As I get older around my birthday, I feel like I should have some knowledge to show for it– and of course, to share. The problem is as you get older, you feel stupider and less creative. Another one of life’s cruelties: when you want it you can’t have it and when you have it [...]
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There is a shortcut to Laughlin and Lake Mohave off the Interstate 40 called Goffs Road, a road that meanders like a roller coaster, both left and right and up and down, to a near ghost town called Goffs. Complete with scary abandoned church and gas station that once sold ice and has the machine to prove it. This was a long time ago, when Goffs Rd was apart of Route 66, and if you wanted to get from somewhere in the east to Los Angeles, you needed to pass by this store.
It slashes across in between the 40 and state route 95 creating a straight line shortcut towards highway 163, which will take you to Laughlin. A train run beside the entirety of Goffs Rd and if you’re looking for a souvenir, pennies can be placed at any of the flash flood canal ways which allow you ample area to pull over and have a few beers. It is a tradition I celebrate nearly every time I pass through. Though you should bring a few beers, and I will get to that in a minute.
There is a service station North of Interstate 40 at Goffs Road right as you get off, and it is well-lit and kitschy, and sometimes has comically lonely or medicated workers. It also has some windmills that seem to produce electricity for the station, as well as a 40 foot tall lit sign that reads GAS. It is called Hi Sahara Station and Convenience Store.
There are a few other signs, one says that HOT FOOD SERVED HERE and another smaller sign that details the reasons why you should not complain about the high prices at this store, most notably, that they’ve invested a fortune into the property as well as being in the middle of nowhere.
If this sign doesn’t warm your heart, i’m not sure what will.
You may remember a few minutes ago I mentioned a time when it was necessary to take Goffs Rd (Route 66), of course times have changed.
This store should be a nice stop after the nothingness of the western route of the 40 freeway, and it still can be, provided that you’ve packed some beers and filled up with enough GAS to make it to your destination. Use the bathroom. Buy a piece of candy. Leave it at that.
You’re probably starting to see the point of this article and so much of life could be so great except for a few small details or nuisances. Such is the service station at Goffs Road. A 12 ounce bottle of beer is $3; a six-pack of domestic beer is $12.50. A 16 ounce coffee is $3.25. A gallon of regular gas is $5.65 (reference: it’s around $4 anywhere else).
People who run businesses like this probably think, foolishly, that every customer that falls into their web is there by accident and only comes one time. This is untrue. I’ve been here a dozen times and rarely buy anything because the prices are so unfairly high.
Lets study the sign, especially the words “Middle Of Nowhere“. Essex (the town Goffs Rd lives in) is not in the midlde of nowhere. It is a mere 35 miles from the city center of Needles, California which sits on the border of California and Arizona and has a population of 5,000. Add to this that the 40 freeway is a preferred route for truckers since it is not policed the way I-10 or I-80 is and is relatively flat and free of any mountain passes.
The problem I have with the gas station at Goffs Road is if they weren’t so goddamned bitter and wrong about business, they’d be able to better serve customers and themselves.
Let’s take the example of me:
- Visits to the service station at Goffs Rd: 12
- Items bought: coffee, a few beers, duct tape (after hitting a rabbit on Goffs Rd), trail mix– mostly just the bare essentials due to the prices.
- Amount Spent Per Stop: < $10
- Total Amount Spent at Goffs: $120/-
- Potential Stops to the service station at Goffs Rd, not stopped because I planned ahead: 25+
- Amount I normally spend at a stop: $15
- Total Amount Potentially Spent: $375+
Now I may not be the usual customer, but Goffs could attract many more customers by simply having fair prices on gas and impulse buys and advertising these on a highway billboard. Imagine fair gas prices and then a few items like:
Ice Cream Cone: 99 Cents
Coffee: 99 Cents
Hot Dog: 99 Cents
This pretty much covers all travelers, and there is huge markup on all of these items that even if people only bought these items, they would still make money. They have a large and interesting space that travelers would like and remember; they could make lots of money and have fun doing it. Instead they’re gouging the unlucky customers who have to stop there, and alienating them and the customers who want to stop there and ruining what could be a cool and authentic place in a world of diminishing cool and authentic places.
And please, remove that stupid sign. Nothing makes me want to spend money less than a sign complaining about your shitty investment or how you’re forced to be there. Do you think this would work for any other business? A restaurant? A hotel?
I like to eat Pho. I’m a cheapskate with myself, especially when it comes to food. I also like to try new things and experiment, but being a cheapskate about food I don’t like to take too many risks. If you live in Westminster, California and you add all of this up and you’ll like to eat pho as much as you’ll like getting your hair cut for $5. Sometimes I want to try new things on the menu but I’m rarely willing to gamble $7 to try, especially at a Vietnamese restaurant because the descriptions tend to leave out what form the food is prepared in. For instance:
Bo Khe Thanh Mi (completely made up dish using some common vietnamese words I see) could be described as: beef, noodles and vegetables. Sounds like fried noodles. But then it will be soup. Or maybe something that looks like soup will arrive at the table as a structure of dried noodles with a few pieces of vegetable on top and even fewer slices of meat.
