Category Archives: Just Awesome

Random musings and things I found.

Beyond Burgers at Carl’s Jr!

We all heard the news on Instagram at about the same time, and I think the collective vegan mind imploded.  It seems that Beyond Meat and Carl’s Jr. teamed up behind closed doors to surprise the heck out of just about everyone.

It wasn’t one of those lame media teasers, where a major brand was testing some new vegan option at one or two stores, this was NATIONWIDE.  Today.  Every. Carl’s Jr.

So I did what any self-respecting vegan would do – drove my happy butt to a Gresham, Oregon Carl’s Jr. and ordered a burger.

THE GOOD:

A sign right next to the front door proclaimed that the Beyond Burger was now an option.  All the staff inside we showing off Beyond Burger shirts and hoodies (I tried to beg for one, but no dice).  Everyone seemed knowledgeable about the new vegan options (at least how to make it vegan).

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It was odd (albeit nostalgic) to be sitting in a fast food restaurant waiting on a burger and fries.  It has been at least 10 years, if not more, since I had done that.  So there was a strange feeling about sitting there ordering burgers and fries.  It was cool.

Roadtrips will never be the same.  We can pull into a seedy Omaha truck stop, and have a vegan burger.  Coming home late from work and picking up dinner will also be changed.

THE BAD:

The staff’s understanding of veganism as a whole was severely lacking.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not looking a “gift horse in the mouth (to use a truly vegan colloquialism) ” but these guys seriously had NO CLUE.

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When asking about the cheese, I was told it was not vegan, as it had SOY in it.  But that because it was pasteurized, it was all fake anyway, and no dairy.  That aside from the soy, it was vegan.  We couldn’t believe it!  So we ordered it with this new “vegan” cheese option.  Thankfully the woman ran out from the back, in time to change our order, alerting to us the cheese was in fact NOT vegan.

Then we debated about what fries were and were not vegan.  So, I hope the grunts at Carl’s Jr are prepared for the onslaught of pissed off vegans asking questions and expecting answers.

THE UGLY:

I think we all knew this was coming.  But they DO NOT use a special area to cook these burgers.  They get cooked right where all the beef also gets cooked.

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The only reason I went ahead with my order is this.  They are only cooked on the “charbroiler.”  They invited me back to look at this contraption.  It is a wire mesh belt that feeds the burgers from one end through to the other.  Like a giant pizza oven. So the only shared cooking surface is a tiny amount of wire mesh.  Oh, and by the way, that mesh passes through that machine at over 750 degrees.  So I can only hope/assume that any meat residues are blasted and cooked off.

I know the vegan committee might dock me some points here.

IN CLOSING:

The fact I went to a Carl’s Jr. and ordered a burger and fries, and enjoyed a vegan meal is, in itself, remarkable.  it speaks to how far veganism has come, how much the market has changed, and how the perception of veganism has also progressed in mainstream society.  

I praise any company that has been historically a meat-offering establishment and is willing to try something along these lines.  It is a bold move, and one that can have massive positive repercussions for animals, fellow vegans, and even meat eaters.

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But there are two schools of vegans.  The first is an ultra-emotional, almost fascist approach where anything that deviates from this oft-unattainable vegan god-like status, is not a vegan.  They will shun anyone that walks into a business that sells any meat, regardless of how that company is possibly changing.  They will boycott Beyond Meat.  They will shame vegans on Facebook groups that even think about supporting a fast food chain.

The other group is a little more progressive in thought.  They see the bigger picture.  That sometimes you need to take two steps backward to take one forward.  Sometimes you must give your money to big, evil companies in order to show how popular vegan options are, with the only goal of showing other large companies that vegans are here to stay, and that market share is growing.  In the end, that will benefit the animals.

If you find yourself in the latter group, head down to a local Carl’s Jr.  Get the Beyond Famous Star Burger (but hold the cheese and mayo).  You’ll be glad you did.

If you are in the first group, well…maybe there is a drum circle somewhere for your rage.

My Experience with Uber and why it rocks!

I know this post isn’t directly related to Jeeping, or even veganism for that matter (I did have a vegan driver once).  But it is an issue that has been in the Portland-area circles, as the city decides how to “handle” ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

The first time I used Uber was during a business trip to San Diego.  I took a cab ride from the airport to the hotel, for a whopping $37 (it was like 4 miles).  What is even worse, was the driver’s attitude about accepting my corporate AMEX card (“you don’t have any cash?” he pestered).  As he was grumbling about swiping my card, he didn’t even help me with my bags from the trunk.  As he sped away, I just about swore off taxis.

On the other end of the spectrum, on my return trip to the same airport from the same hotel, the cost was just over $11.  And the courteous driver offered me complimentary water, set the music to whatever I wanted, and was incredibly polite and conversational.

Continue reading My Experience with Uber and why it rocks!

Alaska Offroad Warriors – Pick Us!

Hello Original Productions!

You are here because you most likely received my email, asking to be  a part of the next Alaska Offroad Warriors.

Chad navigating the Rubicon.
Chad navigating the Rubicon.

