After the Fact: To sea food or to not sea food


Have I lately mentioned my granddaughter, Jordyn the Gypsy? She lives, with my son John and his really cute wife, Joy, in a small town in Massachusetts, a world away from the San Luis Valley in both distance and culture. Their idea of a great vacation is to spend a week at Cape Cod, building sand castles, wading in the ocean but swimming in the motel pool, and dining on fresh seafood. While they went out on a boat to catch their own crab (something accomplished with net “traps” and trolling and stuff like that), Jordyn wanted “red crab” (otherwise known as “lobster”) at the restaurant that evening.

John, a native New Mexican raised in Colorado, has somewhat adapted, but would still prefer tacos or anything smothered in green chile. He learned early on that you don’t order seafood in a restaurant, any restaurant, when you live in a land-locked state.  Jordyn was not-yet a toddler when they moved to Massachusetts, so she hasn’t developed those green chile taste buds and eschews anything hotter than unsalted butter. I was going to say “peanut butter,” but she’s allergic to nuts. Can you imagine anything sadder than never tasting pinon? 

Years ago, there was a restaurant chain that catered to the seafood starved, “Sea Galley.” It was a short-lived competitor to Red Lobster, but had the funniest TV commercial I’ve ever seen. A “chorus line” of 3 guys came waltzing up to the camera, singing a ditty, “Crab legs, we’ve got crab legs.” And, indeed, they were wearing waist-down crab leg costumes. I never ate at a “Sea Galley” restaurant, but was mightily sick the day after an “all you can eat” crab leg special at Red Lobster once. Every time John mentions their traditional first night vacation dinner of clam chowder, I turn a little green around the edges. With apology to my vegan and vegetarian friends (I’m never quite sure who is which), give me steak any day! Or a green chile cheeseburger. With fries.  We go to Star’s in Monte Vista where they make the real thing “from scratch.” Each order “from scratch”.   

We’re “catch and release” fisherpersons in this household. I don’t enjoy it as much anymore but my daughter would give her next two weeks’ allowance to find a good place for fishing. Most fishermen like to think “their” place is a deep, dark secret. Now, if you’re not going to take anything out of the water that you don’t put back, why would you care if someone else knew about it? The nearest we’ve come to serving fish at our dinner table was tuna salad, heavy on the lettuce, tomatoes and mayo. And even that hasn’t happened in several years. 

River fishing is something else Jordyn enjoys. Her daddy’s one of those “purists”, right out of the script for “A River Runs Through It,” but her mom is the one who consistently brings home the best-of-the-day catch, and there are dozens of places for great fishing just around their small northwest Massachusetts town. Probably nothing to compare to our own Conejos River, but, then, what in Massachusetts can compare to the San Luis Valley anyway?

I remember a time when John’s notion of a super vacation was to spend the weekend in our VW van (outfitted for camping) at the Sand Dunes where we could cook hot dogs and good ol’ Girl Scout S’mores over a campfire. I was a “second-go-‘round” student at Adams State and we learned to make a dollar stretch into groceries for a week (almost)!

My kids never went to Disneyland, but they did get to wander, unsupervised, all over the Anasazi ruins at Bandelier, Tsankawi, Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. They never stood in line for amusements at Disney World, but they saw the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Rio Grande Gorge. They’ve been on picnics too numerable to mention, and camping trips nearly everywhere in New Mexico and Colorado. They learned to catch fish (even if they didn’t eat them) and to find wild strawberries, blueberries and asparagus. They’ve been out among the bushes to pick pinon. And they can swim and ski. Altogether, they had some pretty amazing vacations and childhood was a grand adventure. Even without the lobster.