The much shorter 450-mile journey to Dallas first took us back over the Mississippi River into Arkansas via the I-55 and then onto the I-40 toward Little Rock and much needed lunch. The Arkansas capital proved far more pleasant than I had ever expected and good eating was had at Mike Selig's Vermillion next to the river walk. After lunch, we were commandeered by another German television crew, this time they wanted to use our Q7 as a background for an interview with Gunter Schiele, one of two TDI development engineers on the trip. After they finished interviewing Schiele, they turned their attention to my driving partner Jennifer, who unexpectedly ended up on the business end of a camera yet again. Yours truly, happy to say, escaped unharmed.
After Little Rock and a detour to a local Wal-Mart for some necessities, the journey to Dallas is uneventful, though the scenery in western Arkansas transforms from cotton-filled flatlands to slightly hilly terrain with mixed forests on either side, offering much better scenery. In Texas, however, the flatlands return, though the cotton fields do not. In their place are strip malls and large parking lots filled with unsold pickup trucks. It is truly a sign of the times when dealers are having problems moving pickups in the truck capital of the country.
Two more encounters with civilians today. The first at an Arkansas rest stop with an older gentleman who is apparently an ALMS fan since, during our conversation about the TDI and its fuel economy, he brings up the mighty Audi R10. The second is at our scheduled gas station stop just outside downtown Dallas. While our car is being filled, a diesel aficionado in an early '80s Mercedes-Benz 240D pulls in to fuel his car. Based on his reaction, seeing the Q7 has made his day.
Day Two's mileage should be better than that of Day One. There are no city detours, we go at a slower pace due to an advance warning about a substantial Arkansas State Trooper presence on the state's freeways, and less maneuvering is needed due to thinner traffic. Tomorrow we head for Amarillo, Texas, where we're apparently scheduled to attend a rodeo. Beyond catching the occasional tail end of a bull riding event on Versus before a hockey game comes on, my experience with rodeos is nil. It should be interesting. At around 360 miles long, the Dallas to Amarillo segment will be the shortest of our four-day trek. The shorter distance is a welcome reprieve.