We wasted little time in Oklahoma!’s fine Motel of Sin before getting to the front desk to check out and I asked about the wildfires in New Mexico, if the front desk girl had heard of road closures or anything. She told me that was pretty far away and that they usually don’t get that kind of news footage ‘all the way out here’. Um, okay. I asked if I could get online somewhere and she pointed at the computer in the front lobby.
Better than nothing, I knew my sister had sent some links on the fire in Los Alamos as it was a little closer to I-40 than I would have liked (about 80 miles). I opened my email to get to her message and saw that I had 67 new messages.
Oh brother. That first week of internet access in Phoenix was going to trap me in front of the computer and never before had I so badly wanted a smart phone just to keep up with the influx.
With the wildfire info in hand (that we were good to go), and Matt waiting in the parking lot for me to check out ten minutes prior, I pounded pavement right past the tasty smelling Danish cart and hopped into my perch above the traffic.
With half of Oklahoma! And a corner of Texas to go before reaching New Mexico, we both remarked that maybe we’d be lucky enough to catch a tornado touch down. Somewhere like 2 miles away on the horizon and heading either north or east. Something I could get on film but that we would actually live through it to post pictures of later.
After O!KC we promptly entered dry and desoland. If it hadn’t been for the huge sign (the 'everything in Texas is bigger' adage rang oh so true) it would have been barely perceptible that we’d even crossed into another state.
Country music interspersed with They Might Be Giants and the Foo Fighters got us to the Texas state line. I was all too happy to put all of those way too excited exclamation points behind us where they belonged. In Oklahoma!
And as we crept into Texas it suddenly occurred to us both that there was a reason all those early settlers stopped before attempting to cross it. No offense to anyone from that area but man is it ever flat, hot and crappy. Maybe every fifth house was still occupied, not the other way around like in many of the other states on our journey, and there was so much rusted out crap along the Interstate that it looked like a big drawn out trash heap.
I remember that Dallas was a pretty cool city and have heard amazing things about Austin so my radar was up to see what the rest of the state had to offer. I think I took about 10 pictures the whole time and they’re all of abandoned stuff along old Route 66, or flat, brown nothingness.
Then suddenly in the distance we saw a huge yellow sign straddling the entire highway. It was the welcome to New Mexico sign!
My nerves were pretty calm by this point but I got a little stomach flip -- we’d just entered the state where we would spend the last night in a hotel before we were home! We stopped at the welcome center and saw a sign for free coffee if we signed the guestbook. With about another 200+ miles to go before reaching Albuquerque that was a no brainer.
We chatted with the gals behind the desk for a few and grabbed a couple free guides to the awesomeness of the state, then headed around the counter toward the coffee. We stopped to check out every map for a minute and at the end of the counter there was a full map of the country.
My eyes went to where we were and slowly traveled back over our route to where we had come from. I thought the tears were behind me in O!KC but apparently all it took was seeing the word ‘Boston’ in tiny letters on a simple piece of paper. I was just happy to still be wearing my sunglasses.
What a wussy. A slightly homesick wussy. But a much warmer wussy, one who was trying to look forward, not back.
In the spirit of forward motion we grabbed our coffee and headed outside to sit on something other than the truck seats for a couple minutes. I regained my composure, finished the shot of fuel and we were off.
The road for a while was similar to Texas and I kept asking where the silly mountains were. Didn’t we have to do something with the Rockies? Like climb up and over them perhaps? As if scripted the terrain began to shift, rock took on a reddish glow and mesas started to appear.
We skirted an insanely huge weather system that put down a bunch of lightning and raindrops about 2-3” around. Some rain hit the truck and I watched as a bolt actually sparked a fire way off in the distance. The rain put it out almost immediately and I said a little thank you to the powers that be; the folks in that area didn’t need any more fires to battle.
With more to look at the miles sailed by and with a weather system like that to marvel over, our spirits were really high. My dad even commented on how much calmer I sounded on my check in with him that night. He was right. I was mostly comfortable in the truck and loving the weather and wide open spaces. Not to mention the mountains.
As if they were gone one minute and there the next they suddenly started to rise in front of us and we were just happy to have something beautiful to see after so many miles of barren wasteland. Houses became more prevalent and cuteness started to appear on the sides of overpasses.
We had arrived in Al-ba-Q-Q.
There was no smoke or fire from the road, our hotel was super simple to find and check in was a breeze. With tons of truck parking (pull through spots this time!) and daylight still available we walked to the front of the hotel after dropping our bags to see the most amazing sunset on the entire journey. Words wouldn’t do it justice. Pictures didn’t even do it justice!
We settled in and flicked on Burn Notice, fully happy and feeling the least sketched out the entire trip. Both of us slept well and got ready for the last leg of the journey the next morning.
Well, the last leg of the drive anyway. The journey decided to prolong itself for days…