We made it to the Mississippi state line fairly quickly, better known as the Mississippi River, and crossed into Arkansas. Now I’d like to point out here that the state motto or tag line or whatever you call it is the “Natural State”. Isn’t that just lovely? Well it was lovely to consider until we reached a spot approximately 200 yards past the river’s edge and saw a crop duster actually spewing something all over a farm field. Something that tasted and smelled pretty vile.
Yeah, natural my ass.
I tried to get a good picture of the duster but only managed to catch it in the air, everything low to the ground came out blurry. Honestly blurry is a good word of the day. My memory of anything in Arkansas after the 10 minutes of traffic we sat in just past the duster is just that, a little blurry.
I’m guessing that’s because in that part of Arkansas along I-40 there’s basically a whole lot of nothing not because of the fumes I inhaled that came out of the back of an airplane. At least that’s what I’d like to believe.
So we drove and drove and continued driving through the very barren landscape that started losing trees and gaining tumbleweeds with every mile. We listened to some music. We chatted about how it was going to be a pretty long day on the road to get to Oklahoma! City.
We hit the Arkansas welcome center and had a quick shot of excitement when Matt had to get out my side of the truck because of the swarm of bees on his side. That should give you a clue of just how exciting this day of driving really was. Yeah. I tried to nap but those seats were so uncomfortable.
I turned off the iPod because, frankly, I was tired of forwarding through every third song because it was Bryan Adams (who Matt detests) or Natalie Merchant (who makes me want to stick a hot poker into my inner ear to dull the pain of her voice) and flicked on some country music.
I started thinking of touring musicians. Suddenly I realized how easy it would be to get road weary, burned out from travel. We were only doing this for 6 days, musicians are in a new town/time zone/state/city just about everyday. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with knowing what time it is or trying to find decent food while traveling. At least they get a bed like bunk to crash out in though. My jealousy and longing for a tour bus shot up about 100% across the heartland of America.
But anyway, speaking of country music…my friend S bet me that within 6 months in Arizona I’d have a country station preset on my radio dial. I firmly and emphatically denied that would ever come to fruition. And here’s why.
By nature, and at my very heart and soul, I’m now and will always be a rocker. This information comes into play as we hit the Maricopa County line in Arizona but you’ll have to wait for that for a couple days. But anyway, country has never been something I was just drawn to listen to in a full time capacity. Give me fast bass drums, give me whaling electric guitar, give me growling singers who don’t wear wide rimmed hats.
Of course that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been a few artists or songs in the more twang ridden genre that haven’t resonated with me over the years. I love me some Reba and frankly every single time I hear Brad Paisley’s “Letter to Me” I actually get a little teary eyed regardless that I personally never went through any of the stuff he sings about in the song. There’s just something so lyrically melancholy about looking back over your own life in a way that if you could give yourself advice at age 17 from what you know now that tugs my heart strings.
But that’s not to say that on the way out here we weren’t slightly limited in our radio selection either and basically had no other choice. Oh we were limited alright. The entire drive across Arkansas and Oklahoma!, plus most if not all of Texas, was limited to either Christian music or country. So, like I said, when in the Midwest do as Midwesterners do.
And I fell in love with Justin Moore’s “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away”. In fact we heard it so many times that I gleaned it must be a new release for country radio and I got to know it by the lead in alone. Then I found myself turning it up. We heard it as we were approaching our hotel in Oklahoma! City and I of course got a little teary eyed.
The first couple times you hear a song (well this is true for me anyway) it’s the chorus you pick up on but you don’t really put the lyrics together. This was about my third listen and suddenly the lines “If heaven wasn’t so far away…Then tell him we'd be back in a couple of days. In the rear view mirror we'd all watch 'em wave. Yeah, and losing them wouldn't be so hard to take. If heaven wasn't so far away.” Hit me like a ton of bricks.
I’m not saying Boston is heaven, Lord knows if it was I probably wouldn’t have left , but damn if it isn’t so far away and being on the ultimate road trip heading west sure put all those people in my rearview mirror. I just couldn’t take it and turned off the radio.
So that’s the real reason I won’t preset a country station honestly, too many songs that make you cry damn it!
We pulled into our hotel in Oklahoma! City mere moments later and all that teary eyed blubbering was totally replaced by a slight twinge of fear of transients.
Matt found a good spot right near the front office where he’d be able to back up straight if need be but could pull right out if the guy in front of him left before we did in the morning and I went in to check in.
The front desk girl was pleasant and even gave us a room on the first floor so it would be easier to keep an eye on the truck if we wanted to. Red flag #1 which I glazed right over. She gave me keys and my grumbling tummy went to help Matt take all the crap out of the car we’d need to spend the night, though it looked like we were moving in.
Just like the girls on the top floor who spent a lot more time in rooms that weren’t theirs. Come to think of it, they stayed in those rooms for bursts of about 30 minutes. Welcome to the Hooker Hotel Oklahoma! South. We hope you enjoy your stay. Should you need service of any kind don’t call the front desk, just knock 4 times on room number 2222 and oh you’ll get serviced alright.
How do you spell the sound that comes out when you shudder physically at something so sketchy you wish there was time to go find a new place to stay?
My first instinct (as with every hotel) was to go through all the drawers, the Bible, and make sure there was toilet paper and towels. We ordered from a pizza delivery place close by and watched a little cable while I screamed at the computer for not allowing me to get online and post my witty ‘service you’ reference as a status update on Facebook.
Then I promptly crashed out on the bug free and surprisingly comfortable king sized bed, ready to get the heck out of Hookerville at the crack of first light.