For some reason a bunch of Berkeley looking types think it is a lot of fun to bike alone across Oklahoma. That doesn't seem like a lot of fun to me but to each his own. I'm actually just a little sad that my sweet yellow and hot pink Schwinn Caliente (thats "hot" in Spanish haha) didn't fit in the back of my truck. Bumtown. I guess its better then just walking along the freeway Woody Guthrie style like on elderly rambler was.
The west half of Oklahoma is really boring. Its a lot like the Texas panhandle but with more tractors and fewer "Don't Mess With Texas" signs. Its also a bit greener as well. The eastern half of Oklahoma was a lot better. It was really beautiful. In OKC I saw Serge Ibaka (my college roommate/best friend Marty's long lost twin brother). He says hello. After OKC is when the I-40 gets really pretty. The highway is outlined with a bunch of grass and people have to actually mow it. It goes on for miles and miles. They must start at one end, mow all the way to the other end, then start back at the beginning because the grass is probably already over grown again. What a crazy job.
On a side note, motorcyclists/bikers and their gals don't believe in wearing helmets on the freeway. That seems a little dangerous and sounds a lot like instant death. Especially when the Californian in the multi-colored ford ranger behind you is driving as close as possible to you, texting his road trip buddy about you, and taking pictures of your crazy, helmet-less selves, all at the same time. Sorry mom and Blanche for doing all of those things while driving. But you only drive through Oklahoma once (maybe).
Back to the eastern half of Oklahoma, its really green and really beautiful and really long. But driving today was great. Definitely the best day driving so far. It wasn't windy, only a few semi-trucks tried to kill us instead of all of them coming after the innocent Californians, I never got really tired. The music was good too. Started off with Steve Earle, moved on to Good Old War, the Gaslight Anthem, Johnny Cougar, and finished up with more Steve Earle. Man Transcendental Blues is a damn good album. I think I could listen to it on repeat as much as I can listen to any Springsteen/Bright Eyes/Oberst album on repeat and that is really saying something as those of you who know me well will understand. Good Old War is solid and I am just getting into them. The Gaslight Anthem rocked as usual, its like listening to Springsteen's kid brother who wants to be just like his big brother when he grows up. Johnny Cougar is so hit and miss. Freedom's Road is such a bad album, so lame. I made a promise to myself to listen to whole albums and not skip any songs on this trip. Cougar gave me a reason to break that promise. The song "The Americans" is so bad its an insult to a song like "Pink Houses". However, listening to "Rain on the Scarecrow" was weird while driving through endless farmland where that song might just be reality for a few families.
Lake Eufaula is super huge. I could smell the water a few miles before the highway crossed the lake. I made sure to have the window open to really check it out. It was really brown which was weird. I'm not sure if it was a seasonal, situational, or regular thing. The Arkansas river is also really big. Somehow Shafi missed it, I guess she was too focused on the tail end of my truck haha. We got a chance to check it out again though because it runs through both Fort Smith, Arkansas and Van Buren, Arkansas.
Arkansas driving was really enjoyable. Until the Garmin lady started mixing me up. Apparently satellites and Arkansas don't mix well. I wish I had a nice old atlas sometimes instead of the GPS. Shafi's phone died as we were mixed up on were to go. I assumed it had died since it was dying previously. Kind of a scary thing to have happen in Arkansas on a 2000 mile road trip. It turns out that the Garmin charger actually works for my phone which rocks because it has almost died the past two days. I left my Ipod on in my truck all night long. It was dead this morning so I thought I was going to be forced to listen to Gospel on the radio all day like Shafi. However, I ended up charging my Ipod off of my computer as I was driving. Yeah kind of dangerous but also kind of Jason Bourne-esque. But hey, I had tunes. The Super 8 that we are staying at is super nice. I would have never thought. Except the carpet in our room is constantly wet for some reason. It turns out that the only people who write hotel reviews are people who have had horrible experiences. I haven't had one.
We decided to eat at a BBQ joint, Big Al's. The website said that it was located at 4416 Towson Ave in Fort Smith (we are actually staying in Van Buren). We decided to drive through townand not on the highway in order to explore the area. Garmin got us lost again. But we got another chance to drive over the Arkansas river and at sunset! That was nice. Turns out however that Big Al's has either moved or gone out of business. So we were in the middle of Fort Smith with no idea of where we were and where we could eat. We decided to stop at a place we had seen on the way. It was Ed Walker's Drive In/French Dipped Sandwiches: http://www.yelp.com/biz/ed-walkers-drive-in-fort-smith. It was awesome. Maybe the best French dip I've ever had and I have had a few. Most recently in La Jolla and Ed Walker made that sandwich look like a prepackaged AmPm meal. Curly fries too. Or curly Q's as the waitress called them.They also refilled my unsweetened Ice Tea a bunch of times and I always dig that. The drive back to the Supa 8 was a bit weird. Garmin lady obviously took us on a strange route. We went over the river which was pitch black onto a small, small road named Dora lane (I believe). We were on it for like 5 miles in the pitch black. I'm pretty sure we were in a bayou! It was a little spooky and filled with the sound of an annoying Garmin lady on drugs. Again, Garmin and Arkansas don't get along. We finally made it back after doing a U-turn in a totally unlit gas station with a lone, brave women pumping gas. But first we got flipped off by a real Arkansan because I almost went at his turn at a 4 way stop. My bad. (But can you say, Bucket List!)
So I kind of dig Arkansas. Of course its super humid. It was 96 when we pulled in. Pretty gnarly. However, when we went out for dinner the weather was nice. Warm, a little sticky but nice in the night time. Fort Smith is way bigger then I thought it would be and has a pretty cool looking downtown area where people don't use crosswalks. It definitely feels like we are really in the south now. We might as well be at Institute in Cleveland, Miss. Tennessee/Nashville/Franklin tomorrow. Pretty exciting but pretty surreal.
So I am actually going to get off and do some TFA work right now.
P.S. Oklahoma has way to much highway construction and I forgot to tell you all about yesterday's soundtrack. It started of with Credence Clearwater Revival, then the Counting Crows (Go Bears!), Flogging Molly, some Dropkick Murphys, and then I rolled into Amarillo listening to something else but I cant recall what it was at the moment.