Last summer, somewhere in the middle of rural Utah, my road trip companion and I stopped into a small corner diner that advertised “homemade pie” among the usual breakfast plates and burgers. There are at least two types of magical thinking I can’t not succumb to when traveling. The first is the illusion that it’s ever a good idea to take Amtrak. The second is that diner pie, that platonic ideal, actually exists in some delicious form.
Amtrak is an unrelenting mess. And the Utah pie incident—I only made it through one bite—was like every other similar experience I’d had until then: gloppy filling, crust out of a box. I’d never had good roadside pie.