The Coronaball Run, Day 4: Little Rock to Fort Smith to Oklahoma City

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

This is the fourth installment of my series about driving cross-country during the coronavirus crisis. Click here for first post, here for the second post, and here for the third post.

On day four we left the south (*sniff*) for the dusty cow towns of the midwest.

The Clinton Presidential Center was a few blocks from our hotel so we had to drop by before shoving off. Too bad it was closed. I was hoping to ask the head librarian for all their information on Mena, Vince Foster, and the finer points of email server maintenance.

Why must these new prestige buildings always be modernist? The thing looks like a loading dock for the Death Star. The aesthetic choices made even less sense when you realize it’s located right next door to the far more charming Clinton School of Public Service.

Tired of cold supermarket food, we decided to get breakfast at Waffle House. We pulled into the parking lot and, as my brother spoke to the waitress on the phone, I watched her through the window as she took our order. We stood in the parking lot as our food was prepared but they let us in to pay.

Although I’m from California, I hate eating food in the car. But, given the circumstances, guess I shouldn’t complain.

We were only a couple of hours from Fort Smith, the location of one of my favorite novels, Charles Portis’s TRUE GRIT. Below is the courthouse where Mattie Ross would’ve hired Rooster Cogburn. It was closed, so we couldn’t see Judge Parker’s courtroom, but the Coens reproduced it pretty faithfully in their movie.

A reconstruction of the gallows below and how it was portrayed in the movie.

A few more shots from the Fort Smith National Historic Site, including the old commissary and train station.

On to Oklahoma City. We got back on the 40 and continued west. We passed Checotah, birthplace of one of the great country artists of our time. About 90 minutes outside OKC we saw a gas station that had regular at $1.23 a gallon, the cheapest we saw anywhere on the trip.

We got a hotel in the Bricktown neighborhood of OKC, an entertainment district that abuts downtwon. The Dodgers Triple-A team plays in the stadium next door. This shot was taken from the window by the elevator on our floor.

We took a walk around Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. There are statues of Jim Thorpe, Mickey Mantle, and Johnny Bench, all Oklahoma natives. I find it deeply offensive that there’s a statue of a Yankee at a Dodgers ballpark but it’s a crazy world, what can you do, people are insane. I bet Bob Costas visits the Mantle statue once a year to have a good cry. Click on the images to enlarge.

I bet Bricktown is a fun place when it isn’t completely abandoned.

The OKC Streetcar was running, so we decided to go for a ride downtown. See that sign kindly asking that riders use headphones? (The NYC subway could use a lot of those signs, not that anyone would pay attention.) We rode the streetcar twice, to downtown and back to Bricktown, but only saw one other rider.

Another downtown, another ghost town. It really was like being on a film set. A film set is only meant to give an impression of being real, the mere suggestion that life exists beyond the facade. What was doubly strange is that people were so assiduously following the rules, that you didn’t see the barest spark of life. No voices carrying, no TVs glowing through windows, no people in their yards, no nothing. Another funny thing was that, when we did observe people on the streets, they were always from one of three demographics: 1) runners, 2) people walking their dogs, 3) homeless. Richmond, Nashville, Little Rock, OKC, Santa Fe, Flagstaff — the same eerie stillness, the same demographics trickling around.

We came upon the Murrah Plaza, a brutalist monstrosity to compete the with the equally depressing complexes that I wrote about in Long Beach and Santa Ana.

And I found the OKC National Memorial to be as maudlin and schmaltzy as the WTC Memorial in New York. Admittedly, the golden hour sunset bathed the park in a soothing glow.

My hard-hearted architectural analysis started to make me hungry, so when we spotted a security guard at the memorial we asked him if he knew of any good restaurants that were open. He recommended Hideway Pizza, a few streets over in the Automobile Alley neighborhood. When I mentioned I was coming from New York he quickly tried to manage my expectations, “Well, I like it, but I don’t know how it’ll compare to New York pizza.” It’s OK, dude, calm down, we’re not pizza snobs. LOL, j/k, we’re absolutely pizza snobs. Anyway, the pizza was totally adequate and OK, I guess! (Stick to beef, OKC.)

In the next installment we drive from Oklahoma to Santa Fe with a stop in Amarillo for a disappointing steak at a famous restaurant. They probably didn’t use propane so we tasted the heat, not the meat.

Related

  • This documentary about the OKC bombing is full of crazy conspiracy theories so you shouldn’t watch it. Just move along to the latest episode of whatever Florida tiger shit they’re showing on Netflix nowadays.
  • I should be a lot more embarrassed by how much I love Carrie Underwood’s BLOWN AWAY. Like, the whole album. Wait, Kings of Leon have roots in Oklahoma? That first album was pretty good.
  • What’s the worst artistic movement of the 20th century and why is it brutalism? Discuss.

About Blowhard, Esq.

Amateur, dilettante, wannabe.
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6 Responses to The Coronaball Run, Day 4: Little Rock to Fort Smith to Oklahoma City

  1. Enjoying the post series. Living vicariously through your travels, and happy to see it’s still enjoyable to visit places even when mostly shut down, as per our global status quo these days.

    Have thought it’d be great to do a cross-U.S. trip someday; as a Canadian, I’ve visited the States many times, lived for almost a year once in upstate NY, been to many parts but never did a cross-country trip, unlike up here where I’ve done it a few times (though never from one end to the other in one go; I live in the middle, and Canada’s too big to do a round trip).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Coronaball Run, Day 5: Oklahoma City to Amarillo to Santa Fe | Uncouth Reflections

  3. Pingback: The Coronaball Run, Day 6: Santa Fe to Albuquerque to Flagstaff | Uncouth Reflections

  4. Pingback: The Coronaball Run, Day 7: Flagstaff to Los Angeles | Uncouth Reflections

  5. Pingback: The Coronaball Run | Will S.' Random Weirdness Blog

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