Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Last Road Trip of Mom's... Car Part II: My Butt Hurts

Sorry I've left you all stranded in New Mexico for so long. Who knew Albuquerque would be so enthralling. I apologize to anyone who lives/has lived/or actually likes Albuquerque. We arrived in the dark, and my room overlooked a truck lot and a freeway. And the drive out in the morning did not improve my impression. But on with the show. Get your compression socks on, because we are in for the long hauls!

Day 6
Engine Mileage: 220809
Trip Mileage: 1154.1
Albuquerque, New Mexico to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
We decided to leave Albuquerque early (7am). It was going to be a long drive. I estimated a bit over 8 hours. And so we continued heading east on I-40. Not much to see. A bit overcast, a bit cold, and a bit windy. I had given up on trying to play any music on the ipod nano through the cassette tape player adapter thingy. Can't enjoy tunes when all you hear is static. I'm bummed because I spent time compiling playlists and moving songs on or off the ipod, and deciding what I could subject my father too without assaulting his ears. So I plugged in my other ipod nano (I just have way too much stuff to fit on just one) and we listened to podcasts. We started with season 1 of Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell.
We stopped somewhere at a truck stop just shy of the Texas border and refueled and emptied bladders and switched off. We get to the Texas state line and these buttheads were parked in front of the sign.
We actually saw it coming this time and we're completely prepared and they ruined it. Assholes. Oh well, it's just Texas. Not much to see in the pan handle. I had been through here long ago when my mother drove what became my very first car (a maroon Mazda 323, 4-door, stick shift, no cruise control or power steering car) my brother aged 15 and myself aged 11 out to Altus Arkansas where my grandfather lived on some 50+ acres. That was a great car, but not a great road trip car. Mom's right foot got so swollen from all that driving. No one knew about compression socks back then, and I think she demanded that her next car would have cruise control. And just like before, I was bored with Texas.
Anyway, I drove and drove and drove. There really is nothing out there. We stopped for lunch in some tiny place where the Taco Bell was attached to the gas station, and practically blew over. I was afraid the doors on the Infinity would blow off if I wasn't careful. And it was a cold wind, to boot. We coastal valley Californian's don't do cold. While eating taco's we begin to receive texts from the Okla-Arkies (our hosts, for the night) about our dinner options. If any of you know us at all (and they do), we loath having to make decisions, especially about dinner. It can take us hours sometimes to decide on what or where to eat. Jokes ensue back and forth, and I finally pick one of the three choices I was given. And all of Texas rejoiced. Back on the road, and I'm ready to cross the next state line. And just like that, I miss it. Of coarse Oklahoma has to be different and not have a sign like every other state in the union. I again failed. This is what it looks like however:
I get the lady in my phone to tell us how to get to Okla-Arkie's house. And she got us there, no problem. We arrive a bit before 7pm. Just about 10 hours of sitting in the Infinity. My butt hurt. We chat a bit with Okla and Arkie. And they take us out to dinner at a place called Ann's Chicken Fry House, known for their chicken fried steak.
Okla, Arkie, and dad all order the steak, and me thinking that it would be too much order a club sandwich. My meal ended up being the biggest. Go figure. Ann's is a cool place. Decked out in 50's attire where you're allowed to write on the walls. And so, we found a spot and left our mark.

Once back at the house, it was time to play cards. Ms. Okla lost. Big time. She went to bed a woman scorned but determined to avenge herself the next day. I went to bed in a forest... of Christmas trees! Instead of schlepping the trees into the attic every year, Okla and Archie decided it'd be easier to just store them in the second guest room. Seems legit to me. All they have to do next holiday season is bring them out, do a bit of fluffing, add ornaments, and wham-bam-thank you-mame, it's done. No more jamming them through a tiny attic hole or going up and down a ladder. Much easier. And I didn't mind sleeping amongst the trees at all.

Day 7
A bit of who Okla and Arkie are. We first met them in the late 90's when they came to be pastors at the church my family went to in San Jose. They have a daughter my age. Finally someone my age to play with. Too bad we were both in college, her in Oklahoma, and me in California. They were missionaries in Brazil before, and before that, pastors in Oklahoma. Okla is of course from Oklahoma and became fast friends with my mom. Arkie is, as figured by now, from Arkansas. He and dad also became good friends and confidants. Epic card games would happen at each others houses. They vacationed together. Spent many wedding anniversaries together (only a week or so apart). Through thick and thin, while they were pastors in San Jose, our two families were there for each other. Often showing up unannounced at the door, and just in time for whatever was needed. A hug, a cry, comfort, support, or companionship, or just a game of cards. It was difficult saying goodbye when they left and moved back to Oklahoma to become a District Superintendent in the church. My mom even drove their car out to them when they moved. Who wouldn't want to drive a convertible across four states! When mom passed away, they both came out and spoke/helped lead her memorial service. The loss of them moving away deeply affected my parents, and of course the loss of my mom was devastating to Okla and Arkie. But life continues on, and so do friendships.

