Traffic between Little Rock and Memphis is surprisingly heavy. The enormous volume of 18-wheelers flowing down I-40 made impossible the achievement of my usual level of road-trip nirvana.
Were it not for the fact that we had planned a one-day round trip, I would have found an alternate route, avoiding the interstate. As it happened, road-side signs alerting us to road construction delays ahead and advising alternate routes caused us to decide on a short detour on our way to Memphis yesterday. A few miles outside Little Rock, we opted to head south on Highway 13 to avoid whatever delays there might be on I-40. We passed signs for Nick’s BBQ and Catfish Restaurant, making note of the place for a possible visit sometime in the r. Highway 13 took us to US 70, which parallels I-40 all the way to West Memphis; had we known, we might have stayed on US 70. However, we opted to head north on Highway 11 shortly after passing through Hazen, AR.
We skirted around the south side of Memphis onto I-55, then to I-240, and finally on Highway 385 to Hacks Cross Road, where we found Costco. We decided not to go in right away, because we wanted lunch and our planned purchases included frozen foods that would not take kindly to being left in a hot car while we dined. Nearby, we found Huey’s Southwind, a burger place in a strip center. The moment we entered, it reeked of chain restaurant, but we stayed, anyway. The menu, laminated in heavy plastic, was full of color and whimsy and followed a “let’s have fun for the whole family” formula. All of this notwithstanding, my burger (a “World Famous Huey Burger,” AKA a plain old hamburger) was decent and cooked the way I ordered, rare. The addition of vast quantities of jalapeños helped, of course. My favorite wife ordered a “Madison Avenue Burger,” served on a buttered sourdough bun with grilled mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and bacon. She offered to let me taste it, but the blood on my hands from my rare burger might not have gone well with the buttery sourdough, so I declined. She liked her burger.
Our Costco spending spree yielded a nice batch of things to fill our freezer, refrigerator, and cupboards, including:
- two pounds of sea scallops
- a two-pound salmon filet
- several pounds of very lean ground chuck
- a massive jar of capers
- two large tins of roasted peanuts
- a jar of roasted red peppers
- a bag of frozen pot stickers
From Costco, we crossed the street to Kroger, where I bought bags of ice to surround the frozen foods in the ice chest, and headed back toward home.
As we neared Hot Springs Village, I suggested we stop at Kara’s Packing Company, a roadside spot we pass regularly as we wander down Highway 5 but, until yesterday, had never visited. The signs advertising sausage attracted me to the place. Inside, we met Winona (known as “Miss Kitty”) Kara, the owner who took over the shop from her father. The store is one large room, with several large chest freezers on two sides, a wall of shelves filled with jars of canned goods on one side and, on the side opposite the entry door, the counter. Behind the counter is the kitchen.
The variety of frozen sausages and tamales available in the store is astonishing. If I had the space and the money, I would have bought samples of everything, but faced reality and left with just a couple of links of hot Italian sausage and some pickled okra and pickled baby green tomatoes. But we ordered food to go; for me a Polish sausage on a bun and for my wife “California” tamales with shredded pork (Miss Kitty said her Texas tamales have ground pork…I’ve never had ground pork tamales in Texas). The Polish was outstanding. The tamales might have been excellent, but they were dressed with what tasted like canned chile and the sort of cheese one might find on nachos purchased at the ballpark. The disappointing tamales notwithstanding, I will go back…over and over again…until I have satisfied my craving for sausages of all varieties.
We put 412 miles on the car yesterday. We did not “need” to go to Costco. But I felt an “urge” to hit the road. Yesterday satisfied my urge, if only temporarily. And I got roadfood…once at Huey’s, once at Costco, and once at Kara’s. A good time was had by all.