Anyway, a lot has happened since I posted last. I am all settled in on the island and applying for jobs. I've been informed that my marriage is over for real, so that's settled. Being settled, even on something unpleasant, is still marginally better than being unsure. I am moving on mentally even if physical movement is not happening because it would require a job. I am positively addicted to yoga. Seriously, it's amazing. I love it even when I suck at it or fall down or realize that headstands are scary and give me flashbacks to unpleasant and unsuccessful movement classes... Someday, I will do a damn headstand... Just not, like, tomorrow or even this week probably.
So, yeah, I figured I should keep telling the exciting story of my mom and I crossing the country. When last we left off, the pair were in Tennessee. Now onto:
The border between Tennessee and Arkansas is determined by the Mississippi River. I was excited to see the Mississippi, since it's freaking huge. Honestly, it was muddy and not all that exciting once you got past it being big. Still, I can say I crossed it now. Unfortunately, I crossed it right into Arkansas, the nation's trailer park. I never expected Arkansas to be gorgeous. In fact, I expected a trailer park feel, but I didn't expect it to be sudden. The Tennessee side of the river was a beautiful forest of bright green heading into Fall's red and brown. The Arkansas side was flat, brown, dusty, and seemed to mandate that people kept non-functional machinery in front of their double-wides. The only thing these states had in common was deep and all consuming love of XXX Adult Superstores. Needless to say, we drove through Arkansas as quickly as possible.
The Texas border was a welcome sight. Northwest Texas is much prettier than I expected and certainly prettier than Arkansas. We decided to stay in Mount Pleasant, TX that night, which is about an hour from the border. As we drove, I saw a sign saying we'd entered Titus County. As most of you know, I costumed a production of Titus Andronicus that my friend Brett directed last Spring. Therefore, I had to text him about the awesomeness of my location. He responded that I needed to eat pie there. If you don't know the significance of pie in Titus Andronicus, here's a facebook style summary courtesy of the American Shakespeare Center and the Wikipedia entry for the play. I really wanted to eat pie in Titus county, but I was on the road and figured that a pie stop was probably a bad idea.
However, I was in luck and super happy to find out that Mount Pleasant was located in Titus county. I would eat pie in Titus county, dammit! But first, mom and I would find a liquor store and a decent restaurant, in that order. We have priorities. We ditched our bags and got in the car to quest for booze. The town wasn't huge, but it sprawled. Things in Texas are one story and large, assumedly because land is cheap. We drove near the highway exit, we found the downtown, but we found no liquor stores. None. I kept my eyes open, scanning the storefronts. Still nothing. Suddenly, I saw it. Not a liquor store, but the best building in all of Titus County: the Titus County Justice Center. OMFG. Brilliant. My mind filled with visions of rows of little rooms with hand guillotines, industrial ovens, and grates in the floor... Yeah, if you know the plot of the play, that's funny. If not, I'm sorry. Read the wikipedia synopsis.
I got stupid excited about the building as we kept driving and knew that, when I got pie, I was eating it in front of the justice center and there would be pictures. Luckily, my mom is as crazy as I am and thought this was a great idea... You know, after booze and food. We gave up on the liquor store quest a few minutes later and stopped at a Mexican restaurant. Get used to reading "stopped at a Mexican restaurant." My mom and I pretty much took a tour of Mexican food from this point of the trip on, eating it in Northeast Texas, West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California... regional differences in Mexican food practically deserve their own post.
Anyway, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant, ordered sangria margaritas, and the waitress asked if we had Texas drivers licenses. It turns out that we couldn't find a liquor store because Titus county is dry. Not completely dry, since you can order booze at a restaurant, but you can't buy any to take home. However, if you're not from Texas, you have to fill out a special form to drink in the dry counties. The card you get for filling out the form became my mom's new favorite thing. It's like a business card sized permission slip for drinking. She immediately put it in her wallet, where I think it still is after two months. Neither of us had any idea that Texas had dry counties. Texas of all states... random. We found it incredibly entertaining, and the waitress was clearly amused by the novelty of us being "not from around here."
After dinner, we were off to find pie. There was an IHOP next to the hotel... No pie. Ok, let's find a diner. No diners. Let's go downtown. Nothing. We drove and drove looking for pie. Quickly, we became very silly and our jokes got lamer and lamer. After giving up on Mount Pleasant's pie, we set out on a country road, looking for pie elsewhere. That road had no pie but many cows. We began to realize that a cow, while not pie, would make a great souvenir. One farm even had a sign stating that their cows were for sale. Here's a paraphrased and condensed version of our cow conversation:
Wait, it won't fit in the car... I wonder how fast that cow can run.
Well, let's just tell the farmer that we're very interested in his cows, but only the ones that can run at 70 mph while tethered to a car.
Come on, Bessie! Faster! California's still a long jog away!
Once we composed ourselves, we realized we were coming up on a gas station that claimed to also have food. Maybe, they'd have pie. I went inside, looked around, and found this:
Ordinarily, I call these things an abomination unto real pie, but I was desperate. 50 cents later, I owned this bad boy and was ready for the Justice Center. We took the country roads back without getting lost and found our destination with surprisingly little confusion. I handed my mom my cell phone, taught her how to take pictures with it, and took a giant bite of pie.
It was awful. Like cardboard filled with old jelly and maraschino cherries and lightly glazed with sugary paste. Still, I had eaten pie in Titus County. My quest was complete!!! I swallowed the bite with difficulty, got back in the car, and drove to a trashcan. I tossed the pie, missed the can and watched it hit the ground... and not break. It didn't even chip. I got out, threw it away properly, and vowed to never eat gas station "pie" again. Still, I was triumphant! I was awesome! We could finally go back to the hotel and sleep.
Come back for Day 3 and 4: The long drive across Texas to Midland and going to a County Fair in Oil Country.