Day Two arrived and I had rallied. This would be the day. Lots of flat, straight roads to be driven this day. No fear of careening off a cliff to a firey death.
And by God if I didn’t get exactly what I wanted. Highway 84 took me from I-25 to I-40, and it was perfection. Straight for miles and miles. An occasional passing pickup, but mostly I was out there alone. It was, dare I say it, transformative and peaceful. No major self-discovery in that forty mile stretch or anything, but I certainly felt renewed.
Until I hit I-40, and was forced to stop for gas at the most expensive gas station from here to Tarnation. Or at least from here to Colorado. And the spell was broken. But I was hopeful.
As I headed toward Texas, I wasconsidering Route 66. Lots of cool roadside stuff there, right? Cheesy Americana was just what I needed. I gave it a shot.
What I found were sad, boarded up businesses, slow speed limits, and lots of stop lights. Although the lady that worked the drive through at McDonald’s was super nice and called me “Sweetie” when she handed me my Diet Coke. Route 66 slowed me down and depressed me, but there were some things like the Cadillac Ranch that I wanted to see on the other side of Amarillo.
Determined to see something, ANYTHING, that could be called a roadside attraction I instead became one. Before I even got to Amarillo, while changing lanes my rear passenger side tire blew out. Fortunately I had no trouble pulling off onto the shoulder, and I thanked God repeatedly this happened in Texas with lovely cell phone service and no cliff from which to plummet. Also fortunately, and thanks to an icy issue from two weeks prior, I had just joined AAA. My GPS quite handily gave me my exact location to share with the AAA operator and the tire-changing man was on his way.
Also fortunately, for all of us, my spare tire is on the back of my car, and was not buried under everything I own. I waited about an hour from blow out to the arrival of Randy, who changed my tire and told me how to get to a tire retailer. I thanked him and was on my way again.
I didn’t want to buy a new tire. My spare tire is a real tire, not a donut, and I didn’t want to spend the time and money to get a new tire. I really really didn’t. I texted my sister and asked if I really had to. She said she didn’t know but thought I probably should. I texted my roommate and asked her. She wasn’t sure, but thought it would be a good idea. I texted my best male friend and asked him. Yes, he said. You need a new tire. Dammit.
Fine. I found the Discount Tire, bought one new tire and hung out in the waiting area for 45 minutes while they took care of things. In amazement I listened to the Southern accents around me. They sounded so strange and at the same time so familiar, like déjà vu, but not. Foreign and, at the same time, like home. I had that feeling a lot once I got to Memphis, but this was the first time I experienced it. Max and the kitties hung out in the car without interest while the tires were changed, the air pressure checked, yada yada yada. And finally, FINALLY! We were on the road again.
Thanks be, the rest of Day Two was entirely uneventful. But, instead of a six o’clock arrival at my hotel with plenty of time to relax, it was nine. And when I got to the door of the room with the loaded down luggage cart, including cats, I could not locate the room key (found it today in my car. Sorry LaQuinta). Max and I had to go down the elevator (he was less than pleased), back to the front desk, request a second key, then back up the elevator (he peed a little I think) where I had left the cats (and all my stuff) on the luggage cart outside the room (nobody was gonna steal two twenty pound cats).