Into the Great Wide Open

The Ozark Mountains

21st June – 337 miles from Brinkley, Arkansas, to Springdale, Arkansas

Heading west from Brinkley we stopped in Russellville for lunch in a seafood fast food restaurant. It could best be described as a McDonalds but specialising in fish, and the closest we found to good old British fish and chips. Once again, our accents proved fascinating to the staff, and at one point the serving staff called out the cooks from the back to hear us speak. It felt a little strange being the main attraction in town.

After lunch we crossed the Ozark Mountains. The Ozarks are less well known and more remote than the Smoky Mountains, but still impressive. The weather was better, so we were able to enjoy views of forests stretching to the horizon.

We stopped for a trail down to a natural bridge that was an interesting contrast to those that we found further west in Utah, where there was no remaining evidence of the water that formed them. It was quite dark under the bridge, with bright sunlight coming through the trees, making for another shot that would have been much easier to take with the dynamic range of a modern digital camera.

Natural bridge in the Ozarks

Viewpoints were easy to find, and we stopped at one with a wooden tower that was solid enough although it had seen better days.

Leaving the park, we passed through Eureka Springs, a tourist town that seemed to be a popular wedding destination. Time was pressing, so we didn’t stop, and that night it took us a while to find somewhere to stay. We ended up in a cheap Econolodge in Springdale.

22nd June – 496 miles from Springdale, Arkansas, to Amarillo, Texas

Crossing the Texas state line. Photo by Spencer

The longest single drive of our trip took us across Oklahoma and into the Texas panhandle. There was little scenery to speak of, just the road going on endlessly across the plains. We were just under halfway through our trip and the long drive represented the cut off from the eastern leg of the trip to the west.

It was probably too much to do in one day, and although it was easy driving on the I40, it was sometimes hard not to lose focus. I can see why there are accidents on empty roads like that. When you’ve spent the best part of an hour driving on cruise control with very little to do, you can easily lose the situational awareness of other traffic that comes automatically on busier roads.

The road goes ever on. Photo by Spencer

We stopped for lunch at a Wendy’s just outside of Oklahoma City and ended up in Amarillo, where we had dinner in Ruby Tequila’s Mexican kitchen, just across from the Travelodge that we were staying in.

View from our motel, Amarillo

We were both a little irritable that evening. I was tired from the drive, and Spencer was probably a little stir crazy from hours in the passenger seat. After a short walk around town to stretch our legs, we crashed out, ready for another long drive the next day.

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