Back home again....


Sunday morning, the Fourth of July, I woke up about 4 AM to the sound of Godzilla. Donna woke up early and found a Japanese movie while surfing TV channels. I later found out Will got up in the night and played a game of pool at the all-night store across the street. I fell back asleep until 6 AM when everybody got up. I showered, and topped off Satori's tank while everyone got dressed. Then we had a quick continental breakfast and hit Interstate 40 at 7:15.
 
Dawn was hazy in the eastern sky. Tall pine trees stood at attention along the highway, while white daisys, black-eyed Susans and yellow buttons of oryoptis flowers decorated the shoulders. We crossed the Tennessee River just after 8 AM, just one of several rivers we crossed that morning. Just over the Big Sandy River, a highway patrolman's car sat hidden on the median, the only officer I saw all weekend that wasn't writing a ticket or working an accident. I sighed as we passed the turnoff for the Shilo Battlefield, which would've been nice to visit, but we didn't have time to stop. (Besides, the guys would've complained about visiting "one more battlefield.") About Mile Marker 42, a turkey buzzard flew across the highway, barely missing our windshield by a matter of feet. By 10 AM, we made it to Memphis. 

I needed a pit stop, and was surprised to see a sign for "Frayser," which turnes out to be a section of Memphis. I pulled over, but couldn't find anyplace suitable, so we got back on the Interstate. 

 
 
The Mississippi River
The road took us over the Mississippi River into Arkansas, where we stopped in West Memphis to top off Satori's tank. In Arkansas, Interstate 40 becomes the Veterans Memorial Highway. It was already a long morning, and the guys were still tired. At one point, everyone in the car except me was sound asleep. The landscape significantly flattened out west of Memphis, and stayed that way through miles of rice paddies until we topped a small ridge 25 miles in. The sky suddenly got busy with jumbles of clouds. Just before noon, we drove into a small storm-- hard, heavy raindrops hit the windshield, and the van was pushed back and forth by dramitic crosswinds. Donna asked if the van's lights were on, but I was well ahead of her on that. We pulled out from under the squall line after 10 minutes. From the rear-view mirror, it looked like the storm was going to rain itself out quickly. The storm didn't have enough rising hot air to organize it into a tornadic thunderstorm.
 
"I shot a van in Menphis..."
Arkansas Nuclear Power Plant Number One ("Nuke One" to the locals)
Lots of highway construction greeted us when we arrived in Little Rock about 12:40. The view overhead cleared after that, leaving only high cirris clouds against a powder blue sky. That was where Donna said I shouldn't write in my notebook when I drive. Down the road, the view got interesting as we entered the Ozark Mountains. There were some nice mountain vistas at Mile Markers 51 and 36. At 1:32, we passed Atkins, Arkansas, I saw a billboard for the Big Texan restaurant in Amarillo. About 20 minutes later, we passed within sight of the cooling tower of Arkansas Nuclear Power Plant #1 (affectionately known as Nuke One). At just before 3 PM, we stopped in Ft. Smith, having crossed Arkansas in just four and a half hours. We crossed the Oklahoma border minutes later, and soon crossed over the Webbers Falls bridge, the one that was hit by the barge and collapsed in 2002. We wondered if anyone had put up a memorial for the victims.
 
Just before 4 PM, we turned onto the Muskogee Turnpike, the last leg of our big journey. The turnpike makes people pay a toll going into Muskogee, and another toll as they leave, which I thought was kinda sneaky. Nevertheless, we happily rolled into Broken Arrow and parked in the driveway at 4:55 PM. We'd driven 1,358 miles from Duck to Broken Arrow in two days, and 3,572 miles in thirteen days. Donna ran out to the store and cooked up some terrific hamburgers outside on the grill. I went online and got caught up with everybody'sonline journal posts. I stayed up way later than I should have, writing and surfing the Internet. It was good to be back home again.
 
 
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