Day 7 – PEI or Bust – Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (Almost)

Day 7

56728 odo 9:37 am

Off to the airport from our conveniently located hotel – the Homewood Inn & Suites near the Albuquerque ariport. After the kids favorite hotel breakfast of make-your-own waffles, we took McKinley to the airport. We were sending him back for cub scout camp. With McKinley traveling as an unaccompanied minor, we had to wait with him until the plane actually took off. In his case, the plane he was to be on was very late coming in from LA or Salt Lake City. That meant we waited, and waited, and waited at the gate. We played cards, wrestled, played scrabble, wrestled, lost part of my shoe, chewed gum, wrestled some more, separated all the kids, wrestled some more… you get the picture.

Finally about three hours, and many Scrabble games (Jasper won, which is completely unusual) later, McKinley was able to get on the flight and go on his merry way. It seemed like we waited in some weird twilight zone for three more hours before the desk attendants finally told us that his particular plane had taken off and we were free to go. Finally, McKinley was on his way back home to go to WEBELOS camp.

Next stop, back to Frontier Restaurant to pick up some of those famed cinnamon rolls. I sent Jasper in to pick up to rolls because we couldn’t find any parking. He came back with a frozen package of cinnamon rolls… so much for having a cinnamon roll for lunch! OK, the frozen rolls are a problem to be solved later…Next, we visited the Apple store to pick up a wireless keyboard and cover for my iPad. I was afraid they weren’t going to let the transaction go through on my credit card now that we were even further away from home, but it worked. While we were at the giant mall (which was under construction, making parking a challenge) we found lunch at McAllister’s deli, which had semi-healthy sandwhiches and soup. Using my handy dandy iPhone and favorite App – the Starbuck’s finder – we found a Starbuck’s in the mall and were able to get a Chai Tea before heading out of Albuquerque.

Finally, it’s 1:18 pm on we are on the road to TX and beyond, more specifically to Oklahoma City because there is nothing, and I do mean  NOTHING to see in Eastern New Mexico and the top of the Texas! They put curves in the road just to keep you from falling asleep. Once we actually started driving, somewhere in the two blocks between the mall parking lot and the freeway, it started raining, big, fat rain drops. We’ll have to go back to New Mexico one of these days – for many reasons, but one of them is to see the nuclear science museum in Albuquerque.

OK now it’s lightning (Is that a verb?). Not something I really want to drive in. Reminds me of the time Greg and I got caught in a sudden thunderstorm in Indiana right after Jasper was born when the roads flooded, power lines came down and sparks were flying across the road. There was no good way back to my grandmother’s house that day!

The weather continues to deteriorate the further into New Mexico we go. Gusty wind signs actually mean what they say. I might have rewritten the sign to say: (Seriously) Gusty Winds!!! As we passed a place called Clines Corner, we saw snow — I am NOT kidding — snow in July, in New Mexico. Snow in July really threw the drivers for a loop and it took about three seconds to find an overturned truck truck on top of his own trailer. Not a pretty sight. Not a predicament that burly guy wanted to share with his friends – “Huh, huh, huh. My extended cab, double tire pickup truck ended up on top of my race car trailer…”  I called 911, and noted the mile marker, 232, as the dispatcher said the police were only 5 miles away (somewhere in the desert looking for donuts among the cacti- OK, I made up that last part). Unbelievably, it was now 48 degrees in the snow and slush with crazy drivers sliding everywhere, pulling off to the side of the road, generally creating mayhem and making themselves road hazards.

At this point, I am really checking out Toby’s truck – Am I really in 4WD? What do I need to do to get this thing into a lower gear? Should I pull over and drive slower until these crazy people stop driving? Should I drive faster to just get out of that snowy mess? Those of you who know how I drive already know the answer to that one… We took a couple of pictures (not me, I was driving) and kept it to a respectable 70 mph to whiz past all those snow-less experienced drivers. You’d think that was the end of this crazy part of the driving for this day but it wasn’t.

There were two other drivers who had made the same decision I had made  – to hightail it the hell out of there! One was a Subaru from Florida or somewhere else far away (we ended up being driving buddies through the next two states, and I remember thinking he has a long drive home) and the other was a semi driver, with a royal blue soft-sided truck, which is VERY easy to see even in the low visibility impossible weather with rain and snow, and fogged up windows.  (Toby, I hope you aren’t reading this!) OK – I thought slowing it down to 70 was a prudent way (read: fastest) to get through the snow and crazy drivers. But, these two drivers weren’t interested in slowing down at all – they had obviously done this before or just didn’t care. So, they proceeded to tail gate me and try to pass me on the right, even when there wasn’t a smidgen of space for me to get over safely to let them PASS me. Once I found a space big enough of me to get over and let them pass, most of the snow and crazy pulled over or slow drivers has subsided. Whew! And to think that only 20 minutes later it was 84 degrees and beautifully sunny, like we had dreamed up all of this snow stuff…

56889 odometer as we filled up at a dubious truck stop called Love’s in Tucumcari, NM. (say that three times fast). Sounds like a recipe for nothing good to happen. Well, we did find that they served Dairy Queen cones of soft serve ice cream (a treat we would proceed to find many times on our trip.)

Now entering Texas – One of the things I am amazed by during our drive thorugh Texas is the junkers we see sitting in the yards and farms. You always see stories at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance about finding a Mercedes, Gull Wing or  Dusenberg or Model-T in some barn in the Midwest that has been restored to a pristine condition. Well we saw quite few interesting ones in front yards along the highway – including a 57 chevy and a model t or at least what looked like a Model-T. But these “finds” were all rust, which seemed to make them better candidates for pimp my ride, rather than concours restoration.

