I'd been squinting through the wipers for two hours straight, and the strain was enough. Other motorists who either couldn't deal with the rain or who thought they needn't drop their speed jockeyed past each other on Interstate 30. We missed the Hope exit, our intended put-in, and white-knuckled on, hungry and already tired with five more hours of drive-time to go.
I spotted the big blue sign right before the Fulton exit, saw something red and white under the heading of FOOD and decided to take the exit. Following the signs, we pulled up outside a long red bricked building next door to an austere old gas station. I tried to dodge the deeper puddles for a spot where we could drag the least of the storm inside with us. And then I shot this image with my phone, marveling at what appeared to be a still-working payphone on the outside wall.
Rushing in, cameras tucked under our arms, we stepped inside and found ourselves a table next to the window. Thinking we were actually going to make it to Texarkana or further along before we actually had a full meal, we looked over the little wrinkled menus on the table for something quick to eat.
The rain continued to smother the lot outside the door. A trio of kids, likely related to a member of the staff, played an old game console on the other
The rain kept flowing on and on, pressing waves towards the building. Grav reached across and touched my hand as we stared out into the gray. A UPS truck pulled up, first with its passenger door to the cafe, then turning around and placing same doorway under the eve for the gas station next door. A pair of tandem-trailer trucks performed a pas de deux in the mud by the road, carefully lining up where the drivers could converse through open windows without having to brave the soaking waters.
There was giggling in the back, that grew louder. We sipped on our beverages, which had been provided to us in car holder-friendly 32 ounce Styrofoam cups, and kept looking out the window, until our waitress got our attention by setting plates down in front of us.
Here were two burgers, each enough for two, standing tall on steak knives. The patties were fat and moist, with bits of char on their flat faces. Mine sat between its seedless buns, a ring of pickles and a single slice of tomato evident under
And completely impossible to eat, due to the sheer height of the creations.
After our round of photos and astonishment, I attempted to smush my burger flat enough to manage into my mouth. This wasn't happening. I pressed hard, but only succeeded in pushing some of the moisture out of the patties and imprinting my fingers into the bun top. Our waitress provided us with forks.
And I'll tell you, rainy day blues
I might have, and I likely would have put myself at risk for rupture, had I not got to thinking about that pie. So a slice was ordered, and we shot the pie before we closed the lid and slid it into the offered sack along with our leftovers.
That pie I ate about six hours later in a hotel room in Livingston, TX, exhausted from the trip and needing sugar in my system before we were to venture to our next destination, a restaurant called the Blue Duck. The custard of the pie was rich, a dark chocolate custard with substantial heft, and the meringue was caramelized and sweet.
The Red River Cafe was a surprise to us, and that's a good thing. We don't get a whole lot of surprises these days, so being able to pull out of the rain and into a table in a friendly restaurant is a real blessing. We'll be back for breakfast at some point.
Red River Cafe5279 Highway 67 West (I-30 Exit 18)
Fulton, AR 71838