The Wandering Vegan Returns

by on June 12, 2006
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View from the Juniper Tree
View from the Juniper Tree Guest House, Crawford, CO

I’m back from vacation, and I actually do have a recipe and photo to post, a dish I cooked our last night in Colorado. I’ll post it a little later, but first I wanted to reply to a few of your comments and say a few things about traveling, as a vegan and just in general.

Thanks to all of you for your comments and suggestions for places to eat. Lindyloo, Annie’s Café sounds terrific, and I wish we’d gotten over to Nederland to try it. AK and Karina, I envy you the time you were able to spend in such a gorgeous state! Mary, we passed through Boulder but were in such a hurry to get to the park that we didn’t stop; if I ever get back that way, I’ll check out Café Prasad.

Traveling as a vegan is, well, an adventure. We found vegan food in some likely places and in some very unlikely places. Estes Park is a real tourist mecca, so it wasn’t hard to find vegan or veganizable dishes on menus there. Other places were a real surprise. I’ve already mentioned Salina, Kansas, right in the middle of “beef country,” where we saw a billboard advertising vegetarian food just when we were thinking that we’d never find anything other than Subway. And on the way home, we drove something like 300 miles through northeast New Mexico and northern Texas on a sometimes 2-lane, sometimes 4-lane road, dotted sporadically with towns roughly the size of my backyard. We stopped for the night in one of the larger towns, Childress, Texas, and were amazed to see a Thai-Chinese restaurant right on the highway. I doubted that they’d have anything vegetarian, so I rested in the motel while D. and E. went to check it out. They found a vegetarian section on the menu, complete with tofu! When they ordered their food (and some to-go for me), the waitress said, “We’ve never had anyone order tofu, at least not since I’ve worked here. You must not be from around here!”

Some places we weren’t so lucky. We drove through Amarillo craning our necks for any sign of restaurants that might do for dinner, but we didn’t see anything other than steak houses advertising (I kid you not) 72-ounce steaks. (That’s 4 1/2 pounds of beef; do these people not listen to the mainstream health experts that recommend not eating more than a deck-of-cards-sized portion?) In tiny Crawford, Colorado, where we stayed in the beautiful Juniper Tree Guest House to be close to the north rim of the Black Canyon, we didn’t even try to eat out but made good use of the well-stocked kitchen and ate outside on the patio, surrounded by flowers and gazing at an incredible view of the West Elk Mountains. We preferred that experience to any restaurant we could imagine.

Finally, I’ve learned that if you want to be somewhat satisfied with the place you live, never travel anywhere else! Last year we vacationed on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state, and I came home dreaming of moving to Sequim or Port Angeles, where you’ve got mountains on one side of you and water on the other. Now I’m pining for western Colorado with its terrain that changes constantly as you drive but is never boring. We got home to find that we’d become unaccustomed to the heat and, worst of all, the humidity of Mississippi. I keep trying to remind myself of the good things about living here–the relative low cost of living, the vibrant crepe myrtles just now coming into bloom, the long growing season that’s given me tomatoes in my garden that are starting to ripen already–but I keep remembering rounding a curve in the road and seeing a vast view over deep, painted canyons to snow-capped mountains in the distance. Last evening as I sat watching birds in my backyard–for the 15 minutes I could manage before the heat chased me inside–I wished I were back on the cool porch of the Juniper Tree, watching deer grazing in the field with the mountains behind them.

Oh well. I’ll be depressed for a little while, but I’ll come around. If I seem quiet for a few days, you’ll know that I’m taking a little time to get back into the swing of things here in the hot and humid–but very green–South.

And about that contest to guess the mystery dish: The first person to guess correctly posted as anonymous, so I can’t really track him or her down. So this is what I’m going to do: If you were one of the people to post (even anonymously) that it was a baked potato with mushrooms, red pepper, broccoli, and chickpeas, email me your mailing address. The first two people to email will receive their choice of a Colorado postcard or bookmark. I’ll post a comment below once I’ve gotten two responses.

Thanks everyone for reading this far. . . and for sticking with this blog over a long break!

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