Written by Brock Butterfield of @buslifeadventure
“Did you hear about the new breakfast place that serves coffee beans that have been cycled through an Indonesian monkey’s digestive system and has really good toast?”
This was a conversation I caught while exploring Canon Beach, OR. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I love experiencing good food. I’m all about the new places with the reclaimed barn wood, fancy coffee menu and sparky barista who spends their life memorizing each customer’s complex, brain slapping hot or cold beverage. However, it wasn’t until I was passing through a small part of Idaho and needed some grub only to find a little mom and pop diner. “Great. Watered down Farmer Brothers coffee and greasy spoon menu.”, I thought to myself.
I parked my 30’ school bus next to the farming trucks and semis hauling manure and made my way to the door. It was one of those moments where you walk in and the record comes to a halt, the whole room gets quiet and every eyeball is glued to your very next move. The room was full of truckers and local good ol’ boys who take full advantage of the “bottomless coffee” in their retired state. I nodded at one old timer and received no recognition back as I proceeded to seat myself at the bar which had old, red, padded bar stool tops from mostly likely the 50’s.
A very rough and round waitress come over to me and in a very gruff voice asked “How do you take your coffee?”. I didn’t even have the option to not order coffee. It was as if it was required to drink coffee if I was going to dine in their fine establishment. I replied “With cream and sugar.” knowing that would be the only way I could choke down the brown liquid they call coffee. A trucker snickered in the corner as if he “called it” and knew I was the sissy city boy who doesn’t take his coffee black.
The menu wasn’t too exciting and I decided to get crazy and order a waffle with a side of bacon and scrambled eggs. The waitress waddled off and I could hear her yelling my order at the cook who appeared to be old enough to have had a pet dinosaur when he was a kid. “This should be interesting.” I said to myself as I watched his shaky hands spill waffle batter all over the sides of the griddle.
I sipped my brown sludge and waited for my food. When it arrived I cringed at my choices for waffle toppings. High fructose corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup. I stuck with just butter. To my surprise the waffle, bacon and eggs weren’t that bad. In fact, they were actually pretty good and made my coffee taste a little better.
I polished off my meal and the waitress handed me my check. $5.43 all said and done. I couldn’t see a credit card machine anywhere around the register so assumed it was cash only. I placed my cash on the counter and made my way out the door. I could feel the eyes of everyone in the diner watching me as I walked to the bus. I could just imagine what they were saying about the long haired hippie who has a chimney on his bus.
A few miles down the road I came to realize that those little American Diners won’t be around much longer and it’s quite the experience to sit and eat in one. It’s a far slower pace then we’re used to and the food tastes different. It’s hard to explain what I mean but if you find yourself passing through a small town and you see that little greasy spoon diner, pull over, walk inside and order yourself a cup of the worst coffee you will ever drink and enjoy the show.