Hello everyone! I’ve received several requests to repost my travelouge, which was originally available on facebook. Due to popular demand, I’ve decided to post it here. Most of it was written on the road, in hotel rooms along the way. Since there are nine days worth of entries, my next few posts will be devoted to this subject. Enjoy!
The Bears go to California
Monday, July 2, 2012: Day 1
Spent last night at the Best Western on Milledge Avenue in Athens. Went to the Varsity one last time…still greasy, and delicious. Due to lingering exhaustion from frantic last minute packing, didn’t hit the road until 11:00am. Set Chuck (our GPS) to avoid highways, so naturally we ended up on highway 29. Went through Dena’s hometown of Lawrenceville. She was surprised at how much it has changed, even since the last time we visited. Went right into the heart of Atlanta, past Georgia Tech (ugh) and the Bank of America building. Cat barrier we installed to keep our cats (Pip and Squeaky) in the cargo area of the Saturn worked for approximately 60 miles, after which Squeaky burst through. Pip soon followed. After all of the stop and go traffic, switched Chuck to use highways and took I-20 into Alabama (official motto: while it may be hot, it is also humid).
Ate at a McDonald’s just outside of Birmingham. Concluded that McDonald’s is exactly the same everywhere. Can’t say the same for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Encountered the worst restroom ever at a KFC. Gas costs slightly less in Alabama. Bought a tank for less than $3/gallon for the first time in recent memory. Made good time until about 4:00pm, when Squeaky decided he no longer wanted to be in the car. Checked into flop house motel in Jasper, AL called the Budget Inn at 4:30pm. Desk clerk brought out a calculator and figured a mathmatical equation which would have made John Nash proud, resulting in a charge of $60. Nearly died of heat exhaustion bringing contents of car upstairs to room. Have I mentioned how hot it is in Jasper? After being here, can’t wait to get to the Mojave Desert so we can cool off.
Apparently, the Budget Inn doubles as a hangout for stray cats and local hoods, or so I gathered from the crowd constantly assembled in the parking lot. Went searching for dinner at around 8:15pm. Since nearly every business in Jasper closes at 8:00pm, search more difficult than we thought. Finally settled on Mexican restaruant called Pepito’s. Good food. Made the mistake of asking waiter location of local package store. Waiter gave me directions, but not before extracting my hometown, destination, reason for trip, and entire life story.
Not trusting directions of waiter, programmed Icehouse Package store into GPS. Soon regretted decision as Chuck’s entire route consisted of ‘hood areas. Bought small bottle of Early Times whiskey. Consumed entire bottle within 30 minutes of arrival back at Budget Inn. Hopeful that tomorrow will be more productive, as we only made it about halfway to intended first night destination.
Miles traveled: 250
*A word about Mr. Candy Corn.
Mr. Candy Corn is a stuffed toy donated for the trip by our friend Cary. Cary has idea that we should take random photos of Mr. C.C. in front of landmarks, or other interesting places for a photo series. On day one, took photos of Mr. C.C. in front of two stray cats, BOA building, Jus’ Right hair salon (yes it is really spelled that way), Budget Inn, Gabby’s restaurant, and bathtub of flop house room. More details to follow.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012: Day 2
Woke at 7:00am to sound of America’s youth shouting and frolicking outside flop house door. Briefly considered stern lecture on importance of respect for and consideration of others before tossing idea aside in favor of lengthy hot shower. Ate breakfast at Gabby’s restaurant. Good food, cool murals painted on walls. Returnedto flop housefor checkout. Clerk still listening to same music from night before. Extreme difficulty getting Pip into carrier, resulting in huge scratch on arm. Took out frustration on coffee table by kicking it repeatedly. Kicks would have been more convincing had I not been wearing
“crocs” at the time. Hit the road at 10:00am. Crossed into Mississippi (offical motto: Trees!) during early afternoon. Quickly ascertained that Mississippi is identical to Alabama and that the two states should be combined, eliminated, or both. Realized that I am single-handedly keeping Coca Cola company afloat.
