Our two-day drive from New Braunfels, Texas to Cincinnati, Ohio was long, but smooth and uneventful. We left around 8:30 a.m. on Friday. I got to drive past Christina’s house in San Marcos, and spotted her white van in the driveway as we passed by. In Austin, I waved goodbye to my alma mater and Darrel K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. Hook em’ horns always! Our first stop on day one was a surprise. There is a Buc-ee’s, the size of the New Braunfels location, if not larger, right outside of Temple! It looked pretty new, and was considerably larger than the one in Luling. It felt funny and sad, of course, being in there, looking at all the Texas items, and knowing we were moving out of the state we had both called home for 33 years. After the quick bathroom break in the very clean Buc-ee’s, we drove on through Waco and passed Michael’s alma mater. The new Baylor Bears stadium is impressive! McLane Stadium is situated on the north side of I-35, right alongside the Brazos River. Since Mommy sent us on our way with some delicious (and nutritious) homemade pumpkin pecan breakfast cookies and hot coffee, we were able to enjoy breakfast in our cars on the road and didn’t stop for lunch until later.
We reached Dallas via 35 E a little after 12 o’clock, and I spotted the Cotton Bowl, home of the Red River Rivalry. The drive up I-35 provided us with several tributes to Big XII football. The Texas State Ferris Wheel loomed in the distance as we drove past the impressive downtown Dallas. We decided to stop for lunch after navigating past the downtown traffic. I recommended Whataburger; Michael loves it, and, sadly, they do not have Whataburger restaurants in Ohio. They are abundant in the southern part of the United States, from Arizona to Florida, but if you go north of that line, you’ll have to get your fast food burger fix elsewhere.
We got back on the highway after lunch and took I-30 E to Texarkana. Once we were out of Dallas, the drive through the northeast part of Texas was all new territory for me. Sprawling cattle and horse ranches popped up along the highway. Driving all the way up from the central part of the state allowed me to appreciate just how big the wonderful state of Texas is. It felt like it took a really long time to reach the Arkansas border. I usually try to avoid stopping at truck stops, but this trip has taught me that they can be quite handy, clean, and quick. A stop at the Pilot Truck Stop just past Texarkana did wonders for our energy levels at this point on the Day One drive. Inside this Pilot, I found a tank of coffee with a label that not only said “bold” but also boasted “extra caffeine!” Naturally, I grabbed the tallest insulated styrofoam cup they offered and filled it up. This coffee station also had whole milk in a pump dispenser. What a treat for me! Usually, coffee stations only have liquid creamer (with questionable expiration dates), half and half, or powder, so I was super excited to be able to fix my brew just how I like it. The dogs got a chance to stretch their legs and take care of their business here too. We were all happy to walk around for a little while and enjoy the pleasant 60 degrees weather. That coffee was just what I needed to stay alert as we continued all the way east across the entire state of Arkansas towards Memphis, Tennessee.
The trees seemed to immediately become taller and more abundant upon entering Arkansas. The entire highway was lined on either side with a woody scene of beautiful native pines. We drove all the way through Arkansas via I-40 E and didn’t stop until we reached our La Quinta in Memphis around 8:00 p.m. Michael had found and reserved our room there, and we were very happy with this pet-friendly hotel. We spotted other couples and families unloading dogs and kennels in the parking lot when we arrived. It’s actually kind of difficult to find a good hotel that will allow 3 dogs without restrictions or fees! Our room was right by a side door on the first floor, and this made unloading and loading our luggage, kennels, and four-legged companions very easy. All the dogs were excited and frisky when we let them run around the room, but they settled down after eating their dinner. After the dogs were settled in, we drove across the state line into Mississippi for some tasty Italian fast food at a Fazoli’s. Sitting down to warm pasta and unlimited breadsticks was a relaxing way to end a long day of driving. Day One totaled 696 miles! We went back into Tennessee after dinner and had a goodnight’s sleep before beginning Day Two.