Day 8.1 - Straight through Arkansas - August 26
Updated: Jun 6
With not a lot of time to spare, we decided to cross the Memphis Arkansas Bridge and drive straight through Arkansas and get to Oklahoma City.
From Memphis to Little Rock, through farmlands and the ancient flat-topped mountains to Fort Smith, it was a beautiful drive. Being from California where it's nearly always sunny and any cloud makes the news, it was so nice to see the weather change and the backdrop of the enormous sky that seemed alive and thoughtful, as it shifted through different moods. Our drive would take us through the desert, where there would be no clouds and the sun would be relentless, so we savored the changes.
The middle of America is so green. Bales of hay that would have blended into the amber California hills, stand out in yellow dots the deep green fields against a deep blue sky. It is so pretty that it looks staged for a picture, but it is real life and we are driving through it, not only seeing it but smelling it.
Megan and I have always loved road trips, and this trip has made us want to take a lot more of them.
We drove until we were hungry. We were determined to have at least one meal at a Waffle House and the Waffle House signs were getting fewer and further between, so we pulled into one that was just off the highway. It was packed full, and no one in there was practicing social distancing, so we drove on until we found the perfect one. It had a few customers, and everyone was socially distant. The waitress freshly cleaned up our table before we sat down and instinctively brought us a coffee.
We were late for breakfast but early for lunch by the time we sat down. What we noticed about traveling through the small towns across the country is that the conversation quickly moves past the menu and you are deep into life with people you just met. Where we were treated like friends or family. It only took a couple of minutes for our waitress and waiter to get to know us and before we knew it we were talking about life goals and dreams and aspirations.
They both took an interest in Sophia and as we were leaving they came out to check her out. Sophia is an '85 and that was the year our waitress was born, so she felt a sting bond with her. We all got pictures together, which is not something you normally do in the busy city, but out on the road in small American towns, that is exactly what you do.
The food at the Waffle House is good, plain standard food, but the people make it memorable. It is just a tradition for my southern wife.
I had heard this was coming. Our friends who had just made the same trip told us it was going to get boring in the middle of the trio. Everything was going to look the same. Maybe that is true in an RV but we were in an opened top little sports car and our scenery changed dramatically and constantly. The winding hills stayed in Arkansas, and then the terrain was flat and straight and we could see for miles around us.
The weather was perfect on the 40. It was overcast and cool. We were trying to stay ahead of a Hurricane that was hitting the Gulf Coast and sending bad weather up the middle of the country and we did pretty well. Eventually, the rain did come down and did so pretty hard. We pulled off and put the top up and enjoyed the downpour as we continued on to our destination. The A/C by the way worked really well; not freezing but always comfortable.
We had some leaking problems, most of which we solved. We didn’t really solve the leak
from behind the glove box to the floor, but Megan held a Waffle House cup between her feet for most of the day to catch the water! Eventually, after the rain stopped, and after we turned the A/C off, it stopped on its own.
We pulled into our hotel in Oklahoma City at about 8:30 at night. The day’s travels took us from Memphis straight through Arkansas into Oklahoma. I think about 406 miles (give or take), my eyelid is twitching from fatigue.
That night, We stayed in a very sweet hotel (a Holiday Inn, no less). It’s in a cool, hip part of Oklahoma City, known as Bricktown. We walked to a brewery which they said is Oklahoma’s oldest craft brewery, Bricktown Brewery.
They were about to close up Bricktown Brewery when we got there with ten minutes to spare. They were reluctant to take in new customers at that hour, but we ordered quickly at the bar; a wheat beer and an Irish style red ale, French onion soup, and garden salad. We sat at a tall bar table. The food came quickly. We were surprised at how good the onion soup was. We got a lot of soup. The kitchen had made a cup when Megan ordered a bowl, so the waitress/bartender brought the cup, and then she brought the bowl; we were rich in soup.
The salad was light and fresh with a cool vinaigrette. They are a real brewery and they brew the beer right there, behind large glass walls. The beer was very good. I’d have drank more and explored their collection of craft brews, but with now less than 5 minutes left until they closed, it was not to be. We paid the bill and walked back to the hotel. It was a beautiful night.
Check out our Straight Through Arkansas playlist on Spotify: