ashley: Mila wrote this. I did not write it. She recorded our road trip so well, I didn’t feel the need to re-do it. So here is her work of genius.
The Road Trip to New Orleans…
Departure Time and Date: 9:58 P.M Tuesday, September 9, 2008
City of Departure: Burbank, California
Route: 5 South to 10 East to 15 North to 40 East (current)
Travel buddy: Ashley
I’m basically too tired to even be creative. So one of these days I will spiff this up and make this worth reading (that’s an empty promise)… Presently, lying in a bed in the Travelodge of the lovely-too-much-to-take-in-overly-populated city of Tucumcari, New Mexico… I haven’t slept since Monday night, which even then I didn’t go to bed that night, technically I went to bed Tuesday morning (4 A.M) and woke up at 10 A.M… Left that night and drove and drove out of California into Arizona. The expanse of the night sky was indescribable… The stars were countless and it was just plain peaceful. Ashley saw a shooting star, I saw bolt of lightning.
The plan was to stop in Flagstaff, Arizona, but when we arrived there this morning, which by the way, it was freezing, we could not get a hotel or a motel for a price we found worth stopping/sleeping for. So what did us penny pinchers do? We kept on driving. It was hard for about 10 minutes, but then the sun rose and the scenery was killer. It was mountainous and foresty, old time trains chugged alongside us, the sky was orange… A scene out of a movie. We tried taking pictures but sometimes cameras can’t capture real life beauty. So we just stared in amazement.
For some reason we did not stop driving… And before we approached New Mexico we decided we really did need to sleep. At this point we were near Winslow and pulled in… Gorgeous (not really) town filled with fancy motels (fancy means rotting). We drove up a graveled pathway across the railroad tracks into a motel that could double as the set of some horror movie. “This has to be cheap.” So, Ashley gets out, and finds out that it’s $25… Not bad, but we looked around and noticed that at any moment we could get mauled and never heard from again. So we hit the road running.
We drove through the Petrified Forest… There was nothing to be seen there… Not one petrifying object. Now in New Mexico… By 8:00 A.M, it got to the point where we were seriously needing sleep so we found a decent looking lodge of sorts and again, the price was just too pricey. And as we were about to hit the freeway once again, we found a shady (the good kind) spot, parked the car and took a two hour nap. We pulled our morale together and decided we were going to make it to Albuquerque.
Ashley decided that she was mad because we just wanted to eat at a Cracker Barrel. So, being the good passenger and best friend, I “ChaCha”-ed it. (If you don’t know what that means ask me, it’s fantasmical) Before I got an answer, we approached Gallup and through the mirage appeared a Cracker Barrel. Flipping out, Ashley swerved off the highway to exit. The food was great and fueled us enough energy to keep on trucking…
Every so often on the side of the road, that green sign appears and kindly let’s you know how far away the major cities are. When we look at the cities and the numbers next to them, we find it a challenge to drive to one with the most miles next to it. In turn, this meant that there was no stopping in Albuquerque for us… Why stop now? So, deliriously, we keep driving, maintaining the speed limit the entire way and being more than courteous to all on the road. (By the way, we had made a pact on the 5 South that we would not partake in any sort of road rage whatsoever)
Stupidly we took it upon ourselves to make it a goal to get to Amarillo, Texas. In no time, as we passed through the civilization of Alb., we crumbled and decided to stop at one of two bolded cities on our free AAA Arizona/New Mexico map: Santa Rosa or Tucumcari. My skilled sister looked up the cheapest place to stay between the two, and it ended up being the latter…
By 5:00 P.M, we arrived in where-the-fun-never-stops Tucumcari. Checked in at the Travelodge, as one guest… Ashley hid in the car. And now I’m here, exhausted… If you’re questioning why we decided to take the 40 instead of the 10, well, you see, there is a hurricane named Ike and he just won’t quit… He’s headed to the southern most part of Texas and there will most likely be an evacuation order, if not already, and imagine millions of people leaving the city as you’re trying to enter… It’s impossible. So, we decided to steer clear and even stop by Memphis while we’re at it. Heard this famous musician used to live at this unknown place called Graceland…
So we slept and slept… A lot longer than I imagined. But don’t worry, we did not miss the 11:00 a.m check-out deadline! It didn’t take us long to get out of Tucumcari… There was nothing keeping us there. So, back to the I-40. The original plan was to stop in Little Rock, Arkansas. At this point you must realize that original plans never work out, and it’s always for the better, mind you… So we got to Amarillo, Texas within an hour or two of departure. We went to a Starbucks… I managed to get a free grande Iced Coffee for Ashley. All I had to do was flash my official partner card and well, the guy just ended up giving it to me. No big deal. I’m used to this sort of thing, really… After making a birthday call to Scott, we got back on the road.
