I woke up at 7:30 AM Central Time next to a grand piano. I was on the floor of a room in Satan’s parent’s home in Nashville, TN. I immediately rolled out of bed, carefully trying not to wake up Wolfgang, but he woke nonetheless. I hopped into the shower, and got to enjoy some awesome peppermint scented soap.
After the shower, I joined everyone in the kitchen for an incredible breakfast. Chocolate Milk, English Breakfast tea, an egg casserole, toast with apple butter, fruit salad, and orange juice. They were so incredibly hospitable to us.
We step out of the house and into the 7 degree weather, and luckily find the storm that was supposed to hit overnight turned out to be a simple dusting. We get to the truck, and after having to nearly break-in due to the lock being frozen, climb inside. Satan and I secure ourselves into the truck’s cab, whilst Blue and Wolfgang take to her car. Given the cold weather, I selected Baroness’ Blue Album.
We navigated our way out of Nashville, and found the 40 again. It was 10:30 AM.
As we ventured down the highway through Western Tennessee, I chose the greatest hits album, The Legend of Johnny Cash, as we would be passing through Jackson, and several other places mentioned in his wonderful music.
We stopped briefly for coffee and gas at Dixon, again using the affectionate truck stop. We got back on the road, and the song “Man in Black” came on, just in time for us the pass a lonely black billboard. Satan and I were greatly amused by this.
We had a long conversation about how places got their names, after having passed a town called Bucksnort. “Before the highway you could hear them bucks snorting from miles around!” exclaimed Satan.
After passing another eye-catching town name we also remarked about how we’ve been road tripping around the world in a way. So far we’ve been through Dublin, Memphis, Sparta, Damascus, Milan, Canada (twice now), Palestine, Stuttgart, and London. Again, great quote from Satan: “Jules Vern would be jealous… We made a spiral over 7 continents in 2 days.”
Another CD change was in order, this time I opted for Monster Magnet’s Power Trip.
Shortly after that, I realized that the milk, plus alternating between extreme cold and extreme heat equaled an unhappy stomach. Needless to say, we made a brief stop at a rest area.
At 1:00 PM we reached Jackson, TN.
The next CD change came up, and the selection this time was King Crimson’s Three of a Perfect Pair.
I noticed a great deal of frozen swamps, and near frozen lakes throughout the last hour or so of Tennessee.
We pulled off exit 42 for lunch, which turned out to be the worst exit ramp in history, followed by the worst road, and the worst parking lot. We ate some Chester’s Chicken. It was okay, at best.
Henceforth the arrangement would be Wolfgang and I in the truck, and Satan and Blue in her car.
We made our way across the Mississippi River, and surprisingly—or luckily, rather—it was not under construction this time. So, for the first time, out of my three trips across it, I was able to fully enjoy it. And thus we arrived in Arkansas.
Uggh… Arkansas. Although, I can honestly say the bad taste I had for this state was not as strong this time. Maybe it has something to due to a lack of locust hordes this time of the year. Last time I drove across this state, with my old roommate Audecide we were attacked by a swarm. This did not happen again. It was a little more bland then it was last time, though, with the cranberry fields being simply barren plots of land.
To ease the “meh” feeling of Arkansas, we put on the album Babel by Mumford & Sons.
At some point we hit construction, which turned the interstate into 1 lane going either direction, and made it quite the tight fit for the trailer. Especially, in the case of the many bridges we had to cross.
There’s a duality to Arkansas that is discomforting. You can count on, out of every five billboards at least one being for porn, and one being for Jesus. They love porn and Jesus in that part of the country.
The Weiner Mobile passed us.
We stopped to get more gas in the city of Palestine. Wolfgang—who is technically Jewish—said, ”I might not be safe here…” Turns out he was right. An abnormal number of Middle Eastern people were at the Truck Stop there. By abnormal, I mean… we’re in bum-fuck Arkansas, and there were at least 15 to 20. They were not working, as one may stereotypically think. No they were shopping, or driving poor enough that they almost hit our truck with their van, or wandering the place begging for gas money. Seriously, a whole family—Grandmother, 10 year old boy, 7ish year old girl, and an infant approached us, in the 22 degree weather. The same family even asked me for money twice, it took all I had not to ask them if all white people looked the same.
