I took a hot shower and went to make some breakfast. In the kitchen, I spoke to the nice owner lady as I cooked up a bowl of ramen noodles. She said summers in Flagstaff only got up in the 90’s, though it can feel hotter than that in direct sunlight because of the altitude. In winter, however, the snow can be impressive. “I love living in the mountains,” she said, “but I could do without the shoveling.” I helped myself to a complimentary orange.
I found a station near a school, kids in backpacks walking by, and got
$25 worth of gas. I got on Interstate 40 and turned east, towards home.
Ahead, the morning Sun was trying to crack through a disorganized, overcast
sky. The highway held few surprises. I passed the domed Meteor City, which
looked closed but still had the world’s largest dreamcatcher out front.
|It was just after 8:30 when I pulled off to stop in Winslow, Arizona. There were lots of closed, boarded-up buildings. I bought a patch in the store across from Standin’ on the Corner Park, which looked like it had seen better days. The other store catty-cornered away was closed and empty.|
The state had replaced a bunch of highway signs with new ones, planted in the ground only a foot or so in front of the old ones. The new signs said the exact same things as the old signs. I could see part of the Painted Desert off to the north. The Sun came out, and it turned into a pretty day. I listened to music. At 10:35 I was back in the Navajo Nation again.
Back on the road, it was a little over two hours to Albuquerque. I crossed the Continental Divide again at a quarter to 1. Down the road, I passed the exit for Bluewater State Park. The air turned cooler, and I got a splatter of rain. At Exit 89, I could see the Lavaland RV Park off to the side; it looked like it had a lot of trees. I got concerned I might have left my Ranger t-shirt back in Flagstaff. A quick inspection found it. There were no vendors at the Laguna Pueblo rest area. The miles just rolled on and on. Overpass railings were painted a pretty turquoise blue. It was after 2 PM when I passed the big route 66 Casino; Melissa Etheridge was scheduled to perform there. There were three RV parks at Exit 149. Traffic was thick, but everyone was rolling along.
At Moriarty, I stopped and filled up the gas tank on the Discover card.
A female hitchhiker in a purple top sat in the shade, hoping for a ride.
A fast food clerk followed an old man out to his truck and helped him with
his walker. It was the middle of the afternoon, I was tired, and there
were still 623 miles to Broken Arrow. It looked like I wouldn’t even be
back in Texas before 6 PM. I called home, and the Missus said I should
find a place to crash for the night. She said they weren’t expecting me
home until Friday, anyway.
|Back on the road, patches of wildflowers created splashes of color across green fields. On the radio, there was a commercial encouraging people to apply for the “national clandestine service.” I’d never heard a commercial for the CIA before.|
I stopped at a Logan convenience store for some supplies. A loud bell
rang the whole time the door was open. I said that bell must get old quick,
and the clerk said, “Oh man, you have no idea.” I turned down the road
for Ute Lake, paid my $8 fee, and found an empty spot next to a picnic
table at 6:17 PM. As far as I could see, I was the only person in the whole
park. There was nobody camped anywhere close to me. All was quiet, except
for an occasional car passing down the far-off highway.
|The Sun was setting. Lightning flashed in the west. I got out the stove and boiled up some water for my dehydrated spaghetti in meat sauce. I was impressed. It was surprisingly good. As I finished eating, the wind picked up. It quickly got dark, except for the almost full Moon in the east. I stood outside in the wind watching the tempest brew.|