Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Arkansas or Bust!

Our trip down South was a great success. Emiko handled the car ride like a champ. My family did not drive me crazy. I got to eat some fantastic fried food. So here, for your entertainment, is a rundown of our trip to Springdale, Arkansas, the Poultry Capital of the World!!! This is pretty long, so if you just want the funny moments, check out my other post on the trip. It's much shorter.

We left Friday afternoon to drive to St. Louis for the first leg of our trip. It took us TWO HOURS to get out of Chicagoland. Which is just crazy. I did get to see the cicadas, however. Turns out they are not mythical. They are real and they are annoying.

Once we got to STL, we went straight to Ted Drewes, for world famous frozen custard. But we couldn't go straight there, because according to www.teddrewes.com, you take the Jamieson exit to get to the place. There is no Jamieson exit. Which we should know by now, because the same thing happened last time we drove down to AR and wanted Ted Drewes. We are not fast learners.

But we got there and it was awesome, and then on our way to our hotel we passed an Imo's Pizza, so we picked that up for dinner. Mmmm. Cracker crust, Provel cheese. And an order of toasted ravioli, of course. What a great start to our trip!

We got up early Saturday morning and made our way to Arkansas. We didn't find any breakfast places on our way out of town, so we stopped in Sullivan, MO, at the Flying J Travel Plaza. My sister and I love the Flying J. They have all that you need. It was at the Flying J that I saw the spectacle pictured at the top of this entry. Apparently in Missouri, even chihuahuas can drive big rigs. I had no idea.

We got to Springdale around 3, and went to my dad's drugstore to introduce him to Emiko. He was, of course, very excited. Then my sister threw a party for us, and I saw a bunch of people I haven't seen in years. That was so fun.

Sunday was Father's Day, and my yankee husband got to meet lots of my family. My Aunt Carol, Uncle Warren, cousin Jeff and his wife Sherry and their son Andy, and cousin Kent all made the drive up from North Little Rock. My brother Patrick and his wife Heather were there with their kids, and my sister Heather (it's confusing having two Heathers in the family) was there with her two little boys.

We were on the deck eating brisket sandwiches, which were really good, but the brisket came from Sam's Club. My stepmother buys all her food from Sam's. I hate Walmart, so this annoys me. Plus my dad has a smoker that he used to use all the time. But now they just feed us Sam's Club delicacies.

Anyway, my dad got a Kegerator for his birthday, so the beer was flowing freely. He offered Todd and me a beer at 10:00 am, but we thought we'd at least wait til noon. During lunch, my Uncle Warren challenged my dad to drink more, and a discussion was held about who could drink more amongst the men on the deck. I'm not sure who won. But it made me laugh -- no one ever has such contests at Todd's parents' house!

Several times during the afternoon, my relatives would ask if Emiko was sleeping through the night, and when I'd say not quite, they would suggest ways to encourage her to do so. Everyone said to give her rice cereal. My brother (whom I adore, but he is a big ol redneck) suggested that calves get up because they are hungry. I reminded him that Emiko was not a calf, but a human baby. He said -- give her rice cereal. Cousin Jeff said the same thing.

Then my sister told me that she was discussing her kids' sleep habits (or lack thereof) with Pat's wife, and she mentioned that she not only gave her babies rice cereal from day one, but she never used baby formula. She fed her babies whole unpasteurized cow's milk mixed with Karo syrup. I have no idea why she did that. But hell, her babies slept through the night from day one. It's a wonder they woke up.

Monday we hung out with my sister, and had some fabulous Arkansas barbecue at Penguin Ed's. The ribs are huge and meaty and so smoky. Ummm. And that night for dinner we ate at AQ Chicken House, which has the best fried chicken anywhere. I had fried chicken over the coals, fried catfish, hushpuppies, sweet potato casserole, fried okra. Oh, and Pickle-Os -- deep fried dill pickles. I was so stuffed -- I really wanted to eat more chicken, but just ran out of room. I hate that!

I did not get to eat any cheese dip, nor did we make it to Chik-fil-A. We did eat Sonic on our way out of town. So that was something.

On our way back to Chicago, we stayed the night in Collinsville, IL, just up from St. Louis. We had dinner at the Cracker Barrel there with my friend Travis' parents -- Sue and Ed. They are such a sweet couple and I knew they wanted to meet Emiko. It was great seeing them, but after eating such great food in AR, Cracker Barrel was a pale imitation. But we weren't there for the food.

We got home around 3:00 pm the next day. I was really glad to get home. But we had a great time and I'm ready to go back.

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