Little America, Wyoming
There are some things we miss living on the road, like our New York Sunday morning, which we recreated in a Wyoming truckstop thanks to our friend Salena of The Daily Rant.
Our typical New York Sunday started at nine o’clock with CBS Sunday Morning, the television newsmagazine that covers the news, history, the arts — did you know that Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton built an American Art museum near Bentonville, Arkansas, which we plan to visit, sometime — design, the economy, popular culture, our musical introduction to Florence and the Machine, ordinary people doing extraordinary things, humor and for the concrete jungle-bound, a “moment in nature”.
Five minutes before the show’s start, I ground coffee beans, turned on the coffee maker, flipped on the TV to the strains of the show’s opening music and crawled back into bed to nudge MacGyver awake. He would open one eye, roll over and punch his pillow into a backrest.
We emptied the coffee pot in the final chapter of the 90-minute show. It was always a gift of nature. We’d watch the leaves turning burnt orange in upstate New York, bison wandering across South Dakota, ice dripping hypnotically into a Rocky Mountain stream, a snake coiled to pounce in the Southwest, a Monet-wash of purple flowers brushed across the West Texas Plains.
All gentle scenes accompanied by the natural sound.
We breathed in that world beyond our city compound — three 22-story buildings, 20 units on each floor, surrounding a courtyard outlined by a circular driveway, where we could see a patch of sky and some green — never imagining that one day we would see these places first hand.
CBS Sunday morning was followed by TV’s political gabfests and I turned to the kitchen to make my Egg MacGyver. Poached eggs on multigrain toast with ham or smoked salmon, topped with melted cheese, Swiss or Cheddar, sometimes Provolone or Smoked Gouda, grape tomatoes, scallions, or caramelized red onions and green peppers and fruit on the side, always over the New York Times Sunday Edition, MacGyver buried in the Business section and me starting with the women’s sports pages, the Vows column.
A simple, but luxurious start to the day, good food with a side of intellectual nourishment.
We woke up yesterday, a Sunday morning, in Wyoming, parked at the Little America truckstop, considered to be a luxury stop by drivers, the shower rooms are marble and have bathtubs, and seemingly to-die for burgers, the line from the grill stretched out the door.
We gathered our toothbrushes and coffee thermos and climbed down from the tractor. Behind the trailer, nibbling at the thin strip of grass separating the trucks from the wide open Wyoming plain were a mother antelope and her baby. Antelopes, we’ve learned, are different than deer — they don’t seem to feed at the side of the road for one — they have puffy, bright white bottoms.
We watched in silence for a few minutes, hidden by our trailer, as the sun peeked out from steel gray clouds, which promised at least some rain during the day, until one of the big trucks roared to life, ending our quiet interlude, our Sunday glimpse of nature.
The coffee inside the deli was hot and aromatic, $1.67 to fill our 32-ounce Stanley Thermos.
Back in the tractor, a special treat for MacGyver. Salena gifted me a microwave gizmo and gave me the “recipe” to Eddie’s Favorite Flatbed Eggs. Three inches in diameter, it’s a plastic bowl, sort of cup, with a handle and an attached lid to cook eggs.
My great challenge in the truck is feeding us nutritious, interesting, easy-to-find meals. Think four years of picnics. It’s not easy. In its own way, it’s as difficult and time consuming as the work MacGyver does keeping Black Beauty, and now Little Beauty, in top form.
How many sandwiches can you dream up? I am proud to say that not once has a Hot Pocket crossed this threshold. I have a microwave, a kettle, a small fridge and a Kool-a-tron cooler and the benefit of sourcing our food across the U.S. and Canada. I frequent delis, looking for fresh-made food, Wegman’s is still my favorite.
This Sunday morning I cracked an egg into the egg cup, two twists of fresh ground black pepper, a half a chopped scallion, cooked it for 50 seconds, loosened the edges, although there’s something non-stick about the egg cup. The center was still wet, I added a little White Cheddar, thinly sliced ham and topped it with more cheese. Another 30 seconds to melt the cheese and heat through. I served the Egg MacGyver on an Arnold’s Flax and Fibre Sandwich Thin, which is the exact size of the egg cup.
MacGyver was thrilled.
No added sugar, fat or salt, the trifecta of really bad but really good tasting stuff in most processed, pre-made food. On the radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Sunday Edition, via Sirius Radio. We read the New York Times on the iPad, the Vows column featured a New York City cop and his bride, who first met when they were young teenagers.
We spend more on food than truck repairs. I crunched my numbers, income and expenses for the first half of 2012 and the food bill is of particular interest to me. How much is too much on food?
We were on the road 134 days in the first half of the year, $5,820 went to food, groceries and restaurants — including Denny’s where I got my first big AARP discount, 20% off in Fort Pierce, Florida — coffee and snacks. That’s $43 a day or $306 a week.
I believe we are what we eat. I buy the best food I can find. I don’t let the price throw me off good food, and after four years in the truck we are both within 10 pounds of our starting weight, I’m 5 pounds off, MacGyver is 10, we have avoided any serious health problems including the flu.
In June, prompted by my hot flashes, looking at what had become MY $3-a-day, Starbucks Frappuccino habit, I decided no more added sugar, sugar in coffee or tea and no more obvious sugar, dessert, my favorite Panda licorice, no candy mints left by the shower staff at the TA or the dastardly good frappuccinos. We are not soda drinkers. If reports of going cold turkey off sugar are true, it should be a good thing.
Our greatest problem is our ongoing struggle with regular exercise, which is changing for my husband since we have climbed another rung of the trucking ladder, we are now pulling a platform trailer — more on that later.
During our three weeks in Thailand, exercising everyday for 30 minutes, walking on a treadmill or swimming — definitely not going for the burn — I dropped back to my pre-trucking weight. We don’t have a food issue, we have an exercise issue.
Our total food cost for the first six months, including our time out of the truck, on holidays and visiting family and friends, was $8,200, which is $45 a day or $315 a week. Our food costs in and out of the truck are consistent.
It sounds like a lot, but financial guru Suze Orman says, and it was my experience as a consumer journalist, that most families spend $1,000 to $1,500 more on food each month than they think. We don’t keep track of the Friday-after-work pizzas, last minute take-out, too-tired-too-cook restaurant meals and the snacks that we buy and eat on the run and often put on a credit card. My feeling is that I would spend the same amount on food if we lived at one address.
There will be more Egg MacGyver in my husband’s future, they are easy, delicious and good for us.