Wow. If I learn anything else, my head may explode.
I never realized how much this road trip would teach me about myself and my partner and this land I'm from. I was naive I suppose.
There is a fire raging in the desert. The big scary desert that scares me is on fire and it made me a bit kooky this morning. Suddenly this morning, I wanted, I needed to control everything. Nothing could be left to chance. Everything had to be planned. And even then I was certain that it would all go wrong.
As is my habit, I looked ahead on the map the night before and started googling vegetarian restaurants and researching accomodations and trying to figure out where we would stay. I had ideas and was ready to barrell through the landscape and make up miles to save up for the Grand Canyon. I won't bore you with the details, but a number of conversations took place between Ivo and I, debating the route. Ivo chose Tucumcari. We are in Tucumcari. We are both happy.
We started our morning with a cultural shock. After our evening in Amarillo, ecountering people who would be equally at home in the AS220, we met our inn-keeper. Ivo described her later as "a fairly typical soccer mom". I founf myself being overly agree-able with her. It was strange. We'd been alone in the B&B the whole night and suddenly there was this chatty woman in the kitchen, making us breakfast as we sat at the kitchen's island and telling us everything that we would ever ever ever need to know about her or that house.
Hers is the B&B that Oprah rented while she was in Amarillo for 2 months, during her defamation lawsuit with the Texas Beef Growers. The B&B belonged to someone else at the time, but she was able to tell us that ours was the room where Oprah's bodygaurd had stayed and that the room next to ours was the great lady herself's.
After swooning and learning and nodding our heads, we shoved off for the Toot and Totem (lovingly referred to as the "Fart and Fetchum" by locals). We got the cars fluids checked and filled and then mozied off on a massive detour to America's 2nd largest canyon. It was gorgeous and it is a real shame that we didn't have the time or provisions to enjoy it more. We rolled back toward Rt66 just in time to see the Cadillac Ranch. I'd been conflicted in wanting to vandalize the famously vandalized cars and then feeling wrong spraying paint on something that is not mine, in a gorgeous desert. Luckily, there were two young men sitting in a pickup's shade who were there to repaint the cars a base color. They were being paid to prepare the canvas, so to speak. In truth, they'd just finished when three vans filled with day-camp children pulled up with 50 kids and as many spray cans and ruined their work. They assured us that they were going to cover it soon anyhow and to go ahead and paint. In fact, if we wanted, we could take a can of their paint and cover the youngster's artwork. We did so and it was kind of fun.
We skeedadled and were excited to move along to the 2 towns that each claim to be the official mid-point of the Rt 66. In truth, we celebrated the half-way point exactly between the two towns. As we continued to the 2nd of these towns, ready for the Midway diner, we saw a young cyclist chugging along the shoulder in the midday heat. We stopped and offered him water and asked how he was faring. "Google maps lied and I'm trying to get to a diner" We promised him that it was just in 4 miles and offered him some trail mix. He declined but seemed pleased for the info and glad for the chat. We've read again and again how Dres (the guide's cyclist) felt the lonliness of the road and so instantly said "You'll make it in no time. We're headed there now! Join us for lunch. We'll buy you something and you can tell us about your travels!"
He did. He made great time and arrived hungry, thirsty and chatty. He's left Ohio a few weeks ago with a class-mate. The class-mate became woozy in Springfield MO and met with a terrible accident that landed him in hospital. The class-mate called for an update at the end of our meal and said that he'd been declared fit to travel and was flying home to Korea to spend the summer with his parents.
Ethan, our cycling lunch-companion is a 20 year old student in Worcester, OH. He decided to ride from OH to LA, loosely following RT 66, when he heard that some childhood friends from China rode from Hong Kong to Paris last year. (He commented on the power of a good passport.)
He was lonely and having a hard day today. He can't believe that he's still riding in vegetation and how expansive and "boring" the landscape is. "There is nothing in Texas! It's boring!" I can only imagine his frustration: He's 20, he was meant to be cycling with a friend, he's not romanced by the landscape, this is just a challenge and it^s challenging as hell. His Kindle goes untouched, he writes nothing and takes no pictures. He rises early cycles until midday. Takes shelter wherever he finds lunch and hits the road again after 4pm. He sleeps where he can and sleeps instantly after cycling. He was equally young and naive and prepared and earnest. It was really nice to meet him and to hear his story while Ivo reads Dres' story allowed and we live our own story. We exchanged contact information and I fear my motherly-tone when I warn him that they are now evacuating Luna and that the smoke is coming on the wind up into our path in New Mexico (if he hasn't noticed the dryness, scratchiness and mesquiteness of the wind already)
We're in a fairly classic-kitchy motel. Having cut our day short at 100 miles (not counting canyon detour). We'll head to the PowWow Restaurant down the road for dinner and have been told by the motels owner that the guests typically sit in folding chairs in front of their rooms, of an evening, swapping stories and drinking beer. It all sounds wonderful and I'm gratedul for Ivo's planning - and mine - and ours.
Tomorrow's destination is Santa Fe. It's North-west of here, which should mean that we're further away from the Arizona winds. We'll leave early and try and avoid the hottest parts of the day.