I’m Back, And I’m Living It Up In Florida! Did You Miss Me?

I’ve been having a blast. Here are just a few pics highlighting the crazysauce adventure–my move across the country from Los Angeles, California to the Tampa Bay area in Florida. My mom drove the U-Haul, and I drove my own car with my four crazy birds and a couple of cranky lizards in the back.

My U-Haul truck. Fitting, isn't it?
My U-Haul truck. Fitting, isn’t it?

I’m hiding the rest of the post behind a break because–hold onto your britches, people–there are a ton of pics in this post.

We had a late start, so we stopped for the night in Needles, California. I got up early enough to catch the sunrise.

Sunrise in Needles, CA
Sunrise in Needles, CA

The morning started out with a wildlife safari. Wild bunnies abound in the hotel parking lot. I also fed a bunch of birds, then we packed up and went to get some gas.

We Decided Against Filling Up
Before We Hit the Road, We Decided Against Filling Up

We hit the road around 8:30AM and I was immediately thrown off by the time zone change as we crossed the state line into Arizona.

Welcome to Arizona: Home to Lots of Rocks
Welcome to Arizona: Home to Lots of Rocks

Arizona is beautiful. Particularly as you hit the eastern side of the state where all the local Navajo and Hopi Indians are trying to sell you their blankets, pottery, jewelry, and petrified wood. The kitschy stores are everywhere. Some have giant plaster dinosaurs or other strange things out front.

Arizona, I Just Don't Get You
Arizona, I Just Don’t Get You

We passed washes. Padre Wash. Diablo Wash. Rattler Wash. There were also canyons we drove over. My favorite was Crazy Canyon. I didn’t get any pics of the canyons or washes, but I did get a few decent shots of some of the local scenery as we passed by.

Arizona
Arizona
Arizona
Arizona
Arizona
Arizona

We also passed an alpaca farm (“Ride the alpaca tour!”) around mile 67 on the 40 eastbound. We ate at the Road Kill Cafe for lunch. Mom and I both had the buffalo burgers, which were delicious.

The Road Kill Cafe
So This Happened
The Road Kill Cafe: Inside
The Road Kill Cafe: Inside – Possibly What the Buffalo Burger Was Made Out Of
The Road Kill Cafe: Inside
The Road Kill Cafe: Inside – Wait, Maybe This Was the Buffalo Meat
The Road Kill Cafe: Inside
The Road Kill Cafe: Inside – It Doesn’t Look Like Buffalo…
The Road Kill Cafe: Inside
The Road Kill Cafe: Inside – Oh, Wait…
The Road Kill Cafe: The Bathroom Is Just As Classy As the Rest Of The Joint
The Road Kill Cafe: The Bathroom Is Just As Classy As the Rest Of The Joint

We spotted this gem from the freeway and decided to stop in to take a look around.

Knife City: This Is My Graceland
Knife City: This Is My Graceland
Knife City: Behold the Glory
Knife City: Behold the Glory
Knife City: Behold the Glory
Knife City: Behold the Glory
Knife City: Behold the Glory
Knife City: Behold the Glory
Knife City: I See Some Stuff I Want For Christmas
Knife City: I See Some Stuff I Want For Christmas
Knife City: I See More Stuff I Want For Christmas
Knife City: I See More Stuff I Want For Christmas

Our stop for the night was at the El Rancho Hotel, Motel and Restaurant in Gallup, New Mexico. The restaurant dishes are all named for the famous people who stayed or filmed a movie here at one time (“The Lucille Ball,” “The Ronald Reagan,” “The Humphrey Bogart,” “The Doris Day,” and “The Katharine Hepburn” are all burgers). Considering my mom got locked inside her room and someone had to climb in through the window to let her out, I can’t recommend staying the night, but the food was decent. If you end up visiting the area, pack warm clothes. It was 28 degrees outside during the night. My car windows were covered in frost.

The El Rancho: Don't Let Looks Deceive You
The El Rancho: Don’t Let Looks Deceive You

New Mexico was really pretty, too.

New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico

After our stay at El Rancho, we decided we’d had enough of New Mexico and would spend the night in Texas.

We stopped for lunch at the Flying C Ranch. It had a huge store full of guns, fireworks, stuffed buffalo ($20,000), stuffed bears (no price tag I saw), jewelry, blankets, garden decorations, and tchotchkes.

After that, we drove until we hit Amarillo, Texas (home of the free 72 oZ. steak and Cadillac Ranch–10 Cadillacs buried nose-first in the ground). Eastern New Mexico was pretty boring country, but Texas was unbelievably beautiful. And stinky. Lots of cattle ranches along the 40.

