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September 26th, 2010 by

As we drove across the U.S., covering darn near every inch of Interstate 40 from California to North Carolina, we entertained ourselves (when we weren’t talking to the cats) in whatever ways were available.  Sometimes all it took was looking out the windshield and paying attention to the signs passing us by.  If you’ve ever undertaken a ginormous road trip, and driven for long hours at a stretch day after day, you’ll understand why some of these made us buck and snort (see a reference below to a small town in Tennessee famous for its wildly muscled, heavily gyrating professional athletes).  Kevin threatened to undertake the challenge of dining at the first place bulleted below, which is apparently famous for offering a huge meal for free if you can eat it all in an hour and a half.  As it turned out, he wasn’t hungry when we drove by.

These are listed in no particular order, other than grouping them by what seem like common topics.

  • 72ounce steak—FREE FREE FREE (in my delirium, I thought it said FLEE FLEE FLEE).  Warning: clicking on the link to this fine dining establishment will produce musical accompaniment your boss or cubicle-mate may not enjoy.
  • Clean restrooms!  Large clean restrooms!  (we looked at each other and wondered aloud about the lack of any other selling point for a place to stop)

For spiritual inspiration:

  • check out the Texas Catholic Superstore (interesting that the link to the site does not have a .org suffix; making a profit off Jesus?)

..and remember that

  • Jesus Christ is not a swear word (we saw this, in big letters, on the side of a truck)

and when you’re hungry, don’t forget to

  • Come get a Heavenly Burger!  (on the sign for a bible store/Baptist restaurant)The Roadkill Cafe, Seligman, AZ

…of course, if one were not inclined toward God’s food, one could also eat at the Road Kill Café in New Mexico

In the mood to buy?  For sale, we saw:

  • Quilts 9 – 5, RVs Welcome (on the side of a barn)
  • and a few choice lots in Hawg Lake, just call the realtor
  • Perhaps our favorite sign combo,  toward the end of our trip, just before entering Tennessee:  in big bold letters, Guns! right next to Bootlegger’s Discount Liquor and Wine; the two always go great together

Welcome to our state!  Now behave:

In Oklahoma, the welcome sign read:  home of Roger Miller, King of the Road (does anybody still remember that song?)

Then, entering Arkansas:

  • A Warm Welcome to Arkansas, the Natural State

closely followed by

  • Speed Limit Laws Strictly Enforced, No Tolerance.

In other words, we’re glad to see ya, now slow the f**k down (we saw a lot of tolerant drivers in the Natural State).

Some enticing parks and their scenic sites:

  • Pig Trail Scenic Byway (we are, emphatically, not making these up; I include links here for the skeptical) in the Ozark National Forest
  • Toad Suck Park, in AR
  • Mouse Tail Landing outside Memphis in a Tennessee state park.  According to the TN state parks’ website, the name comes from mice turning tail when a tannery burned on the site during the Civil War.
  • Frozen Head State Park outside Knoxville; named, perchance, for a cryogenics experiment gone awry?  No, it has more to do with a natural formation than something unnatural.

A Town Name that made us laugh out loud:

Bucksnort TN (perhaps named before there was a written language so as to describe it phonetically).  Wikipedia tells us Bucksnort is the home of two or three professional wrestlers, including Dirty White Boy and Bunkhouse Buck.

learning as we go (or read)

January 23rd, 2010 by

The process doesn’t always bring out the best in us. Kevin believes that research, research, research is the key to not getting ripped off or taken advantage of; his rationale is that knowing as much as possible about architect’s working ways, what builders do, how realtors work and what the laws are concerning real estate and construction will keep us safe from predatory designers, builders, realtors and lawyers.

That translates into a pile of books that collapses onto the table, and multiplies into several piles—in the bathrooms, where important reading is always done; in the bedroom; in the living room and the TV room, in his office, in my office; on the floor; against the walls…we will be able, after all this, to start a library of need-to-know building books.

My own style in this situation is as it is in most situations. I learn by listening, watching, asking questions. For me, we’re hiring experts to take care of this information for us, so learning all the things they should know is redundant and time-wasting. Of course, if I’m honest, the things Kevin knows I do absorb just from hearing him talk (even when I wish he would talk about something else or not talk at all). But he worries that I won’t know enough, and wants me to read “What Your Contractor Can’t Tell You” and all the how-to-design-your-own-home tomes he’s acquiring.

Interesting, really, that this process is pointing up our differences. It’s probably inevitable. His exactness, his need to know as much as he can about whatever the subject is we’ll be discussing with someone, never stood in as great contrast to my organic learn-while-we-do style as it does now. Of course, we seem to be learning just as quickly with our different methods, and all of this points out that smarts comes in different packages.

So we’re flying home, as I write this in my middle Southwest seat, or back to the home we’ve known for the past several years, with a path started down the direction of home buildership. Our architects are working on our feasibility study, Linda is looking for land (and checking out the land we found on this trip), Chuck is now our lawyer and we have new friends in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill modernist community.

Two of whom live in the first house our architects built, with an art collection that includes an apparently scandalous painting in their dining area (by a very well-known painter) featuring frontal male nudity. I mean, come on; everyone who’s seeming scandalized by it is married, so the women know what a naked man’s penis looks like and I sure hope the men do.

The other couple we’ve befriended live in Greenville, two hours east of Durham, and they own the most recent home designed and built by our design/build firm. No scandalous artwork, at least not that we saw.