We used my favorite app to find the closest Starbuck’s and while we were getting a snack, we found out that McKinley made it home, but not his bag…that’s why I never check a bag!!! I did bring a bigger bag on this trip and a couple of others for games and computers so no one was dragging all of this as a carry-on (more on that in a later blog).

Driving through Texas, it started raining on us again. These raindrops were the size of Texas! Or at least apricots and nectarines, still pretty darn big! We even say guys fixing antenna towers that were 7-10 stores in the air. Not a place I would want to be in this type of rain that sounded like paint balls hitting the car. This all happened as we passed the biggest cross in the nation. Not sure if Bryce got a picture of it, but I did get a picture of it when Shane and I drove across country in 2001.

Driving through the top of Texas didn’t take long, now we are into Oklahoma, where the wind comes roaring down the plains. One thing we have learned besides Oklahoma is very green in this part is that merge doesn’t just mean merge in Oklahoma. Merge really means “merge now” not when you see the barrels ’cause by then that’s too darn late . They only give you 20 feet of diagonal barrels to move you over. I guess that will keep you alert.

We are now in the Cheyenne Nation. We keep seeing a lot of truck advertising. I guess marketers are getting more and more creative about where to place ads. We found a “Three a day” slogan on truck flaps – milk, cheese, yoghurt. We  also saw a giant flap between trailer axels the entire length of the truck at car level with ads on them. I guess the advertisers don’t want the driver to have to look up to see the side of the truck! We say many, many “how’s my driving” signs. I wonder if any one actually calls them? And what, if anything, happens to the info when you do call one of those #s. You could spend your whole day calling those #s or maybe it is a secret porn network?

Last bit of randomness for today – McKinley called Jasper a “Great Dane” today and not in a nice way. (that was before we sent him home on the plane by himself… that’ll teach him!) The sunset in Oklahoma was amazing tonight. I love to see the sun streaming through the clouds after a huge rain storm. Dang gotta watch for those left hand exits in OK. I think Bryce and Jasper watched 14 movies today and were bummed that they forgot to send the viewed movies back with McKinley. Now they’ll have to take them back when they go home for boy scout camp. We saw a sign for Memory Lane Antique Mall in Clinton, OK. That’s a B. K. activity, (Before Kids). HAven’t done much of that lately and we don’t have any space to put really big, lovely furniture anyway:(

We stayed the night in a small town about an hour outside of OK City. With the time change, we weren’t going to make it to OK City, find a place to stay, find dinner and cool off in the hotel pool, so we stayed in the hometown of some astronaut – at least that’s what the sign on the Highway said. The hotel pool was very nice, but not the big bugs that came with the warm OK night air. The cinnamon buns (from Frontier restaurant this morning) made a good dinner…

New of the Weird (Or things you should be concerned about…):

  • One of those fabulous facts – its 373 miles across NM which is almost equidistant with Arizona.
  • Would you eat at some place called Squawkers???
  • Two trucks carrying huge things with 6 ribbed nozzles on them.
  • Truck carrying three RV trailers in small, medium, and large. I wonder what kept that last one on the trailer .
  • Mowers all along the highways in Texas in threes, usually.
  • More cows in the first 32 miles of Texas than we saw in all of NM. And horses too.
  • Round bales lined up with phone # on them $125 a ton for hay.
  • Gas is $2.75 in TX.
  • Wildorado is pretty run down; even the silos are rusty.
  • Rodeotopia  – is that a cowboy’s utopia?
  • Happy Tracks Horse Motel across the road from Love’s travel stop on Arnot road – makes me want to say “are too…”
  • Huge flame near Exit 53 like a natural gas flame outlet. (Have to google map that.)
  • Truck with three pod campers on the back. This one was similar to the small, medium, and larger trailer, but these were tear drop camper pods.
  • Now my hand and shoulder are cramped from text/typing.
  • Lots of lonely windmills in the fields along Hwy 40.
  • A truck full of train axles.
  • Gas is similar price in OK ($2.59.)
  • It is sooo green everywhere in Oklahoma.
  • A sign For Hext – is that next to text? Nope, it’s next to Sayre.
  • Elk City is the home of Miss America Susan Powell

We always play the license plate game in the car – spot the 50 states, each letter in order, etc. I usually have a laminated map and dry erase marker so the kids can keep track or road sign bingo cards etc. But, driving someone else’s car across country means you don’t have all of your own things in the car. However, the laminated map was not one of them; I had made a point of bringing that. It is an endless source of entertainment with state capitals, bird, trees, etc.  This trip was no excpetion. The day we played state mottos was very funny – mostly we made up what we thought the state mottos should be (it seems like the Economist cover renaming all of the states – like Califorclosure, for example.)

Personally, I like the veteran and military license plates, the purple hearts, etc. because it is a small way to honor people who deserve it, even though they rarely are recognized for it! My other favorite license plate — for a couple of reasons: 1)  becuase you rarely see it, and 2)  because if its bold and audacious slogan, is New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment. What does that slogan mean anyway? It’s desert, and mountains, dotted with casinos alternating with extreme poverty. With snow in July, and 20 minutes later its 84 degrees – this is enchanting?

License Plates spotted today:


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6 responses to “Day 7 – PEI or Bust – Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (Almost)

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