Sunday, October 14, 2007

Day 42 -- Cutting corners

Sunday's drive took me from Liberal, Kansas, across the western corners of Oklahoma and Texas and into New Mexico. Four states, two panhandles, and two time zones in one day.

I had a hard time getting psyched into the drive. I don't know what it was. The weather? (Low, gray clouds.) The sameness of the scenery from Kansas into Oklahoma? The fact that I've been on the road for six weeks and have maybe three weeks to go? I started wondering whether I was getting tired of living out of my car and might want to cut the trip short after my volunteer stint at Save the Chimps in Alamogordo.

I was back to a part of the country where towns are few and far between. I was traveling off the interstate, so I had to study the map to try to figure out where I might be able to stop for a rest or bio break. Most of the small towns had nothing to offer a weary traveler, especially on a Sunday. I decided to stop for lunch in Dalhart, Texas, which appears on the map to be a substantial town that might have a few eating options. The next possibility was 75 miles further on.

I arrived in Dalhart and decided to drive around to check out the different dining options. When I made up my mind, I had to backtrack through an intersection where guys in day-glo orange vests were directing traffic. I wondered what that was about. I soon found out. Power was out. The local eatery I had selected was only able to serve cold sandwiches -- in the dark. So I went down a different street and found a restaurant further away. Same problem. One of the people there advised me that I wouldn't find anything until Tucumcari, NM. I decided to graze from their salad bar. No sooner had I filled up my plate than the lights came on. By the time I left, customers were streaming in and business was booming.

It's a good thing the power was back on. I had a little less than half of a tank of gas left and probably could have made it the 75 miles, but ....

After Dalhart, the scenery began getting more interesting. First there were the giant feedlots -- one on each side of US54. Cows, cows, cows as far as the eye can see. And the vegetation along the side of the road became more interesting. Were those yucca plants I was seeing?

As I crossed into New Mexico -- and the Mountain Time Zone -- the scenery got even better. Off in the distance I could see giant plateaus, and the rough, reddish landscape was dotted with dark green trees or shrubs. I had forgotten my earlier mood and was thoroughly enjoying the trip again. I aimed to stop in Santa Rosa, even though it would only be about 3:30PM. I figured it would be nice to have some down time. The room I got is quite luxurious, so I'm glad I have time to enjoy it. Think I'll lounge about in the AM, too. It's only 3-4 hours to Alamogordo.

Oh, and I didn't get to visit the Land of Oz in Liberal. On Sundays it doesn't open until 1PM. Bummer.

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