Friday, May 30, 2008

Billings: apple of my eye

Afternoon of day 8 P and I arrived in Billings, Montana. My friends and family are probably tired of my gushing about Billings, but really more than 1/2 way through the country it was the first city that was an exception to all the rest. Many cities and towns we had been through were drive-through areas, highly commercial, with the same chains of businesses from state to state. Billings had its own personality, the weather was sunny and hot (you can see our Little Bighorn sunburns in some of the photos), with friendly people and fascinating architecture.

We had a lot of fun running around checking out the city, stopping by the super-cool Thomas Book Store, and taking photos of all sorts of things.

Lunch in Billings was a big deal too. We had been eating fried or fast food for days and were slowing down as travel food caught up with us. In Billings we were on the lookout for a satisfying lunch, while still on the cheep.

Providence shone upon us and lead the way to Stella's, a "kitchen and bakery". P got the biggest salad I have ever seen in my life, I was presented with the warmest, fluffiest, most golden pancakes, eggs, hash browns and Italian sausage. My Boston friends and I had enjoyed lovely Thai together before the road trip and no meal had even come close in quality and enjoyment until beautiful Billings. I wish the grandest fortunes to everyone involved in the Stella's operation, those people were such a grace to this leg of our trip and the weary far-from-home states of our hearts.

Our waitress found out from P that I had never had pie before and with a twinkle in her eye materialized in no time a piece of warm, gooey apple pie complete with vanilla ice cream and, yes, a kiss of whipped cream. My friend M had sent me on a mission to introduce myself to a quality pie experience while on this adventure and Stella's sure did supply. The crust (I know a good crust when I see one) was flaky, with sprinklings of caramelized sugar, the apple slices bite-sized. The warm cinnamon hint was divine with the vanilla ice cream... oh my goodness!

Not only was our pie-bearing waitress oh so helpful with our food and glowing from our out-of-towner praise, but she gave us directions to our next location: Yellowstone National Park. It was this lovely waitress who recommended the town of Gardiner for our pre-Yellowstone stay, and both of us were so delighted by that town, too, that I must wholeheartedly recommend this route for anyone passing through the area.

P was having funny-face day:

We kept stopping and gazing adoringly at the mountains of Montana on our way to Gardiner. Lucky we did that because the next day, while at Yellowstone, the clouds had settled in the mountains and these sunny 80 degree afternoons were no longer:


Mssensibleshoes said...

Never had pie, how can this be?

mollie said...

With your seal of approval on Billings, I now feel that I could actually go and visit family that recently moved there...Glad you had a good time...and had pie for the first time? That's crazy!

mushroommeadows said...

yum...the food at Stellas looks so very GOOD!

Knittah said...

Waitaminnnit. You never had PIE before? PIE? How did you live here all that time and me not know that you never had PIE? Pie is one of my all-time favorite foods. You never had PIE? *boggle*

laurie said...

(blush) it's true, about the pie. have I mentioned I was a horribly picky eater for most of my life?
I know, though.
It is weird. (shakes head)

But Montana, oh so beautiful! Phil was tempted for a time to move there due to such a positive experience, and for its proximity to Yellowstone. I'm glad he decided against it... but for visiting I was greatly encouraged by the independent businesses, friendly vibe, and... proximity to Yellowstone.

michael said...

Now, the worry is that all future slices of pie will come up short when measured against that marvelous-looking concoction. Looks like a damn fine pie; I'm sure Agent Cooper would approve.

I've gotta get out West somehow.

laurie said...

it was a damn fine cup of coffee, too. :)
yay! I'm glad you saw the Pie Post! I'm confident all future pies will be an adventure of their own.

And yes, yes you do.
Happy Monday, Michael. Thanks for writing! (: