Road Trip - Part 3
Day 7 - Wednesday, 7/5/06
The last time to ever wake up in Suite 12403 at the Stardust West Tower. We took a nice bath together in the Jacuzzi and then a good, long shower. Grabbed muffins and juice at the lobby coffee shop, tipped everyone huge, and hit the Boulder Highway towards Henderson. Stopped for provisions in Henderson and found no avocado Pringles. Damn! Traffic over the damn dam was atrocious. (Go figure the traffic at Lake Mead would be bad over the July 4th holiday!) Wasn’t even halfway down 93 to Kingman when my girlfriend passed out. Woke up at the same Chevron station (fortunately the one-tooth burper was off duty) where we gassed up. I was learning that the Marquis did not hold a candle to the Impala we traded in when it came to gas mileage. And out west the gas is about 40 cents higher per gallon than back home. Ouch. This was going to cost me, now.
At Kingman we took route 66 northeast away from the interstate. This is (I think) the longest, unbroken stretch of original 66 left today. Some areas can only be described as magnificent desolation. Did I steal that from some astronaut? Sounds good, though. After winding up the hills through Hackberry and Peach Springs. You can see the southern end of the Grand Canyon from here! Not many people know this. On past Grand Canyon Caverns and Truxton. The road runs next to the Sante Fe RR through here, and we must have seen 12 huge trains in 150 miles. Long ones, with several locomotives pulling and a couple pushing! We were making our way to Seligman (what many consider to be the Capitol of 66) when, of course, the rain set in. A nice hard one, too. Couldn’t see the mountains, save a random glimpse through white sheets. Lightning flashing… Then about 2 miles west of Seligman it quit!
Stopped at the World Famous Snow Cap while in Seligman. Quite a crowd stopping by to get squirted with fake mustard. I also learned that since my last trip the owner, Juan Delgadillo, tossed in his apron, as it were. He died a couple of years ago. But his sons have taken over and seem to be keeping the place up to the same standards. The late Juan’s brother Angel was pretty much instrumental in creating the Nation Route 66 historical society in Arizona. “The Mayor of Route 66” is how Angel is referred to in just about any Route 66 book you can pick up. I did not see him, and unfortunately I did not talk to the boys and their families. It was like being in the presence of Pete Townsend or Keith Richards. But I took photos and we told everyone goodbye and got back on the road.
At Williams, we made a left through town (Arizona really touts it’s 66 traditions well) and moseyed on up to the Grand Canyon. We arrived about 6:30. It was cold and the threat of rain was in the air. I had been making big plans for this moment, timing the trip to arrive at the canyon to catch sunset. It also looked like all my plans were going to be for naught. Lots of tourist (duh!). This is where I realized that dads on trips are assholes to their kids and wives. I had been making these observations for a few days, but this one asshole really nailed it here. Plus he was rude to my g/f when she accidentally nudged his tripod. Dude! It’s not film! You can erase and shoot over! Now can’t you see I’ve been waiting patiently for your spot? After a span, the throng diminished. The light was fading fast, but I had my tripod so I could shoot good 20 second, light-gathering shots. It was us and one other couple (the girl had a nice Canon). We were all watching the little slice of clear sky on the horizon that we knew the sun was going to hit in a few minutes. We had out positions… Bam! Gold! In about 45 seconds, the crowds returned (except for the ashoole. Good!) but we stuck to our hard-earned positions. Once the sun passed the slit of clearness everyone left again. We remained but it was not to be. So at least we had that.
Back into the car and into Flagstaff. Checked in at the Fairfield and went exploring for some grub. We were both starving. I got a sammich at Arby’s, she got a salad and potato at Wendy’s. Stopped at a gas station for beers, when lo’ and behold - Wasabi Funyuns! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm! I had seen the BIG bags in L.V., but no small ones. My patience was to be rewarded! Went back to the hotel, ate, drank and passed out (after some really good “what a great day” sex!)
Day 8 - Thursday, 7/6/06
After 3 nights in the huge, spacious suite in Vegas, the Fairfield?marriot – while nice, don’t get me wrong – was like waking up in a steamer trunk. The bathroom was so cramped that you couldn’t touch any toiletries on the counter without knocking something over. But we managed more sex, a shower, followed by more sex. Then breakfast. Which tastes so good after sex! (Yes – I haven’t been talking about sex much, but as I said on the first installment, Oklahoma City and Amarillo were the only 2 times there was no sex. I figure you would get tired of hearing about how incredible I am! HA!) Anyway, the day was bright and clear (a rarity) and I was hoping to finally get some of the pictures I had planned (blue sky, puffy clouds, road and telephone poles looming into the horizon) but it was not meant to be. The good stuff was to be behind us all day (where we had been, dammit). A quick check of the groceries turned up no Avocado Pringles.
