The Druss Road Trip Day 3 – Clarksdale, MS to Fort Worth, TX

On this day, we headed into Clarksdale for breakfast hoping against hope that our options wouldn’t be limited to Mickey D’s and Subway.  Mercifully, we discovered Yazoo Pass, a café boasting the tagline ‘Always Fresh, Always Friendly!’  They should include ‘Always Tasty’ in there because it was easily all 3 of those things.  In a town that looks a bit old on the surface, this place was a burst of clean, bright niceness.

We were greeted with smiles and dynamite food.  I had the YP omelet with green onions, bacon and cheddar plus biscuits.  The omelet was super fluffy, the fillings were very fresh with a nice bite from the onions.  The biscuits were clearly homemade and glorious.  You, reader, should go there for breakfast right now.

After this meal of deliciousness, we checked out of our lodging of radness and hit the road for the Dallas area.  For lunch, we decided Cracker Barrel was a must, at least once during the trip. Roughly, they have a billboard every 3-6 feet from NJ to CA so it’s hard to ignore.  Dave had an odd looking salad with 2 giant triangles of yellow ‘cheese’ on the side.  He dared me to eat them, I dared him to touch them with bare hands.  In the end, they stayed right there on the edge of the platter, solid and unmoving.  My turkey sandwich had the calories required to suppress my hunger monster annnnnd that was about all.

On the topic of Cracker Barrel, does anyone know the process behind their interior decorations?  It looks like the items were ransacked from a flea market in rural Kansas, circa 1852.  But upon closer examination, there are barcodes on every single item.  We wondered, can you buy this crap?  Or are the barcodes there from when they produce the items by the truck load, at a factory in China?  Though it appears to be totally random, we theorized that if left to their own devices, each Cracker Barrel would have a seriously bizarre mix of doodads on their walls.  I mean, what would the directive be for this sort of thing?  “To maintain the CB brand, please decorate your establishment with lots of random shit that looks sort of old and American-y.”  We decided the mass produced China route with specific guidelines was more likely.

The main stop for this leg was Gas Monkey Garage, made famous by the TV show ‘Fast ‘N Loud’ on Discovery.  If you haven’t seen it and have a passing interest in cars, check it out.  The 2 main dudes are pretty awesome, regularly souping up cars and blowing donuts in their parking lot.  I’m a big fan and though the main shop was closed for filming, we did get a glimpse of Bearded Wonder Aaron Kaufman, the master mechanic.  I bought a shirt, the super friendly girl running the swag room did some cheerleader moves and we generally had a great little visit.

From there, we did a quick jump to the historic stockyards of Fort Worth.  Dave discovered this section of the city and it turned out to be pretty cool.  It’s where all the cattle were bought and sold way back when.  Today, it’s got all the history you can stand plus lots of great bars and restaurants.  We had dinner at H3 Ranch which is known for steaks and barstools made out of horse saddles.  We decided that sitting on a big goofy saddle for 2 hours wasn’t happening and instead grabbed a booth with 3 stuffed buffalo heads observing us from the wall above.  The local Buffalo Butt brew was served in a glorious schooner and was really good.  We both had top shelf steaks and I ordered the homemade peach cobbler to go.  What I didn’t count on was them filling the to go container to the point of overflowing with the peachy goodness.  Even I, known for possessing a hollow dessert leg, could not put down this 5 pound pile of goo.  We DID however sleep quite well.

The Druss Road Trip Day 2 – St. Louis to Clarksdale, MS

This was Dave’s 8th or so and my first official day on the road.  We departed St. Louis at Noon with a destination of small town Mississippi in mind.  Our original plan was to visit Memphis but after too many reviews – both online and over the phone  – that spoke of poor experiences and no desire to revisit, we decided against it.  Dave’s buddy Rui threw out the tremendous recommendation of Clarksdale, MS.

This town is considered to be a significant site in the history of blues music, according to Wikipedia and actual humans.   Take this old tale of a local blues legend for instance: (it’s just too cool not to quote completely:

According to legend, as a young man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi, Robert Johnson was branded with a burning desire to become a great blues musician. He was “instructed” to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the Devil) who took the guitar and tuned it. The “Devil” played a few songs and then returned the guitar to Johnson, giving him mastery of the instrument. This was in effect, a deal with the Devil mirroring the legend of Faust. In exchange for his soul, Robert Johnson was able to create the blues for which he became famous.

Though debated, some claim that the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49 in downtown Clarksdale is where this deal with the Devil took place.  Pretty wild.  Not to be outdone by the music scene was the place we stayed, Shack Up Inn.  This truly rad location is located on an old plantation a few miles out of town.  Along with original buildings like the cotton gin, we got to stay in one of the old sharecropper shacks.  Updated only slightly to make it livable, these shacks were killer with tons of cool artifacts and memorabilia floating around.  And if that wasn’t enough, these folks have a hilarious sense of humor as evidenced by these excerpts from their website FAQ section:

  • Wireless internet – Yes
  • Brochures – Hell no
  • Room service – Call the Peabody in Memphis
  • Phone & fax service – Call a Comfort Inn anywhere
  • Sheet thread count – NO KIDDING FOLKS, SOME CRAZY LADY ASKED THIS QUESTION…call the Alluvian in Greenwood, they really have the good ones
  • Wake up call – Yea right, automatic one minute after check out time, it consists of a chain saw right outside your bedroom window at 11:01 AM
  • Beer – We got all you can stand

After checking in and remarking 352 times about how sick the setup was, we headed for town and an old blues club known as Red’s Lounge.  I’d give you a hyperlink to check it out but they don’t have a website.  They also don’t have beer on tap, windows or conformity.  What they DO have is rockin’ live music, Budweiser bombers in a cooler and some old leather recliners to lounge and get fuzzy in the haze of cigarette smoke.

And the man himself, Red, was there swearing up a storm and watching the Olympics on the tube.  Along with a handful of what appeared to be regulars, we spent about 2 hours in easily the most authentic, non-tourist-trap, anachronism of a bar I’ve ever visited.  Super cool to be there, definitely worth a visit if you’re down that way.

That night, we nervously joked about how our rooms looked like horror movie sets in the pictures we’d taken.  We then made it clear that should one of us hear strange noises in the night, it was this person’s responsibility to do SOMETHING.  You see, these shacks, rad as they are can bring out any Boogie Man fears you may have thought gone.  At 5 am, I helped Dave realize these fears by trying to quietly close the bathroom door.  What happened was me standing over him (the door was close to his bed) in the dark while scraping the door NOT quietly.  You can imagine the results.