when the search for dinner turns into a road trip

by | Adventure, Food, Living Well

We are in the midst of a road trip from Seattle to Alaska: my mother, my 2-year-old daughter, and I.


Naturally, the first move in a trip to the westernmost state, would be to go east for three days. Right?  We’re taking the scenic route: the first night in Leavenworth, and then Coeur d’Alene, before heading northeast to Banff.

Think traveling with a senior citizen and a toddler sounds stressful?  Let me tell you how we feed our little party:

After we crossed the border into Idaho, Mom started talking about getting steaks tonight for dinner. Sounded good to me. Moments later a billboard advertising a prime rib dinner on a floating restaurant appeared on the side of the road. I could go for some prime rib. After that, Mom had a one track mind.

But first we had to find the hotel. We turned off the highway when we saw the sign for our hotel. While we were waiting for a light to change, Baby Girl saw a Super 8 hotel sign, and started yelling “8!” because she knows that number.  We were at the intersection with Apple Way, and it turned out that our hotel was right across the street from that Super 8. We checked in, and asked the guy at the front desk for directions to the restaurant.

“It’s real easy,” he said.  He then directed us to turn left out of the parking lot, take a left at the light, follow that road and that we would see the big brown building floating on the water.

Sounded easy enough.

So we did just that. And sure enough, there was a big brown building floating on the lake. A very large, uninviting building with the name Hagadorn Corporation on the sign. Nothing even remotely suggesting a restaurant. I left Mom and the baby in the car to go investigate. I went up the ramp to an imposing,  dark, locked door, that glared at me like I was trespassing, even if it didn’t say as much.



Back in the car to drive around a bit more, maybe we didn’t go far enough.

We stopped and asked directions from a gentleman who admitted he had just moved to town, so he wasn’t sure if the name of the road was 90 or 95, but we should take it south and then we would see the sign on the left. Of course, we knew the name of the road was 90, because that was the road we rode in on.

Unfortunately, mom got in the turn lane a block before we got to 90, so we ended up turning down a frontage road along the interstate.  We drove for quite a while, miles actually, and started wondering if maybe we’d gone to far.

But wait. We saw that sign right after we crossed the border into Idaho. Surely then, the restaurant would be in the vicinity of the sign. Wouldn’t it? Just then, the frontage road crossed over the highway.  Oops. Now we’ve got an interstate highway between us and the river – not a great place to look for a floating restaurant.

We traveled along for a few blocks, and then decided to take a left and just get as close to the river as possible. If we travel alongside the river, at some point we will come across a restaurant floating on that river – right?

The first opportunity to turn came after we crossed the river, the we took a left on Riverview Drive.  Of course, eventually, this road will have some view of the river. We drove, and drove, and drove along Riverview Drive. We drove 7.5 miles along Riverview Drive. We saw wild turkeys. We did not see the river.

As we traveled this misnamed road, mom admitted that she had looked for this exact same restaurant the last time she was in Coeur d’Alene with her sister.  They couldn’t find it that time either, and ended up eating at A&W.

Eventually we stopped to ask directions again.  “It’s real easy,” the young woman said.  Just follow this road to the T, and take a left, and then when you get to 95, it will be on your right.

You caught that 95, didn’t you?

We continued on Riverview Drive, without seeing the river, until it came to a T, and we turned left on Upriver Drive, also lacking any kind of river view. When we got to 95 we took a right and drove a bit, but when the sign said Moscow, we started to question ourselves again.  Maybe we were actually supposed to turn left on 95?

Yup, right after the intersection, there was the restaurant across the river on the right. This place better be pretty damn good.

We drove a bit further so we could turn on to the drive.  Several blocks worth of RV park lined the left side of the road leading up to another sign for the restaurant. This one proclaiming that they start serving dinner at 4.  A picture of the typical customer is starting to form in my head, and that picture included more polyester waistbands pulled up to the armpits than pretty damn good food. But we’d been on the road looking for this place for an hour and a half. It was time to eat.

We proceeded to bump our way down the very poorly maintained road, our overloaded truck bottoming out with each bump. We park, unload the baby and start our way across the awninged bridge, which was a little scary with the angry, swollen river up so close.



And the restaurant? It was closed for a private party.

Baby crying, mom and grandma both stressed out – all three starving. Now what?

We turned back on to 95 looking for another place to eat, and then took a turn on Government thinking we might have better odds there. We stopped at an intersection and then noticed we were on Apple Way, and there to the left was the Super 8 my daughter noticed when we came in earlier.

Yes, that’s right. We drove 30 miles, an hour and a half, to find a restaurant that was just a few blocks away. It was real easy.

We ate dinner at a little Mexican place down the street, and it was awesome. Most satisfying meal on this trip so far.


Finding our way through Canada to Alaska should be a piece of cake.  Everyone says it’s real easy.

Note: I had to wait a few days before putting up this post, partially because access to the internet is really limited while traveling up here (may take a while to return comments on posts, too, but it will happen). Also because I didn’t want to scare my husband too much the first few days out. We’re doing fine Babe, and having a great time.

Judy Schwartz Haley


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