Now in the winter of my time in Westminster, I am looking for some absolutes. I want to know the best Pho. The cheapest pho. The best Banh Mi.
Today’s feature is:
The Cheapest Pho In Westminster !
Mentally play some dramatic music after reading this line
From the 405 head opposite of the beach on Westminster Blvd past the Excalibur Hotel & Casino-esque signage and street flair.
Ah yes, an open gate in the Medieval fashion on the edge of the median as you enter Westminster. Nice touch! (Imagine how pitching this street flair might have sound at the city council meeting.)
Drive past all of the Marketplaces and Home Depots and past Golden West and you’ll hit a stretch of town that isn’t quite sure what it’s gonna do yet. You’ll find TV repair shops in 1950′s style strip malls and dancing studios for older generations who like ballroom dancing until the wee hours of the night but don’t require alcohol. Right now you’re in between the 7600th and 7700th block of Westminster Blvd. Continue on a little further and you start to find the upscale Westminster blvd with a Lexus Dealership and some nice looking banks.
On the corner of Northwest Beach Blvd and Westminster Blvd behind some building you will find Nha Hang $1.99 Restuarant. Wow Nha Hang must mean value or some small but proud town in the Vietnamese countryside that offers food at reasonable prices. Allow me to translate the photo below:
Vietnamese: Restaurant $1.99
English: $1.99 Restaurant
For Cheap Pho enthusiasts, this Tudor Medieval Revival style structure is your Westminster Abbey. But leave the attitude at home: this place is for G’s only. Your fellow customers will be strong, construction worker type vietnamese men, eating alone reading a newspaper, old but tough looking Vietnamese couples and the occasional family who look like they eat here thrice weekly. And why wouldn’t you? With their $2.75 bowl of Pho (Chicken, Beef or either with parts) or their $3.50 bowl of Pho Bo Kho (beef stew with carrots and onions) you could eat dinner here every night for a month for a measly $90.
The waiters speak barely passable english: I ordered fried noodles, the waiter asked if I wanted “Beef or Rib”, mmm rib sounds nice I thought. Turns out he meant to say Shrimp. Hey shrimp weren’t bad either! And for $1.99 for a plate of friend noodles i’m not complaining. Drinks, if you keep it simple (soda or iced teas) are $1. No cents. One Dollar. Condiments are free, surprisingly. (But don’t wait until the owners kids come back from Wharton or you’ll probably be paying a quarter dollar for a plastic cup of hoisin and sriracha!)
The side plate of fresh vegetables and herbs is a muted handful of bean sprouts and a lime wedge. The mint and basil is added by the chef. You don’t need that whole garden of mint and basil so shut your noodle cooler.
The ambiance is shabby-asian-chic:
√ Golden Maneki Neko Cat at the Cash Register
√ Buddhist stone fresco on the wall
√ Framed photograph of a noble oriental countryside
√ Small water fountain with rocks
√ Ambient lit ceiling fans
√ Harsh Fluorescent ceiling lights
√ Takeout case with sneeze guard
√ Collection of local foreign language publications at the door
√ Local insurance agent giveaway calendar on the wall
This place has it all.
The menu is too cheap to believe:
What’s more is that Nha Hang $1.99 has three locations to serve you in the North Orange County Region:
7971 Westminster Blvd
Westminster, CA 92683
11707 Edinger Ave
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
12035 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92842
Old country song lyric.
But really, does anyone know anything fun to do in Dallas? Need to go there for business and am pretty sure i’ll be lost without some good advice.
I recently stayed at a $300ish hotel in Phoenix, Arizona during a spring holiday weekend for around $115. I’m not going to tell you the name or how I did it but a good tip is to find which area you want a hotel in and tweak the criteria until you’re pretty certain it’s the hotel you want, then make a low bid. In my case, after I filtered the criteria down, there was only one hotel left– the one I wanted.
Later in Palm Springs, now being a Priceline.com pro, I decided to try it again. This time I entered $79 for a range of resorts in the $239-279 range. I wanted the hotel that was $279 (Rancho Las Palmas) but instead I got the one that was $239 (Hyatt Grand Champions Resort in Indian Wells). I was bummed that I didn’t get a room at RLP but a $239 hotel for $79 (plus tax, plus resort fee, plus parking fee) isn’t such a bad thing.
I remember when Priceline first came out and I always figured it was just a gimmick and after using it a few times I found that it was— but no longer– you can actually get some pretty sweet deals on Priceline now if you’re smart about it and do your research.