As the season in Moab came to a close, it was time to trek across America again, this time east-bound via New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, a few quick detours into Mississippi and Alabama, and countless Native American nations. By the time March comes around and I head back west, I will have driven across the country three times in nine months, which by any sane person’s definition is absolutely absurd. Not only is it a lot of time to spend in a car, but to me, it epitomizes American consumerism and wastefulness, putting a lot of miles on my car and using up a ridiculous amount of fossil fuels (and money spent on fossil fuel).
Despite feeling guilty about consuming lots of gasoline and fast food and expelling lots of carbon emissions into our precious atmosphere, these journeys have provided a wonderful insight into the country that I live in and has given me a unique opportunity to see different states and the way the land changes from west to east and vice versa. I feel a lot more connected to the land, and will treasure these memories for many years to come.
This time my friend Zak and I traveled from Moab to Santa Fe, where we bought on-sale socks at REI and ate a delicious dinner at a Mexican restaurant recommended by a local Santa Féan (I think I just made that word up) before traveling on to Santa Rosa, NM where we found a state park to camp in for the night.
The next day we trekked across the rest of New Mexico, through Amarillo and the rest of the Texas Panhandle (if I ever tell you I’m going to move there, promptly remind me not to). We continued on through Oklahoma, where we stopped at a Steak and Shake in Oklahoma City for lunch. Oklahoma was definitely not as flat as I thought it would be and people sure must like to gamble there because every other billboard advertises a casino. Even though we didn’t get to see much of them, it was neat to get to drive through the nations of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Kickapoo and many other native peoples. Late that night we crashed at my cousin’s house in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
In Memphis, we visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel, which is the site of MLK’s 1968 assassination. Even though part of the museum was closed for renovation, the part we did get to see was fascinating and eye-opening. We also had the privilege of Couch Surfing with a truple (a three person relationship), which is apparently an up and coming trend in the gay community. These guys were super awesome and made us a delicious dinner, let us play with all their cool cats and dogs and took us out for drinks at some of their favorite local watering holes.
We drove through Mississippi, where the most notable thing we did was buy gas for $2.95 a gallon. We followed the Natchez Trace Parkway through a tiny corner of Alabama and back up into Tennessee, where we headed to Chattanooga after a quick detour back into Alabama on a mad late-night search for camping. The breakfast we had in Chattanooga was my favorite breakfast, a veggie hash with tofu and the best biscuits we ate all trip.
In Asheville, NC, we were lucky enough to stay at a place that was a ten minute walk to downtown, props to our friend Steve from Moab. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Noodle Shop, a delicious and cheap Chinese restaurant. While walking around after dinner, we stumbled upon the best used bookstore ever. I was surprised it was open at nine pm, but turns out it was also a bar, and you could sit down in one of their little nooks, order a beer or a glass of wine and read for awhile. It was one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a Friday evening.
We had planned to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way up to Nellysford, VA, where my parents have a mountain house. However, after going 80 miles in a two hours and a few nears misses with crazy deer, we decided to get off and take the interstate the rest of the way.We spent two nights there, enjoying a whole day without getting into the car before up to DC for the last stop of our trip before I headed home.