Have I ever said before how bored I am with driving through the Mojave desert? Just in case I haven’t, let me say it now. I am completely bored with driving through the Mojave desert. After living in Las Vegas for nearly a decade, I have become too familiar with the landscape and have lost all interest in seeing it pass by at 75 MPH. And from the gutted out houses and trailers that were once someones home dotting the side of the highway, I am not the only one that feels this way. The time creeps past as the distant mountain ranges appear to never get closer and the view after a half hour of drivings seems to be exactly the same. The desert is harsh, it is monotonous. I am ready for the drive to be over. Fortunately I am traveling with Debi. Her company makes what would be an intolerable drive bearable. Being with her makes all the difference, and when she suggested we stop in Kingman to eat at the Cracker Barrel, I was completely in agreement with her. She knows how much I enjoy eating at Cracker Barrel.
Most times I don’t like eating at chain restaurants, especially when we are traveling. The good thing about chain restaurants is you normally know exactly what to expect. The bad thing is you normally know you can expect something completely unexceptional. The same crap they served you when you stopped will be exactly the same crap they serve you in Kentuchy when you stop in Missouri. It will be the same tasting, same looking, served in and identical looking dining room, same completely ordinary experience. Corporate homogenization at its best. Now after that complaining, there are sometimes I don’t mind a corporately homogenized experience. And I don’t mind making an exception for Cracker Barrel occasionally.
For me there is something about Cracker Barrel. I think it is nostalgia, a sense of familiarity. I was raised on southern cooking. I don’t know of any other restaurant that we can go to and I can order chicken and dumplings, with corn, green beans, and fried okra. It feels like home. It feels like my Mom’s cooking. And while their dumplings can’t compare to my Mom’s, it is still the closest that I come without making the trip all the way back home to Indiana. The portions are always huge, and as always I leave having eaten way too much, but feeling satisfied and content. My soul be be a little more empty for giving in to a packaged corporate giant, but my stomach is full.