Roads are made for driving

19 06 2013

Day 2 of my Solo RoadTrip of Awesomeness began bright and early. My car’s clock said 6am, but we lost an hour the day before, so local time was 7am. The night before had ended at 12:45am, and my speedometer read 835 miles – not a bad day’s worth of travel!

The early morning was gorgeous. The mountain smelled of flowers, the sun was barely peeking over the peaks, and the car windows were all fogged, making it feel like we were in a little cocoon. I washed my face and brushed my teeth in the rest stop bathroom and refilled all our water bottles. Simba got to run around in their fenced-off pet area, and we were back on the road by 7:30am. We ate breakfast while cruising through the gorgeous mountains.

The only downside to the morning was that I woke to find my phone lounging in Simba’s water bowl. I dismantled it and set the pieces on the dash, hoping it would dry out. After a few hours, a preliminary test revealed the screen to barely work, the camera blurred over with condensation and the speaker non-functional. Awesome. Thankfully, I had highlighted my route in purple marker in my old ratty atlas, so I didn’t need my phone’s GPS to keep going.

paper atlas

This, kids, is called a “map”, used in ancient days before people had iphones and Garmins.

I guess I just know absolutely nothing about Utah. I’m sad about what I missed in the dark the night before, ’cause we saw some pretty cool stuff that morning. Like the coal mines! I didn’t know Utah was full of coal! We passed a couple operating mines and then started noticing black stripes in some of the rock. So cool! (Yes, I know I’m a rock nerd.)

The farther we went, the crazier the landscape became until it looked like we were in some alien land. By the time we reached Moab, I was gaping with a slack jaw at the weird rocks, crazy cliffs and other-worldly colors. Near tears at the thought of how much J would have loved this, I couldn’t even take pictures for him. (Sad face.) I hope we can take a trip back to the area together one day.

Unfortunately for us, the day got hot quick. Poor Simba-dog wouldn’t even lie down, but just sat leaning against the seat, panting. He obviously could care less about the rocks out his window. The lack of a/c in my car hasn’t bothered me for the last couple years, but poor Simba seemed just miserable.

dog on a roadtrip

My hawt mess of a co-pilot. Even his ears are too toasty to stand up straight.

We bounced across a corner of Colorado and I turned all nostalgic and mushy. I lived in southern Colorado a couple years ago with my broski, and I missed all the good times and good friends we had. I told Simba all about it well into New Mexico. The huge rock formations in the far east edge of Monument Valley were gorgeous, but even I could barely notice – New Mexico was too damn hot! The back highways we were on were slow and I kept getting stuck behind all the slow cars. Don’t they know I need those 70 mph winds coming in the windows?!

We cruised through one reservation after another, trying to keep up with our water and sunscreen. My left arm was already tinged pink. I tested my phone again at one point and the scorching winds must have dried it out, as it started working again. We arrived at long last to the campsite for the night. It was only about 6:30, but I figured we could get camp set up and settle in for an early night and get some good sleep. An early start would mean an earlier arrival!

I tied Simba to the picnic table and set to work on the tent. About the time I got the poles in place, a wind whipped up and I noticed some big black clouds. WHA…?! Where did those come from?! The wind gained momentum and started blasting me with sand. I started pulling the tent back down, thinking we could maybe wait a bit and try again when it calmed down. A few minutes later I was struggling to keep all pieces in my hands and pockets while folding poles and yanking the stakes. About when I was sure I was going to be blown away with the tent as my sail, it started pouring. I gave up wrestling the tent, popped the trunk and crammed the whole mess in as fast as I could. I scared my poor dog as I yanked his leash off the table leg and threw him and I in the front seat together and slammed the door.

Where on EARTH had this storm blown in from?! We sat there watching the wind and rain, hoping to sit it out and still have a chance to pitch the tent before dark. About that time I noticed the campsite next to us. A group of big dudes were standing under the pavilion thing, laughing and horsing around. Scary tattoos, white tank tops with their baggy pants, and impressively slicked-back hair……hm. These were my neighbors?

Hey Simba, let’s keep driving!

Off we went! We cranked the iPod and snacked on the food I had brought. The temps dropped with the sun as we approached the Texas state line. Driving driving driving. I sang “The Wheels on The Bus” for Simba, but he wasn’t impressed. Into Texas, we started seeing an impressive lightning display way off in the distance….where we were headed. It started raining on us again, but not for long. Around 12:30am, we pulled into Amarillo and found a Texas travel stop right in the middle of town. Ahhhh, time for bed.

I took Simba for a nice long walk and settled in for another car snooze. We both zonked out despite the lights, sound asleep…

Until the lightning found us and brought thunder with it. The first big clap sent Simba flying into my lap, terrified. I was trying to get him back in his seat, lifting the back of my seat to better get a grasp of the squirming mutt, when the rain started pounding the roof and a second clap rocked the car. Simba dove into the floor board behind my seat and huddled in a ball. I took the queue and decided to drive on and see if we could get out of the storm. We were pounded with heavy rains being thrown at us by the wild winds. Remembering all the terrible storms and tornados plaguing Oklahoma and north Texas in recent weeks, I pulled over into an open Shell station and got drenched running for the door. I bought several bottles of water and asked the clerk if she knew anything. “Just rain, sweetie, according to the radio. But we might get some hail, so you should keep going.” Don’t have to tell me twice!

Semis flew by us in the nasty rain, but we trudged on. Finally, the rain slowed, the winds calmed, and eventually, the storm quit altogether. Around 3:30am, we pulled into a rest stop near Quannah, Texas, to pass out. We had driven over 1000 miles in one day and only had an hour and a half left to make it to my mom’s house. We woke up around 7:30 the next morning and walked in the front door of my parent’s by about 9. I made it in time for breakfast and church, and settled Simba into his new temporary home. I had achieved a personal record for grossness and had to scrub in the shower for a good 20 minutes to rid myself of the grime. I have officially leveled up in dirt-bagger points!

Whew!! What a trip! I turned a 3-day trip into almost a 2-day trip and saw much of two states I had never even been in before. My phone survived it’s little swim party and Simba survived the heat (although he hasn’t quit panting since we got here). I got to hang out with family that first day and hit the sheets about 8:00 to finally get some sleep!

Simba and I are pretty much expert road-trippers now. And we get to do it all again to get home!




Give it to me straight -

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