Thursday, May 1, 2014

Getting There: How far is too far? Road Trip Part 1

A view from a room at the inn-early mornin Montgomery Bell State Park

The annual spring break trip went off well if not for some lessons learned along the way.
Three things occurred to me on this trip, there is such a thing as too far, there can be too many plans in too little time and eventually a teenager emerges from your eager travel companion. It was a bit of a growing pain for both of us, I must admit.

So how far is too far? After two days of driving seven and half hours each day, I decided twenty hours round trip is the farthest to drive-this way if I you decide to make it in one day you can-the extra five hours makes it too long to make in one day for my preference, I’m sure other lovers of the road would probably disagree. We spent two days getting to the first area we were going to stay, granted we did go through some beautiful country and we did have lots of time to bond and take in the road.

In the Ouchita National Forest we got to see an Alligator farm, the Little Rock Zoo and some amazing lakes and forests, we missed the waterfall hikes I had planned because time was just not available. We had another four hours after we spent the day at the zoo and the alligator farm to get to Montgomery Bell State Park, I’m feeling fatigued and my son decides its time to put on his headphones and zone out-it’s going to be a long ride. Near Memphis we were trying to get to Charles Vergos' Rendezvous  barbecue but ended up getting in too late so next idea is Fried Chicken.

We have added food places to our list of places to explore and my son really picked well.
First food stop-Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. It was one of those places that a crowd starts at the door and everyone sitting seemed like they were confident they were in the best place for an amazing meal. The atmosphere is relaxed and extremely comfortable, elbow-to-elbow with locals and the people were just so friendly. I met people from Dallas as well as people from around Memphis-we were seated next to a group of guys celebrating a bachelor party who apologized in advance for the chaos that was surely to ensue. The company and the atmosphere was alive, excited and I haven’t even mentioned the food yet. It delivered just as expected. You can order a few pieces or a half chicken, simple menu and just amazing taste. The coating is light but so flavorful and well worth the indulgence. You can tell when you have been to an amazing place to eat because it becomes part of the story, you remember it and the atmosphere of the whole exploration becomes flavored with the food and the place you found.

It was a long ride with a full stomach to Montgomery Bell State Park and lots of good conversation. I asked them if there were woods around when I booked a room at the park and they said the place is surrounded by the woods and they weren’t lying. We saw our first herd of deer cross the road and after weaving through the heavily forested road we were ready for a good night sleep. We woke to a beautiful view from our window, a misty lake surrounded by forest, a place we both would love to explore again but now we had six hours to get to Nashville and than to Dale Hollow lake-it was going to be a long day of driving.

The next food place my son found was the Pancake Pantry near Nashville, when you arrive,  there is a line out the front door that continues to grow, you know you’ve found another place for locals and tourists that have found a food paradise. So how special can pancakes be? It’s flour, water, a griddle and than whatever you add to flavor it, I stand corrected. Again, elbow to elbow to college kids and people from all over the country that have made a pilgrimage back to where they once lived, one thing about a place like this, you stand in line and learn about people, you gather stories from all over the country and suddenly strangers for a moment become friends. I ordered the Carribean- an amazing mix of coconut, pecans and banana goodness-he ordered the blueberry pancakes and I have never tasted pancakes the same, the lightness and the perfection of the fruit was something we will be talking about for a long time.

On to Dale Hollow Lake,

The spillway at the lake at Montgomery Bell State Park

Artistgordon - Find me on