Since our last post we have traveled East down Highway 40 with stops in Albuquerque, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, and our current location, Little Rock, Arkansas. Having visited these destinations (with the exception of Amarillo) on our previous road trip in 2015, we have found ourselves enjoying the familiarity of staying in previously booked hotels and their neighborhoods. Of course this is Wilma’s first trip anywhere, so the smells and sounds of far-away places can be pretty overwhelming. Her nose has been on overdrive the entire trip!
After a nice night at the Sheraton Uptown in Albuquerque, and a great brunch (Huevos Rancheros!) in Tucumcari at the Kix on 66,
we arrived in Amarillo, Texas, where we booked two nights so we could spend a day at nearby Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Unlike our “pet unfriendly” National Parks (technically pets are allowed, but only in the visitor center parking lots), most State Parks do allow leashed dogs on most trails, so off to the second largest canyon in the USA for a day of hiking. But first…..hiccup #2: BPPV.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. I was first diagnosed about 17 years ago when I woke up one morning to the room spinning out of control. It felt like being on a never-ending Tilt-a-Whirl ride. The mechanism of the disease is quite interesting but not worth a blog post, so suffice it to say, when active, certain positions of the head bring on the dizziness. This time tilting my head back and to the right gets the room spinning. Once re-positioned, the spinning stops, but it is followed by a long period of visual distortion (everything you see is moving a fraction of a second slower than normal). Since that first severe episode, my vertigo returns for brief periods maybe once a year. This case is fairly moderate (more annoying than nauseating), which means I can walk around, but it looks like I’ve had way too much to drink (Wilma is getting tired of me stepping on her paws!). We think this episode was brought on by watching the Warriors game on a iPhone. Anyway, hiking around a large deep canyon with compromised balance (and a dog with diarrhea), seemed like a poor idea, so Wilma and I took a nap and Robin got in some work.
But here’s the thing…..we scheduled an extra day in Amarillo so we could see the canyon. And after several days on the road with stays in Bakersfield and Needles (not that there’s anything wrong with that), we needed to see a natural wonder. It’s not like we could just see it on our next visit to Amarillo….so Robin took the driver’s seat, I loaded up on Advil and donned my darkest sun glasses, Wilma hopped in the car, and off we went. Our plan was to drive the rim of the canyon and enjoy the sights from the comfort of the Old Home.
It turns out that the canyon is more long and wide than deep, so the auto tour takes you down into the canyon, where we felt comfortable taking a couple short hikes:
Mission accomplished, we returned to our hotel, gave Wilma a much-needed bath, and treated ourselves to a nice Texas steak dinner at Macaroni Joe’s.
With Robin behind the wheel for our 5 hour drive to Oklahoma City, we safely arrived in one of our favorite destinations, the Aloft Bricktown. While we only spent two nights in OKC in 2015, we remember it fondly. From the very friendly hotel staff, to the vibrant Bricktown area (think mini San Antonio Riverwalk), and poignant OKC National Memorial, Oklahoma City has a lot to offer. This time we were enthusiastically greeted by the desk clerk who claimed to be a HUGE fan of Golden Retrievers. She noticed on the paperwork that we were bringing a dog, and when we drove by with Wilma hanging her head out the car window, the clerk came out to greet us. After getting her fill of puppy love from Wilma, we were given the “Celebrity Suite” (so Wilma would have room to roam) and a nice package of doggy treats and toys. Wow!
This two-level suite is huge and Wilma loved it! Plus there is a dog park next door to the hotel. Truly a much-needed and much appreciated perk!
We played at the dog park, walked around Bricktown, and had a nice dinner at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.
Sadly we only had one night booked at the Aloft…….on to Little Rock!
We try to break-up our drives into two hour segments so Wilma can get out, stretch, and have a drink. We also try to coordinate our stops with lunch. Finding somewhere interesting to stop has been a big part of our travel experience. So far we have dined in places such as Barstow (CA), Kingman (AZ), Gallup (NM), Tucumcari (NM), Elk City (OK), and Checotah (OK). Usually we get Subway sandwiches but occasionally we find a fun place such as the Boom-a-Rang Diner in Checotah (hometown of Carrie Underwood). We recommend the grilled chicken sandwiches if you ever find yourself in Checotah!
Little Rock, Arkansas, home to the Clinton Library, was also a 2015 destination, so we returned to the Residence Inn and went for a nice long walk along the Arkansas River and William J. Clinton Park.
We had a nice dinner at Dizzy’s (ironic) across the street from the hotel, and a great breakfast at Root’s Cafe, a favorite of the locals.
Fortunately my Vertigo is improving and hasn’t kept us from enjoying our trip. Wilma has been fantastic. She loves her car rides, tolerates the multitude of people who come to greet and pet her (Ohh…..that’s such a purty dawg), and behaves in hotel rooms and restaurants. We continue to meet all kinds of people as she is a true magnet for humans, AND she can take credit for at least one big room upgrade. We love traveling with her! Oh, and Robin is great…..putting up with the both of us as best she can!
Tomorrow we are off to Nashville.