Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Headin' out of Harriman.

So, we had spend most of the week, from Monday night to Friday morning in Harriman, and it was time to start the return trip, heading west. Denise and I met Judy and Mushy for one last feed that Friday morning. We'd made plans the night before to meet them at the Cracker Barrel near the hotel we were stayin' at. We were late, of course, and found Mushy waitin' for us, sittin' out front in a rockin' chair, while Judy perused the stuff inside.

We got in there pretty quick and ordered our food, which has become much easier for me to do on this trip... Not that it's ever HARD. I've just eaten at these places now enough to know what I like and what to order.

We don't have a Cracker Barrel nearby in Killeen (though they're about to open one), so I never get the chance to go unless I'm on one of these vacations. But we'd eaten at one of these about every other day on this trip, so I'd become very familiar with the menu.

Mushy, apparently, knows what to order too. Damn... Is all I'm sayin'. But then, he knows all the good stuff. That's one of the reasons why I run with him.

Denise was shamin' all of us by havin' just coffee, toast and jam. She likes to tell people that she hasn't eaten so much in her life before she started hangin' out with me. She also says "she'd rather clothe me than feed me". Aw hell, I'm just a growin' boy, is all.

My breakfast of choice lately has been eggs over medium on sourdough toast with the nice hole cut in the toast and the egg cooked on it. I always order milk, which some folks think is funny. Hell I love it. Thing is, it's always bizarre to me that when they bring it out to you they give you a chilled glass, like you ordered beer, and then you have to mess with two little milk cartons, just like the ones they gave you in grade school. Why the hell can't they just pour you a glass of friggin'milk?

Along with the eggs and toast you get thick cut bacon and a daub of hash brown casserole. I'm not a huge fan of that stuff. I guess I'd rather have the good old fried taters, without the cheese, but I eat it anyway. I also love how they give you the holes they cut out of the toast and some jam, like another couple of slices of toast might break the bank.

It's all good though. I ain't complainin'. That's a happy face. Well, a sleepy face, but a happy face.

After finishin' the great feed we went outside to say our goodbyes. I gave Judy a hug and then as she and Denise said their goodbyes I made out like I was gonna pick Mushy up again and shake him. He laughed and protested. He always does, but this time I relented. In stead I just gave him a long bear hug and then we parted ways.

Anyway, Denise and I got back in her car and set off towards Memphis. I did a little wimperin' along the way, but not as much as last year. It's always an emotional departure for me, feelin' for these folks the way I do, but we'll be back there next year. We'll get to do all this fun stuff again, and then all new fun stuff, and then we'll do it all again the next year. They ain't gettin' rid of me. We be kinfolks and all.

Denise and I zipped up onto I-40 and headed west. Along the way Denise picked up some little shopping gazette and started to work out the crossword puzzle. Drove me friggin' nuts, askin' me questions about words I didn't know. It sucks to be illiterate. truthfully though, it was fun and killed a hell of a lot of time.

We made a few stops, including one at a candy and chocolate outlet store we found along the way. The place was selling nice sized boxes of chocolate confections at 8 or ten for the price of one! Denise decided to get a bunch of stuff. She wanted to be able to hand out souvenirs to the twenty someodd folks that work under her over at the main campus. And yes, I did get to sample some of the goods.

By the time we got to the outskirts of Memphis the sky opened up and it started pissing down rain. Our good luck with the weather had finally run out. Not only that but there was some sort of traffic snarl, a wreck of some sort on I-40, so traffic goin' west into town was slowed to a crawl. At one point , near enough to the exit for Graceland to take a chance, I decided to get off the highway. We'd head south and then west and try to get back on the highway on the other side of the snarl.

It turned out that by taking this detour we accidentally found the cheapest gas of the trip. I had to take a picture. Pretty sad when this seems like cheap gas, but those are the times we live in. Funny, but I think I found the cheapest gas of last years trip in Memphis too. Then it was $2.43 a gallon, or something like that.

Anyway, the rain never let up the whole time we spent in Memphis. By the time we got to Graceland it had evolved into a steady, warm shower, like the warm summer rains we all used to run around in back when we were kids.

Mom still likes to tell people about standing in the house in England and watching me through the window, walking home from the bus stop, stomping every puddle between the school bus and our house. I'd get home, change out my wet shoes and clothes for dry stuff and go right back out to get wet again.

As we walked around the circus that is Graceland (Elvis impersonators giving a concert in the parking lot across the street, above) I found myself shifting from being annoyed with the rain to being warm and happy to stomp around, reconnecting with that childhood fun. I got soaked to the bone, but I found that I didn't really give a shit. I had my cowboy hat on, keeping the rain off my glasses, and I was keeping most of the rain off the camera, so I was good to go. Denise had an umbrella, and she's English, so she's got to be used to this shit anyway!

Denise and I paid our fee for the tour, donned our head gear, earphones and recorded tour info and got in line for the bus. We were quickly led onto a short bus and were driven about 100 yards across the street and up the drive to the front gate of the house. That's where our little group started the tour.

It's an interesting place, full of interesting stuff. Kind of trapped in a time warp of the 70s. If you want to see more pictures of all the gear, click over to FlickR and scroll through them. I'll describe the place in the next post. Gotta go back to work. Cheers.


Chuck said...

Good thing y'all didn't get mugged there in the neighborhood around Graceland. In all the times I've been in Memphis I've never gone. I need to one of these days. Did you eat at Rendezvous?

Mushy said...

Damn, hadn't seen that photo before...I'm nicer looking than I thought!

Really enjoyed your Graceland shots on Flickr too!

And yes, you are kin!

Can't wait for next year to roll around.

Suldog said...

I'm a milk drinker, too. The looks we get sometimes! I always ask, when ordering my drink, if it's a large glass, or is it a carton? Some places give you the right amount - enough to actually wash down a meal - but others give you the cartons, as you noted in this story. If cartons, I need at least two.

And, man! Mushy's flapjacks look friggin' awesome! I also liked the photograph of his pancakes... ;-)

10% said...

I worked at the Cracker Barrel in Round Rock while in college. It's been awhile, but I seem to recall we were supposed to pour the milk into the glass for you. I wonder if they changed the policy, or if your server was lazy.

I still prefer the Uncle Herschel's breakfast. Two eggs over easy (or up if I'm feeling ornery), served over a chopped steak. Man, that makes me hungry just thinking about it.