I kind of like pulling into a strange town, middle of nowhere, that I have no idea what the town name means, or how it is even pronounced. Cle Elum is a non-stoplight town (as the mayor proclaims in his ‘welcome’ section of the free newspaper) and was built as a logging town, later coal mining, and was a stop on the westward roll of the Northern Pacific Railway. The town was pretty much wiped out from a fire in 1918, which destroyed 29 square blocks of buildings. Only one building remains from that era.
I had just come through the Snoqualmie Pass, was making my way east on US Hwy 2, which I am navigating across the US in short spurts, and was tired and hungry. After cruising the entire strip of the town looking at the motel options, I turned around in the parking lot of “GIANT BURGERS SERVED ON FRENCH BREAD” (it wasn’t open, damn!), and settled on the Traveler’s Inn, a modest motel whose sign assured me they had “FREE WIFI”. Funny how that’s changed over the years, the ‘come-on’? I remember when those signs said “It’s COOOOOOOL inside,” or “Color TV”. Now it’s wifi and breakfast. I have sure had some pitiful “continental breakfasts” on this trip. Perhaps the skimpiest was the Good Nite Inn, in Calabasas, CA. (Where guests also have to sign a pledge that they will BE QUIET at night!) GOOD NITE!
Checked in the Traveler’s Inn, with the help of Mr. Patel, who assured me that the ‘wifi was very good’. The room was very small but immaculate. The motel filled up as the night went on with contract workers for the Bonneville Power Association, I guess they were either clearing timber or maintaining lines. The were a rag-tag looking crew.
Settled, connected to the internets, it was time to peruse my dinner options, I was really in the mood for a sit down, leisurely meal, but Cel Elum (local Indian word roughly meaning “swift water”), offered few choices beyond coffee shops.
I had spotted a few billboards for Sahara Pizza on this trip (“The Hottest Place in Town”), which I learned later was a modest sized chain in the Pacific Northwest, and two locations in Boliva (????) (the country).
So when I spotted one in downtown Cle Elum, I figured I’d grab a pie, go back to my motel, and catch up with my online work.
The sign outside promised there was a pool table and games inside, but once inside, the greeter board said “excuse our dust, we are remodeling”, and the seating area was pretty decimated, and gaming stored away somewhere. It may have also said under new ownership, or management, IIRC.
I ordered a medium, Pepp, Sausage, and Double Cheese, and a couple of cans of Diet Coke. There was a brief discussion about whether or not they could change a hundred dollar bill, and I asked where the nearest ATM was, just in case, and that was an enigma to the employees, they didn’t seem to be able to tell me that. (Turns out they did have change for a hundred, and there was an ATM directly across the street).
15 minutes later the pie was out, I was on my way back to the no-tell motel, and digging into to the pie, which was a lot better than I could have hoped for. Some of their POP materials states that “they use the finest mozzarella money can buy”, and I don’t know about that, but it was pretty good. Toppings were ample, crust was firm, sauce was a little sweet for my taste, but not to the point of my not liking it.
The famous “BurgerDogBoy how is it the next day after sitting out all nite” test was passed with flying colors.