We recently moved from Texas back to near where I grew up in New England. As part of the move, Mrs. SSO and I decided to drive the Maserati Granturismo Cabrio and the McLaren 650S Spider respectively the 1,800 miles northeast. This would be the first time Mrs. SSO and I had done a road trip driving in tandem. As long-distance driving is not one of Mrs. SSO’s favorite things to do, the agreed criteria for the trip was we would keep the driving each day to around 500 miles and our nights’ lodgings had to be karenable.
Day 1: Dallas to Memphis
With 450 miles ahead of us on the first day, we left Dallas at 7AM to get ahead of rush hour traffic. Our path out of the city took us down and around the south of the city center and through a series of highway interchanges that I can only guess where designed to permanently trap and confuse any attacking foreign army. Thanks to a pair of long-range walkie talkies we were able to stay in contact and navigate our way successfully through the labyrinth. It took about an hour to finally break free of Dallas traffic. At this point it was a straight shot up I 30 to the Arkansas border. With radar detectors in each car, we set the cruise control to a responsible speed for the conditions. The road from Dallas to the Arkansas border is about as interesting as flat and featureless get. Fortunately, the 180 miles disappeared fairly quickly, and we made our first petrol stop right after crossing into Arkansas.
After our double stack pit stop with really bad coffee, it was back on the road again. We still had 270 miles to run to get to our hotel in Memphis. After a bit of negotiating via walkie talkie, we agreed to run for another 120 miles and then stop for lunch on the near side of Little Rock. About 10 minutes into our second stint, the heavens opened up and a fairly steady rain started to fall. Both the McLaren 650S Spider and Maserati Granturismo Cabrio are so planted on the road that this had no effect on our forward progress. Once into Arkansas I also noticed that the radar detectors fell mostly silent and the number of alerts decreased dramatically, to the extent that I actually turned it off and then back on just to make sure it was still working properly. This was a welcome change from the plethora of speed traps in Texas. Mrs. SSO kept pace nicely and every so often would be zooming past in a not so subtle “go faster” nudge.
Lunch was at a family owned Pizza Restaurant just south of Little Rock. Only thing memorable about it was Mrs. SSO got introduced to her first all you can eat Pizza buffet. Eatable is how I would characterize the experience, but it was fun to watch a number of the other patrons go out and take pictures of themselves with the two cars. Lunch was followed by another quick petrol stop before getting back on the highway for the final 150 miles to Memphis. In Little Rock we finally left I30 and joined I40 for the final push to our nights lodging. I did have a small bit of excitement on the ring road around Little Rock when a police cruiser pulled in right behind me a sat there for few minutes before pulling up alongside and giving me a big thumbs up. I think he might have signaled that I could take off but given that being in Arkansas in a McLaren isn’t quite the same as being in Italy in a Ferrari, I politely declined.
The rest of journey was uneventful as the rain had stopped well before our lunch stop. The scenery in Arkansas was a bit more interesting than Northeast Texas and the majority of the other drivers were also moving along at a pretty good pace. By midafternoon we were on the Hernando de Soto bridge crossing the Mississippi into Memphis, Tennessee. Our hotel, The River Inn of Harbor Town (River Inn), was right on Mud Island, which is almost directly under the bridge, on the eastern side. A couple of quick turns after exiting the highway dropped us right in front of the hotel. Before leaving the cars for the day, I checked all the fluid levels and tire pressures. All were spot on. Net net, both the Maserati Granturismo Cabrio and McLaren 650S Spider had turned in 450 flawless miles. A very helpful porter was on hand to help us unload both cars. Check in was quick, painless, and we were pampered with wine, water and cookies. In fact, the service at the River Inn was flawless throughout our brief stay.
The River Inn turned out to be a great find. I had picked it off a list on the Amex travel site as it looked highly karenable. Our room was a good size with several bottles of complimentary chilled water, cookies, and excellent fresh coffee. We had a lovely view over the Mississippi which also allowed plenty of natural light into the room. As it was still relatively early, we went for a walk around the Harbor Town area before heading back to the Hotel for a drink at the bar and an early dinner. Dinner was at Tugs, the most casual of the several restaurants in the hotel. While neither one of us can remember what our main courses were, the Gumbo I had as a starter was outstanding. After dinner we went for another walk around the block to digest before heading off to bed early as we had planned an early start again for the next day.
…….to be continued……with plenty of drama on day 2
Details on The River Inn of Harbor Town:
50 Harbor Town Square
Memphis, TN 38103
Karenable rating: 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾
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