On the Train 19 – Redlands

Redlands, CA
2/24/2011

Olive Street

I wake up to an empty home. I clean up and get a call from Barney sometime before lunch. He’s coming to pick me up; he doesn’t want me or anyone to be around when Gigi’s mom comes back to the house. I ask him why, and he tells me about this time when she walked in on him having a threesome with Gigi in her bedroom. It’s been awkward ever since.

He takes me on a random drive around town. While on the road, he asks me how wild he thought things would get while I’m out here. I didn’t really know what he was getting at. Before we parked the truck on an open strip of road somewhere, Barney tells me that Al Gore bought up a bunch of property in this area.

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Coffee Country: Stell Coffee

Stell Coffee

This place is what independent coffee shops are all about. Stell Coffee & Tea Company roasts locally, and distributes locally. And while I only got a cup of the usual on my brief visit to Redlands, I could taste the quality – strong, aromatic, and full of body. It’s a simple operation they have over there, and they’ve perfected the process.

They roast their beans inside the shop, and it gives the place a hearty coffee smell. It’s an adorably small and welcoming atmosphere, half inside and half outside.

Their staff is very friendly. Their edibles are pretty appetizing, especially the chocolate chip cookies and panini sandwiches. They put time and effort into their product, and that’s enough for me to buy a bag before continuing on my cross-country trip.

Stell Coffee & Tea Company
1580 Barton Rd
Redlands, CA 92373

Review originally published on Yelp.

On the Train 18 – San Bernardino

San Bernardino, CA
2/23/2011

The Mountains of Redlands

Before I knew it, I was at the train station in San Bernardino, and Barnhart, my host out there, was ten minutes away with his girlfriend, Gigi. “Don’t go exploring, you’re in gang territory,” says Gigi over Barnhart. “Gang territory?” (It kind of felt like a shady place to stick around.) “Yeah, you know, the Bloods and the Crypts do business out there. Don’t wear anything red.” I look down at my red plaid shirt, and I start to panic. “I’m wearing red. Come find me, now.” Gigi takes the phone and says, “Get yourself inside somewhere. We’re on our way,” and before the line cuts off, I hear her say “shit” under her breath.

I waited at the Doughnut King nearby. The nice Asian shop owner gave me some extra doughnuts with my egg, ham, and cheese sandwich order. It was terrible. I picked at it enough to get my fill just as Barnhart and Gigi arrived. I was so glad to be leaving that area; some kids were loitering outside the shop, giving me funny looks. Barnhart was driving a big white truck, holding a 64-ounce cup of diet coke from Circle K. We had a quick hug and shake, and I threw my bags in the backseat. Barnhart had a ruffled look about him, as if hadn’t slept much lately.

Barnhart used to work in real estate back east, but was originally from California. After a two-month solo adventure in Cambodia that almost got him arrested and killed, he returned home to begin more lucrative ventures. He started a delivery business that covers most of the area, and that has been his most recent passion project. For as long as I’ve known him, he has always worn Berkenstock sandals, in every occasion. Even in the midst of winter, he’d wear those sandals.

The drive was comical. Barnhart kept the 64-ounce cup of diet coke in his lap, and while driving with his left hand, he played the drums with a bound bundle of chopsticks in his right. The radio was not on, but still he kept a beat while asking me how things were going. The conversation was nice enough. On occasion he would drift into a separate conversation with Gigi, who sat in the back. The highway drive was dangerous like this, but I didn’t mind. My eyes were too busy looking out at the mountains ahead.