Bought more water and struck out to the next destination – Tucumcari. On all of my trips I had only been there during the day. I always longed for the chance to shoot the wonderful neon signs. This was to be it! Stopped at the Jackrabbit (what a wonderful place) but Two Arrows has fallen into such a state of disrepair, I just drove on by. Passed Meteor Crater again. Stopped again for gas in Holbrook (but no DQ this time). My g/f passed out about 2 hours west of Albuquerque. We stopped at Garcia’s in Albuquerque to get some more-authentic-than-you-can-get-in-Mississippi Mexican food. What a great place. I love Albuquerque. But I hate typing it. Go ahead – try it!
Drove into Tucumcari about an hour after dark, and was shocked to see that half of the city was dark. Even the streetlights! Had there been a power failure? I was crushed, yet again. Got pictures of the Blue Swallow and Teepee Curios. The rest was a bust, though. Disheartened, I drove on to Amarillo instead of staying in Tucumcari.
Of course, arriving in Amarillo at 1AM when there is a Jehovah’s Witness convention AND a rodeo does not make for an easy time finding a bed for the night. After stopping at 3 different places, the clerk said that the only place he knew of that had rooms was the EconoLodge. We had trouble finding it (since the name had apparently changed in the last five minutes) to the point where I almost drove on to Dallas! But my navigator – sleepy though she was – saw the little sign that said “formerly EconoLodge” and we checked in.
I have learned one thing. In my youth spent in a touring band, I had no qualms about stayin gin less-than-savory digs. Although I liked the really nice places with bellboys and room service, we wisely chose to bring back lots of money instead of spending it. In the autumn of my years, however, I now look askance at places that would have bothered me not at all 20 years ago. And I absolutely will not even think about checking into a motel that has different colored doors for each room.
While the “Luxury Inn”, as it was now known, boasted all the same color door, it was one of those places where I was sure I did not want to walk on the carpet in my bare feet. And while she passed out quickly, I wasted another 45 minutes trying to slumber. Such was also the case in Oklahoma City. So now you know my secret - I can only have sex in nice hotels.
Day 9 - Friday, 7/7/06
At about 4:45, some d*ckhead decided to roll his suitcase down the stairs just outside our room, instead of carrying it. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! I laid there for about another hour trying to get back to sleep, but it was not meant to be.
After a quick shower, I woke up baby girl and tossed her in the shower. As I was carrying the luggage to the car (carrying, not rolling down the stairs, mind you), my nostrils were assailed with the rich smell of bovine excretions. Welcome to Texas, y’all!
Again, no Avocado Pringles. Bought some beer to have icing down for our arrival in Dallas. Road a highway I have never been on before... Saw Wichita Falls... Made it into Dallas around 4:30 and checked back into the Sheraton Suites... Got the requested room on the downtown view side… Took showers, closed the curtains, and had sex until 7:30. Ordered room service, popped open the beers and watched “Monsters, Inc.”. Stood out on the balcony and took pictures of the Dallas skyline and watched the crowds leaving “Medieval Times”. A couple of hours later, drunk and sore, we passed out in a hotel for the last time on the trip.
Day 10 - Saturday, 7/8/06
Woke up around 7:30. Showered, occupied ourselves for about an hour, got dressed, wrote postcards, checked out, went to the post office for stamps, and then went into Dealy Plaza. We wandered around there and at Pioneer Park for a while, then headed back up to Northpark for Le Madelaine and the Puzzle Zoo (my new favorite store in Dallas). I bought a 2 level maze, a 3D Puzzle (level 4) and a wind-up bucking donkey. New office toys. Headed out Northeast Highway, got on Highway 80, hit I-20 at Terrell. Stopped in Kilgore at the Albertson’s to score some Lone Star beer, but was denied. So I settled on Asahi and Dos Equis. Crossed into Louisiana and stopped at the Welcome Center at 4:30. Hit the Mississippi River at 7:00. Dropped my girlfriend at her apartment at 8:00.
On Sunday, she came to my house and we had a clothes washing party, made a big salad and decompressed. It finally caught up to me and I passed out at 2:30. We woke up at 6, I took her home, went back to the house and went to sleep, after setting my alarm to wake me up for work at 5AM.
The trip was over.
While my girlfriend has been to Vegas prior to now, she has naver made a trip like this one. I had the most fun showing her pieces of Americana that she never new existed or had only read about. I can never thank her enough for her patience and understanding, either. ANd we are looking forward to the next trip. Perhaps Mount Rushmore and the big sky country...
I shot about 500+ pictures, dumping the chip to my portable hard drive daily. I just haven’t dumped them to the PC yet. Then I have to convert them all from raw format to JPEGs. So I promise – pictures are coming soon.