More thrills and perils on the highways of America…
Thursday, July 5, 2012: Day 4
Woke up at 8:30am feeling queasy. No more drinking until further notice. Stopped at Hardee’s for breakfast before hitting the road at 10:15am. Due to road cunstruction on I-40, decided to leave interstate. Not a good decision as Chuck took us nearly to Tulsa before guiding us back to the west. Ended up on toll road. Hate toll roads. Returned to the interstate as hills began to give way to plains. Stopped for lunch at Cherokee restaruant, which had a giant buffalo head on the wall. Traveled along legendary Route 66 for a little while.
Entered Oklahoma City at early afternoon. Drove around downtown area. Nice downtown, but no great shakes. Passed huge wind turbines. Ultra cool. Crossed into Texas (offical motto: Big, Bigger, Biggest! Bigger than you could ever imagine! So big you’ll grow old and die in transit!) at approximately 5:30pm. Drove through desolate, but beautiful plains and praries. Decided to continue beyond planned destination of Shamrock, Texas and go to Amarillo. Would later regret decision.
Arrived in Amarillo, TX at 7:00pm. Checked into Motel 6. Carried Squeaky into room in arms without incident. Decided to try same with Pip. Picked up Pip and turned toward hotel. It was easy. It was going to be fine. Pip was doing well. Pip reached out and clawed the hell out of my shoulder. Tossed Pip back into car. Finally got him into carrier and brought him inside. Set out to find something to eat.
Tried four restaraunts. All four out of business. Apparently the economy in Amarillo no longer, technically, exists. Finally settled on Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut sells beer. Broke no-alcohol vow and bought a six pack of Bud Light. Went to Walmart and bought two CD’s: Queen and Bob Dylan. At least we have some tunes for the ride tomorrow. Decided that Amarillo is a completely unecessary city and should be abandoned, torn down, or both. Watched the weather channel and realized Southeast was blanketed by storms. Felt a little better about being in Texas. Getting there, slowly but surely.
Miles traveled: 470
Mr. Candy Corn photos: with barrel pig sculptures at “Pig Out Palace,” in front of skyscraper in OK City, at Cherokee restaurant, with mounted buffalo head, on hotel lamp, with Pip and Squeaky.
Friday, July 6, 2012: Day 5
Got everything loaded up and headed out of town as quickly as possible. Pip becoming increasingly difficult to get into car. Forced to disassemble bed to extract him from beneath. Exhausted before day’s travel even began. Had soggy leftover slice of pizza from cooler for breakfast. Discovered that Amarillo does have better areas, but did not pause to consider the ramifications. Land flattened out immediately upon leaving the city. Huge fields dotted with cows on both sides. Entered New Mexico (official nickname: Home of world’s longest, unbroken road construction project!) at around lunch time. Had soggier, leftover slice of pizza for lunch. Stopped at Russel’s travel plaza for gas. Kitzy statues and farm equipment all around. Discovered chapel inside. Went in and watched video of long haired, bearded man singing gospel songs.
Land gradually became more rocky and hilly as we ventured further into New Mexico. Saw giant piece of metal blocking eastbound lanes. Had a hearty laugh at the expense of stalled travelers. Immeditately following hearty laugh, slowed by road construction in westbound lanes. Left I-40 for Route 66 for a time. Stopped at Trade Post. Met Spanish couple from Barcelona inside. Dena helped translate for couple with proprieter of store. Drank a Budweiser with couple, proprietor (Gary), and proprietor’s friend (Bob) at 1:30 in the afternoon. Bought set of earrings for Dena. Left to the scent of Gary and Bob smoking weed in the parking lot.
Set course for Santa Fe. Desert/mountains quite beautiful. Chuck decided we should instead travel south for several minutes. Despite Chuck’s harsh repremands, changed course and headed north. Travel slowed due to thunderstorm. Entered Santa Fe and checked into Motel 6. Had soggiest slice of leftover pizza from cooler yet. Had dinner at Atrisco Café. Ate (way too much of) the most authentic Mexican food I’ve ever had.
Drove into downtown area. Parked and walked around, taking photos. Watched street performers: band called “Dead Kids,” dancer who used lighted hula hoops in her routine, and assorted flute and guitar players. Watched funk band called “Sticky,” from outside club to avoid five dollar cover charge (Hey, don’t give me any guff. Trip costing more than theoretical manned flight to Mars). Bought bottle of Smirnoff vodka at CVS (!) and returned to room. Cats finally adjusting to travel, though Pip not above a good bite or claw. Thank God for Motel 6 and pet friendly policy.
Miles traveled: 280
Mr. Candy Corn photos: in front of mountains, being blown by hand dryer, with Santa Fe phonebook, at Route 66 sign, at trading post, “driving,” with Dena and banana, being offered as “sacrifice” to Jesus, with native american statue at truck stop.
Saturday, July 7, 2012: Day 6
Ate breakfast at Tia Sopphia’s restaurant in Santa Fe. Juevos Rancheros with green chiles delicious and spicy. Departed hotel at approximately 10:15am after lengthy battle with Pip. Headed South on I-25. Passed through Albequerque and headed west. Drove through “badlands” of New Mexico with terrain alternating between flat plains and rocky hills and mountains. Temperature finally cooler, with high around 85. Passed small town just as rancid scent filled car. Smelled “like hog shit,” as Dena so accurately put it. Soon realized that while it was indeed shit, it didn’t come from any hog. Squeaky, while attempting a daredevil bowel evacuation had shat on the top of a plastic bin. Pulled over immediately.
Passed into Arizona (official nickname: severe thunderstorm capital of the world! Seriously! Barely encountered any rain until passing into the desert) at early afternoon. In between storms, stopped at Navajo trading post. Dena bought carved stone bear. HUGE rock formations behind shops. Took enough photos to sink Titanic (sorry). Hit the road again and headed west. Sky began to darken. Realized interstate was headed directly into heart of storm. Sky turned black. Hard rain began. Cars began to pull over into breakdown lane. Pushed forward as rain fell even harder. Slowed to approximately 40 miles per hour. Huge trucks hurlted by at light speed. Rain falling so hard I began to thiink about abandoning car for makeshift life raft. Slowed to snail’s pace. More cars pulled over. Decided I wouldn’t pull over, no matter what. Slowed to glacial pace. Rain falling so hard an ark might be necessary. Pulled over into breakdown lane.
After slightly less time than it took for rise and fall of Roman empire, rain slackened. Began driving again. Entered Petrified Forest national park. Painted desert stunning. Realized that “petrified forest” is a relative term, as forest consisted of firewood sized pieces of petrified wood lying in desert. Resumed travel and entered Flaggstaff as huge mountains reared on both sides. Headed south toward Sedona. Passed through Coconino National Forest and headed down steep, winding mountain road. Did I say steep and winding? Big understatement. Picture most dangerous road you can imagine, then triple it. Beautiful views as we passed around hairpin turns.
Stopped for the night at Slide Rock Motel just north of Sedona, AZ. Huge canyon and mountain on one side, towering rock formations on the other. Ate dinner at Mago Café Korean restaurant. Returned to room and relaxed on private patio with bottle of Smirnoff. Waited for predicted 10:15pm moonrise over mountain. Massive cloud rolled in at approximately 10:14pm, obscuring moon. Retired to bed without need for A/C! Awesome.
Miles traveled: 400
Mr. Candy Corn photos: with hissing Pip, at Pilot travel center, at Navajo Land, in front of huge rock formation, at painted desert, nestled in rock formation, at AZ rest area, on fireplace at motel.