What I Learned on my Vacation by Nan Parati

Notes from Nan: What I Learned on my Vacation by Nan Parati:
BY HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati

Dang it, I know I was supposed to have this finished and sent out a few days ago, but until exactly 24 hours ago, I was on a real, live vacation; the first one since the one I was on in 2005 when I accidentally moved here. My friend Nancy (Rob’s sister) and I took a road trip out to South Dakota (which is where people always think to go from here on a vacation!) We were actually on an aimless road trip vacation, but ended up in the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota and it was just wonderful! I did not take my computer so I let my mind have its own vacation to wander aimlessly around the mountains and it had a great time, completely separate from anything I was doing. So now, trying to get it engaged in work again is just a little difficult, but not too bad.

One thing I discovered and therefore, need to ask my accountant if discovering this means I can write the entire week off, is that there’s no place like Elmer’s. Now, if I were the cook I would feel boastful writing that, but since I am not, I can truly say that the food at Elmer’s is really good. Especially the pancakes. And the eggs. And the sausage. And all the dinners. And the inn is pretty good, too. Me, I was on vacation to see someplace different and yet all the food and local accommodations (we tried to sleep and eat at only locally owned, locally run places) were run by people who seemed to work hard to make their places indistinguishable from anyplace else in the country. Me, I’m thinking that if you’re on vacation you want to be someplace special with really good food! So I am going to bet that other people feel the same way and keep on being as weird as we already are.

The place I found most interesting, by the way, was an inn and restaurant combination we found on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. The Native woman who owned it and I had a good old time talking about the trials and tribulations of running your own place and found we had a lot in common in that she had said, “Running a motel is easy! Let’s do that! And now wishes she could go on vacation, too. We talked about a cultural exchange program where she would come to New England and run Elmer’s for a week and I’d go out there and run her place on the Res. I think we’d both be in for a lot of surprises, and I’ll bet you guys would be a lot more accepting of her than her local clients would of me! But people were nice all around and a good time was had by all. And I finally got my hot summer—it was in the 80s, close to 90 the whole time we were there! Now that is what you really want on a vacation!

Speaking of our good food, here’s what we have this week:


  • Big-ass pastrami or turkey reuben with saurkraut,
  • 1000 Island Dressing, with swiss on rye
    or Vegetarian Sandwich: roasted eggplant, red pepper,
  • grilled red onion, goat cheese on baguette
  • Soup: Clam chowder or garden vegetable


  • Yankee Pot Roast with braised potatoes & root vegetables
    or Vegetarian Roasted Acorn squash stuffed with brown rice, dried cranberries, sage tofu sausage with maple butter sauce

See there? Yankee Pot Roast. And why? Because this is Yankee-land! At Mount Rushmore they were serving “New England Pot Roast.” I kept asking around for Indian Tacos (MAN those are good!) but could only find New England Pot Roast and New England Clam Chowder—none of which tasted like real New England Jim Food. It all tasted like Canned American Food. So for the food, I’m glad to be back. For the 90 degree weather and the buffaloes, I’d just as soon be in South Dakota.

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