Goodbye, New Mexico
Goodbye, New Mexico
Hello, Texas: I'm Pretty Sure Those Windmills in the Distance Were Put There To Fan the Scent of Cattle Dung In Our Direction
Hello, Texas: I’m Pretty Sure Those Windmills in the Distance Were Put There To Fan the Scent of Cattle Dung In Our Direction

We passed a lot of abandoned buildings starting in Arizona, and they kept popping up even when we reached Texas. There were almost as many abandoned as occupied. I didn’t get a chance to get any pictures of them. One of the ones in New Mexico looked like the trees were dragging it into the earth.

The Baymont Hotel in Amarillo was excellent, and I strongly recommend it if you need a pet-friendly place to stay for the night.

The Baymont Inn & Suites in Amarillo, TX Really IS Pet-Friendly! That's My Green Ringneck Parrot, Booger
The Baymont Inn & Suites in Amarillo, TX Really IS Pet-Friendly! That’s My Green Ringneck Parrot, Booger

The next day, we left Amarillo, Texas behind. I am convinced the deer of Texas must be stupider than the deer anywhere else, because between Amarillo and Oklahoma, we must have seen 7 or 8 of them pancaked on the road–and that was just on our side of the freeway. I only spotted 2 in the entirety of our trip through Oklahoma (though some stains on the road suggest there were more).

Goodbye, Lone Star State
Goodbye, Lone Star State

As for Oklahoma… How can so much “nothing” look so beautiful? Oklahoma was lovely. Some of the leaves on the trees that weren’t bare for winter still had reds and yellows and oranges of autumn, though I didn’t catch many pictures of that. Trust me, it was gorgeous.

Welcome to Oklahoma
Welcome to Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma

We did stop at an Indian trading post. I got a great shot glass, my mom bought some pretty earrings, and the lady at the counter fooled me with a practical joke. There were bags of rattlesnake eggs. Something about that seemed off to me. Mostly because I didn’t remember until after I opened the bag to look inside and the metal and rubber-band contraption inside rattled at me that rattlesnakes give birth to live young. So much for my dreams of someday becoming a herpetologist…

Cherokee Trading Post
Cherokee Trading Post
Cherokee Trading Post
Cherokee Trading Post

Anyway. We continued on, and I got a few more decent pictures on the way.

Yes, That Is A Giant Longhorn Cattle Face Made of Barrels
Yes, That Is A Giant Longhorn Cattle Face Made of Barrels on the Side of the Road
Tinker AFB: Ze Plane, Ze Plane!
Tinker AFB: Ze Plane, Ze Plane!
Your Guess Is As Good As Mine
Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

We crossed most of the state and stopped in a little town called Sallisaw. First we went to the Sleepy Traveler Motel in Warner, but between the condition of the room and the lady at the front desk telling us, “I’ll just go ahead and put you ladies up front since there are some menfolk off in the back. You know how they are.” (Wat.) we decided to push on the additional 30 miles to a bigger town. The next place we stopped wasn’t a contender for the Bates Motel lookalike contest, so we parked there for the night.

The next day, it was shitting down rain starting around 11AM and continued to rain across the entire state of Arkansas and into Tennessee. I didn’t take many pictures since the weather was so bad, but you can still get an idea of just how pretty the landscape is out there.

Oklahoma
Eastern Oklahoma
Eastern Oklahoma
Eastern Oklahoma
Eastern Oklahoma
Eastern Oklahoma
Ignore That Escaped Cockatoo In Your Rearview Mirror (Dammit, Chico!)
Ignore That Escaped Cockatoo In Your Rearview Mirror (Dammit, Chico!)
Welcome to Arkansas
Welcome to Arkansas
Arkansas: The Colors, Man! The Colors!
Arkansas: The Colors, Man! The Colors!
Oh, Arkansas. Y U look liek Hallmark card?
Oh, Arkansas. Y U look liek Hallmark card?
Arkansas, Stop Showing Off
Arkansas, Stop Showing Off
Arkansas, That's Enough. You're Just Too Pretty for This Blog Post.
Arkansas, That’s Enough. You’re Just Too Pretty for This Blog Post.
Let's Move On To Tennessee, Shall We?
Let’s Move On To Tennessee, Shall We?
Tennessee: Is That Civilization I Spy?
Tennessee: Is That Civilization I Spy?
Tennessee: Don't Ask Me, I'm Just Driving Here
Tennessee: Don’t Ask Me, I’m Just Driving Here

We didn’t take any breaks except for gas (not even for lunch) and stopped for the night in Jackson. There was far too much construction, traffic and bad weather for us to push on to Nashville like we’d planned.

