Day 4 – Conway, Arkansas to Amarillo, Texas We gassed up at $1.99/gallon (wow!) and were on the road before the sun was up. We were somewhat sad to leave Conway knowing that we'd miss the local Toad Suck Daze festival, but we really had to move on. We'd spent some time in Arkansas before. In fact, it was the last of my “50 by 50” states back in 1999. Last time we passed through we enjoyed a stop at the Fort Smith National Historic Site, but this time, we whizzed through at 80 mph.
We were bound for Amarillo, Texas, but as we approached Oklahoma City, I asked the guys to consider a stop at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, memorializing the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
We stopped for a brief visit. It was an emotionally-charged, sobering hour … sad, terrifying, disturbing, heart-wrenching. The memorial site is located where the Murrah building once stood, its charred walls still partially intact. We gazed upon the Field of Empty Chairs … one for each of the 168 people lost in the blast. Etched on each chair is the name of a person lost in the blast. The chairs are arranged in nine rows, each row signifying the floor in the Murrah Building on which the person died.
We walked back to our parked car asking ourselves how someone (Timothy McVeigh) could have planned and perpetrated such a violent attack. He had beefs with the government, but why take it out on innocent people? We had no answers. The ride back to the highway was quiet and somber, but we all agreed the visit was important, if only to concretize the inhumanity of man to man right in our own backyard.
US40 between Oklahoma City and Amarillo is long and flat. We sped on across the flat, grassy plains at 80 mph. Wind farms and grain silos dot the prairie in great numbers, churning out power for the Sooner state.
We crossed into Texas and arrived in Amarillo, tired and road weary. Paul is a retired truck driver and was quite familiar with this route. He veered off the highway so I could get a quick photo of the Leaning tower of Britten. Love that Roadside Americana stuff!
He suggested dinner at The Big Texan. On request, they even sent a limo (of sorts) to pick us up at the hotel.The Big Texan is a touristy steak factory. David and Paul ordered 8oz sirloins. As a non-red meat eater, I found it hard to find anything suitable on the menu. The options were quite limited and most non-beef options were breaded and deep-fried. I finally settled on a grilled chicken sandwich (lose the bread) and a side salad. No complaints though. It was an enjoyable evening, watching the men devour their juicy red meat.
The Big Texan challenge is to eat a 72 oz steak with all the fixin's in one hour. If you eat it, it's free. If you don't, but are willing to eat it in front of the entire restaurant population, it costs $72. If you order it at your table, it's $200. The all-time record is a 120-lb woman, Molly Schuyler, who devoured not one, but two in 15 minutes. Why, pray tell, would anyone want to do this?
After dinner, we waddled through the Big Texan gift shop and took a look at the live diamond-back rattler they had on display. Paul practiced his sharp-shooting on zombies and then we collapsed in the Edith Ann big rocking chair for a rest. Big meals require adequate rest and digestion.
We moseyed on out to the front porch and a limo was waiting to deposit us back at our hotel. Enough excitement for one day. We're on the home stretch of the road trip. Las Vegas, here we come!