So why us?

  1. There is finally a Jeep that can kick Super Jeeps‘ ass.
  2. I am a pesky vegan, and Chad (my copilot) is a ravenous meat eater.  We banter like none other.
  3. I am an ex-Alaskan, and know the state, and unique hazards of the terrain.
  4. We have a lot of offroad experience – from the Rubicon (twice), Moab (twice), Manastash Ridge in Washington, Jim Creek in Alaska, and many, many other expeditions.
Frank will take on Super Jeep.  Any day of the week.
Frank will take on Super Jeep. Any day of the week.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for Offroad Vegan!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Why I have not been posting to the blog…

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Pardon the messy garage, you know how it can be during a project!

I have been spending every free post-work minute in the garage working on my expedition trailer!  Last night I installed a new wiring harness, tongue box, mounted the tent and added cables to the tailgate.

Getting ready for the maiden voyage!

Jeep’s New Renegade is far from a concept

UPDATE: Jeep’s official microsite is online!

This week, the auto world was thrown into a tizzy over Jeep’s latest salvo in bringing more fuel-efficient vehicles to the fleet.  This of course, is mostly to offset the MPGs of their core vehicles (Wrangler and Grand Cherokee), but also aims to make the Jeep brand more appealing to a larger audience.

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When Jeep (a.k.a. Chrysler, a.k.a. Fiat) introduced the new Cherokee, I feel they missed the mark.  But most of that was simply because they blew the Cherokee heritage.  Had they called it something else (maybe something patriotic like the “Justice” or “Freedom” to match the “Liberty” already in their line up #sarcasm), I am sure the reception would have been warmer.

Continue reading Jeep’s New Renegade is far from a concept

Road Trip Day 3: Utah to Oregon [Donuts, Donkeys and Being Home]

The morning started early, with the crusty frost on the grass and the long morning shadows on the ground.   The Wasatch mountains were cloaked in beautiful colors, and tiny birds filled the sky.

The Wasatch Mountains overlooking the Jeep.

After a conference call for work, some free OJ in the hotel lobby and a repack of the Jeep, we were on our way at 10:30AM.  We hit the first Starbucks since Ohio, and celebrated our familiar caffeinated favorites with a cardboard clink and a toast for the road.

A quick stop at Starbucks – the first since Ohio.

Today would be the home stretch, a blessing in disguise.  Knowing it would be our last day on the road was bittersweet, but knowing we had to push on – no more breaks – was a bit daunting.

We made our way out of Utah very quickly, the Idaho border arriving as a surprise.  Following signs for Burley, I was able to calculate distance and time with the familiar scenes from our recent Moab trip.

The wide open expanses of Northern Utah.

We ended up stopping for a gas up at a small gas station just off the highway, in the middle of nowhere.  As we pulled in, a lone tumbleweed tried to warn us of the potential “Hills have Eyes” situation about to unfold.

Welcoming committee.

However, while we were never burned to the stake, we were greeted by some friendly donkeys and llamas as well as entertained by a very well laid out store ripe with western jokes and cold drinks.

OK, some were funny.

We stopped in Boise for a lunch break and to see an old friend for a cup of tea.  Brandon suggested a vegan-friendly joint called the Shangri-La Tea Room and I was impressed with their vegan goodies. Right when you walk in the door, a display case teases you with a beautiful array of vegan donuts.

Vegan donuts. Yes and yes.

I ordered the vegan burger which was really good, and my sister got the tofu scramble (which she said was amazing).  Brandon made it a tea-only affair.  After lunch, I ordered a ton of donuts for the drive, and to take home for Melanie.

Ribbon of roadway.

These last 7 hours would be the longest of the trip.  Idaho soon blended into Oregon at the Snake River and the Wallowas soon greeted us.  Eastern Oregon has to be one of the most beautiful arid, stark places I have ever seen and it continues to astonish me each time we pass through.

Eastern Oregon

The headwind as we approached the Columbia gorge were unbelievable.  The little Jeep still pushed 70-75 where possible, but the noise with the soft top was often unbearable.  My Bose noise-canceling headphones proved helpful.

We left I-84 in Hood River, opting to circle Mt. Hood for a shorter drive home.

The dark, snowy (read: very snowy) drive was a beautiful end cap to our adventure.  As we descended through Government Camp, Rhododendron, and finally home, we pulled in the driveway at about 10:30PM.

It was so great to be home.  Being greeted by the dogs, seeing Melanie, and sleeping in my own bed was so amazing.  But being on the road in a 15 year old Jeep was also amazing.  With plenty of silent time to think and recollect it was almost more meditation than road trip.

Road Trip Day 2: Nebraska to Utah [Wind, Coffee, and Starry Nights]

We started in Lincoln, Nebraska after an amazing night’s rest and a break from the Jeep.

We filled up on gas, OJ and truck stop coffee before heading out on 80 West.  It was a beautiful morning in Lincoln, with bluebird skies and warm temps.

Starting point for day 2.

