight experience, but it actually turned out to be a fairly nice place.  The reason for staying here is because their restaurant, Café at the Bug, appears in the 2011 Roadfood book.
                                The building itself is deceivingly large. 

                                No waitress service, you walk to the back counter

                                to place your order.  Nice tip jar! 

                                The menu is on three boards overhead. 

                                From the descriptions, we had the feeling we were in for something above the ordinary.  The woman who took our order had a strong Australian accent and used the expression "no worries" repeatedly.  As it turns out, she was actually a Kiwi, who was raised in Australia and ended up marrying a local.  Nice lady!
                                The first part of the meal brought out were the soups.  Johnny loved his tortilla soup,

                                which provided a fair amount of heat.  He said there was plenty of corn, big chunks of tomato and maybe some cilantro, but not many tortillas.  I love trying interesting and unusual soups anytime I can, so the carrot mint soup

                                was an easy choice.  There was some doubt in my mind whether the carrot and mint flavors would mesh well together, but it turned out to be a wonderful pairing.  I would definitely order it again.
                                Johnny's entrée was the pan seared pork loins. 

                                He thought they were moist and tender, though a little thin.  On top of the pork loins was a pistachio chutney, with apples, golden raisins and green onions, which he absolutely loved.  This dish came with a side of zucchini and cauliflower (which seemed to be roasted, adding extra flavor) and mashed potatoes.  As you can see, this is not exactly standard campground food!
                                My choice was the grilled salmon filet,

                                which was an outstanding piece of fish, grilled to perfection.  On top was a sweet corn and black bean salsa, plus rice and the mashed potatoes and vegetables on the side.  This was on the short list of best things I ate on our trip.
                                To drink, you just help yourself from the large buckets

                                and both of us chose the hibiscus cooler,

                                which was dark purple and had a refreshing flowery flavor.
                                After seeing the dessert case,

                                there was no question we would be saving some room.  My banana cream pie

                                was light and airy and unmistakably homemade.  I could have done without the nuts on top, though.  The one misstep here was Johnny's fruits of the forest pie.

                                He liked the softcrumb top and that it had lots of rhubarb, but it still seemed like it was several days old and had become liquidy.  Now, after looking back at the dessert menu, how in the world did we not try the homemade ice cream? 
                                The interior of the café is very nice, with a lovely fireplace area
                                for relaxing and a few bugs

                                scattered around as part of the décor.
                                Our room was part of a duplex and the accommodations were very nice.  Here is a look up

                                from the Café at some of the units.  They also offer tent cabins,

                                with regular beds, but I think my days of sleeping in a tent are long gone.
                                If you ever visit Yosemite, this is a fine place to spend the night.  It did have something of a hippy feel to it and we were the oldest people here, but we found everyone very friendly.  If nothing else, the food at the Café is well worth a detour.
                                Café at the Bug
                                6979 Highway 140
                                Midpines, CA
                                Much more to come.....        
                                <message edited by buffetbuster on Mon, 08/12/13 8:10 AM>

                                  Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 8:02 AM (permalink)
                                  I love your choice for overnight accommodations! Pretty cool!  Did you guys have breakfast there the next morning?

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                                    Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 8:35 AM (permalink)
                                    Wow...what a place. I'm envious. Thanls for showing us more of this great trip!!!

                                      Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 8:47 AM (permalink)
                                      But our first stop after arriving at the Oakland Airport was Fenton's. In fact, I remember them having a small ice cream stand in the airport, not too far from the gate that we flew out of.
                                      Can't imagine have a quality ice cream place like Fenton's in the airport.  It makes me wish the Pittsburgh airport had more local places, like a Primanti's in it. 
                                      A big thanks to everyone for all of the nice comments.  It is very much appreciated!


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                                        Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 9:00 AM (permalink)
                                        Very nice shots of Yosemite, BB!  I recognize Half Dome from Ansel Adams' photos.

                                          Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 10:49 AM (permalink)

                                          I love your choice for overnight accommodations! Pretty cool!  Did you guys have breakfast there the next morning?
                                          No, we did not have breakfast at Café Bug.  We had to choose between eating or taking a yoga class. 

                                          Obviously, we chose yoga.  No doubt, you would have done the same! 


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                                            Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 11:06 AM (permalink)
                                            Yoga.  Yeah.  Right. 
                                            Your pictures are stunning.  I've said this before......when you stop being a professional Roadfooder you need to become a professional photographer.
                                            I laughed when I saw the "Bear Encounters" sign.  The bear is obviously thinking, "Damn!  I was hoping to stumble across a couple of Roadfooders not these two skinny, scrawny things!  Oh well......they'll make a nice hors d'oeuvre before I have to go back to Yogi class!"

                                              Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 1:16 PM (permalink)
                                              What was the giveaway that we weren't actually doing yoga?  The fact that they don't make yoga pants that big?

