States: Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri
Soundtrack: Sun Studio’s greatest hits, WTF (interview with Louis CK), Ozarks banjo hits, local Ozarks country radio station
“You know you’re in for it when your day starts out with your daughter almost breaking your nose…also, Arkansas smells like farts” – Carey Head
Since I ended my last post with a quote, I thought I’d start my newest post with one. I received permission to use that one. I’ll start from the very beginning, but first some observations from the road trip, as we’re learning the differences between the road trip you picture vs. some road trip realities….
The vision – A dog sitting in the backseat, looking blissfully out the window at the adventures.
The reality – Wally hates this road trip. HATES it. Being in the back seat makes him totally nuts. His 70 pound, long legged body is smushed, and I haven’t seen him close his eyes in the car for more than 45 seconds. Poor Wally. He’s getting lots of scraps to compensate him.
The vision – Stopping along the road whenever the spirit moves you: an amazing photo, a roadside farm stand, a kooky tourist trap.
The reality – Getting the baby, the dog, and ourselves out the door in the morning takes 3 hours. Every stop for gas takes 45 minutes. So when we’re on the road, we are ON. Hope we can stop by those farm stands someday!
The vision – A cross country smorgasbord of amazing food: regional specialties, unforgettable holes in the wall, living in one long episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”.
The reality – A sample of the restaurants we’ve patronized in the past few days: Chcik-fil-A, McDonalds, Red Robin, Chilis.
The vision – Long hours of monotonous scenery, struggling to find things to listen to, fighting, to stay awake, watching the clock, going nuts.
The reality – Beautiful vistas all day, every day; an endless soundtrack of themed music, podcasts, and inspiring music; countless moments a day where we realize how lucky we are to be doing this. 🙂
Ok – back to Day 5. Wally and I were up with the sun this morning to visit one of Memphis’s many dog parks – the “Overland Bark”. Part of a giant park designed by the same man who designed Central Park, this was probably the nicest we’ve been to – giant, filled with trees (and squirrels!), and beautiful. Wally had a nice romp with two dogs named Poe and Princess then we headed back to Dad and Charley. I came in to find them sweetly snuggling as Charley did her customary flipping and flopping. I crawed in to join them and then heard it…CRACK! Charley’s head vs Dad’s nose. Dad was stunned for a good while. Charley smiled and was forgiven by all. I thinks she’s got the rest of her life for that.
After breakfast, we headed to the legendary Sun Studios. This tiny studio space was literally the birthplace of rock and roll. In 1951, “Rocket 88” was recorded by Sam Phillips, creating the signature rock and roll sound, complete with a totally new distorted guitar effect (the result of the amp being damaged in a car accident on the way to the studio). Sam Phillips was the first to record the legendary Memphis blues, the first to record Elvis Presley, and was behind so many famous recordings. In fact, Liz and I saw a Broadway show a few years ago (“Million Dollar Quartet”) based on a jam session there between Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. So the legend of this place had a lot to live up to…and boy did it. The folks running the studio and the tours have kept it feeling timeless and humble. They all seemed to genuinely love just being there, and everything looks like it hasn’t changed in decades. At the end of a fun, music filled tour, you get to go right into the studio. Not on the other side of a rope or glass wall from it…IN it. And it feels unchanged. The moment we stepped inside, we both got chills. You can really feel all the spirits in there. It was incredible!
Carey then took another quick tour of the Gibson guitar factory while I rescued Wally from the hotel room. Then we were on the road again. Bound for the Ozarks! And after an hour of uninteresting farmland, we hit’m. Lush, green mountains, farms, tiny towns, tinier churches. We stopped in Hardy, Arkansas for a quick break. “Famous for its antiques,” so they claim. We found a strip of half open, half closed shops selling things like shelves full of “animated Christmas dolls” and porches populated with chatty locals.
After a long, fantastic drive, we ended in Branson, Missouri. Branson is apparently famous for its dedication to music and dinner theater. We had Chili’s takeout in our room at the Hampton Inn and couldn’t be happier. Tomorrow, we hit the plains. Kansas, here we come!