In no particular order:
(You can click pics to enlarge)
This is how much we loved the Texas rest stop:
A single tree that broke my heart:
(and a lucky shot in a moving car, i'm not handy with digital cameras)
It's a science:
First, life looked like this:
Now it looks like this:
Rates were pretty good here:
Arkansas BBQ delight:
ICBs with the fellas on Aug 24th
We saw several of these. Ponder this marketing plan for a moment.
Now stop pondering that. I leave you with this image:
Sunday, September 2, 2007
OK. Some thoughts on this whole cross-country drive thing. Day 4 of 6. My memory is awful so this will work best as a list. (Kristen's blog has the details. Pictures coming soon.)
- In talking to folks (before starting this voyage) about the cross-country drive, I was able to place the responses in two categories. 1.) The Romantic starry-eyed "Oh I always wanted to do that! It sounds so fun." and 2.) "Yeah, I did it. So what's for lunch?"
I should have paid more attention to #2. The people who did do this trip. There's nothing romantic about it. You sit in the car. A lot. And then some more. Then you go to sleep. You wake up. You sit in the car. A lot. And then some more. Then you go to sleep. Repeat.
I LOVE to drive. This almost cured me of that love. I also love to listen to music. But one discovers limits after 30+ hours in close quarters. So, driving across this big lovely country is not romantic. It's physical and dry. It's also educational , expansive, and unique. But so are Don DeLillo's novels. Yet they're cheaper and less time consuming and unless you read while standing on your head, you'll get fewer headaches and backaches.
All complaints aside, I'm glad I'm doing this. Kristen is a fantastic driving partner, and she hasn't suffocated me in my sleep. Yet.
- Graceland -- Yeah, we did it.
I have a problem with Elvis. This white man is an international icon, worth nine figures in his death. Yet he earned his fame and fortune from co-opting (stealing) the songs from dozens of black men and women who died penniless. Yes, it's heartbreaking that he overdosed on prescription drugs, but Bessie Smith bled to death outside a hospital that wouldn't accept black patients. So, pardon me if I change the station when I hear him singing "Hound Dog". He also seemed to leach all of the raw sexuality out of his (stolen) songs' lyrics, then forced awkward 1950's retarded sexuality into his performances with his leg wiggles.
Graceland was much more entertaining than I expected. The guy had a really great house and entertained himself well. The car museum and AIRPLANES (yes, really) were fun to visit. You could see that he meant a lot to people and that he established himself as a unique product very well. The museum brushed quickly over his acting career and bloated end, which is probably a good idea. The guy served in the military rather than recording more million-dollar songs, and continued to serve despite his mother's passing. So he's a good American kid and always had great sideburns.
One final note: The numbers that the tour often quote are questionable. They say that 1.5 billion people watched his live televised 1972 concert. Huh? Not only had his popularity greatly waned in this country, but......this was 1972......there were barely 3 billion people in the world and only a few countries outside of US and Europe had televisions, plus Elvis didn't catch on in Asia until the '90s. So, maybe 1 percent of the figure might work. And the "1 billion albums sold" figure. Again, let us count the amount of people in this world who have the ability to purchase recorded music. Then take that figure and subtract the amount of people who wouldn't buy American music. Then take that figure and subtract all of the people with good enough musical tastes not to buy more than one Elvis album...
- I thought I liked The Doobie Brothers. But I really don't. I think I did once. Not anymore. Every time their songs come up on my iPod, I wanted to bite the steering wheel.
- I'm not wearing socks anymore. Just flip-flops. Started it on my birthday, only interrupting it for my boot-wearing Graceland trip. My feet are white like marshmallows and bony like cheap steaks, but they are happy to breathe again.
- Rest Areas -- Stop there to pee. Don't pass them by. States are keeping them cleaner now. Much cleaner than the KFC/TacoBell/PizzaHut or Conoco crappers. Take my word for it. Plus if you pass one up in New Mexico, there are no pitstops for 90 miles. And there's really no tree to go behind when you're on the prairie highway.
- We stopped in Texas. Best rest area so far. And we hit a DQ there. Not much going on in Northern Texas. A lot of cows. One really big cross.
- Cracker Barrel, official white person dining establishment. For those of you on the West Coast, these grease shovel pits are everywhere. Wait, that was judgmental. I haven't been to one yet, though I did make a promise to Kristen that I'd go there. I will offer an official apology once I eat there and am impressed by the franchise.
- Motel Pillows -- different everywhere. Sometimes too big. Sometimes too squishy. Sometimes you have four, sometimes three. Sometimes I don't remember because I've slept like the dead. The other night in Oklahoma, my pillows smelled like mildew. How long does a pillow have to sit to smell like mildew? And how did it get damp enough for the spores to plant in the first place? I slept well that night.
- Motel room electric outlets. Seriously, we're out of the 19th century, let alone the 20th. Whomever designs and furnishes each room puts these things in places impossible to reach. Behind the bed that is glued to the wall. Behind the 200-lb television stand. And ones that are accessible are looser than a prostitute on payday (apologies). The other night Kristen and I both had to crowd around the bathroom sink to check our email, propping our laptop chords at the right angle so they wouldn't fall out of the socket.
- Barbecue is our national dish. It is delicious and American. If you're in the South, Southwest, Mid-West, or Mid-South go get some real BBQ. Really. Don't go to Denny's or Pizza Hut or Taco Bell. Get some ribs or chicken. Soul food for folks of any color. One more reason why I couldn't go vegetarian. It's blissful and the true local BBQ joints are unfiltered Americana. And it's so simple, meat on a fire. Frontiersmen, pioneers, sharecroppers, fur trappers. They took some meat and whatever was sitting around, cooked it over a flame and ate it with their fingers. And the sauces in the Mid-West now......