So my friend Glen merits two visits just for being himself. Oh, and their downtown is really cool too.

For dinner, Glen suggested that eat at The Jones Assembly. I remember him driving past it on my previous tour. The restaurant doubles as a concert venue. The place was packed and didn’t have any tables available. Luckily for us, there were 2 spaces available at the bar. Glen got a charcuterie plate that looked amazing. I got a simple grilled chicken salad since I had eaten nothing but junk food on the long drive from ABQ.

Speaking of that long drive, I decided to treat myself with a nice hotel for the evening. Hotel Tonight led me to the downtown Sheraton. My room was perched on a high floor with a view of some even taller buildings. There was a peek-a-boo view of the Skirvin (I couldn’t quite justify staying there, though it was tempting). I am always in observation mode and checking into the hotel was interesting. Several men were wearing cowboy hats & boots but otherwise dressed up in khakis and jackets. The lobby TV was tuned to Fox News. That’s not something that I have seen before. Usually, it’s some innocuous channel.

I enjoyed walking around downtown the next morning. The temperature was about 30 degrees and the wind was brutal. I guess that the wind was sweepin’ down the plain! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I kept a brisk pace so that I could try to keep warm.

My first destination was a 100% GF restaurant a few blocks from the hotel. Nourished Food Bar is tucked in a hallway in the back of an office building. First timers like me would need to search it out, but the locals clearly know about it. When I arrived at noon, a steady stream of delivery services presented to pick up orders for downtown workers. I chose to eat in their space, which is small. There are only 5 barstools along a narrow counter facing the prep area. I chose a cup of potato soup and a smashed chickpea sandwich with house-made GF bread. This was clean eating at its best!

The architecture of downtown OKC has great texture. I noticed similarities to Winston-Salem, except that it’s way bigger. There are Art Deco buildings next to glass & steel towers. And there are tons of public art pieces. It’s obvious that the city itself is prospering. Had it not been so cold, I would have stayed longer and explored more. This city is on the list for a return visit.

My next day consisted of a short drive to Little Rock. I wanted to visit the Clinton Library on my way out west. Unfortunately, Trump’s government shutdown meant that the library was closed. And despite the reopening of the government, they were not allowing visitors. I know how tough it is catching up on emails when you take a few days off. I’m sure it’s was a Herculean task to catch up after the longest US government shutdown.

One of the first things I noticed when I drove into the valley was the glowing state Capitol dome. It looks very similar to the gold-domed statehouse in my hometown, Charleston, WV. The difference here is that theirs glows white. Fun fact, Cass Gilbert designed the WV state Capitol building and he was selected to finish the building in Little Rock after the political infighting forced the original architect off the job.

My hotel for the night was….adequate. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t up to the same standard that I had set for myself. On the plus side, it was near a Target and I needed to buy some gloves to help fight against the bitter cold.

Those gloves came in very handy the next day. The wind chill factor was 23 degrees. I walked around as much as I could in the morning which wasn’t much. It was super cold walking across a pedestrian bridge….but walking out over the river was sure to provide a good photo. Notable things in downtown Little Rock: food hall & street cars.

For an early lunch, I returned to two places that I enjoyed on the original trip. I got an Americano from Mylo Coffee & I got 5 different types of pastries from Rosalia’s Family Bakery. My favorite snack was a jalapeno & cheese roll. Although it was a short drive to Memphis, no pastry morsel was left when I arrived.

In Memphis, I found a truly unique and popular coffee shop in East Midtown. I planned to rest up, blog a bit, and to caffeinate. Otherlands Coffee Bar has a collected look. Each table and chair was different and their mugs were all different. It gave the place a funky vibe. The place was full of regulars. I was lucky to find a table off to the side. And I got to overhear the best conversation between 2 co-workers about terrible date experiences. It was amusing…for me at least. Becky wasn’t having it!

A few short hours later I found myself in downtown Nashville. It was still bitter cold so no walking around for me. Instead, I drove loops around the gulch & tall building neighborhoods. I found another fun place to stay in Hotel Preston. It was decorated in high style and a bunch of original art. They bill themselves as a “delightfully uncommon” hotel. They definitely fit the bill in my book. They had a fun menu of room service items, including pillow choices and their furniture had a mid-century vibe.

I checked in very close to the end of my feeding time (remember I intermittent fast from noon-8pm). The quickest place to eat happened to be at the biggest tourist trap of all, Opry Mills. Mission BBQ is a chain place that does pretty good food for a GF on a time constraint

When I rose in the morning it was bittersweet as it would be the last driving day of my trip. On to Winston-Salem the following day!

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