The morning of Day 4 began gray for the skies as well as for my physical state. The night before was an airbed-on-the-floor night in a very dark place (admission: I downloaded a night light app on my iPhone) and the day started without a shower. The weather was beyond unusual for this time of year, and my hosts in Geary told me the night before that the lack of humidity and heat was really a rare experience. The heat and humidity had been replaced by gloomy rains–which usually, I prefer but it really didn’t help me toward the Thelma and Louise summer road trip moment I had been hoping for. It was more like me, with frizzy hair and rain speckled glasses with my pant cuffs covered in mud, then rolled up and knotted around my ankles.

On my way to Oklahoma City for what ended up being a disappointing breakfast (I don’t want to talk about bad breakfasts, it hurts too much) I passed through the proud hometown of Garth Brooks–Yukon, OK (instagram). Okay, for the record–Garth Brooks is the absolute greatest. Also, he and I really took our relationship to new levels since the only two CDs I had in my car were two of Garth’s. There must have been at least 107 listens to those two discs when driving in no service areas.

330 miles later, I was almost over my hurtful breakfast and in Little Rock. I checked into the Rosemont Inn & Cottages, a bed and breakfast, that immediately stole my heart. A lost art sometimes, that whole hospitality thing. Susan, owner and innkeeper of this beautiful house, made me feel so safe and at home in my little cottage around back. 

After a much needed hot bath and much not-needed mirror selfie, I headed to the bar at the Capital Hotel for a drink and dinner. It was a camera-free outing because I just honestly, didn’t feel like doing anything else than utilize basic motor functions. I had their famous pimento cheese with homemade soda crackers, fried black eyed peas, and a smoked ribeye while listening to a jazz band play me Fred Astaire music as I reveled in my dark corner table.

After I nearly lost my life (drama queen!) buying a six pack of Miller Lite (clarification: six pack with only five beers in it) at a liquor store that looked like a prison commissary counter, I drank two sips of beer and passed out, with red lipstick blaring. So much for partying down at the bed & breakfast. There is something though, that doesn’t quite match somewhere between shabby chic and beer–it just wasn’t meant to be. Those Miller Lites made it to two more states and never even were consumed, sigh, risking my life for nothing (drama queen…).

I woke up early and after a 30 minute struggle to make a decent pot of coffee (NOT a skill I possess), I set up to work on the blog a little and enjoy my breakfast on my patio. Susan had asked me if I preferred a hot breakfast or a continental breakfast in my little fridge and I requested the latter. It made me really happy to think about sharing that morning patio with some conversation, next time around. But enough dreaming, let me get to the part about fried chicken, President Clinton Avenue, and the little rock.

Down on President Clinton Avenue, I skipped (really) down to the first chicken destination of the trip–Gus’s. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken started in Memphis but has since spread to other parts of Tennessee, Texas, and Arkansas. Gus’s stresses that it is not fast food and they let you know that you should be prepared to wait and your patience will be rewarded.

The chicken was incredibly tender and juicy with the most amazing crunch. They say that Gus’s is different every time you try it since the spices are hand mixed with a pinch of this and a dash of that, causing each batch to be a little unique. It had enough cayenne to let you know it was there but it wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy. Supposedly, sometimes it’s so spicy it’ll bring tears–I am all about it. It truly, was perfection. I had a side of beans and slaw and threw in some mac and cheese. I didn’t end up finishing the mac and cheese and it for a brief few, was being transported in my purse, until it was later consumed somewhere in between Arkansas and Tennessee. I am still working on understanding the white bread thing–I never eat it, would rather just have more chicken. 

Before heading out to the next destination, I took a drizzled walk down to Riverfront Park, where you can see the lower part of the Arkansas River that runs through Little Rock. I didn’t know, or rather never thought to inquire, that there is a real little rock in Little Rock!

