Category Archives: Food

The Eastern Sierra and Whoa Nellie Deli

When we left off, Jason and I had just driven through Death Valley National Park on our way from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park. When Jason suggested flying into Vegas and driving to Yosemite from there, I happily agreed. The reason was just outside the car window…


During our last trip to Yosemite in 2011, we made our way over to the Eastern Sierra to visit Mono Lake. We had no clue how magnificent the mountains looked from there, and I became obsessed. The extra few hours tacked onto our drive from Vegas (versus from San Francisco) was beyond worth it. And in fact, the drive felt shorter thanks to the beautiful scenery.



There was one other important reason for traveling this route to Yosemite: a lunch stop at the Whoa Nellie Deli! We heard about this gourmet deli, tucked into the Tioga Gas Mart, from some locals in 2011. Great food in a gas station? I had to try it.


We timed it out perfectly and hit Lee Vining a little after noon. It was a gorgeous day, so we enjoyed our food outside. I went with the “world famous” fish tacos. It was my first fish taco experience ever, and it was an awesome one! I especially enjoyed the taco topped with ginger coleslaw. Everything tasted super fresh and full of flavor.


Our lunch view!

After the drive and lunch, I proclaimed that I was no longer traveling TO Yosemite via San Francisco. California’s Highway 395 is one of my favorite things ever! It adds a little more time to the drive and it might be a little more expensive to fly into Vegas or Reno, but the experience of arriving in Yosemite from this direction is perfection.

My Delayed Valentine


Jason never ceases to amaze me. His Valentine’s gift to me this year was tickets to see Giada De Laurentiis speak in Milwaukee. She is one of my favorite chefs, and she helped me discover a love of cooking. The other cool part of the evening/gift – each ticket holder received an autographed copy of her latest book, Weeknights with Giada. So cool!

I stumbled upon Giada’s Food Network show, Everyday Italian, shortly after it first started and at a time when I wanted to learn to be a better cook. For the longest time, my Saturday morning ritual was watching her show followed by Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa (my other favorite). Her food is accessible, and while her recipes are simple, they taste amazing! It was so cool to see her in person (she is really tiny) and hear her talk about her family, her career, and of course, her food.

Some of my favorite recipes to make are her recipes. If you’re looking for some yummy Italian food to try, here are my faves:

A Deep Sadness

There is only one more story to recount from our weekend trip to Door County, one that made me incredibly sad. While I love to include photos in my posts, trust me, you wouldn’t want any sort of photo with this one…

Jason and I were traveling home along the interstate. I was trying to keep myself awake – if Jason can’t nap, I can’t  😕 – and I was watching the farm fields roll by out the side window. Jason, obviously scanning the road, saw a deer shoot across the northbound lanes. It narrowly missed the oncoming vehicles and made it to the median.

Then, it shot across our southbound lane…

Fortunately for us, the deer was well ahead of our vehicle. Unfortunately for the deer, there was a different vehicle right there.

The deer attempted to jump the minivan, but was unsuccessful. The van clipped it as it jumped, and the deer was sent airborne. After a couple of mid-air flips, it hit the road. By this time, Jason had stopped our vehicle and we had to sit there and watch the fatally injured deer attempt to get up – twice. Of course, it couldn’t. It finally just flopped to the ground and moved no more.

It was one of the most horrible events I’ve witnessed. I couldn’t keep from crying.

This incident definitely got me thinking. First, and this might make me sound like the most heartless person ever, but I didn’t even think about the people in the van. All I was upset about was the deer. Second, the sadness and pain I felt at seeing this poor animal hurt right in front of me made me feel like a major hypocrite. I’ve read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and I’m now reading Skinny Bitch. I have a decent understanding of how our food industry treats animals. And I am a meat-eater.

But I’m now exploring a change in diet…

I have contemplated reducing/eliminating meat from my diet for some time now, but I haven’t gotten very serious about it. I have thought about it in terms of my health, especially as I seem to experience some major digestive issues with meat. At this point, I’ve eliminated a lot of dairy from my diet (but obviously not all dairy 😉 ). I’ve also thought about it from the eco-friendly side of the issue. But during the hour/hour-and-a-half car ride from the accident scene to Milwaukee, I started to think much more seriously about my food choices. In addition to making me feel like crap most of the time, eating meat also means that I’m eating the animals I care about very much.

After a few days have passed, I still feel the same. I’m already beginning to work on reducing meat in my diet. At this point, I would like to work towards a pescetarian diet. Huh?? Basically, it would be a vegetarian diet in which I include fish (and since I’ll likely include eggs, I would add an “ovo” to that  🙂 ). I’m not about going cold turkey. This is much more of a lifestyle change for me.

I plan on chronicling pieces of this journey here on my blog. Getting into the outdoors has really impacted my worldview. It has motivated me to take better care of myself and to care more for our environment. To me, there is no separation between how I treat myself and how I treat the world around me. And if I hope to enjoy the great outdoors for years to come, I best be treating myself and the environment pretty darn good  🙂


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