Pre-highway road trip highlights

giant things
real-life film locations
car trouble
new mexico
The exterior of Hotel Zazz, a mid-century-style motel in Albuquerque. There are two stories, with a white facade, turquoise doors, and bold-colored artificial flowers decorating the railing.

I’d like take the time while I’ve got wifi to write a bit about the trip between Little Rock and San Francisco. Before the adventures, there were adventures. I got the chance to revisit a couple sights and to check out new ones.

me sitting at a table in a restaurant, with a cocktail in front of me

Most of the photos I took in Little Rock were of food! I spent most of my time at the HighEdWeb annual conference. This was my first time speaking at an in-person conference! My talk went over pattern libraries and style guides, and how we set one up at Georgetown for our websites. I was absolutely terrified but once I got going and saw that people were not just paying attention but also taking notes, I felt much better! I know I have room to grow and getting those feedback notes will be so helpful for the future.

All the other sessions I attended were pretty great, and I’ve got pages and pages in my notebook with all kinds of interesting things! Eventually I’ll type up all those notes and set up some time at work to share new knowledge, and also play around with some of the front-end-y things I learned.

Breakfast and lunch were slim pickings. Since dinner was on our own every night, I put a call out to other vegans at the conference, and that Monday night we went to Camp Taco where we shared guacamole, hot potatoes, and vegan queso. That Tuesday I attended a pizza party hosted by where I had a delightful cocktail called Smoking Kills, made of lapsang souchong tea syrup, apple cider, and lemon.

a very tall large soda bottle lit up against the dark sky; there are rainbow-colored rings starting at the bottom and leading all the way to the top, where there is a giant straw

I didn’t see much of Little Rock aside from the conference center, although I did meet some nice puppers!

Each day’s drive from Little Rock to San Francisco took way longer than expected. First night after the conference was Elk City OK, a bit west of Oklahoma City. Until I got to OKC, I’d only stopped at the welcome center. But I was able to grab dinner at Pop’s! I had a veggie burger (of course, that’s the only vegan option) with a peach root beer, then I selected some bottles for a make-your-own six-pack — one for each color of the rainbow.

The large ringed lights that make up the iconic bottle identifying Pop’s change color over time, and the whole thing is more impressive that photos on the internet made it out to be. I knew I wanted to see this for myself because, well, roadside kitch, and this is all that and more.

I passed through the Texas panhandle after leaving Oklahoma, and very excitedly visited the historic Conoco Tower in Shamrock. I’d been there once before on a road trip to Las Vegas just over ten years ago. This time, I had a much better phone camera, and an actual camera that my wife lent me.

Also in Texas, in the south when leaving Amarillo, is Ozymandias, an art installation by the awesomely named Lightnin’ McDuff. I used the camera’s zoom to get closer to the sculpture, since the area is fenced off and I didn’t want to be caught tresspassing.

a sculpture of a pair of legs, the right leg shorter than the other, both only from the knee down, brightly painted with graffiti

I didn’t stay very long since I wanted to make it to Albuquerque and have dinner with friends! They moved away from the DMV earlier this year, and I hadn’t seen them since before the pandemic. It was really good to have dinner with friends. There was a yarn shop practically around the corner from my motel, and it so happened to be while my knitting group at work always meets, so I zoom-ed into the meeting and showed them around the place and told tales of the road so far.

I had coffee in Gallup NM and a soda in Winslow AZ — yes, I did stand on the corner.

Warning lights came on in the rental car, and with it being a Saturday, the closest open location to Williams AZ was Bakersfield CA, which luckily was my next planned sleep. I was awfully stressed, and when I ran into road closures that prevented me from seeing the guardian lions, I nearly cried. I needed a break, and treated myself to an ice cream cone at EddieWorld, a ridiculous place with a food court, restrooms, souvenirs, and aisles and aisles of candy. Still made it to the Bakersfield airport before the rental counter closed!

I’d originally planned to hit the Winchester Mystery House on my way to San Francisco, but I was fairly confident I would miss the last ticket time, so I detoured instead to Santa Cruz and spent a few hours on the boardwalk. It was the perfect way to end the first leg of the journey.