Okay, it is a not-so-little (all relative, I suppose) rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River that served as a navigational landmark by early river travelers. The formation was first noted and named by the French explorer, Bernard de la Harpe, in 1722. Put that in the part of your brain that hold Jeopardy answers and thank me later.

+ Rosemont Inn & Cottages
+ Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken Restaurant


Day 3, even though it was mostly just driving, held a lot of excitement for me because it marked the end of the known stops and the beginning of the unknown adventures. New Mexico to Oklahoma by way of Texas was the goal which was a good 500 miles. Driving sights finally started to change from desert and be what I really needed them to be. I needed nature, green, and farm animals. I definitely got my wish–for many (many) miles, once I entered Texas.

For those of you who have been following me on instagram, you have been made clearly aware that I have been eating copious amounts and a wide variety of meat on this trip. Prior to day 3, I hadn’t consumed animal products, aside from seafood and dairy for six years. I’ll take a quick moment to explain here, so that when you see a unreasonable amount of meat flow through the next few posts, you’ll have a little background on my intentions and mission.

I stopped eating meat right around when I started my current day job, back in the summer 2008. Last week marked exactly 6 years since I started my job and stopped eating meat. I didn’t have a grand life epiphany, I simply stopped on a whim. A friend of mine, who I was spending a lot of time with, was a vegetarian for moral reasons and truthfully I am unable to pinpoint the exact reason or deciding moment but I made an intention to attempt a meat-free diet for 30 days.

I felt so much lighter and healthier and believe that, at that time in my life, I needed to turn my diet around. Not that I was particularly overweight or out of shape but I definitely wasn’t focused on a pure and whole intake. I was so focused on meat-centric meal creation that I was ignoring the other half of the spectrum. I loved to eat and to cook but didn’t approach food with the view of exploration and adventure, that I try to now.

I always told myself, that since the reason I eliminated these things from my diet didn’t stem from morality or necessity, I would not prevent myself from reintroducing them if the time and moment at hand required it for any reason enough. And on this trip, the reason was more than present and enough. Someone once told me that food is the best (if not the only) reason to travel. And when I heard that, it reinforced my decision to eat my way through these cities and experience what each is known for. 

My trip through Amarillo broke the seal with some barbeque that resulted in a truly religious experience. The experience definitely deserves its own post and will earn just that, soon.

I arrived into Geary, Oklahoma at around dusk and was so enchanted by the open and seemingly endless space. I am such a city girl. This night was my first airbnb of the trip and the directions to my final destination were measured in miles only.  I quickly learned that I literally have no idea what it feels like to be one mile north of town or how to go west if west isn’t left. After multiple “Hey, I’m from California, sorry!”  phone calls, I found the schoolhouse. Run and operated by nearby winery owners and cattle farmers, Jennifer & Aaron, the renovated schoolhouse was so unique and beautiful. 

I definitely did not prove myself rugged like I had hoped. I definitely let the animal noises and loud country silence get to me but I will work on it before I have my perfect little country home (heehee). Geary was breathtaking and Jennifer and Aaron were the absolute perfect hosts. There is so much they are doing, just the two of them, to grow and nurture local Oklahoma products. I can’t wait to go back one day soon and tour their vineyards–apparently there is a dry red that I must try. I’m a true loather of sweet wine but I hear they have the market on dry wines in their area. Day 3 was a peaceful day full of just enough adventure and a little too much driving. 

Day 3 Summary //
500 miles, 3 states, 3 cities visited, 1 bbq induced near coma mid-drive, 1 new technique discovered to drive with my right leg completely straight

+ Scenic One Room Schoolhouse on airbnb
+ Base Vines and Cattle


As expected, days one and two didn’t embody feelings of freedom and independence. It was more filled with letting go of remaining work, personal conflict, and getting used to trying to will my behind to not fall asleep while I drive for hours.

The first stop and night in Phoenix was a bit of continued home, since I stayed with my sister, a place I go quite frequently. I woke up on Monday morning and finished off the last bit of day job work and officially turned off work e-mail. My phone crashed 5 times, when I attempted to turn off the work e-mail—ahh, sweet irony. 

