Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back In Texas

Whew, it has been a busy couple of days! Today we passed the 2,000 mile mark and returned to Texas where our journey began. Instead of Austin though, we are in Dallas tonight. To celebrate the end our our journey we had...

Sushi! Nice change of pace, huh? I'm a little worried that our bodies may go into shock so stand ready to alert the authorities if you don't here from us! Our dinner tonight was at Oishii a little place around the Highland Park area on Wycliff blvd. PD1 ordered a Spider roll and a Volcano roll, and I had sushi which PD1 shared a couple pieces of . All was quite good. The spider roll came with eel sauce, which I generally consider a foul substance, but was forced to admit that this version was lite and tasty. The volcano roll was a concoction of scallops, some sauce, rice and roe. The sauce was spicy and the scallops fresh. Quite tasty. The sushi itself was very good; Sweet shrimp, salmon, sea bass, tuna, flounder and yellow tail.

So what have we been up to the past 48 hours? Well on Monday we bid a happy fair well to Memphis, a tiding they are in desperate need of, and headed for Little Rock and the Clinton Library. I was quite surprised by Little Rock; a great, busy and (note to Memphis) reasonably clean town. The Clinton library, unlike the LBJ library, was an exercise in self written hagiography. No talk of impeachment, Monica, White Water, the convictions of friends and advisers or of the other negatives we remember of the Clinton years. LBJ by contrast was a much more balanced presentation of the administration where there was at least passing mention of the LBJ failures. The end result, I think, was that the LBJ library seemed like a more authentic experience, with a greater sense of historical heft. Clinton's effort just seemed to try a little hard. I mean really, did we need to spend several minutes of a 16 minute film showing various leaders of foreign countries talking about how much they respected Bill?

After Little Rock we drove to Tulsa and dined at Oklahoma Style Bar Be Que. Wonderful place, situated in a dilapidated strip mall on the outskirts of Tulsa. The smell of smoke pervaded the smallish restaurant, and the people seemed very happy to have us drop in. We dined on brisket and smoked bologna, a Oklahoma specialty, and found both to be good. The brisket, was to a bit dry, but still had a nice smoked flavor. No rub seemed to be used which was fine with us. The smoked bologna was a fun treat, and quite tasty, but when you're after fine BBQ, it seems like a bit of a distraction.

Next we drove to Oklahoma City and had our second dinner at Leo's BBQ. This is a great place. At Leo's we enjoyed Pork Ribs (country ribs), chopped brisket, hot links, and of course, smoked bologna. Again the brisket was a bit dry. As I enjoyed Leo's brisket, I found myself wondering if they use a slightly different cut in Oklahoma than in Texas since even the grain of the meat seemed a bit different. The pork ribs at Leo's were excellent. Unlike our Memphis experience, Leo's ribs maintained a certain toothsomeness that provided a superior taste, texture and overall experience than ribs that "fall off the bone". I also found Leo's hot links to be the best sausage of the trip, with great meat flavor, and a little spice to remind you that you're alive and well! Finally, Leo's meal came with a complimentary slice of strawberry cake. Wow! Light, sweet and oh so tasty it was the perfect finish to our meal.

I also would like to add a word about hospitality. Leo's, Leathas, and Oklahoma Style BBQ, establishments all run by black families were, by far, the friendliest places we went to. At Leatha's, Bonnie took great care of PD1 when she entered the restaurant by herself. At Oklahoma Style, we spent our time eating BBQ and watching "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" with another customer. At Leo's our waiter and I had a wonderful time discussing our deep admiration for the art of the Reverend Al Green ("It's a gift from God I tell you"). Hands down it was this hospitality that made leaving each place a little bittersweet. We will return if we every get back to their respective cities.

Also a word about Oklahoma City. Very Impressive. I have never seen a cleaner, more scenic little downtown than I did here. After our dinner at Leo's we went over to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial at the site of the former Murra building. A beautiful, understated place that captures the dignity of those lost lives. To this day, people that visit leave little mementos outside the park to commemorate their visit. I think this is a tribute to the power the memorial has on visitors. Outside there is a sign expressing hope that people will understand the devastation of violence and find ways to live in peace. I guess I failed that test, because I just felt happy that McVeigh is dead.

Tomorrow, we will visit SMU and go to the FC Dallas soccer game. More later!

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