The Trip – Day 2

Barb and I woke up this morning in the Comfort Suites hotel on West I-40 in Oklahoma City, OK, after having driven 698 miles yesterday getting here from Fort Wayne. I’m not implying that it was a surprise to wake up in that particular place. It’s just that when you drive so many miles in one stretch it tends to dull the mind and certain events that take place during the mind’s dull stage sometimes fail to register completely.

“Gee, how did we get here?” I said.

“Are you kidding me?” Barb replied.

Ha ha, just joking.

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At any rate, one of the attractions of hotels these days is that they often provide a free breakfast. Well, the friendly folks at Comfort Suites on West I 40 in Oklahoma City should be paying patrons to eat the fare they provide. Barely warm scrambled eggs that lost their meager warmth upon hitting the plate and sausages that were the first shade of grey. The peanut butter and English muffins, however, under the circumstances, were to die for. Coffee tasted OK, but could have been hotter. Next time, McDonalds.

After struggling through breakfast, we loaded the car and found a Phillips 66 station around the corner from the hotel. The windshield on the Subaru was decorated with a pound or so of bug guts. I grabbed one of the squeegees provided near the gas pump and noticed that the sponge at the end was dry. That was because there was no fluid in the bucket that held the squeegee. So we decided to challenge ourselves and keep the bugs till the next pit stop. At least the gas was cheap – $2.03 per gallon. We drove to the nearest intersection and saw another gas station. Gas was $1.99 there, of course.

“Where to?” Barb said.

“Well, we were headed west when we got here,” I said. “No sense turning around and heading back now. Should we keep going in the same direction for a while?”

“Oh, what the hell,” Barb said, and off we went, west on I 40. We were on the highway at 7:05 a.m. Central time.

To be honest, the drive west through Oklahoma, as I reflect a few hours later, did not leave many lasting images in my mind. There were a number of references along the way to “historic Route 66,” with arrows pointing to places off I 40, none of which we followed. I thought at several points that it would someday be nice to drive that venerable highway, taking plenty of time to stop at the tourist traps and museums along the way, and wondering if Todd and Buzz would roar in with their Corvette and sign autographs.

We exited I 40 at Elk City, Oklahoma, for a pit stop. BEWARE! After peeing and fueling up, we left the  gas station and discovered that, due to road construction, we couldn’t re-enter I 40 west at that location. Somehow (I’m blaming it on confusing construction signage) we got on an entrance ramp for I 40 east and headed back toward Oklahoma City. Yes, we fully understood that we were going east. That’s why we took the first available exit and reversed directions after adding 20 minutes to the trip.

We verified the correctness of our direction when we hit the Texas state line at 9:30 a.m. Although Texas is famous for its oil industry, it was interesting to see thousands of gigantic wind turbines cranking away as we drove along. Some appeared to be miles and miles away. I subsequently discovered that Texas generates more wind power than any other state. Thank you, state of Texas!

We stopped in Amarillo, TX (mile 51,428) at 10:50 a.m. for a pit stop, then continued west (what the hell) and entered New Mexico at 12:19 Central. But wait, New Mexico is on Mountain Time, so the time in NM was 11:19 a.m. Man, this was getting confusing.

Still going west on I 40, we were thrilled to see the most interesting terrain so far on the trip. We have no photos, as Barb’s attempts to snap some from the car while we were in motion were not successful. You can see plenty of photos of the interesting sites along I 40 here.

Along with the beautiful scenery in NM, we were struck by the apparent poverty in some of the areas. Ramshackle mobile homes and other buildings, apparently homes to someone, dotted the countryside. Perhaps the people living there are not poor, but we couldn’t help but guess their circumstances based on what we could see. We know that many of those folks are native Americans of various tribes. It makes you think about what led to their situation, and how the lands we were driving through were once theirs and theirs alone.

Oh, don’t forget to consider stopping at the Flying C Ranch plaza. They have “everything.” We’ll have to catch that one the next time through.

We took another pit stop at Albuquerque at 2:19 p.m. at mileage 51,726, then continued west and crossed into Arizona at 4:48 Central time, mileage 51,881. But wait, AZ is currently on Pacific time, so it was actually 3:48 p.m. I shudder to think what it will be like on our return when we’ll lose three hours instead of gaining them.

We continued west on I 40 until we made it to Flagstaff.

“Isn’t Sedona around here somewhere?”

“I think so.”

We found a route to Sedona, and took Highway 89A south off I 40. About that time, a thunderstorm moved through the area. Highway 89A proved to be the scariest road I’ve driven on in many years. It winds down through the mountainous area south of Flagstaff. Rain started coming down in buckets. Lightning strikes hit to the right and left of us as we slowly snaked our way along the circuitous road. I clenched the steering wheel, trying to keep from driving off the precipitous edge of the road and also trying to keep from hydroplaning on the fast-forming puddles. Barb kept watching Google Maps on her phone and commented that the road looked like intestines on the map. We both wondered what would happen if lightning hit one of the many loose boulders high above us.

Luckily, we made it all the way to Sedona without plunging off the road. Luckily also, we found the Whispering Creek B & B and checked in for the night. We were both exhausted, and fell asleep wondering what tomorrow might bring.

 

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