April 7, 2011 1 Comment
The time had come to start my journey back to Minnesota and the thought of hitting the open road thrilled me to the point where I couldn’t think about much else. I love road trips. I love the mystery you can portray and the mystery you see in others. I love eating candy and singing to music I normally wouldn’t play. I love the sights I see and smoking obscene amounts of tobacco. Truck stops and car games, I love it all.
I made the sad goodbyes to Jane and pulled out of the complex, enjoying the sound of the waterfall one last time. Flat Sera and I left Marina del Rey at 6:30am, with a destination of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The drive out of LA was bittersweet, but my thoughts and worries slowly slipped away as I entered the mountains of south central California and geared myself up for the 35 hour drive. About an hour after my lunch in Kingman, Arizona I came across this awesome little ghost town. I took the next exit in hopes of capturing some great black and white photos. Towards the end of my stop there a man literally came out of nowhere and asked me what I was doing. I stood there too confused to answer him, wondering where he could have possibly come from or if he was even real. I told him I was just taking some pictures, which I thought was obvious. He gave me a sketchy little stink eye, looked me up and down, grunted and walked away.
I hopped back in the car and continued on my journey through Arizona and into New Mexico. After about 13 hours of driving on Monday, I made it to the Route 66 Hostel in Albuquerque. The hostel was adorably situated right downtown so I was excited to get out and explore the city. Stone helped me get checked in and showed me to my room. The best part about staying in a hostel is meeting new people but unfortunately there were no other people in my dorm that night. After I got settled in I walked down Central Ave to a restaurant Stone had recommended called Black Bird. I ordered a veggie burger with bacon, the waitress thought I was crazy but I make my own rules. After I ate my meal I leaned my head back against the wall, completely exhausted from the long day. I proceeded to fall asleep in my chair and was woken only what could have been a few minutes later by the waitress asking me if I needed help. Is there anywhere I can’t fall asleep? I decided to make my way back to the hostel and got ready for bed.
I tossed and turned all night and finally gave in and got up at 5:30. I stripped my bed, got ready for the day and packed my clothes. I went to the kitchen and made some tea while I planned out my day. I relaxed and enjoyed the coziness of the hostel for a couple of hours before I moved on. I picked out a hostel chore, washed and put away the dishes and checked out. I walked downtown to take a picture of Flat Sera then headed to the old town area of Albuquerque to walk around.
I was a couple of hours ahead of schedule due to waking up so early so I decided to get a jump-start on my driving. As I headed east on I-40 the scenery started to change from lovely rolling hills to desert plains. The sights were a complete bore by the time I reached Tucumcari, NM where I had lunch. I turned down Route 66 to find a wide variety of the kind of little cafes and diners that I love. I settled on Kix on Route 66 and found a single seat at the counter. The waitress was a little gem and my avocado sandwich and sweet potato fries were delicious. After I started eating an older gentleman came and sat right next to me. I looked down at the 15 other empty stools and wondered why he wouldn’t have at least left a stool between us. People that do that are looking for someone to talk to and he picked the perfect person, as random stranger conversation is something I love. And it was random. We shared our stories of travel and marveled together at the adventure that the open road can hold. He told me he drove from South Carolina to LA three years ago and on his way back a little voice in his head told him to stop in Tucumcari. He’s been there ever since. I said goodbye as he wished me safe travels and headed for the door.
Luckily Tuesday was a shorter drive, as I was pretty tired from being up so early. I made it to Oklahoma City at about 7pm. I had reserved my hotel and jotted down directions while I was at lunch. I exited north of downtown and wound up driving right past the capital. Perfect Oklahoma photo opportunity for Flat Sera.
I continued to drive east on 23rd street, looking for the hotel that was supposed to be near the capital. There was no hotel. There was only one of the scariest neighborhoods that I have probably ever seen in all my travels. It was obvious that I was not in the right place so I pulled over to call the hotel and get directions. I looked down the block to the right where there was a cop frisking and removing a gun from a man’s pants. I’ll call from the road. Damn you, Google, for steering me wrong.
I got to the hotel, thanked the woman for the directions and told her where I was. “You were in the hood, baby doll!” was all she said to me. I was pretty worn out from the day so I grabbed a salad at a nearby restaurant and settled in for the night to relax.
Amanda insisted I get to Nashville by 6:30pm so I hit the road at 5:45, missing my damn free breakfast. As I crossed the border into Arkansas, the first thing I saw was a huge sign that said “Speeding is not tolerated. We mean business.” Underneath those words was a little angry face. I found this hilarious, but the sign was right, they do mean business. I saw more cops in the first 10 minutes of being in Arkansas than I have in the last three months total.
I continued on and wondered where I was going to take a picture of Flat Sera in Arkansas. I was feeling a little pressed for time so I took a picture of her in a gift shop area of a gas station. While I am doing this I start to smell smoke. I turn around and there is a man standing behind me, just chillin’ out and smoking a cig in the gas station. Instead of panicking or politely telling the man that he is an idiot for lighting up, the attendant proceeds to get on the intercom and make a total ass of the guy by pointing him out.
I felt a sweet victory when I entered the state of Tennessee, I couldn’t believe how close I was. I made a stop in Jackson for lunch, enjoying what should be the last of me and sandwiches for a while. I rolled into Murfreesboro at 5:30 and walked around the corner to find Amanda and Michelle sitting outside. We were all very excited to see each other, as it has been three months since we had last seen each other. They showed me around their adorable apartment and helped me get settled after the long drive.
We chatted for a bit before we got ready to go out in downtown Nashville. I went to Nashville once when I was younger but I was excited to experience it as an adult. We made the 30 minute drive north into the city and easily found street parking. We went to the Cadillac Ranch where their friend, Kellie was performing. We had a couple of drinks there and enjoyed some awesome live music before we moved on to the next bar. I loved downtown, it was vibrant and full of one of my favorite things in the world…live music. I’m not even a country fan but to me, live music is live music, I enjoy it all. There were performers on every corner and every bar had that same sweet sound escaping from their front doors. We went to several bars, immersing ourselves in the local flair.
I had an awesome time in Nashville, this colorful city kept me wanting more. Plus they had a hot dog truck so really what more could you ask for? I’m excited to see what other adventures Tennessee has in store for me!