Shake ‘Em Up, Shake ‘Em Up, Shake ‘Em Up, Shake ‘EM
I left you all wondering where did we stop on the way to Oklahoma City? Well, turns out Oklahoma is full of casinos! When we crossed the border, we stopped in Roland to enjoy some recreational gambling at the Cherokee Casino. This location is fairly new and doesn’t have the dank smell or feel of an older casino; as a matter of fact, I found the buffet cost effective and tasty. I’m not a big gambler so $20 was all I planned to spend, plus we had to get back on the road.
A few hours after our Cherokee Casino pit stop, we arrived at the Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Hotel which appeared fairly nice once we arrived but it is what I call a dressed up trashy hotel. Don’t get me wrong, the service was incredible from a highly attentive staff but as the saying goes, “the love is in the details.” The furniture throughout the hotel lobby and dining area was noticeably stained and we had to switch rooms because of a rusty, damaged bathtub we refused to shower in; a far cry from the luxurious accommodations of The Peabody. Oh well, it’s a road trip so let’s move on to the highlight of OKC.
Forget the Thunder, Oklahoma City boasts another local attraction that caught us both by surprise: Bricktown! This section of downtown is home to several restaurants, bars and even a water taxi that cuts through the area giving tourists an opportunity to see what the town has to offer. While the water feature is cute, the city could do a better job about keeping it clean and my sensitive nose could not handle the stench. Luckily these legs were made for walking…even in the 95 degree heat! We gambled on a local barbecue joint that was sub par and not worth mentioning. Yet despite our disappointment in the food, we really enjoyed the atmosphere and spirit of the town. If given the opportunity, I would go back to try a different hotel and restaurant.
The Big Texan
After a good night’s sleep and breakfast the following morning, we hopped on the road for the longest leg of our road trip. I knew our route would take us through Amarillo but I forgot about a culinary jewel awaiting our arrival known as The Big Texan! Our obsession with massive mounds of meat here in the United States astounds me and this place does not skimp on the portions. The smallest steak served is eight ounces, more beef than I consumed in the previous six months. My feeling was hey, I’m starving in the middle of cattle country so I might as well go for it!
I enjoyed an eight ounce filet, a baked sweet potato, green beans, Caesar salad, and a fresh roll. All of the vegetables were fresh and well seasoned without being too salty and the steak was super tender with great texture . Although people come here for the Texas size portions, many hope to see someone take on the 72 ounce challenge where if you finish a 72 ounce steak with all of the sides, your meal is free. No way would I attempt such a feat, but I did want to see someone else take on the challenge! We stuck around after we ate to check out the gift shop and see if a brave soul would try their luck. Unfortunately, no attempts were made and we decided to get back on the road.
First sign I was about to experience a meltdown was when we walked out of The Big Texan and a chip in my windshield turned into a full blown crack. DAMN!!!! Why didn’t I have the chip repaired while in Oklahoma City? At this moment, I began to question the whole road trip wishing I hopped on a plane and shipped my car instead of driving across country. Luckily my mom talked some sense in me and I decided to wait until we made it to California before having it replaced. Second sign, I realized I would drive eight hours in one day when the most I typically tolerated was six. The thought didn’t seem too bad at first…until I saw the mountain we needed to cut through to make it into Albuquerque. My mom not only hates driving in the mountains, she’s not a very good passenger on mountainous terrain either. I deemed it best to keep my mouth shut about where the road would lead us for her sanity and mine.
During this portion of our journey, I could feel my mom’s anxiety begin to heighten. I encouraged her to stay calm because her angst makes my fear boil over into panic which we must avoid to make it to our destination safely. It was also her bright idea not to locate a hotel but drive around until we found a place we liked. That was the final straw. Albuquerque was not the place to play around with highways up and over mountains, plus we were in the middle of rush hour traffic. I. Had. Enough. I exited off the highway fuming and pulled into a local gas station to search my travel app for a nearby inexpensive hotel. I located a newly renovated Fairfield Inn that happened to have an Applebee’s in the parking lot so we didn’t have to travel far for dinner. I was initially excited about visiting Albuquerque for the first time but after that drive, I couldn’t care less about seeing anything the city has to offer. Maybe I’ll return one day under different circumstances and when I do, it will be by plane!
Change of Plans
I recovered from our grueling drive into Albuquerque ready to make our next stop in Flagstaff; however, after we reviewed how short the distance would be I decided to press forward into a different city closer to the California border. Being on the road in the mountains, in the heat, changing elevations every hour took a toll on my mental state and only by the grace of God could I make it to our final destination. I found myself wondering, “How many more hours would we have to drive through mountains? Will my mom finally be willing and able to assist? How much more of this can I take?” I reveal the answers along with my final thoughts in part three of this series.