JJMRT Day 1: Upsetting the Sun

As I sit and sip my second cup of scalding hot and yet entirely free hot chocolate, it’s time to recount the events of the inaugural day of Josh and Jon’s Magnificent Road Trip. By the end of the journey, the brothers will have traveled through five states in six days – and will hopefully have made enough supernatural and otherworldly allies to last them a lifetime.

It all began on Monday morning at around 9 am when Josh showed up at the Forisha residence in the vehicle that would soon be known all across South Central America. After loading up, we went to Cafe Brazil and ate delicious things using utensils, our mouths, and sometimes even our hands.

After admiring the smorgasbord of cards from various businesses (dolphin therapy? there’s a card for that.), then we boarded the George Bush tollway and took off. Our journey first took us through familiar territory, passing through Lewisville and the fabled city of Denton, until at last we entered strange lands to the north.

Texas behind us, Oklahoma proved to be a land of hills and outrageously large casinos, and more than once we were surprised and delighted by the billboards that spotted the areas around the highway. “Chester-Fried Chicken” led us to believe that there was a man named Chester whose sole duty was to fry chickens. A very large and plain billboard reading, “Fried Pies” led us to believe the actual things were far more delicious than the name would suggest. Underneath a sign advertising that liquor lie ahead, a billboard read, “METH”. Only upon closer inspection did we realize they were advertising against the use of meth and not the sale of it.

Oklahoma was largely uneventful, though the landscape became more and more interesting the further north we got. The comically flat landscape of north Texas gave way to rollicking hills that displayed weird sideways rock patterns. By the time we reached Oklahoma City I had found information about the Skirvin Hotel, built in 1910. We made sure to visit because the 14th floor was evidently haunted by the spirit of a maid and her daughter, both of whom leapt from a window when the hotel manager (and father of the child) chose to lock them in a room instead of, you know, doing fatherly things.

We drove right into the middle of Oklahoma City and then became frantic because we had no idea where we were going, why there was so much construction everywhere, or if we could park anywhere and expect for our car to still be there when we came back. We finally parked near a Greek restaurant with the intention of eating there, but when we approached both doors to the place, they instead advertised a bail bonds office. The windows swore that it was Greek food to be found inside, but La Luna Mexican Restaurant across the street looked more promising – and a good deal safer.

La Luna was quick and easy and not too exciting. Evidently they won an award for the best South of the Border menu in Oklahoma City, which to me means that Mexican food in OKC is a bit lacking. After the meal we parked the car near the Myriad Botanical Gardens and walked through the park area, which was complete with an area for plays (and a zombie lookout tower; zombies are a very real threat in Oklahoma) and a big bridge thing that was cool but required money for admittance.

We walked to a series of maps, some of which were good and some of which were not, and after dodging more construction than we knew what to do with, we had at last made it to the Skirvin Hotel. It was bought and renovated by Hilton in 2007 and is today fully functional and actually pretty nice. We went up to the 14th floor and didn’t see or hear much of anything supernatural, though I’ve yet to review the video that I shot. I’m sure something will turn up on video.

We walked back to the car and drove through Bricktown, which is an area of downtown OKC that has a cool name and likes bricks. We saw the small but proud American Banjo Museum and then spotted the Haunted Warehouse, though had no idea what it was and frankly wanted to get back on the road.

Josh managed to fix the program that broadcasts loads of our accumulated music over his web server so that we can listen to it in his car via his iPhone, and then the party really started. As we again traveled north, we noticed that construction workers in Oklahoma don’t seem to do much other than close roads and play in giant piles of sand. To be fair, it looks quite fun.

The further we got from OKC, the more boring the landscape looked, until at last we did what we knew was inevitable but had long been dreading: we entered Kansas.

As we searched for words to describe the incredible lack of anything happening along and beyond the Kansas landscape, a sign for the state managed to beat us to the punch. It was just off the highway and hidden amongst some grasses and trees.

“Kansas: The Wheat State”

Ah, yes. Who wouldn’t want to be known for their wheat? Calling them the Wheat State was perhaps fitting in that Kansas produces quite a lot of wheat, but as far as a signifier of the entire Kansas experience, it leaves much to be desired. When you enter a state that identifies itself in the cash crop that makes up most of its agriculture, are you excited to go party with the locals?

Before too long we reached a toll plaza. This created mild panic in the BMWmobile, primarily because Josh had just had the windows tinted and they couldn’t be rolled down until Tuesday – meaning that to pay a toll the whole door would have to be awkwardly opened. Not just that, but Kansas gave us a punch card instead of making us pay a toll. We were both baffled, though we’ve since been told that’s how everyone used to do it.

Many miles later we reached southern Wichita, which was our end destination for the day. Things were awfully shady but then became a little more comfortable as we neared our La Quinta Inn. We checked in, found our room, and tried to find somewhere to eat while a giant red worm of a storm moved in to conquer the city (on weather.com’s radar, the storm looked like a big mad worm). It rained a lot and our plans were stalled, but thanks to that stalling we discovered that we can brew fresh and free hot chocolate. We did so, I burned my mouth, and then we moved on.

The rain quit but Josh’s car was in quite a puddle. I had shoes that could get wet, while he did not, however only he could drive the car, which is manual. We thought about it for a very long time, drew some graphs, calculated the risks, consulted the experts, and finally we ended up switching shoes, he trudged through the lake that led to his car, and then we had to switch again and do some complicated tomfoolery to get the car going and away from the freshly-formed bodies of water that spotted the parking lot.

We drove north to an area that looked frightfully like Plano, had some pretty good pizza, drove around for a bit and saw some coolish places that unfortunately close at 6 pm on a Monday, and then came back to our hotel.

It was during this period in time in which the sun was being a real nuisance, hence this entry’s title. We decided that by leaving Texas, where we all generally have a very good relationship with the sun, and heading to a place like Kansas, we had upset the sun. We hadn’t talked to him about our travel plans, and he was taking it out on us by positioning himself in just the right spot so that whenever we tried to read road signs we’d get a face full of his holy brightness.

Josh turned on the radio and we checked out a few stations. The first one started with a guy talking about his love of toast, then after some random guy read us his favorite Bible passage we realized it was a Christian station. The next station was a guy saying something very reverently, and once he said something about Satan we took off. The third one never admitted it, but the tone and conviction was all Christiany, so we decided that Kansas radio = church.

Back at the hotel we discussed the ramifications of building a fort out of the army of pillows that was given to us, then swam for a bit in the interesting indoor tropical pool downstairs. The hot tub was nice despite the handful of ten year-olds who thought jumping in three-foot water was the coolest thing since whipped cream, and then we were back in our room with yet more free and delicious hot chocolate.

So there you have it. Day one has come to a close. In the future I may cut back on my wordiness, but who knows. A lot of things happen when you travel the world in a car full of penguins.

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~ by Jon C. Forisha on June 20, 2011.

One Response to “JJMRT Day 1: Upsetting the Sun”

  1. […] you have it. This blog will soon be a travel blog once again (be sure to go back and check out my Summer Road Trip, Portland, Nashville, Chicago, and St. Louis entries), though I most likely won’t be […]

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