Texarkana, TX: "Twice as nice", so they say. We’re stopped in this little border town that is divided between both Arkansas and Texas. We’re enjoying some coffee and free internet at Starbucks and shortly we’ll be feasting on unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden (apologies to my sister, a former employee of the chain).
A ton has happened since we last had internet. We organized and redistributed some of our load (basically we put all of our food into the cupboards):
|It was cans, mam!|
We caught a semi that had just tumbled off the side of the road:
Yet another magnificent sunset:
And then we made a quick stop in Memphis. After parking and debating whether or not our Winnebago was going to be robbed (it didn’t), we made our way to Beale Street and scouted out the area. Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall became our first stop. We chilled with some cover-free blues and big-ass beers of PBR (which you can take out to the street! Who doesn’t love drinking in the street!?):
|Gettin' our drank on!|
You can still smoke in Memphis bars, which is so unusual to me now. It reminds me of being underage in college, before Chicago banned smoking in bars. Since we don’t know the next time we’ll be doing laundry, we’ll have to settle with smelling a little smokey. Maybe it’ll tone down the smell of farts we’re rocking right now.
Moving on. We leave the bar and run into a funny hippie fellow by the name of Joe Nesbitt. He’s a musician down in Memphis, although he and his uncle own a blueberry farm in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was playing at one of the bars that night, but unfortunately we had to hit the road before we could catch him. We told him all about our travels and he discussed his past life as a professional wrestler under the alias Stoney McGraw (marijuana much?). Then we were on our way.
Our next, and sadly last stop in Memphis was the Blues City Café. No words can describe the deliciousness. We shared a medium plate of tamales with homemade chili and a bowl of spicy seafood gumbo. We killed it:
|Holy crap. Yum!|
We leave Memphis, headed toward Little Rock, and Pete quickly becomes too tired to drive. So I tell him to pull over at the next rest stop to switch. We park, and the Winnebago, which has been idling at over 2000rmps for the last day, shuts off completely. Crap. Battery trouble is no good. Maybe we shouldn't have turned the refrigerator on high yesterday? There was always something shady about that crossover switch (which uses the alternator to charge the house battery).
Anyways, we decide to risk it and get back on the highway towards Little Rock, where we know we can get some maintenance done in the morning. But we need gas. Or is our gas gauge acting funny because the battery is dying? We drive with headlights so dim they’re almost non-existent to the next exit with a gas station in I-don’t-know-where, Arkansas. We fill up then park off to the side by some truckers and let her idle again. After a few minutes, we make our way to an actual parking spot connected to the store.
As I go in to pee, a trucker, noticing the distress of our vehicle, approaches Pete. He tells our new friend Ferris that the alternator isn’t charging the batteries and that we were trying to make it to Little Rock that night. Ferris said he often drives his truck with a broken alternator- you just need to drive during the day so you don’t have to turn on any lights. GENIUS! Now why didn’t we think of that?? (The downside: no radio, more traffic). So we crash at the BP gas station for the night, and oh was it so much warmer than the night before.
Once morning came, we brushed our teeth (extremely necessary), and made our way to North Little Rock, where we decided to set up camp at a Walmart we knew was there. It was only about an hour drive, and we started on a full tank of gas from the day before. But like jackasses, we decide to fill up again at a station near the Walmart. We fill her up and the go to start the car and nothing. Absolutely nothing. Both our batteries are completely dead at this point.
|Anyone wanna give us a jump? Anyone??|
Pete finally cons some California dude in a Lexus who knows nothing about his car to jump us. He was a bit creepy, but all that really matters is that we got the Winnie back up and running enough to get to the Walmart parking lot.
And so, the North Little Rock Walmart became home for the next 20 or so hours.
|Home Sweet Home.|
|Good beer and cold soup for lunch.|
|Gettin' my grub on.|
We made three separate shopping trips to Walmart during our stay. We brought our snazzy Optima battery in to get charged at Walmart too. It came back with the diagnosis that it was bad. So we had it charged at O’Reilly’s too, where it came back fully charged. I'm thinking someone at Walmart wanted to snatch our battery and force us to buy one of there's. Hmm...
Anyways, we bought another new Optima battery, just in case, and another solar panel too. Now we've got one always hooked up to the starting battery and one hooked up to the house battery. Here's our old one that we managed to set up in this window while in motion:
|Renewable energy rocks!|
We kept the Lesharo parked toward the sun for the rest of the day to keep the batteries charging and then just relaxed, taking frequent bathroom breaks at the Walmart. We enjoyed a hard core evening of listening to a battery-operated radio under the dim glow of LED tap lights (thanks Walmart!) and eating an entire box of Vanilla wafers and a whole jar of spinach dip with chips. We opened up one of our spaceship curtains to people-watch (our favorite activity) the parking lot while we got cozy in bed. We passed out by 8:20pm.
We left first thing in the morning, after what seemed like a bunch of 747’s drove through the parking lot numerous times. Now we’re here in Texarkana, charging cell phones and doing some more people-watching. The frequency of cowboy boots and hats is rising at an exponential rate. It’s thrilling. I’m so pumped to be moving to the south.
We’re hoping to make it to the Dallas area, where we’ll probably stay for the night- we need some time to do an oil change. Then Austin-bound!