Cross Country

I’ve always wanted to take a driving trip across the middle part of the country so that’s what I did last week. I crammed in so much that by the time I got home I almost felt like I’d never left; like what I’d seen was really just a movie viewed in slow fast-forward. That’s the way I like to travel, though – warp speed, hitting the highlights. I don’t need to live in a place to get a feel for it and I’m not one to spend hours browsing museums or hitting all the shops. So I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear all the states and towns I visited in my five-day trip.

It started in Colorado, one of two places I spent the most time. I saw Denver, Golden, Red Rocks, South Park, Buena Vista and St. Elmo, among others. Then down to New Mexico, where I stayed in a mineral springs resort at Ojo Caliente. Drove through a harrowing canyon on the way to Taos then south through the state to Amarillo, Texas to see Cadillac Ranch. Then it was on to Oklahoma City where I saw the memorial to the Oklahoma City bombing. Up through Oklahoma into Kansas, and all the way across to Kansas City, Missouri, which was a pretty happening town. Had to have barbecue there, but I have to say that I like City Barbecue here better.

Then on to St. Louis and a sharp right down to Memphis to see the March of the Ducks at the Peabody Hotel – which I wouldn’t have known about if it weren’t for the guys at Winslow’s BBQ in KCMO. Every day at 11 and 5, the ducks are marched to and from the fountain in the center of the Peabody’s lobby. A red carpet extends from the elevator to the fountain, and the ducks march down a set of movable steps out of the fountain, onto the carpet and straight to the elevator where they go upstairs to their penthouse for the night. It’s a major production, complete with a Duckmaster. The crowd in the lobby was unbelievable for a ceremony that lasted maybe 10 seconds once the ducks hopped out of the fountain. Worth seeing though just for the cuteness factor.

After Memphis came Nashville, which I liked quite a lot and will definitely visit again. The best meal of the trip was at BBKing’s restaurant in Nashville, where I had chicken fried chicken (which had been marinated in buttermilk and hot sauce!) and the best white cheddar macaroni and cheese ever. I will not soon forget that scrumptious meal!

So, without further delay, here are some highlights of the trip:

Red Rocks. Nice, but the altitude about did me in.

This is an outdoor art installation in Buena Vista, Colorado, right alongside the Arkansas River. I liked the tumbleweed hung up on the coffee table. I’d never seen tumbleweeds before and when they blow in front of your car when you’re doing about 80 it’s hard not to think you’re going to hit an animal, it happens so quickly.

Aspens lining the road on the way up to St. Elmo, Colorado, a ghost town up about 10,000 feet, which proved to be about 2,000 more feet than my body liked.

A feed mill beside a gas station somewhere in New Mexico.

Arrived in Amarillo at the perfect time of day lighting-wise for pictures at Cadillac Ranch. If you’re not aware, Cadillac Ranch is an art installation in a cow pasture off Route 40 (old Route 66). Ten real Cadillacs buried nose deep and spray painted by numerous visitors. I did not partake of the painting. It was freezing out there and because it was a wide open space, the wind was wicked. I have to say this is my favorite image from the whole trip.

According to the guides at the Oklahoma City memorial, this fence had been erected to keep people out while the memorial was being constructed. Visitors started decorating the fence with their own personal memorials and the powers-that-be decided to leave it up once the memorial was finished.

This looks simple, all these chairs in rows, but it’s actually quite a complex set-up. The rows are designed to represent the floors of the federal building where people worked or were when the bomb went off. There is one chair for each person killed on the site (168), with some smaller chairs representing the children in the daycare and five chairs off to the side representing those who were killed on the street outside the building.

The Honorary Duckmaster watching his charges exit the fountain at The Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

They’re like little feathered celebrities.

Some interesting sights on the walk back from The Peabody.

There were some amazing neighborhoods in Nashville, this one being near Brentwood. I loved the design of this home. Most of the homes in this neighborhood were massive and on multi-acre lots.

On “live venue” row, Broadway, in Nashville.

I don’t know who this band was but they were awesome. That guy could really sing. The interesting thing about this was that the live bands start playing in the bars first thing in the morning and go all day and night.

Thanks for sharing my vacation!

Steve - February 14, 2009 - 2:48 pm

I didn’t know you went on vacation! Great pix as always. You know, Springsteen recorded a song on his 1980 album, “The River”, called “Cadillac Ranch.” A great song about this very locale…

F a c e b o o k