Several years ago back when it was just me, Laura and Kyle, we took a 2 week road trip and went to a few great spots in our country. We visited Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, Monterey, Trees of Mystery, Arches National Monument, and several other spots. One that greatly interested us was Four Corners, the only place in America where four different states connect.
I’m actually going to connect this to the Olympic Peninsula trip, so bear with me.
After visiting the Four Corners location, we had to travel through Navajo Nation, which not only maintains the monument, but also is the largest reservation in the United States. It was getting close to dinner or lunch time, I don’t remember which, as we passed through, and we were looking for a place to eat. Being vegetarian, any old diner wouldn’t really suffice. Finally we found a pizza shop that looked like it was where the local teens hung out.
We were still quite a ways from getting through the reservation, and we needed to eat, so we decided to try it. I mean, pizza is hard to mess up, right? Well, imagine frozen pizza cooked in a microwave, then frozen again, then reheated in the oven. With little to no toppings. Turns out you really can mess up pizza. Alright, so it wasn’t inedible, but it was very far removed from what we normally get.
“Reservation pizza” became a sort of codeword in our family for something that shouldn’t go wrong, but does. The experience from several years back still colors our culinary decisions when travelling. Much like the time we had Chinese food in Moab, Utah. Wow – THAT was bad food, but is another story for another time.
As we departed Cape Flattery, it was already approaching dinner time and we were faced with the prospect of a couple of hours before reaching a place where we knew we would be able to find dinner. Cape Flattery is located by Neah Bay, which is all part of the Makah Indian Reservation. This isn’t a bustling metropolis with boutique eateries, nor even fast food shops. It did, however, have a pizza restaurant.
You should be able to see where I am going with this.
Faced with the prospect of three highly irritable children in a confined space for a considerable amount of time, we decided to try out this place that advertised a wood fired brick oven pizza. We figured at least the kids will have something to sustain them until we get back to Port Angeles.
It was a rough eating establishment – I should have taken a picture of the toilet that required vise grips to flush. That, however, is a fact of life on the reservation. That said, the pizza was actually pretty good. It wasn’t great, but it tasted good and was cooked all the way through. Now “Reservation Pizza” has a new meaning as a variable that should be constant but isn’t. Thankfully, the proprietor was a woman who is the youngest of 6, with five brothers. She wasn’t fazed by our large and loud family, though we were trying to contain everybody as best we could. The restaurant was fairly empty when we arrived, but as time went on, it filled up with a mix of locals and tourists. You could easily tell who the tourists were by the inane questions (Does your lemonade come with a lemon slice in it?”). We, on the contrary, waited patiently for our food, ordering straight off the menu, not complaining when somebody else’s order arrived first, etc. I think she appreciated that. Sometimes it is the basic manners that people forget that cause the biggest problems.
It was late when we got back on the road, at least late by our bedtime standards, and we had a couple of hours before getting back to our room in Port Angeles. At least everybody had some food in their belly. The drive back was largely uneventful, except for the fact that Laura and I saw a mountain lion run across the road. I don’t’ even know if we saw it for a full second, but it was clear as… well, it was dusk, but clearly visible. It was surprising in that we were at the coast, where you don’t expect to see these big cats, along with the fact that they usually avoid the roads. This was just a moment, but perhaps the most exciting one of the whole trip.
Arriving at the hotel, we put everybody to bed, and prepared for the return trip home the next morning.