By Larry Simoneaux
From a motel room in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
It was supposed to be a fairly straightforward trip.
Leave Edmonds. Head east and south through the mountains and, then, drop down to Texas. I took the same route last July and it was a piece of cake.
Unfortunately, the most important word in that last sentence is “July” and, the night before we were to leave, I did a search of the weather along the route and the words “ice” and “snow” repeatedly showed up.
We decided to leave the ice and snow to others and to, basically, do a half lap of America. Take I-5 to Los Angeles, turn left at I-10, and adjust as necessary in mid-Texas to reach College Station. Stay a few days to further spoil the granddaughter and, then, on to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
Having no real reason to rush things, we’ve been taking our time and enjoying the sights along the way.
(1) We found the sun. It still exists. It appeared just south of Mount Shasta and has become a welcome and trusted companion. Our windshield wipers are taking a well-deserved rest after nearly wearing themselves out while we traversed Washington and Oregon.
(2) The official speed limit on Interstates in California is mostly 65 MPH. The reality of the situation, though, is that if you drive 65 MPH down there, you’ll most likely end up as roadkill. If you dodge that fate, you’ll find that nearly every driver who passes you does, in fact, possess a middle finger.
The actual (unwritten) speed limit is 75-80 MPH and, at that, you’d best stay in the right-hand lane because there are more than a few who will be doing 85. Further, in cities like Los Angeles (while doing 75 MPH), if you leave any space at all between you and the car in front of you, your masculinity will be called into question. Further, if you continue to leave such a space, it will start an immediate contest amongst other vehicles to see who can jump into it first.
(3) Someone, somewhere, is purposely not telling us just how many “wind farms” there are in this country. My best guess at the number is: “You’d be surprised.” For certain, they’re reproducing like rabbits. Saw a boatload of them last July and am seeing more on this trip. Just wondering where all of that electricity is going.
(4) I still like the fact that there remain large stretches in this country where radio reception is a chancy thing at best. Knowing that, we brought along a number of our favorite CDs. Unfortunately, we really didn’t understand just how many “stretches” there are in Arizona, New Mexico, and — for sure — southern Texas. We’ve been through the CDs four times now and still have a long way to go. As an aside, I now know the words to almost every Marty Robbins song extant.
(5) Chicken fried steak may not be good for your heart, but it’s still the best breakfast food there is on the planet — especially when you’re on a road trip. A couple of biscuits go down pretty well too. (Please, Lord, let not my cardiologist read this.)
(6) In the same diners where you find such delicacies there also reside waitresses who can tell you about some great places to see that aren’t on any travel guide. Smile a lot, joke with them, ask some questions, tell them where you’re from, and a whole new world opens up to you. It goes without saying that leaving a really good tip in such places is appropriate.
(7) There isn’t a bit of difference in the news or in the way it’s presented across the country. We’ve stopped listening. The trip’s been a lot better ever since. No mushroom clouds on the horizon? Things are good.
(8) Best bumper sticker seen so far: “Honk if you love Jesus. Text if you want to meet him.”
Actually, that bumper sticker should be a Public Service Announcement. Not that it would change the behavior of the blockheads who firmly (and foolishly) believe that they’d never be the cause of any vehicular mishap whatsoever.
Seven hundred miles to go and enjoying every minute of it.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org