The plan, as it had been verbalized, was to "be back home by dinner time on Saturday, or at least by bed time". The plan also included a number of restaurants that I had found on Roadfood.com
. After being picked up at DFW by the dealership, and a brief approval test drive, we were done with paperwork and on our way very quickly. After a couple of missed turns due to construction on the George Bush Tollway, we were headed north out of Dallas.
A note about the tollways in Texas, you can't pay them.. It's all done via transponders or they bill the holder of the license plate. Apparently they don't bother billing temp tag holders, we were told to just not worry about it.
Just before arriving at our first stop, I notice that the hill holder
doesn't seem to be doing much. It was only a slight grade so I wasn't totally sure. "maybe it's just loose."
First stop (lunch): Clark's Outpost
, Tioga, Texas. It's a hole in the wall place, in the middle of pretty much nowhere, but the brisket and sausage is pretty tasty. They have a brick from the original South Fork Ranch, in a glass case, in the entry way. As we were paying the bill, the owner stopped by to greet us, he looked at our glasses, and said, "here, let me put those in to-go cups for you, it's getting mighty hot out there!" ... 2 quarts of heavy-on-the-syrup Sierra Mist later...
There's not much signage, on our route, when you cross into Oklahoma, the pavement changes, and there's a casino. Oh, and no 93 octane gas. There is Red Bull, though, and that'll get us through to supper.
Next stop (Supper): Clanton's Cafe
, Vinita, OK. First, let me say the tollway in Oklahoma has an interesting pay system: get on, pay a toll, get a ticket, stop at a toll booth along the way, and pay a little more, $4, unless you have the ticket from the last toll booth and then it's $2. When we get off the tollway at Vinita, we turn in our ticket and get $1.75 back. Anyway, Clanton's Cafe. It's a little, bustling place, clearly popular with the locals, famous for their country fried steak and the "chicken and dressing" dinners. We had one of each, and agreed that both were worthy of fame. The chocolate pie was good too, with a crust that favored the "flaky" end of the "tender but flaky" spectrum. (If you are a Good Eats fan, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
We jumped back on the highway, giving back our $1.75 toll, and headed for Joplin. I'm a ham radio operator, and a trained storm spotter, so Joplin has a little extra meaning. So far we've had 3G signal almost continuously, so it was pretty easy to find a place for the night. We ended up staying at the Drury Hotel
, and I would stay there again! I'm glad we stopped in Joplin, and had the opportunity to see the tornado damage from last year, and more importantly the rebuilding that is happening. (I'll link in some photos later)
We're about 250 miles down the road, and, as this is my first turbo car, I'm still not getting the 1-2 shift as smooth as I'd like, but we're settled into the car, and it is treating us well. At some point along the way, we've noticed that the back seat, flip-out cup holder is broken
. Not the end of the world, but needs fixed.
It's only a little more than two hours up to Kansas City, but with spending a little time in Joplin, it's going to be lunch time! With nothing really solid planned for lunch in KC, we reached out to our foodie friends, who directed us to Oden's Family BBQ
in Belton, MO. We didn't go wrong! Super friendly service, great BBQ. Get whatever you want, but make sure you get some of the "burnt ends". Supposedly they are the ends and pieces from the brisket, but what they certainly are is super tender, and super tasty! Top off the tank, still only 91 octane, and my wife takes the wheel. Somehow we've timed it so she has to deal with traffic getting out of Kansas City, and again as we get into Des Moines, IA. We wanted ice cream, but we had already figure out that we were going to be to late for Bauder Pharmacy
, so we opted for Dairy Zone
, instead. It's a little neighborhood place, with nice creamy soft serve. Though, now looking through yelp.com, I want to try "Classic Frozen Custard"
It's at this point that I have my first "turbo moment", I'm trying to turn left out on to main street, and traffic isn't giving me too many opportunities, so I pick my hole, and without giving it too much thought, boot it. Everything goes right, and I get a perfect launch, except that I'm quickly remind of how much more get-up-and-go the XT has versus my XS! I'm left with a serious grin on my face, my wife, now back in the co-driver's seat, says nothing.
From just south of Ames until nearly Mason City, we're in the edge of a storm front with significant winds, and a temperature falling nearly 20 degrees in the course of an hour of driving. At one the hood flexes enough in the crosswinds that I though that it had unlatched. A quick stop proves it is still latched, and no damage was done. From there on it was smooth sailing past the wind farms of Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota. After a quick stop to pick up my wife's car at friend's house, it is indeed, just in time for a quick dinner. Since we had managed to avoid the fast food all weekend, a few Chilitos from Zantigo's fit the bill.
And so we wrapped up our whirl-wind road trip, bringing home the XT with just a little more than a thousand more miles on the clock, and not so much as the slightest complaint the whole way.
Next Up: The baseline.