| Day 10: Flagstaff to Broken Arrow
That night, I dreamed about the Invisible Man, but he
had gone camping. He still wore all the clothes and a hat, you just couldn't
see him... The Motel 6 phone woke me up at 5:30 Wednesday morning (Flagstaff
time) with the recorded voice of Tom Bodette: "Hi, this is Tom Bodette,
and you just won ten million dollars! Just kidding." I showered, packed
up my stuff, and stopped at a convenience store for $20 of gas before heading
out. (I also got an Arizona Lottery ticket.) After some quick calculations,
I figured I'd be home about midnight.
I left Flagstaff and headed out onto the open road under
a brilliant sunrise--which was right in my face. My face was pretty fuzzy
by then. I hadn't shaved in over a week, I was all rumpled from the road,
and I probably looked a little haggard. Just the, the radio started playing
an Alice Cooper song... How you gonna see me now / Please don't
see me ugly babe / 'Cause I know I let you down / In oh so many ways /
How you gonna see me now / Since we've been on our own / Are you gonna
love the man / When the man gets home...? It may have been the
crack of dawn in Arizona, but I was going by Oklahoma time, and it was
8:52 when I passed Canyon Diablo. On a different day, I may have stopped
at Exit 239 to take a picture of the world's largest map of Route 66, but
this wasn't the day. I needed to get home.
I stopped at the Love's truck stop in Joseph City for
a quick sandwich, and then I was on the road again. I probably could have
stopped a bunch of places to take pictures, but that wasn't on the agenda.
I did stop at the exit right before Dinosaur Park to get a picture of the
"dinorama", but just because of the sign in front of it: "Keep off Dinosaurs."
The classic rock station I found on the radio helped get me down the road.
At the Houck, Arizona Exit 348, I found myself thinking of Marta Houk,
whom I had not seen since college; I hoped she was okay. At 10:59, I crossed
the New Mexico border. New Mexico changed the numbering of Highway 666,
but not all the signs, and I got a picture of an unchanged exit sign. More
trees appeared, and I crossed back over to the Atlantic side of the Continental
Divide at 11:46.
At Exit 140, just after 1 PM, I stopped at the Route 66
Casino and got another $10 of gas. I was still on the Laguna Indian Reservation,
but it was nice to see they were doing all right. Just west of Exit 153,
eastbound, you top a rise and can see Albuquerque spread out across the
whole valley. I crossed the Rio Grande River at 1:30. Albuquerque has decorated
its bridges with southwest colors and stripes of turquoise; I wondered
why more cities didn't do that. The colorful hills east of Albuquerque
brought a fierce headwind and a big orange truck that didn't want me to
pass him. I did anyway.
At just after 4 PM, I stopped in Tucumcari for some gas.
The ATM, however, said I had "insufficent funds" when I tried to take out
$40. What the hell? I managed to eventually get out $20 gas money, but
the transaction left me with only $17 in the bank account. I didn't understand
what was going on. (It turned out to be a bank accounting error, which
I couldn't fix until after I got home.) I crossed the border into Texas
at straight up 5 PM. All the way across New Mexico, the 373 miles of I-40
is known as the Purple Heart Trail. I crossed it in exactly 6 hours. It
was still daylight. I figured I had another 8 hours to go. Despite some
road work, I rolled through Amarillo right after 6. I really wanted to
be over the Oklahoma border before nightfall. If I got tired, I figured
I could stop at some roadside park and take a little nap, but I wasn't
spending another night in a motel. Interstate 40 takes 176 miles across
the panhandle of Texas, and I made Oklahoma by 7:46. About an hour later,
I stopped for $15 of gas in Clinton. I had to hold a few dollars back:
I knew the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority would demand its pound of flesh.
It was a cloudy night, but Mars shone through the haze,
guiding me eastward to home. I made Oklahoma City by 10, and hit the Turner
Turnpike by 10:30. I made good time, and rolled into Tulsa just before
midnight. The driveway was a welcome sight. I was home! When I finally
came to a complete stop, I looked at the time: 12:13 AM. As tired as I
was, it still took me a while to wind down. I updated my online journal
, and finally fell asleep about 1 AM. It was the first time in almost two
weeks that I'd slept in my own bed.