I’m driving through Polk County, Oregon, on my way to nowhere. A river meanders on my left, farm fields are spread over rolling hills on my right. Sprinklers are gushing torrents while migrant workers make their way through the fields. Vineyards, tree farms, truck farms, I smell onions and the earth. It makes me hungry.
I’m barreling down the highway, ok, I don’t actually barrel, more like a roll, tho the Tom Tom moos at me occasionally, so there must be moments of barreling. I drive by a feedlot, and that takes me off the hunger thing, but only momentarily, as I approach the city limits of Salem, and wonder what fine diners await a boy looking for the consumate breakfast experience.
My fading memory recalls two names, and I phone google them, get a reply in a nano-second, and punch the address to “Rock-N-Rogers” into the Tom Tom.
Pulling into the parking lot, I am not disappointed: requisite rag top caddy perched on a pole, and outdoor seating more than ten feet from the front door, which means smokes with coffee are a-ok.
I walk in, the waiter says “sit anywhere”, and I reply “I’d like to sit outside,” and he hands me the menu and says “I’ll be right out, something to drink?” “Coffee, sez I.”
I walk outside, sit down at a table, and is my habit, start eavesdropping on the folks around me. Today is the opening of the Oregon State Fair in Salem, and I am surrounded by life-long carnies, eating eggs, drinking coffee, telling tales of past years in Salem, relating how to spot a mark at a game, and how to jiggle a certain ride to leave an operator “titalated” and women riders embarrassed. All interesting fodder for a tale someday.
I peruse the menu looking for my standard: hamburger patty/steak and eggs. No such luck. No hamburger patty on the “Sides” listing. Oh well. I opt for “fresh patty sausage” and eggs, and muse over “homestyle” potatoes or hash browns. I go with the former and two over easy.
The menu is classic American diner. Only a few fru-fru things have made it when they shouldn’t have. Local tastes, I suspect.
My breakfast comes quickly, and I eat it just as quickly. The eggs are perfect, the sausage superb, the potatoes fine. The toast? The “topping” (butter?) had that commercial taste that comes when high volume places are using brushes or rollers to apply it. I can’t quite describe the taste other than I don’t like it.
I didn’t buy a t-shirt or mug. Because I know I will be back.
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