It’s that time of year again!!!!! This year we chose Texas as our destination because our rental car last year (the Corolla, our noble steed that saw us safely to Washington DC) was donned with a Texas tag and we vowed to see its homeland one day. This week was that day. And I’m STOKED.
We planned a true roadtrip this year – sleeping in a different city every night. Stops include Memphis, Little Rock, Texarkana, Dallas, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, and Biloxi.
It was important to us to include Memphis on this trip because our city took 20 years to complete Corridor X and we we celebrated over 6 years together before it was opened to the public. It connects I 22 with I 65, making a quick 3.5 hour trip to Elvis’ stomping grounds.
Driving over it was underwhelming.
I am really, really unsure of what I expected. I think I imagined Memphis to be some sort of magical, happy place with lights and guitars and Elvis impersonators on every corner. That is literally the most uneducated opinion I’ve had in years.
We stopped for lunch at Central BBQ because the internet told me it was the best BBQ in Memphis. They were pretty spot on – we got pulled pork sandwiches that were slathered in a smoky sweet sauce and piled with slaw (heart eyes). I’ve coined it slaw-b-q. Just amazing. I much prefer tangy, vinegary sauces but I can truly appreciate others, especially when that exact sandwich has been voted as #1 several times since 2005 and featured on food network and magazines middle aged women read. I’m all about that.
Upset that I wasn’t drowning in Elvis impersonators, I thought it would be fun to seek one out at Graceland. Let me clarify that this was a mutual idea. Google maps led us through some questionable streets to get to the…. compound? Mansion? Big square thing? We paid $10 for parking and saw a very large and bright TICKETING right on Elvis’ forehead, here we are thinking it’s like a national landmark or something and a quick sight see and go – nope. The cheapest tour was $40 a person and that didn’t include the planes or the golden suit. Oh, also no photos on the property.
So there we sat, in a $10 parking spot, surrounded by security guards and chubby women in fanny packs and visors. Cursing softly that the one time we didn’t read ahead on the internet cost us actual money.
I don’t give a shit about Elvis.
Elvis didn’t die, he just went home.
– Jordan Higgins, 2017
Little Rock, Arkansas
The drive from Memphis to Little Rock is super abysmal. It’s flat. It’s two lanes of truckers. It’s lined with billboards condemning you to hell. And then there is a strange explosion of civilization, a bustling city on the Arkansas River that is actually rather sizable.
I explained to our Uber driver, Nell, that our Air B&B was in a shed in some guy’s back yard. I caught myself in a fit of giggles at how shoddy that sounded and Jordan had to explain to her that it was a renovated loft* in some guy’s back yard. Still sounds less than legit. It was actually really nice, with a full kitchen and spiral staircase and all.
We hit the William J Clinton Presidential Library and Museum about an hour and a half before it closed. This is the first of 15 presidential libraries we have visited, with plans to hit one more on this trip. It was stuffed with artifacts, milestones, in depth timelines and achievements from the Clinton Administration and it was so nice to learn more about that pivotal time in our history and look a leader in a more human light. I loved seeing pictures of him and Hillary just starting out, raising Chelsea, and making the White House a home. This establishment did a great job of balancing historical significance and humility.
We partook in pizza and beer at Damgoode Pies on the river. When asking our host how he was that night, he got a huge smile on his face and said damn good! I lost it. I love these people. Damgoode is unique in its house made sauces – they have the normal ones of course: Red, Alfredo, and Pesto. But also hybrids: Pink, Spicy White, Spicy Alfredo and Pesto Cream. Y’all I had the Spicy Five za with that Spicy White sauce and a million (five) cheeses and I loved it so much. I ate the whole thing. I miss it now. DELICIOUS.
There were a ton of places to eat and shop on the river. It was surprisingly filled with music, sweetshops, and other things to do. Little Rock is only about 5 hours from Birmingham, I highly suggest taking a weekend trip to this nugget.
Some photos in Little Rock without paragraphs of explanation:
Texarkana, Texas, Arkansas, Texas
What a weird place. The Arkansas side was a ghost town and there were tons of people on the Texas side. We had to show ID to use the bathroom. Jordan and I were in two different states at once for the first time in a LONG TIME.
First of all, we didn’t know that we would be eating In-N-Out for the first time on this trip. We thought we had to go to Arizona or some shit for this magic internet burger so that was a pleasant surprise. I asked for Animal Style because the internet told me to, and I figured it was to apply to both the burg and the fries but I was wrong. Whatever, I don’t even like fries that much. I would have to give this establishment a strong A minus because it didn’t knock my socks off like I was expecting but I would def eat it again.
Our second Presidential Library – George W Bush. If you know me you know I hate him but I sucked this one up for the good of the blog. I was expecting to leave with a different opinion, or at least with a newfound appreciation, but unfortunately my insides were right on this one. We got a front row seat to the “War President.” The 9/11 memorial was nice of them to have in place, but the following justifications for the Patriot Act and continuing war on global terror was straight up propaganda. It made me sick. The newfound appreciation I was hoping for came in the form of Laura Bush’s wardrobe only – because that woman knew how to pick out a dress.
Make no distinction between terrorists and the nations that harbor them. Confront threats before they fully emerge.
– The Bush Doctrine
That’s how you get innocent blood on your hands, mad man. But you’re pretty okay with that.
The city was tall and expansive and full of people and trams and restaurants and neat things like this 30 foot tall eyeball on Main Street. Instead of billboards, they used buildings – so the everything is bigger in Texas! rings very true.
I don’t know a ton about JFK or the conspiracy theories around his assassination. I wanted to get some pictures for Deeanna, so I took a few. There were lots of people standing around, getting pictures, feeling sad. There was definitely some strong energy on the Grassy Knoll. I’d like to go back one day and go to the museum, as the line was too long for our squished itenerary.
We had beer and burgs at a local brewery, Braindead Brewing. We both had stouts that were really, really acceptable and Jordan had the Thick and Morty Burger, which really cracked me up. Surrounded by local youths with the lit up Dallas skyline behind us, there was a fall chill in the air and a sense of wow, we’ve really got life figured out as we watched a guy get thrown out and arrested shortly after.
I loved Dallas.
We only spent a couple of hours in Austin but we quickly fell in love with it. Sure, it was expansive and the things we wanted to see were spread out, but it gave a chance to see so much it has to offer. The streets are well kept and crawling with people – there are lights and eateries and green spaces and dog parks, a river walk and accessible parking for all!
We really wanted to scout out Waterloo Records, as we try to pick up a record on all of our big trips. Lucky us, we found a copy of Childish Gambino’s Camp that we’ve been looking for for a year or so and also a copy of Brand New’s Science Fiction on red and blue vinyl. I am super, super happy with these finds.
We wanted to find a really texas-esque spot to eat for lunch. I found this little food truck called Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ and couldn’t imagine anything more Texas – so we went and filled our bellies with the best queso I think I’ve ever had and tortillas stuffed with carnitas, sea salt and lime guac, and habanero salsa. Good god. Everything about this was delicious. I’m so glad I got a pic so I can dream about it for the rest of my life.
I think I’m going to end Part 1 here. It’s only Wednesday but we’ve seen so much – Part 2 will cover Houston, Nola and Biloxi. Thank you for reading!! Stay tuned!