On the Solomon McCown & Company Facebook page, we've started a feature called 5 for Friday. Every week, one member of our staff presents a list of anything that strikes his or her fancy—a fun way to start off the weekend. This week, SM& Account Supervisor Marisa Connolly shares her five favorite spots or moments from her cross-country drive:
- The Santa Barbara Harbor: My first stop on the way to Boston from San Francisco. Right on the Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Barbara has a reputation for being an oasis in a state that is arguably made up of oases. But Santa Barbara earns the rep, with its harbor filled with sailboat masts and quaint palm tree-lined streets. My favorite part? Taking a ride on Lil’ Toot, the tiny commuter tugboat with a smiley face that connects the Santa Barbara Harbor with the shops and restaurants on Stearns Wharf. And yes, that’s really what the locals call him.
- Sunset (and anytime, really) at Grand Canyon: It sounds clichéd, I know, but the Grand Canyon literally takes your breath away. We watched the sunset over the canyon from the South Rim, and admired how the colors change from oranges and yellows to blues and violets. The next morning we descended a short way into the canyon, following a line of tourists on burros. Even the ranger whose job it was to, ahem, “clean up” after the burros took a moment for himself to look and contemplate the incredible work of nature before him, proving that every job does have its perks!
- Eating at The Big Texan: A landmark along iconic Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas – its giant cowboy with an enormous hat can be seen from the highway – we just had to stop in despite the 10 p.m. hour to get a taste of some Texas country fried steak. The place is covered head-to-toe in cowhide and antlers. But the best part was witnessing one short-sighted patron failing miserably at the 72-ounce steak challenge. His charge? Eat the entire steak, plus a baked potato, a salad, bread, and shrimp cocktail in under an hour.
- Blues on Beale Street: Memphis is a small city that’s bursting with personality, and while Beale Street is a little less New Orleans and a little more Vegas than you might be expecting, it’s still pretty cool to grab a Tennessee bourbon and listen to some homegrown blues. Because despite its looks, Beale Street is still cranking out local talent every night, at dive bars like Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall. It’s also cranking out some really tasty barbecue. Three words for you: Pulled. Pork. Nachos.
- “Pray for Boston” in Upstate New York: My sojourn across the country coincided with my hometown’s most devastating event – the Boston Marathon bombings. We got wind of the terror while driving through Arkansas into Tennessee, and we were glued to both national and local radio. To say it put a damper on the rest of our trip would be an understatement. But while filling up our tank in New York just before the Connecticut line, we saw a small, handwritten sign outside of a small community florist – “Pray for Boston.” It was the right sentiment to solidify for us — after driving nearly 3,000 miles — that this country is connected by so much more than just rivers, bridges and state lines.