After 50 of the fastest weeks of my life, we finally pulled up to Fayetteville, AR, our very last new city on tour. As is natural at the end of an era, I started to feel hyper-aware of all the things I would miss, which is pretty much everything except for people constantly asking me “Is this just like the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile?” And, honestly, I might even miss that too. As we unpacked our bags we threw out ideas for things we could do in AR, and I could tell we were all thinking the same thing: we really had to make this week count.
One thing I knew I’d miss is waking up each day, looking out my window and seeing Ro-shell (and sometimes a smiling Wienermobile) chilling in the parking lot. I think my coworkers were feeling the same way, because as we gathered for breakfast on our first morning in town, Cheddar Cheese Elise suggested that we take the Wienermobile on our hike with us, since pretty soon we’d never be able to do that again. We drove the Wien through the gorgeous, winding mountains of Northwest Arkansas, getting miles of smiles along the way, until we reached Devil’s Den where we hiked through woods, hills, caves and (unfortunately) dried-up waterfalls.
Another thing I’ll miss is the connections we make through our job. Fayetteville is only a few hours from Conner’s hometown of Texarkana, and a bunch of his family came out to see us. His brother, Kolby, took us to his favorite bar and bought us what he claims is the best Old Fashioned ever and Mrs. Palmore brought us Sonic drinks during our piping hot work events. Conner’s great aunt and uncle also had us all over for a three course meal where we were repeatedly told we were welcome back any time and I was forced to leave with an entire carton of cupcakes after they discovered my intense love for frosting.
We also made friends with the front desk guy of our hotel, who took us out downtown for a night that included an amazing band, a bar where the glasses were made of ice and you could throw them at the floors and, of course, a lot of dancing. It’s not that I expect to completely stop meeting people and making friends after this job, but the NUTmobile is a great vehicle (figuratively and literally) for making connections, and it’s definitely going to be different in the future.
I wasn’t aware of this before we arrived in Fayetteville, but neighboring Bentonville, AR is home to my second home this year – Walmart. Not only that, but we happened to be in town for the Walmart Shareholders meeting, which meant our Walmart events for the week were nothing short of lit. We worked a Walmart grand opening with the Wienermobile that had a DJ and full-out employee dance party at 7 a.m., which we happily participated in. I also was given a “mixtape” from a member of the Walmart Associate Choir featuring hit singles like “Eyes of a Child” and “On Eagle’s Wings.” Is it crazy that I might actually miss being a Walmart regular? Not to mention being constantly mistaken for a Walmart employee thanks to our navy blue polos and khaki shorts.
I’m sure you all could guess what I’ll miss the most from my year on the road, but if not, it’s definitely the people I work with. There’s just something I love about waking up in my suite and knowing my team – and whatever Hotdogger team we happen to be with – are just down the hall. During our week in Fayetteville we started each morning with a family breakfast at the continental buffet while we made our plans for the day. Whether it was exploring the University of Arkansas (woo pig sooie!), kayaking on Lake Fayetteville, making hotel s’mores on our stove burners – and subsequently setting off the fire alarms multiple times – or spending a whole day at a cafe while we all look for new jobs, no matter what we do, it’s always a good time. It takes a specific type of person to put real life on hold and take off in a giant nut or hot dog, and while my coworkers may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they’re definitely mine and I’m going to miss them all dearly.
After we said goodbye to Jackie and EJ (even though we’d be reuniting in Madtown in just a few days) my team packed up and left for a quick two nights in St. Louis to break up our long haul back to Wisconsin. Ending the tour in St. Louis was ironic for us because it was also our very first city as the CenTrill team, and we of course had to go back to our favorite dessert spot, Bailey’s Chocolate Bar. While there, we talked a lot about our favorite moments from the half, and the fact that we were ending right where we started made me think a lot. I was honestly really disappointed when I found out I’d be in the Central region. I’d spent my whole life there and I was hoping to be a coast-to-coaster this year. But, as things usually do, it all turned out for the best in the end and here are some things I loved about CenTrill:
- Dope Schedule: thanks to dear old Grandma Ro-shell’s elderly status, we were down south for most of the half and I completely got out of Winter this year
- Ro-Shell: except for her broken radio and being forced to listen to old Peanutters’ terrible, homemade CDs, Ro-Shell has a lot of charm
- Chase Car: Chase car was a game changer. Not only did it make it so much easier to do more, we saved a ton of money on Ubers and rental cars.
- Proximity to the peeps: Central is close to so many more people than the coasts, and I got to meet up with a lot more friends and family, not to mention other teams on the road (I ended up getting to see 18/21 of my coworkers on the road throughout the year)
- Saving Money: there was still a ton to do/see and we hit a lot of cool cities, but overall things cost less or attractions were just free. I saved more than double in the 5 months of this half than I did the first 7 months out west.
- Homies for life: it’s no secret I was paired with two big personalities this half, and though we all were very different, I think that makes the fact that we became such great friends even more special. There are so many things I love and admire about both Conner and Tanaja and they will definitely both be my life-long pals.
While the end of something you never want to end is never pleasant, I’d say our last week in Fayetteville went about as good as it could’ve. I got in a great hike, awesome food, a fun night out, interesting work events and tons of time spent with some of my favorite Peans and Wiens. It was a solid wrap-up to a solid half, and I felt as ready as I could be to road-trip it back up to the best state in this great nation – Wiscaaansin – for one last hoorah.
Stay tuned for the last episode of the nut saga coming at you soon!