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Your Wayside Restaurant

By Lavender May 5, 2011

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Before the era of the drive-thru, wayside stops served a basic need. Signs pointing out picnic spots (with restrooms!) dotted the highways. They invited families to their grassy parks with barbecues and benches. Sit, enjoy a meal, stretch your legs, and throw the ball. Road trips became more bearable with a half-hour out of the car and a tasty sandwich from a picnic basket. Wayside stops still exist, often framing fantastic views, awaiting your arrival on your next road adventure.

Equipment is crucial. We’ve all envied Dorothy’s gingham-lined wicker basket. These things are still available, and quite readily if you know where to look. Here are some of our options:

• Hamper The ultimate in al fresco accessories, it is more of a portable kitchen. It allows you the opportunity to carry a full meal and even cook on the go.

• Picnic Case Easy to carry, and perfect for a light meal, it can accommodate the fixings for up to six people.

• Backpack Light and portable, it is a hiker’s dream. Serves two to four people.

• Basket The classic accessory, it comes in many forms. Think ease of use and multiple uses.

Weight also must be considered. Will you be walking some distance from the parking area to your destination? I love sterling silver and bone china outdoors, but I don’t want to carry it for miles. Many picnic containers come with a bottle chiller and wine keys, so don’t forget the Côtes du Rhône Chardonnay.

A menu must be created with two key things in mind: preparation and spoilage. A little mayo is OK as long as it’s kept ice cold. Try including packets instead. Preparing all your foods ahead of your adventure will make dining much easier. Messy foods take away from the fun. The exception to that rule is watermelon, a picnic favorite.

So, pack a basket, and find “Point B” this summer. Along the way, have a break, and eat a sandwich. The wayside rest faces an uncertain future. It’s a relic of the past, like the stops on Highway 100 in Golden Valley that once were called Lilac Way. Our favorite still exists at Highways 7 and 100, with a recently refurbished beehive stove and a connection to the Cedar Lake Trail. We hope to see you there!

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