Four days on the road gives you many observations as one travels across two thirds of America. Beginning my journey on a Saturday morning meant I had very little traffic with which to deal. I sailed through our Keystone State and noted some closed rest areas. This is happening everywhere as states cut budgets. I’m not sure how many rest areas I passed were shut down but it was many. This creates a real hazard for motorists. I hit Columbus, Ohio, as planned, after the Ohio State game began and hit my hotel in Dayton much earlier than last time. As you might recall a jacknifed truck cost me several hours in June. I’m not sure why I can’t find a decent place to stay in western Ohio, it may be there aren’t many. Each place had a pet fee but aside from that traveling with dogs was no problem.
I got through Indianapolis Sunday morning well before the Colts game and driving through southern Indiana and Illinois is tedious. There is NOTHING to see but flat expanses of farm country speckled with an oil rig here and there. Then you cross the Mississippi at St. Louis and see that giant Arch over the river welcoming you to the west. Again, I arrived during the Rams game so there was very little traffic. As long as one plans their fall trip around football driving is easy. The freeways around St. Louis were as empty as they were in Indy. From there it was still a long haul to Springfield, that night’s destination. It rained intermittently that entire day and I was very relieved to get to La Quinta Inn. I’ve never stayed at one and this was very nice. I relaxed in the spa across the hall from my room and had a nice breakfast in the morning. At that point I had 1100 miles under my belt.
The dogs were extremely nice, loving and experienced travelers. I think it helped that we were in their owner’s car but I speculated if they wondered “who is this man and where is he taking us?” Walking them gave me a nice chance to stretch my legs every day. We bonded nicely but I was no substitute for their Mommy when we got to Santa Fe and they jumped at the sight of her. I’m just chopped liver now, lol.
Oklahoma was greener than I remembered in June but offered very little in cuisine. The rest area option was McDonald’s and…nothing. Those who know me know I hate fast food. I found a chicken club on the menu and was glad I packed a bunch of energy bars. Monday was clear and bright as we sailed along at the posted 75 mph speed limit. Even at that speed it takes eight hours to cross Oklahoma. I ran into some traffic through Tulsa and Ok City then hit the broad expanse of prairie towards Texas. We spent that night in Elk City where the chef at the Clarion has no idea what medium rare means. Those $20 baked potato and green beans really burned me. I had breakfast in Amarillo, a city you definitely want to miss if at all possible.
Since I’d hit the tourist spots along Route 66 on the June trip I continued on and spent all day going west towards Albuquerque. The towns are few and far between, nothing but prairie and then desert. Most of the time there were no other vehicles in sight. Many of the rest areas were closed and I saw quite a few people pulled over on the shoulder relieving themselves. I pulled off at one exit for gas and found a lone building, old and rustic, with old fashioned pumps. A German Shepherd lounged outside the door until a black and white cat came along and took the spot. I pumped 420 and continued to New Mexico Route 285. This was the first time in four days I was going north. The two lane road was posted 65 mph and it was forty miles until I encountered an intersection or building. This is very soothing and relaxed driving, I could feel myself unwinding as the Rocky Mountains came into sight before me. We coasted in The City Different and I handed Zombie and Lou Lou to their excited Mom. The 14 year old Lab took one look at Linda and jumped over the Element’s tailgate in joy. It only took me an hour to miss those two dogs.
I crossed many rivers on my trip and aside from the Ohio and Mississippi they looked like dry beds. I’ve never seen such massive drought before, especially considering I went 1900 miles. In Oklahoma they were nothing more than mud holes. Climate change is having a severe effect on the Southwest and it is very obvious. I’m not sure where the water will come from after weeing what is left of the Canadian River which flows (not any more though) through the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma. It is the main source of water for that region. This must be a wake up for action.