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                                                Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 1:27 PM (permalink)
                                                Love, love, LOVE Yosemite!  Cliff you did it justice, bus ride and all.
                                                I love your fancy camp food.  Great pictures as always.
                                                The bears have left Yosemite.  They seem to be showing up here in town these days.

                                                  Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 2:45 PM (permalink)
                                                  Tuesday April 23rd, 2013
                                                  When we checked in at Yosemite Bug, they told us that the office opens at 8:00AM.  So when I told him that we would be gone by then and inquired what we should do with the keys, he seemed puzzled.  He asked, "You really might be gone that early?"  Um, yeah.  Finally after consulting with another employee, he told us to just leave the key in the room and added he will still write a note to the morning crew to make sure I don't get charged for another day.  Is this really the first time this has come up?
                                                  One of the reasons we wanted to leave so early was that we were headed to Sacramento and had a lot to squeeze in.   Such as the Squeeze Inn.
                                                  First stop once we arrived in town was Marie's Do-Nut Shop

                                                  It is a small building on a busy street and while Johnny was on an important phone call from home, I went up and ordered a half dozen through the window.  The lady who waited on us was very friendly and patiently answered all of my questions about which donuts were which.  Let me tell you, these are some great looking donuts! 

                                                  Our half dozen included a plain cake,

                                                  apple fritter, boston cream,

                                                  glazed, maple cruller and a blueberry cake.  Hindsight is always 20/20, but how in the world did we walk away without getting one of those cinnamon rolls?  All of them were delicious, but the apple fritter and the boston cream were the standouts.  We snacked on those as we drove around, as if we weren't going to eat enough over the next two days.
                                                  Marie's Do-Nut Shop
                                                  2950 Freeport Boulevard
                                                  Sacramento, CA
                                                  Much more to come.....  

                                                    Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 2:55 PM (permalink)
                                                    I think you boys are ready for Hot Yoga...that'll get you guys sweating! 

                                                      Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 3:28 PM (permalink)
                                                      Hot yoga?  That is almost as scary as the idea that they would be providing props!

                                                        Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 3:58 PM (permalink)
                                                        I got this picture in my mind of you guys in the yoga outfits...nightmares tonight! 

                                                          Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 8:24 PM (permalink)
                                                          Tuesday April 23rd, 2013 (cont.)
                                                          Looking for the Squeeze Inn,

                                                          we followed the GPS to a strip mall on the outskirts of town.  We were surprised to see it in this unlikely location, because I had previously read that it got it's name because it was so small, the customers had to squeeze in.  I told Johnny I would go in and ask.  When I asked the guy at the counter that I was looking for the other smaller location, he pointed to the corner and told me that

                                                          is all that is left of it.   So, I waved Johnny in and settled into counter seats. 
                                                          I did inquire about the original building and was told that they had been sued twice because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, once by a man in local court, once by a woman in federal court.   I haven't read extensively about the particulars, but it seems like a case of a well meaning law being abused.
                                                          Anyway, both of us ordered the famous squeezeburger with cheese.  We passed time waiting for our burgers watching the grill,

                                                          and walking around checking the place out.  As you can see,

                                                          this place is much bigger than the old one.  It would have been nice to experience the atmosphere of the old place, but for comfort's sake, this one is preferable.
                                                          We marveled at the cheeseburgers when they were delivered. 

                                                          This is one of those cases where you just sit back and drink in the beautiful food in front of you.  The cheese skirt here is similar to what we have enjoyed previously at the Shady Glen in Connecticut.  The cheese here is softer, gooier than the Shady Glen.  We were also fans of the sesame seed bun.  The burger itself had a big, brawny flavor and I would think they must use fresh ground meat.  Toppings-wise, it was loaded with lettuce, pickles, red and white onion, tomato, mayo and mustard.  Even after we ate the cheese skirt away,

                                                          this was still an impressive looking burger.
                                                          We split an order of French fries,

                                                          which were long, crispy and golden brown.  They give you empty paper cups to fill with ketchup to dip your fries.  To drink, Johnny had a Dr. Pepper, while I drank a root beer.
                                                          My own feelings were that this was just as good as the Shady Glen, while Johnny thought the Squeeze Inn was much better.  Anyone else out there been to both?  One other thing I liked about this place is that they had a hockey game going on tv, which you certainly wouldn't expect in Sacramento.
                                                          To sum it up, you no longer have to squeeze in at the Squeeze Inn.  So, if you are in Sacramento and can squeeze in lunch, we highly recommend the Squeeze Inn!
                                                          Squeeze Inn
                                                          5301 Power Inn Road
                                                          Sacramento, CA
                                                          We headed downtown to do some sightseeing.
                                                          Much more to come.....     

                                                            Re:California, Here We Come! Mon, 08/12/13 8:37 PM (permalink)
                                                            That will make squeezing into those yoga tights even trickier!
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