California to Texas
Day one, after an early morning scramble to get the last few items in the car, I headed to the store for snacks. Now stocked up with a very full car and the open road before me, I started east feeling a little sad but excited for the next chapter in my life. Lazarus, my house plant that was still alive despite never being watered or introduced to sunlight, sat in the cupholder beside me.
Hours went by as I enjoyed the drive and time to think. Radio stations came and went along with various towns. Towards the end of the day, I reached Phoenix. Soon after, I arrived at Kimpton Hotel, parking the car and making my way to the lobby. The hotel was gorgeous, and I was glad to have splurged on it for my first stop.
Reaching the room, I was in awe of the beautiful suite and wasted no time dropping onto the pillow-like bed. With great reluctance, I got up and began checking out the room, complete with an oversized soaking tub. Phoenix had many places to explore but tonight was all about relaxing in style. I ordered an impressive amount of Mediterranean food and some white wine. Throw in a movie, and it was the perfect night.
Day two started with some breakfast and an episode of Supernatural. Leaving Phoenix behind, I continued east. The landscape changed as the temperature dropped. After a brief hailstorm, the road climbed even higher until blankets of snow surrounded me. The quiet woods were peaceful and still as I drove through. It was a strange contrast to the busy city I had left behind. There were few other vehicles as I continued through the rolling hills. After another hailstorm, the land changed again, flattening out before me. I was now able to see for miles until slowed by near-constant stormy weather. After such an eventful day, I was feeling the effects of it. Determined to make it a little further, I jumped when the car made a horrible squealing noise. Thinking it may have been the eighteen-wheeler that had just sped past, I kept on. Soon after, the terrible noise started again, and I pulled off the highway to assess.
A short time later, the tow truck requested, I was left sitting on the side of the highway in the middle of the Arizona desert. With nothing to do but watch the impending storm roll in, I waited. Later in the afternoon, the tow truck arrived, and after doing a quick look over, the driver loaded up my car. Climbing into the high cab, I couldn’t help thinking how it reminded me of a school bus. Soon after, we were headed back to the west, trying to reach the repair shop before it closed. I had the bad luck of being stranded far from any shops. Grateful to be on the move again, even if it was in the wrong direction, I settled in, glad I was no longer driving.
The car dropped off at the repair shop; I was next to be dropped at the hotel entrance. Settled into my room with no way to get anything for dinner, I had to settle for a burger from a local Chinese restaurant. The burger was surprisingly good, and I sat near the window looking out at the miles of flat land in every direction. I had truly been stranded in the middle of nowhere. A runway strip, the only break in a sea of dirt, provided occasional distraction as planes landed.
The next day a tech from the repair shop was kind enough to pick me up from the hotel. Since it was forty-five degrees and raining, I was glad for the help. Seeing the dark SUV pull in, I walked out and paused near the passenger door, now uncertain. The tech, a tall man with a long beard, smiled and asked, ready? I responded, you’re from the repair shop, right? I’m not really in the habit of hitchhiking. He showed me his nametag on his uniform, saying yes, mam. I decided that would have to be good enough and climbed into the passenger seat. Soon after, we arrived, and I settled up before getting my keys and heading to a Denny’s for some much-needed breakfast.
A warm meal and good conversation with some local residents made me feel ready to hit the road again. The next couple of days seemed to blur together as I slowly made my way east through numerous storms. At long last, I reached Texas seeing the flat orange ground turn to green pastures. Seeing a Guns & Tires shop, I knew I was home. The storms cleared away. I thought I would finally have a smooth drive. My peaceful surrounding was interrupted by a small bright yellow plane flying sideways over the highway. It turned and, now facing towards me, barrelled forward with determined speed. The plane level with my car sped towards me in a mad game of chicken. Braking hard and steering to the right, I felt panic flood my system as the plane curved up at the last minute, flying over the top of my car. Safely moving back into my lane, I glanced in the rearview mirror to see the plane heading off away from me, no doubt to terrorize the next unsuspecting driver. Now fully alert and a little jumpy, I continued on not needing the help of caffeine to sharpen my focus after such a surprise. A long few hours later, I reached my destination and hoped to avoid driving any more in the near future.