We drove and drove, all day long. When Ash gets into it, she’s in for the challenge- at this point in time we decide it’s Memphis or nothing. Well, not nothing, but it’s go big or go home mentality for us. Texas didn’t take too long, which is a funny statement in itself, considering what it would’ve been like had we taken the I-10. In no time we were in Oklahoma, which was just weird and strange. And I actually could go as far to say that it is my least favorite state of all the United… There were so many damn bugs. There were more bugs in those few hours in Oklahoma than all the bugs put together during the entire trip. It was actually sickening really. We made a stop at a Shell gas station and I was swooshing the squeegee like a maniac trying to get the insects off of my car. Meanwhile, Ashley was in the bathroom, ran back out to grab her camera and went right back in. An ordinary person would question this behavior, but since I’m used to this sort of thing, I knew there would be a story by the time she got back. Well, by the time she got back there was a lovely plump male with a graying six-inch goatee and a rather unusually large travel cup with the words “OVERSIZED LOAD” written on it. He began dancing for me and acting like an Ozark. We go in the car and took off. She then proceeded to tell me about the prostitute that she encountered in the restroom. Basically, this whore, I mean, working woman, has her glued-encrusted press-on nails strewn across the sink alongside her make-up and outfit for the night. It sounded like a missed opportunity for a good time.
Anyhow, we barreled through Oklahoma until we got to Arkansas. We got hungry and stopped at The Waffle House where we ate grilled chicken sandwiches and watched the restaurant get conned by two thieves who stole an $18 meal. So, we left, angry at the state of the youth in this country… In turn, I borrowed the internet from the local motel… We booked a room in Memphis- this way we had no choice but to drive there that night. For some reason, I never took into account any of the time changes and when we thought it was one hour it was actually one past that and so on. In Memphis, the Days Inn looked and felt like a mansion. We charged all of the cameras and other electronica. We knew we had a big day ahead of us…
I forgot to mention that the night we checked into the motel that the fire alarm went off. The siren wailed and me and Ashley looked at each other and laughed. Then, for some reason, Ash wanted to go to the receptionist and tell him it wasn’t us that tripped the alarm. And I questioned this gesture… Why exactly would he think it would be us? And she said, well, cause we’re the only ones awake. Well… We never went out there and confessed to nothing…
It’s now Friday and we were starving. So, upon recommendation from Jon, we went to Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken. Sounded healthy, so we figured we’d give it a go. Well, let’s just say their sweet tea was amazing and if that was amazing then you would have to imagine what the chicken was like. If you can’t imagine, well, it was good.
Thereafter we trekked over to Sun Studio. Notice that it is not pluralized and that is due to the fact that there is only one recording studio in the building. This was our favorite stop. The people were awesome- hipster guys who were either musicians or music lovers. We sat at the bar, which served us Dr. Pepper in bottles. The guys were very kind and we just kicked it there. Memphis was so hot that being inside just felt like the right thing to do. Anyhow, we found out that the tour of the place would cost us some amount of money… Since we aren’t made of money we just kind of lollygagged around, hoping to catch the legend by osmosis. And it worked for the most part… After a while, one of the musicians must’ve taken pity on us because he waved us over and lead us into the studio. We entered into the area where the secretary used to sit and that leads into the recording studio…. This is where we staked our claim. I sat on the Gretsch kit, Ashley sat at Jerry Lee Lewis’ piano and we listened to our lovely guide, David Brookings… David even made up a song for us on the fly to the tune of “Blackbird” by the Beatles.
Sun Studio Fun
Then was the journey to Graceland. We got lost thanks to the navigation system… Which is funny because we never used it once during the whole trip and we thought we’d finally turn it on to help us get around Memphis. That was dumb. Well, we got there too late and really couldn’t take a tour. Didn’t really matter anyway cause it’s not like we would’ve shelled out money to go see it. But we wrote on the walls that fenced the Elvis mansion and took some pictures.
It was around Memphis when Ashley figured out she couldn’t find her Driver’s License. No big deal… Just her one and only form of identification. So that left me to drive the rest of the way, which wasn’t terrible at all. Mississippi was very pretty to drive through. I decided that my favorite type of highway is one surrounded by forest and rivers while Ashley’s is just the open road with endless vastness. So it worked out really.
I basically flew us to New Orleans because were home in no time flat. There is this entirely too long for its own good bridge that you have to take into the city… This bridge goes over a large body of water. Ashley hates bridges over water, it’s her thing. I knew exactly what I was traveling over and I knew better not to mention it… She finally realizes that we’ve been on a bridge-like highway for quite sometime and decides to say something… What is that? And I go, Oh nothing. And she looks over and she says, that’s water, it’s so high, the water level is way too high. And I say, stop looking at it then. And she goes, I can’t help it. So, I’m going as fast as I can to get us off of the stupid thing, meanwhile, Ashley is leering out her window watching and waiting for the slight off chance that the water level would flood us over. I forgot to mention that earlier we had passed by few exits that were shutdown and Ashley had peered over and saw that an entire city was sitting in water… Thanks to Gustav. For some odd reason the water didn’t wash over us on that bridge and soon enough we were on the other side… Entering the city was sort of surreal because it was the end of our road trip. It didn’t have some significant impact at the time but I’m slowly seeing it and then again not really yet. The familiar weather, the smells, the sights… It was strange navigating the twisty streets by own doing… It was good to be back.