Somewhere after that Wolfgang and I noticed a lot of birds flying in the distance. When we got closer we saw a large field (the size of two football fields) filled with thousands upon thousands of seagulls and crows, just sitting there together. The field was peppered with black and white. It was a bizarre site. Alfred Hitchcock would have felt the hairs on the back of his head raise, had he had any.
We passed Bobby Henry’s Tire Service, which immediately prompted a text to ObiWayne and Dudley because I knew they would get a great laugh.
Album change again, this time I chose The Shins Port of Morrow.
I spotted a somewhat familiar billboard, as it had sort of burned its way into my memory during my trip with Audecide back in 2008. It is a large billboard about Adultery. “Adultery is sin. Jesus is ashamed of you. You should be ashamed of you.” There’s a XXX Super Store about two miles later. Seriously, Arkansas has some issues.
We entered Pulaski County at some point, prompting a “Noooooooooooooo!” from Wolfgang, as that’s the name of the county in Virginia he is moving away from. Apparently all Pulaski are miserable looking places, with lots of meth.
It became time for another CD, and so we put on A Perfect Circle’s Mer de Noms.
We entered Faulkner County, which made me start thinking about some of the people I had worked with at my job just prior to leaving for this trip. There are far too many of you to name here, but I do miss you guys.
Not much happened for a while, and so the inevitable music change time arrived. This time the choice was Black Holes and Revelations by Muse.
We drove by a state park named Toad Suck Park. Welcome to the second installment of “How the Hell do Places Get Their Names!”
We entered Pope County, and started laughing at the name. Only our laughs were interrupted by a passing tow truck. The truck was towing a large wooden crucifix, with a statue of Christ. Satan: “Hey, that’s good someone gave him a lift.” Or Wolfgang: “That’s cheating, Jesus had to walk it!” We all found this image equally disturbing and delightful.
The Mars Volta’s De-Loused in the Comatorium would prove to be the next piece of music selected.
We stopped in Russellville, AR for some cheap gas, as the sun set around us. We hit the road again, only to find ourselves for 5 miles in 1-lane construction mess once more.
It was somewhere around here we saw the crazy billboard that claimed all Democrats were Communists. It even had a picture of the Soviet Sickle.
Around Knoxville (Déjà vu?) Arkansas we started to find some black ice.
Pretty sure we saw the truck from ‘Joy Ride.’ It had obviously gone rouge. A renegade truck, all the company logos and phone numbers had even be spray painted over.
Entered Franklin, County, which looks like the Franklin County in VA if it were flattened.
Satan informed us at the last stop that he and Blue had been jamming to Men at Work. So, Wolfgang and I chose to do the same for our next music selection.
We arrived in Oklahoma, just as the Men at Work songs ended. Kings of Leon’s Come the Night was next for us.
Just outside of Muskogee we changed the music to Black Keys’ Brothers, because the previous stop was playing “Lonely Boy,” which I know is on El Camino and not Brothers, but I felt Brothers would be better at the moment.
Pretty sure Wolfgang and I drove through some sort of strange phenomena. A random extremely bright light flashed across the cab 5 times, and then vanished. We never found its source.
We all laughed about “Lotawatah Lake” for at least a few miles.
The area around Eufawla, AR smells like a campfire.
There really is a buffet place in the world named ‘Chair Crushers.’
Getting tired, so we needed music we knew all the words and everything to, so we could sing loudly as we barreled down the road. The choice was The Beatles’ 1.
The moon looked amazing. A truly beautiful and bold Cheshire Smile, but it was so bold and distinctive against the sky that it honestly looked like I could just reach up and grab it.
There’s a lot of inconveniently placed cell phone dead zones in OK. Most notably they occurred every time I needed to relay information to Satan and Blue.
A large sing in Shawnee told us we were allowed to play with fire.
The next album I chose was Arctic Monkeys AM, which was perfect as we drove through Oklahoma City. I love OKC, it is awesome. And unbelievably beautiful at night, so much color.
Next album: Foo Fighters Wasting Light.
Drove by Roman Nose State Park… 3rd installment of the name game.
There’s a town named Hinton, OK kind of near Red Rock Canyon. Made me think of my family. There is also where I first spotted signs for Historic Route 66.
Realization struck that we drove a little over a third of the country in one day.
The next album: White Stripes – Elephant as we were starting to get delirious and sleepy. Fortunately, just as the album ended we arrived at our hotel in Elk City, OK. We all came into the room, and immediately crashed. Twas a big day.