Entered Tennessee (official nickname: Not Alabama!) at mid afternoon. Drove down legendary Beale Street. Realized (too late) that legendary Beale Street was closed for festival. Ended up on MLK Drive. Discovered that Memphis is really cool if you are in the downtown area, otherwise, it sucks! Eventually found our way out of Memphis and onto Highway 61. Found out that Highway 61 should never have been visited in the first place, let alone revisited. Stopped at liquor store and bought two bottles of Evan Williams whiskey. Traveled South for approximately 50 miles (back into Mississippi) before realizing that we should have been traveling West.
Found ourselves in the middle of huge fields of green. Turned onto road not taken. Decided that the road wasn’t taken for a reason and reprogrammed Chuck for highway travel. Found ourselves on rough, pothole laden highway. Suddenly realized that highway was headed for bridge. BIG bridge! Crossed Mississippi River with no fanfare whatsoever. River awesome, despite lack of ceremony. On the downside, found ourselves in Arkansas (offical motto: Kansas was already taken) on other side.
Stopped in Helena, AR for the night. Locals like to call Helena and neighboring West Helena “twin cities.” Cute name, but neither town is technically a “city.” Maybe “twin towns” would be better. Checked into Best Western hotel for slightly more than we would have paid for a new IPod. Ate dinner at oddly-named Health-R-Us. Best catfish ever! Returned to hotel and consumed one of the Evan Williams bottles. Not a bad day, but still didn’t make as much progress as hoped.
Miles traveled: 250.
Mr. Candy Corn photos: at weird snowman sculpture, at Express Shop, with Slayer logo, in front of Memphis trolley, in front of old Memphis house, at Mississippi River, and with found baby pacifier (which I moved into position with, I swear, a used cat poop bag).
Wednesday, July 4, 2012: Day 3
Woke up with a headache. Damn you, Evan Williams! Ate breakfast at hotel. Would have eaten more had man dressed in surgical scrubs who was in line behind me hadn’t coughed on biscuits. Began day’s travel at 10:30am. Arrived in Little Rock, Arkansas at approximately 1:00pm. Drove around in largely empty downtown area (holiday, remember?). Crossed Arkansas River into North Little Rock. Kitzy downtown area very cool. Bought two packs of “lunchables” at small grocery store in western Arkansas. Used restroom, which was located in “employees only” area, at store, arousing suspicion from management in the process. Beat a hasty retreat. Ate lunch driving through huge cornfields.
Due to his repeated attempts to infiltrate the front seat, forced to put Pip in cat carrier. He responded by mewling for the next 97 miles. Entered mountainous region of NW Arkansas. Highway resembled NASCAR road course. Began to seriously consider cracking open second bottle of Evan Williams. Temperature outside of car registered at 109 degrees. Began to re-think theory that slighty more Northern route would be cooler. Squeaky, having been good all day, decided to “act out” by leaping over the seat and clinging to my chest. Calmly requested Dena’s help while hurtling along I-40 at 80 miles per hour and screaming at top of my lungs.
Crossed into Oklahoma (offical nickname: We have cows! Gazillions of cows!) at late afternoon. Stopped for night at Sallisaw, OK, Motel 6. Ate dinner at 18 Wheeler diner (not a truck stop). Ordered “four star burger” with barbeque sauce and onion rings. Good burger. I give it three stars. Walked around town as fireworks lit the night sky. God bless America, or something similar. Returned to hotel room to watch “True Blood” rerun on HBO. Show beginning to evoke David Lynch. Belief that cooler northern route theory is flawed confirmed by realization that temperature is 10 degrees cooler in Atlanta than in Oklahoma. Settled in with second bottle of Evan Williams and 20 ounce Pepsi. Good times.
Miles traveled: 300
Mr. Candy Corn photos: between Dena’s feet, with Evan Williams bottle, In Little Rock, at Pope County sign, at Arkansas rest area, at Casino, in motel restroom towel holder, being mauled by Squeaky.