Okla made us breakfast. Delish, and I got my coffee! We chatted around the breakfast table and then it was a game of cards. They then took us out and about town to fancy places like Auto Zone and O'Reilly's to try and find chains for the Infinity. No luck. It doesn't snow enough in Oklahoma City for them to stock chains. Even in the winter. We then went to Best Buy to try and find cassette tape deck cleaners. No one stocks them anymore. Not even sure you can find them on the internet anymore either. We were hoping to clean the heads so the music could flow. Oh well. I gave them directions to a quilt shop and made them experience what visiting quilt shops are like.
I asked the old ladies for what my sister wants, and dad explained and took Okla and Arkie through the shop showing them the machines, rooms for different things, and such. It's kind of entertaining watching my dad explain quilting and sewing to people. I got my sister a license plate and row by row from the shop and Okla and Arkie got educated. It was then way past time for lunch. They took us to one of their favorite places that has, according to them, the best whiskey cake. So of course we had desert. We then went back home and of course played cards again.
Okla never did win a game, but she didn't loose quite so bad. They showed us a game they play with their Oklahoma card friends. I can't remember the name now, Wisconsin something. I'm sure they will remind me. It was fun. And the day was gone, just like that. It was late, and dad and I had the longest stretch of road to do the next day. Unfortunately for me, I did not sleep well or much that night. The trip was catching up to me. (read into that how ever you like)

Day 8
Engine Mileage: 221336
Trip Mileage: 1681.7
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Gallatin, Tennessee
I put on my compression socks. Okla and Arkie said goodbye to us and the Infinity, and we were on the road by 7:15.
Dad started out driving. He ended up doing most of the driving this day because I felt like crap. We watched the sun rise over Oklahoma.
Crossed into Arkansas. Look, I got that one!
The sky was becoming more overcast the farther east we go. We passed the exit to my Grandpa's old place. His ashes are partly scattered there. (his other half are scattered in Alaska)We stopped in Arkansas for lunch. We were going to hit up the Wendy's that was advertised at the highway exit, but it wasn't there. We drove down the road and kept going. There was a sign that said Wendy's was this way, and so we turned... and kept driving. There was another sign saying it was another 2.5 miles, and we both went, nope. Turned around and just went to the McDonald's. This McDonald's was fancy. They had these order machines and attendants that would help you order on their fancy machines. Most people didn't know how to use them. I decided this was probably a pilot store location for this fancy self ordering thing. They would then bring you your meal.  I didn't eat much, again I felt crappy. We were now onto Season 2 of Revisionist History podcast. Crossed the Mississippi River,
and almost missed the Tennessee sign.
Okay, kinda did miss it. Once passed the Mississippi River, it was the farthest east I have ever been via an automobile. We didn't take the time to mark the milestone. There was a lot of driving still to do. I noticed a lot of nests in trees. It is nesting season! Thought I saw two baby bird heads sticking out of one, can't be sure though, we were going pretty fast.
A few hours out of Nashville, I start communicating with the Hotard's. They decide it would be good to meet us in Hendersonville for dinner, and then we could follow them to their house. Once into Tennessee, it started to rain. A lot. We pull into the Chili's parking lot in Hendersonville around 7:30pm. Dad had never met the Hotard's. So I made the introductions, and we ate. I was hungry by then. It was still cold and rainy. We follow the Hotard's to Gallatin, which is a little country suburb of a suburb of Nashville. Dad and I stand around, not wanting to sit anymore today. And the Hotard's and their broad of animals (Tux and Bella, the dogs, and Thor the cat who thinks he's a dog) try to get us comfortable. There was no amount of anything offered that would unstiffen our legs, or ease the tired. Their Alexa got a few spankings. Dad was worried about the weather. It was going to freeze that night. And we didn't have chains for the tires. I downloaded a weather/road conditions app onto my fancy phone. That seemed to ease his worry a bit. Dad was a walking zombie, and got shown his room for the night and was soon out like a light, not to stir until morning. It was the longest day ever. 12 hours. The hotard's and I stayed up late talking. Basically until we started falling asleep sitting up. I went to my room and laid down on the most softest cloud of a bed ever and had the best sleep of the trip so far.

A note about who the Hotard's are and why it is acceptable for me to call them this: I met them online in a fan message board for a little TV show that no one has heard of in 2007. There are four of us that make up the Hotards. (pronounced Hoe-tards) These two crazy ladies currently in Gallatin Tennessee, a crazy Jewish New Yorker, and myself. We met online, and became fast friends and met in person for the first time when myself and the really crazy half of the Tennessee duo flew to New York for the very first New York ComicCon where the actors from the little show we were crazy about were going to be. It was a crazy 48 hours of my life. We found each other in the Newark airport and we just knew. Ever since the first in person meeting, we try and get together somewhere every few years. We've been to New Orleans, back to New York for crazy Jewish New Yorker's marriage to a CATHOLIC, Nashville, to me in California, they went to Rome without me, Chicago (twice), and we're currently planning our next trip. We call ourselves Hotards because when we went to New Orleans, there's a bus line called Hotards (pronounced hot-ards), and every time we'd see a Hotard bus, we'd scream HOTARDS (hoe-tards). This is the nice picture I took with a Hotard bus in New Orleans in 2009. I won't subject you nice people to the other one.
And well, the name seemed to fit our crazy friendship. Each one of us is extremely different, and yet we fit together like puzzle pieces. If asked, or not, any one of us would hop on a plane in an instant for each other.

Ok, that was more than a little note. On to day 9! But later. This is taking me forever to write. Sorry this will be in three parts instead of two. But we made it to Tennessee! Almost there!

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