First of all, if you are in to sleep deprivation, then by all means, start a road trip on the first morning of daylight savings time. The Chino Waynes and Heather, their trusty Detroit iron, left the homestead only an hour and a half behind schedule Sunday morning (or only a half hour behind schedule if one chose to ignore the whole rest of the country and daylight savings time.) After about 70 miles on the road the Chino Waynes picked up the Sister of Chino Wayne by prearrangement so that Sister of Chino Wayne could guide them to a local establishment in Newhall. After all this was the start of a road trip, and no self respecting road tripping hound would start a road trip without sufficient fortification. When discussing this all important road trips first fueling stop the day before, Sister of Chino Wayne initially proposed a local IHOP or Dennys. Take pity on Sister of Chino Wayne fellow hounds, she has been dieting so long that she has lost her sense of taste. Being the ever sniffing hound on the trail of good eats, Chino Wayne persevered and elicited the name of the Way Station Coffee Shop from his dining deprived sibling.
So the Chino Waynes, Sister of Chino Wayne and Heather pulled up to the curb at the Way Station on San Fernando Road in Newhall, about a block south of Lyons Avenue. The Way Station has been in business since 1971 and resembles a classic diner in its layout. This is a small establishment with an L shaped counter with about 10 stools on the long side, and two on the short side, and a single row of about 10 booths with four-tops, mirroring the layout of the counter. This place is so small that Chino Wayne, admittedly of more than ample girth, had to turn side-ways in order to get through the front door, and then almost, inadvertently, honestly, got waaaaay too friendly with some burley truck driver type sitting on the first stool by the door.
The décor is sort of funky road side café. Not all of the counter positions have actual stools, but side chairs that look like they came form someones Bridge table furniture set. This however, was a good omen for Chino Wayne, since classic, bolted to the floor stools do not agree with Chino Wayne and his abdominal structure. Forget about the booths if you are on the hefty side, not a whole lot of table-stomach clearance, and the benches, while supporting two diners each, we so short, that if the two people sharing the bench are not anorexic super-models, one of them is going to have at least one cheek kissing air.
The walls are covered with old license plates, the counter surface was from a roll of linoleum floor covering. There was an old brass bakers scale in a case behind the counter. There were two men handling the grill, three waitresses alternating behind the counter and serving the tables, and two bus persons making themselves useful. The service was friendly, fast and efficient.
Mrs. Chino Wayne and Sister of Chino Wayne each had two eggs scrambled, bacon, hash browns, and white and wheat toast respectively. Chino Wayne had ham and three eggs over easy, hash browns and sourdough toast. All had coffee. The scrambled eggs must have been fresh, because they were a nice bright yellow, except for those parts that did not get scrambled up too well, a definite no no in terms of Chino Waynes standards that require all scrambled eggs to be whipped to death, and then killed, so that absolutely no white is discernable.
The scrambled eggs must have met minimum requirements for Mrs. Chino Wayne and Sister of Chino Wayne because they did eat them all. The bacon looked good to Chino Wayne, it was thick cut and not over done. Chino Waynes eggs were good (after all the only way one can ruin eggs over easy is to turn out eggs over hard) as was his slice of boneless ham. Half of the grill was taken up by a huge mound of hash brown potatoes. The Mrs. and Sister liked the potatoes a lot. These were the kind of hash browns that seem to be morphing in to mashed potatoes, they started out as shreds of potatoes, and shreds are still present, especially on the outside edges, which had a very nice brown crustiness to them, but the insides were very close to mashed. (If you have dined at Conrads in Glendale or Pasadena for breakfast, then you know what these potatoes were like.) The toast was interesting, Chino Wayne is accustomed to his toast being crisp and toasty on the outside, and warm and soft on the inside. The toast at the Way Station was comprised of bread slices that were a little thicker cut than what one finds in most restaurants, and was not only toasty on the outside, but toasty all of the way through. All coffees were acceptable, served in those very heavy mugs that make very useful self defense tools. The coffee cups were kept filled by various staff and the coffee was respectable given the circumstances. When queried the next day, Mrs. Chino Wayne (the Chino Wayne family acknowledged coffee expert) stated that the coffee was good, full bodied, much better than she is accustomed to in coffee shop situations, better than she would have expected under the circumstances.
In addition to the ham, bacon and eggs, also on the menu for breakfast at the Way Station was sausage (four skinless links, looking suspiciously like Farmer John), hamburger, steak and pork chops. Nothing as effete as an omelet would be served in this joint. They also do lunch, with burgers and all the usual sandwiches.
All in all, this was a satisfying refueling stop for the Chino Waynes and Chino Wayne can recommend it to his fellow hounds who are interested in classic American short order food in a decidedly un-Disneyesque atmosphere. This is not fancy, or homogonized chain food. In terms of the calories, fat and cholesterol consumed, Chino Wayne very cleverly elected not to drink any doses of the 75 calorie Liquid Diet earlier that morning, so was able to perform this strategic field research with a relatively clear conscience, after all what are a few solid calories in the all important Chowhound mission?
After dumping, er dropping off Sister of Chino Wayne at her abode, the Chino Waynes proceeded north on I-5. The I-5 was the usual I-5, Heather was in the fast lane after coming down the hill at the Grapevine pulled 90 miles an hour, and was being tailgated and passed on the right by cars that were traveling with the flow of traffic. Then after about five miles of that traffic came to a screaming halt at 55 miles per hour. Eventually Chino Wayne and Heather were able to settle in, and the cruise control was set at 80 for the long haul north.
Pulling off at the Kettleman City exit the Chino Waynes intended to pit at In-N-Out at about 12:30 that afternoon, but apparently the word is out, and everyone that would have normally been at the nearest McDonalds or Burger King were at In-N-Out. Noting the wall to wall cars and hungry masses standing around, Chino Wayne elected to bypass this In-N-Out, and the Chino Waynes and Heather did a U-eee and got back on the northbound I-5. Thinking he had his bases covered (as he had noted a highway sign just before exiting at Kettleman City that there is an In-N-Out just 100 miles further up the highway at Santa Nella) Chino Wayne proceeded contently up the highway, visions of In-N-Out in his mind. Unfortunately, upon exiting at Santa Nella, the Chino Waynes discovered that there is NO In-N-Out in Santa Nella. There may be an In-N-Out in Santa Nella someday, but it has not been built yet, THERE IS NO IN-N-OUT IN SANTA NELLA. In the meantime, since the Chino Waynes opted to bypass the In-N-Out pit stop in Kettleman City, it was IMPERATIVE that Chino Wayne make a pit stop at the Pilot Travel Center in Santa Nella. So after taking care of business at Pilot, Mrs. Chino Wayne returned to Heather with an apple an orange and a coke for herself and a miniscule bottle of Arrowhead water for Chino Wayne (Pilot only had nasty Diet Coke). His dreams of In-N-Out now a nightmare, Chino Wayne set off back on the road to Napa with Mrs. Chino Wayne napping at his side and Heather under his haunches.
Another report will follow.
Way Station Coffee Shop
24377 San Fernando Rd
Newhall, CA 91321-2943