Thursday, January 23, 2014

732 Miles

I had planned on hanging out in Nashville for the day and then heading on to Oklahoma City, but the weather had altered my plans sending me barreling towards Dallas in an attempt to outpace the polar vortex, seriously that’s what it’s called, that was making it’s way across the country. My first stop would be Little Rock Arkansas, but first I would have to deal with the weather that was starting to stir up just outside of Nashville. The snow swirled in the air as the temperature rapidly decreased, however the roads stayed dry and snow free and as I pulled into Little Rock the sun broke through the clouds and shinned on the city. 
I pulled off randomly in a part of town called River Market District and searched for a place to park, the street was clogged with parked car, every spot was taken, yet no one was to be found walking anywhere. I found a parking space and upon exiting my car, instantly realized why no one was around. The temperature read 32 degrees, but the wind blowing down the street felt arctic in nature, piercing through clothing and straight into the bone. I was too hungry to let the cold deter me, so I ventured out to find food. The River Market District was very nice, in that it was very new and very uppity. All the shops rang of the faux culture you get when stores cater to people with too much disposable who think owning things somehow makes them worldly. 
It might not look cold, but I suffered for this photograph!
The pretentious facade was even complimented by a trolly that ran on tracks, which seemed to be driven by a crazy lady whose greatest desire was to take down any person or vehicle who ventured within her domain. I dodged the trolley expertly, using it’s distinct weakness of being on tracks to my advantage, and ducked into a local eatery. 
It may be a crappy picture but it's a picture of a trolley which is relevant to the story.
The place was nearly empty save a few people working on laptops, I took a seat at the bar, which had the benefit of having a television to stare at, and ordered chicken fingers, which seemed to be the only thing on the menu. Granted they had umpteen different breadings and dozens of dipping sauces, but the idea of a restaurant serving almost exclusively chicken fingers seemed rather strange. When the fingers came, however, my mind was instantly changed, these were not your standard pub chicken fingers, these were expertly breaded works of food with sauces that could just as easily be eaten alone. In fact, in hindsight, this was basically just a variation on chicken wings, which we all know are well within there rights to be an exclusive culinary offering of any establishment. 

That ranch looking dip is called "creamy dill," and it's amazing! The other one is "voodoo," it just tastes like generic hot sauce. 
Full I ventured back out into cold Little Rock, I took a small detour over to the riverside, which was pretty, but colder, so I hurried back to my car. Getting frustrated that the weather had reeked such havoc on my plans, I changed course and headed towards Oklahoma. On my last trip I had forewent the extra miles to visit Oklahoma because I was sick of driving, today I had missed skirting through Missori due to the weather, and I was determined to not miss another state. So for the first time since beginning the trip I left the interstate highway and took the back roads. The scenery is much more exciting on the backroads, but the time commitment was not a viable option thus far on the trip. The farmland of western Arkansas stretched on for miles, by this point my mind had become numb to the idea of driving. After awhile looking at the same landscape just becomes a blur, and then you’re in Oklahoma. I pulled into a small town in search of food, apparently there was only one restaurant, which was closed, and a McDonalds. I grabbed some chocolate covered pretzel, which my mom had made me for the trip, from the trunk and coaxed myself on to Texas. The sun was setting as I crossed the border, the landscape steadily became more sparse, until finally it was just fields and darkness. The stars hung bright in the sky, so bright that at first I thought they were lights from radio towers or aircraft. Soon the sparse darkness gave way to the sprawling outskirts of Dallas. I stopped and grabbed a fast food burger and used the break to find lodgings. I would be staying on the west side of Dallas, a additional hour drive to my already 15 hour day. 
Look how straight that road imagine that for like 500 more miles.
I rejoined the traffic, already dreaming of lying down in a bed. My GPS barked directions at me, ones that have no logical response to. It seemed that everything west of Dallas was under construction, entire roads seemed to be missing, the traffic buzzed along at a steady clip, my hands gripping the steering wheel tighter and tighter as we maneuvered from one obstacle to the next. Merging with full speed traffic and having meer feet to do it, is an experience I would prefer to have never had, especially in the dark, in a place i’ve never been, going somewhere I don’t know, with the uber aggressive drivers of Texas as my competitors. Somehow I managed to squeeze across four lanes of traffic and find my exit, my hotel was right off the exit. I pulled into the parking lot and pried my fingers from the steering wheel and let out a sigh of relief. Somehow I had survived that, unscathed. 

I opened the door of the car and was instantly assaulted with the sound of hundreds of birds, it sounded like a pet store, like hundreds of parakeets were vying for my attention. I looked up into the tree to discover they were inundated with a pandemonium of green parrots, all of whom had decided they should be talking at once. “Apparently parrots have happy hour too,” I thought as I walked into the office to check in. I grabbed my stuff form the car and headed up to my room, within seconds I was sprawled out on the kingsize mattress, within minutes I was asleep. 
This is a green parrot, this picture is plagiarized, it was far too dark to get a photo and I apologize, to myself mostly.
I slept longer than I had planned, over ten hours to be precise, but I felt great and was ready to hit the road once again. I made myself breakfast in the room and caught up on a little bit of relaxing. The drive today would be much shorter than the day before and I had little ambition of being able to do much once I got to El Paso, the place I had marked as my next stop, and hopefully my first stop where I would actually get to see more than a token restaurant and some drive by sights. 

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