Thursday, May 15, 2008

Road Trip - Day 2: Memphis, TN to Amarillo, TX

Road Trip Day 2 5-15-08-1

The car survived the night & we did too! Greg admitted that the first thing he did when he woke up (since I made him sleep next to the unlocked window) was check on the car and to our slight surprise, it was still there! All joking aside, it was a pretty nervous night and it did not help that there was some type of screaming match right outside of our door around 5 a.m. fortunately it wasn't followed by gunfire. The good news is we made it and all we had to do is load the car and get the hell out of here.

Memphis was a great first city to stop but the hotel was quite an adventure. The above picture is of Greg posing with our bullet proof welcome sign. This was taken while we were waiting to check out - no one ever came to the desk so we just slid our key under the glass and happily went on our way.

Prior to going to bed last night it occurred to us that Memphis was where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and realized there may be an interesting historic stop on our way out of Memphis. We found the address and headed to the Lorraine Motel on our way out of town. This was a very cool and somewhat unplanned stop. We arrived at the hotel which is now a museumearly and it was not open yet, but the balcony and cars were in view so we walked around and took some photos and just took in the whole scene.

I think it was kind of nice that we were there early because we were the only ones there, it was quiet, the weather was gray and rainy which set the mood I would want to have at such a historic place. It was very interesting that they kept the cars parked in front and preserved the scene. It was a very somber and appropriate memorial.

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After our Lorraine stop we were back on the road once again. Unfortunately the weather got a little rough on us and we passed through some pretty heavy rain. We had expected to hit this front yesterday, but I guess it stalled and we got to deal with it today. Greg had the joy of driving through most of it but I imagine he would have preferred that over traffic (which I always end up driving through). Here's a shot of our fearless driver (asleep?):

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and the rain...

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Once the weather passed it was smooth sailing again and we were on our way through Arkansas. When we were just outside Oklahoma City we again began to think of historic events in history and decided to take the opportunity to stop off at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, we needed a break from the drive and what a perfect opportunity to visit another (although dark) part of American history. When we arrived in the downtown area it was a very nice "small" feeling downtown, big but not too big. We were able to park very close to the area and walked into the memorial. The first thing we were met with was a large black entryway:

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The entryway, like the whole memorial spoke a great truth. We were there to remember and the events truly did show us the impact of violence and hate. This display of violence and hatred hit me personally not because I knew someone, but it occurred in the formative years of my life and showed me that bad things can happen to lots of innocent people and sometimes there just isn't a good reason, and we must try to learn from it and become stronger as a society. As we walked in we were immediately met with a large reflecting pool with hundreds of chairs on the hillside. Each chair represented one life that was taken too soon, and small chairs that represented young lives that were taken from their families and their future far too soon. They were cold steel chairs, but they represented life, and the light that was collected by them was a beautiful representation of life.

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After making our way through the memorial we made our way back to the car but before getting all the way back we noticed the fence where people had been coming and leaving things in order to remember the event, or lost loved ones it wasn't an architectural masterpiece that represented the tragedy, but it was real human feeling and conveyed another strong message.

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After taking our time at the memorial we were back on our way again and the car ride had taken a different turn as we pulled out of Oklahoma City - it was quiet. I think it had a lot to do with the feelings we were experiencing from the memorial and remembering the event as we experienced. It was kind of like our own moment of silence we took part in before we moved on physically and mentally from the memorial.

Once our brief quiet time was over we continued on down old Route 66 on our way to our final destination for the night - Amarillo Texas. The first thing we noticed after we departed from Oklahoma City was, that once you get through OK City, there's really not much more to see for a while. And by not much, I mean NOTHING. The expansive open land and endless plains we saw over the next few hours was mind boggling. I truly had never seen anything like it and I really appreciated the conversation from my traveling partner throughout this part of the journey - my sanity thanks you.

After driving my set part of the day I handed the reins off to Greg again and we were on our way to the hotel and the end of our day. We had agreed prior to taking part on this journey that we would never press our luck with the fuel situation to avoid the ever present out of gas whammy - especially since this was a vehicle that neither of us were familiar with. Sometimes though we get a little caught up in the moment and forget the plan in our excitement in the journey. After an hour or so of driving I noticed we were a little under a quarter of a tank of gas left. I brought this to Greg's attention and we discussed stopping relatively soon to fuel up before stopping for the night. Unfortunately while passing a gas station exit we decided to press on and definitely stop at the next one - even more unfortunate was the fact we were in a very sparsely populated area in Texas where gas stations can be hundreds of miles apart. It was very dark and there were no lights as far as we could see about the time our fuel light began showing its terrifying orange glow.

Time and miles past, yet no gas stations were in sight. By our calculations of how much fuel we had left and how far away from our final destination we were we both knew this gamble was going to be dangerously close. Being in the middle of literally nowhere, in the pitch dark, with no gas & no cell phone reception was no place either of us wanted to be on Day 2 of this road trip but we both found a way to still have a laugh as we forged ahead. We joked, that if anything bad happened this early in the trip we could just leave the car and head home, but we knew the owner of the car wouldn't be nearly as pleased with this plan of action.

Finally through the darkness we spotted the first signs of light - some symbol of civilization & we thought we were in the clear! Our confidence was back and we just knew we were in great shape. As we pulled closer to the light all was good until we passed by 2 closed gas stations and we were forced to once again press on. Now the nervous laughs transformed into contingency plans and strategies as to how to best conserve the little fuel and fumes we had left - again, not something we wanted to deal with on Day 2. After the fools gold that was the closed gas stations we fell back into the late night Texas darkness and I was finally getting pretty concerned about our situation. Greg remained confident as only Greg can be while we continued to plan and do everything we could to conserve fuel. Finally in the distance we saw a much larger flicker of light and knew that HAD to be Amarillo. As we pulled closer to the city every different sound of the engine and the road had our attention as we just KNEW that would be the last turn of the engine. Mercifully we made it to the Amarillo exit and pulled off. Immediately to our right was a gas station, yet Greg continued on. I immediately expressed my feelings rather loudly about this decision as we looked for our hotel and hopefully another gas station. A few more miles (likely on fumes) later we pulled into a gas station and Greg was very proud of his efforts for 2 reasons - 1. that we actually made it and 2. that the gas we were pumping here was 2 cents cheaper than the gas we passed up a few miles back. We both shared a laugh, high five, and smiles but we agreed we would never cut it this close again. Hey, what's a road trip without a little adventure, right?

We found the hotel and checked in and let me tell you - this place was like the RITZ compared to our Scottish Inn in Memphis. First off, there weren't any burglar bars on the office area, bullet proof glass, and the hair to pillow ratio was much lower - all of which we were grateful for. Once we checked in we had to figure out the dinner situation and had to settle on Whataburger since we were getting in a little later than we had planned and lots of places we would have preferred were already closed for the night. We brought dinner back to the room and I uploaded some photos from the day and we were off to bed to prepare for the third day of our adventure that was soon approaching.

States covered: Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas

More updates to come!

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