Flagstaff was beautiful. It was quite a refreshing change from miles and miles of desert. And no, I won’t bore you with photo after photo of desert from out the window of my Prius. Truthfully, I was still holding onto a lot in my head as I went through Flagstaff. There is something so frustrating about trying to truly be within your break from what’s back home. And because this is how life works, the more you try to let it go, the more you think about it. 

I kept seeing these signs warning me of wildlife for the next some-number-of-miles. I was quite disappointed that I didn’t see anything. On a side note, I have seen a disturbingly wide variety of road kill in the past few days. We haven’t gotten to Texas yet but it hasn’t exactly been on my list to see 11 dead armadillos–ack!–but I digress.

Not to be rude and talk about road kill and then food but I must. I stopped at Diablo Burger, which had rave reviews. It is right in the heart of downtown Flagstaff (they also have a location in Tucson) and I was met with the kindest service. They boast of their veggie burger, dubbed “The Netsky”, that is produced locally by a catering company called Alternative Catering that is based in Flagstaff.

I got the veggie burger with sharp cheddar cheese, hatch chile mayo, and roasted green chiles. All burgers are served on branded english muffins, what a great idea–it held the burger together perfectly. Also, a brilliant marketing concept, if I do say so myself. The “frites” are thin and have a quality of a curly fry flavor (one of my favorites) and are doused with herbes de provence. Lettuce and tomato are served on the side with the ever perfect food, a dill pickle.

The rest of the road to Albuquerque really knocked it out of me. I hadn’t really strengthened my driving muscle yet. Not going to omit the fact that there were moments of slapping my own face and blasting the air. I also learned that when I stop for lunch and then still have to drive 300 miles, I will start to have an intense food coma within 30 minutes–much like a small child. 

As I got closer to Albuquerque, my nerd alter ego really set in. I had quite the obsession with geology in high school and the rock formations along this route are absolutely breathtaking. Sadly, and in keeping with my Breaking Bad fueled fears, when I stopped to take the photo below, five not-so-gentlemanly men in a not-worth-more-than-a-few-hundred-bucks car attempted to ruin my day and caused me to jump like a action hero back into my car and speed off. I probably just looked like a bumbling spaz but in my head, I looked like a Bond girl.

I spent the few hours left in the evening with a few members of my family that live in Albuquerque and getting as much sleep as I could. My mind was still so full of excess, that I couldn’t quite get the rest I needed despite the heavenly bed at the chain hotel where I stayed. I was excited to get onto the parts I had never seen and finally get a true feeling of freedom and that independence from the every day that I mentioned earlier.

This post actually will include a pinch of Day 3 because breakfast in Albuquerque was too good not to share. My Dad grew up in Albuquerque so I have been lucky enough to have a personal (and loving) relationship with hatch chiles, which is the defining taste in this city. The question of the area is without a doubt, “Red or Green?”. Hatch chiles in their young stages are green and quite hot (hotter than a jalapeño on the scoville scale) and they as they mature they become red and although still spicy, they have a deeper and richer flavor. 

Frontier Restaurant, right across from the University of New Mexico is a staple provider of chile-centric cuisine. The owners of this place have an affinity for art featuring John Wayne and they blend it with Southwestern decor. I mean, get out of town, can my house look like this?

I ordered Huevos Rancheros, christmas style (half green chile & half red chile) with eggs over medium. You all know of my obsession with eggs and there is nothing that isn’t perfect about this egg dish. I could eat this every morning and be a little round but really, REALLY happy.

Day 1 & 2 Summary //
900 miles, 3 states, 2 cities visited, 11 sparkling waters, 3 family members seen, 1 near road side attack, 0 kittens

+ Diablo Burger, 120 N Leroux St #112, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
+ Frontier Restaurant, 2400 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106