Nebraska, while actually a really cool state, was my nemesis on this trip.  The sheer size of this state, when coupled with the rather drab scenes, makes it a monotonous drive.  There is, however a beauty in the stark flatness, combined with what seems like “small town” America.  I want to visit Nebraska more, as long as I don’t have to drive across it.

Truck stop coffee: Actually not that bad, but no soy creamer 😦

The mile markers passed rather quickly toward Wyoming with little issue.

Toward the Western end of the state, the winds began to pick up, and pretty strong.  Signs warned of empty trailers with 50+ MPH headwinds.  The Jeep is not very aerodynamic, and the soft top made conversation and music pretty pointless.

Once we entered Wyoming (finally!)  the winds were howling pretty crazy.

The I-80 corridor will always hold a special place in my heart.  Melanie and I had plane tickets on 9/11 to attend her brother’s wedding in Iowa.  With United rebooking us repeatedly and the FAA eventually restricting all flights, we had no more options.

Until I found a car to rent.

So we drove that little Mazda from Palo Alto, CA all the way to Burlington, IA.  It took us 40 hours of straight driving and early relationship building.  If two newly-dating people can survive that much time together in a car, well…maybe that explains our 11 year success with our marriage.

I-80 will always be a cool road for me.
Sidney, Nebraska. Nowhere indeed.

The sun slowly slipped behind the mountainscape as we progressed through Wyoming.  Looking out my driver’s side window I could not help but be mesmerized by the starry night sky.  It was absolutely amazing.

The sun slowly sinking.

Making our way into Utah, we found a great place to crash for the night for our final push into Oregon.

No matter where you are, Jeeps are nearby.

 VEGAN SITUATION:

As we head further West there are more Taco Bells when in a pinch.  Along this corridor, that is honestly the best bet.  We did not have time to go into supermarkets, so I have no idea what those were like, but I will remain pessimistic.  Some truck stops have bananas and other goodies.

Road Trip Day 1: Vermont to Nebraska [Death, New Beginnings, and Old Friends]

There are a few moments in the life of a family that are foundational, concrete changes.  These include deaths, births, new jobs, new homes, and moving out.  This past week, our clan experienced two of these.

My grandmother, Hilma May Clark, passed away after a long and healthy life of being a beautiful grandmother.  I remember picking fresh blueberries in the rainforests of Alaska, and bringing them to her to bake us some Swedish Blueberry Bread.  She was the absolute matriarch of our family, and she leaves not a vacancy of loss but a vacancy of just being there.  She was a constant person in my life since I was born, even sneaking me behind the bar at the restaurant she worked at to steal me some maraschino cherries when I was a toddler.

As I made travel plans to fly home and support the family with her passing, I also found out my little sister (who was planning on moving to Portland anyway) needed a co-pilot to drive her 1999 Jeep Wrangler from Vermont to Oregon.  Everything lined up perfectly, and we left Saturday morning at 9:30.

The Jeep, ready to roll.

Saying goodbye to my parents was especially harder this time, as I left with my sister.  With my grandmother gone and now Jess, they would truly experience an empty nest for the first time.  Maybe it was just a release of the compounded emotions of the week.  Either way, tears were flying as we all said our final goodbyes before the trip.

Google Maps was our guiding star, leading us into New York and through the Adirondacks.  The snow was beautiful and I was surprised to find us passing through Speculator – the same town I went to summer camp in as a little boy.  The town has hardly changed.

A quick stop for coffee in Rochester, NY was not nearly enough to catch up with an old friend.  Ryder and I were buddies when growing up and the last time we saw each other we were blowing dust out of Nintendo cartridges.  It was great seeing him again, and we look forward to seeing him on the left coast soon.

Time for old friends.

We then made our way through Pennsylvania and Ohio. The initial plan was to stop off in Cleveland for the night but the area was under a winter storm warning. We could stop and spend the next day in a blizzard, or keep trucking and skip it all.  We opted to skip it.

The snowy roads of Ohio.

The Jeep continued through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

We did pull of somewhere in Ohio for a couple of hours of “sleep” (the seats can’t recline and the 8 degree temps were far from sleepable).

Wathcing the sunrise from the driver’s seat: Morning in Illinois.

I did however manage to break my personal best record for longest driving without a break (the 2 hours of sleep is being reviewed by the judges) but I am happy with a 26 hour stretch.

No sleep til this point: Brooklyn, Iowa.

Pulling into Lincoln, Nebraska we decided to take it easy and get out of the Jeep.  With a quick visit with family and some delicious local beers, we headed back to the hotel and got a great night’s sleep.

Getting gas somewhere in Iowa.

 VEGAN SITUATION:

I have been living off a giant bag of pretzels and Clif Bars with the occasional stop at Subway.  We did find a Chipotle in Ohio (but with no Sofritas!) Less than optimal, but we hope to make Salt Lake tonight (the US’ #1 vegan city as names by VegNews!) and as we move West the options will open up.

I have noticed the larger truck stops (Loves, Flying J, TA) have a large selection of seeds, nuts, and vegan snacks.  They will work in a pinch!