Steve and I were driving north for Christmas visits, and the last half of our route lay through notoriously boring countryside. It turned out that Sharon, a dear friend and companion on many road trips over the years, was going the same direction at the same time, so I invited her to join us.
Sharon's birthday is a few days before Christmas, and I thought it would be fun to stop for a celebratory meal or snack along the way. A certain roadside restaurant-cum-gift shop with a fruit-tree theme -- very appropriate for California's central valley -- came to mind instantly. Steve and I had eaten there on a couple of homeward trips in recent years, but just in case they were out of business, I consulted Google. Voila! Melba's Peach was still a going concern in the little town of Filbert.* I didn't remember the town itself, but the user reviews left no room for doubt.
Naturally we had a wonderful visit with Sharon on our road trip. With close to thirty years of shared history, the three of us always find lots to talk about, but our conversation took a totally unexpected twist when I mentioned stopping in Filbert. It seems that Sharon's classic VW Beetle had broken down outside Filbert sometime in the late 60's or early 70's. She had less than $10 in her pocket at the time, and expected it to be enough for a trip home from San Francisco. Of course the car needed parts, and work that couldn't be done at a gas station on the new Interstate, so she was towed some distance into town. After a scary night barricaded in the mechanic's men's room, Sharon got herself a temp job as a typist in Filbert's City Hall, and stayed with the City Attorney and his family for the few days it took to fix her car. Now, heading north with us, she was ecstatic to think of returning to Filbert after all those years.
Indeed, Melba's Peach had been built behind the berm where Sharon had sat in her immobilized VW and made up her mind not to be defeated. Melba's gift shop manager told Steve that Filbert was 25 miles away, and our waiter told me that Filbert was 20 miles away. When I pointed out the discrepancy, he said, "Well, it's either 20 or 25 miles, depending on how fast you drive!"
Regardless of distance or speed, I wish we'd had time to visit downtown Filbert with Sharon that day. Maybe in spring, when fruit and nut trees are blooming
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*Not the real name of the restaurant or the town, of course.