I was sent on a simple mission: find beer and ice cream. After a couple days of relatively healthy eating — a recent record for us — we had to indulge. Just had to. The Hines family (Tim, Stephanie, Griffin, and Amelia), whom we’d met at our last explicitly unhealthy meal, McDonald’s, and whom we’d be traveling with since, agreed. So I departed the comforts of our campsite and hiked through the desert — well, a parking lot and road bisecting the desert — toward the general store of a nearby golf course (on that note, why does the most water-deprived place on Earth, a fact harped on by the visitor center, have a golf course?). The general store, which was replete with tees and gloves and polos and other golf necessities, did not sell our preferred junk. Nor did the adjacent diner. Nor nearby gas station. One of them did have, however, Premium Midwest Hickory Smoked Elk Snack Stick — a “Sportsman Favorite!”
In my Boise Fry Co. days, I had experimented with many exotic meat patties, including elk, which was, typically, dry, tough, and gamey, characteristics not suitable for a patty but what I figured would be excellent for a meat stick. Not this meat stick, however. It was moist (a weird description in relation to meat sticks), malleable, and beefy. It tasted more like salami or whatever that questionable meat is on the pre-Thanksgiving snack platter. I scratched my head, quite literally I think. Then I glanced at the wrapper. There it was, inconspicuously placed below the subtitle in not-so inconspicuous English: “Beef Added.” I felt deceived. Disappointed. And had I not been snacking on this stick furtively under Everett and my blanket before night-night time, I would’ve marched through the desert in the dark, likely hand-slapping coyotes and bats along the way, to the golf store and demanded a refund. Oh well. We left Death Valley the next morning. As they say, whoever they are, fool me once…. I suppose I’ll be more skeptical with my meat stick purchases going forward.