Thursday, May 3, 2012

At the End of a Vegan Road Trip

When we started our trip to Seattle a few weeks ago, I posted here about some of the preparations we made, in order to make vegan traveling easy. Such organization, such good intentions, such big plans. It all seemed good in theory... Here's the shot of the back of our neatly packed car, on our first day out, when we stopped in Durango to make up a nice salad for lunch.

The salad making happened exactly once. Pre-chopped veggies didn't stay cold enough in the plug-in cooler, and the ice chest was full of drinks. We ended up munching on carrot sticks and hummus, as carrots are a much sturdier vegetable than lettuce, and there's no bowl required. Nuts and chips made up the rest of our drive-day diet, along with water and the occasional coffee stop, always refilling our beloved insulated Kleen Kanteens. These are at the very top of the packing list whenever we travel. In fact, we use these every day at home, and rarely leave the house without them.

When visiting unfamiliar cities, Happy Cow can be a terrific "friend in town," who can point you right to all the veg-friendly restaurants in the area. You can get their app for your phone too. And if you're lucky enough to have an actual vegan friend in a place you're visiting, make use of them! We did just that in Las Vegas, when we took my friend Paul Graham's advice and took the time to go to Pura Vida for breakfast before we hit the highway in the morning. Paul writes the blog Eating Vegan in Vegas, and he knows his way around that crazy town's restaurants. Pura Vida was a high point on our trip, and certainly worth a little detour off the Strip next time you're in Vegas.

By the time we got to the Grand Canyon on our way home, all hope for organization was lost. We brought all our food into the hotel room, which fortunately had a fridge for our juice, hemp milk, and hummus. We ate granola and fruit for breakfast, and made peanut butter sandwiches to take with us as we explored the park. Not fancy, but not bad either.

Dinners were a weird mish-mosh of cafeteria food not even worth mentioning. Two bright little lights on the Grand Canyon dining scene though were the vegan and vegetarian items on the menu at El Tovar. We didn't eat there, since it requires a reservation and a certain amount of dressing up and acting civilized. We just didn't have it in us at that point in the trip, but we were very happy to see that somebody must be listening to the traveling vegans of the world, who are apparently visiting our national parks and asking for something besides steak and burgers.

Back on the road a few days later, another sanity and blood sugar saver was good old Subway, which these days can be found at most Travel Centers (which I think used to be called Truck Stops). As of today, they claim "36,752 restaurants in 100 countries," which means we have a decent vegan alternative to typical fast food. Choose your bread, load up the veggies, pickles, olives, and peppers, choose mustard and vinegar over cheese and mayo, and you have a road trip meal you can feel good about.

Another less well-known sandwich place is Togo's, which seems to be a west coast, mostly California, operation. I remember when the first Togo's opened in San Jose in 1971. No one had ever seen sandwiches like these, and it looked like business was booming from the very start. When we ran across this old favorite, right next door to a Subway, I convinced Rick to give it a try, and he was glad I did. We had wraps this time, but I can sure vouch for the sandwiches too.

On our last day out, as we drove through Arizona and New Mexico, I spent a lot of time making lists. While it's fresh in my mind, I want to make notes on what to pack for the next trip, and also what not to pack. Not only food related things, but clothes and books and stuff in general. We really don't need as much as we think we do, and the fact that we're traveling by car doesn't mean we have to fill it up. Vegan travel, like vegan life, can be so simple. I'm on a mission to fine tune the way I do this. For me, that means taking a whole lot less of everything when I head out into the world... including shoes...


Teri said...

Your last sentence reminds me of the first time my daughter came back to IL after she moved to CO. She had a huge pink dufflebag full of shoes, she was staying less than a week, It is difficult traveling with good, quality food. I try to avoid restaurants, luckily I have a small fridge in my RV, but it only runs off electricity not 12v or propane.

Jean said...

TOGOS looks yummy! :) jean! xox