Mom found a place called Mac’s BBQ on Yelp. $23 got us the best goddamned smoked ribs, brisket, and chocolate pie I have ever tasted. The place had one big table with lots of chairs and a bar to sit at. Mac was a darling. Same with Chris, the local who was there for dinner.

Mac's BBQ: The Smoker
Mac’s BBQ: The Smoker
Mac's BBQ: It's Not As Scary As It Looks
Mac’s BBQ: It’s Not As Scary As It Looks
Mac's BBQ: The Inside
Mac’s BBQ: The Inside

Chris reminded me of Dale (the big guy in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil). Chris was telling me all about the hunting in the area, how the game wardens catch you, how one of his friends told him about a giant pile of corn dumped in the woods to lure deer had one guy lose his gun and his hunting license, the proper way to age venison, etc. The pair were super friendly, and both said, “God bless you, and safe travels” on our way out.

There was nothing much else to report from that leg of the journey. We made about 400 miles instead of the 500+ we were hoping for, but that’s still not bad.

The next day, we started our morning at Bobby’s Grub House. I ate until my stomach was distended and still tried to shovel more food in my mouth because that shiz was delicious.

When we arrived in Nashville, my friend Kristin met with me and my mom for lunch. She showed us around town–the Parthenon, Music Row, some of the local colleges, BB King’s, Coyote Ugly, Margaritaville, etc.

Nashville, TN Replica Parthenon
Nashville, TN Replica Parthenon
Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN

We had lunch in the Wild Horse Saloon.

Nashville, TN Wild Horse Saloon
Nashville, TN Wild Horse Saloon
Nashville, TN Wild Horse Saloon -- Complete With Wild Horses on the Ceiling
Nashville, TN Wild Horse Saloon — Complete With Wild Horses on the Ceiling
Nashville, TN Wild Horse Saloon: The Fried Pickles Were Surprisingly Tasty
Nashville, TN Wild Horse Saloon: The Fried Pickles Were Surprisingly Tasty

We said goodbye to Nashville and spent the night in Manchester, Tennessee.

The next day, we pushed on through the rest of Tennessee, down into Georgia, and then to Florida. There weren’t many pictures in Georgia or Florida since the rain, traffic, winding roads in Tennessee and being tired from the trip had me too wiped to manage many good ones from behind the wheel. Though I will admit I was not too tired (or maybe I was just tired enough) to be tickled about driving through Butts County, Georgia.

Despite any setbacks, I did get a few good parting shots, if I may say so.

Eastern Tennessee
Eastern Tennessee
Eastern Tennessee
Eastern Tennessee
Eastern Tennessee
Eastern Tennessee
Eastern Tennessee
Eastern Tennessee
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia

Once I finally arrived, it was nice to kick back and relax with Nike.

Me and Nike
Me and Nike

Goliath thought so, too.

Goliath Sacked Out on the Couch. Looka dat faaaace!
Goliath Sacked Out on the Couch. Looka dat faaaace!

And that’s all she wrote, folks. It’s been a long trip, but I’m glad to be settled in my new home.

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7 Responses to I’m Back, And I’m Living It Up In Florida! Did You Miss Me?

  1. Jessica @ a GREAT read says:

    Oh wow! What a long trip! How cool was your U-Haul with the bats on it?! And it even has Missouri–my home state–on it! Cool-cool! Hope you got lots of rest after that long journey from one end of the states to the other and then some it seems! Happy Resting! :)

    • Jess_Haines says:

      Right?! I friggin’ loved that thing. I have been kicking back since I got here, but it’s about time I buckled down and got back to work.

  2. Jennifer @ The Book Nympho says:

    I live in Arkansas and the colors can be pretty if we don’t have too dry of a summer. What part did you drive through? It looks like you hit Memphis judging by the state pic on that bridge.

    • Jess_Haines says:

      Whoops, I didn’t see this comment until now. We took the 40 straight across Arkansas. We passed through Fort Smith and Little Rock before hitting Memphis. It was really lovely, but we had a lot of miles to put behind us, so we didn’t get to stop to do any sightseeing while we were there.

  3. Jackie Uhrmacher says:

    You were in Oklahoma?? I would have drove down to see you! It’s only a few hours from me, lol.

Comments are closed.