It was weird to get up the first day of my trip to Burning Man and not
be in a hurry. It was Wednesday, August 21st. I couldnít get in
to take the test until 8 AM, so there wasnít any point in my rushing things.
I left the house at 7:29 and got to the office right when it opened. They
put me on a computer right away. It was a 15 minute test. I finished it
in under 12 minutes. I had been hoping to be on the road by 10, to avoid
the heat of the day. I was out of the parking lot and on the turnpike by
||It was a cool morning. There was a lot of law enforcement activity
on the turnpike. I forgot to fill my canteens before leaving. I also left
behind the Jerusalem cross necklace I meant to wear. Once I got to Oklahoma
City, I followed I-44 until the turnoff for Interstate 40. I was headed
west by 10:15. I figured Iíd get to Texas by 12:30.
On the news, Bradley Manning got 35 years for leaking classified information.
Road construction kicked up red dust everywhere. It was 10:52 when I passed
the Cherokee Trading Post at Exit 108. Right after that, I crossed the
South Canadian River. It was starting to get hot. I kept thinking I forgot
something. My friend Chester sent a farewell text message. The wind powered
generators at Weatherford were really spinning in the wind that day. Trees
were dancing beside the road. Ponds were dry craters in the ground beside
I got some pictures outside, got $20 gas and hit the interstate just after
1 PM. It looked like Iíd make it to Albuquerque by 7:30. The wind was really
bouncing me around the road. Huge bales of hay sat in vacant fields. When
I got to Shamrock, the former Irish Inn was renamed a bland Motel 6. Vultures
circled over a field near the Gray County line. It was 2 PM when I stopped
in the rest area. I filled my canteens with water, ate a sandwich, and
found my beef jerky. The place was full of cars and trucks. Tourists were
taking pictures and walking their dogs. It was 60 miles to Amarillo. It
looked like Iíd make it to New Mexico by 4:15. It was just after 2:30 when
I passed the big cross at Groom. The Sun was high in the sky. As I approached
Amarillo, a police car crossed over from the eastbound lane and pulled
in front of me. There was a big peace sign north of the highway at Mile
|Exit 71 had the other Cherokee Trading Post. I felt like the wind was
slowing me down. I noticed high clouds to the southwest. It was just about
12:30, seven miles from the Texas border, when I pulled over in the little
town of Erick. Thatís where I stopped to see the Roger Miller Museum.
The museum was a labor of love, maintained by locals and housed in
the first drug store Roger Miller ever visited. I was the only one in the
museum that morning, so I pretty much got a personal guided tour. I remembered
seeing Roger Miller on TV shows when I was a kid. He appeared on all the
musical variety shows and a lot of sitcoms. He always seemed like a regular
kind of guy. I did not realize he co-wrote a Broadway musical, "Big River."
On the old "Daniel Boone" TV show, he played Johnny Appleseed.
The museum had awards, mementos, tons of photographs, and Roger Millerís
motorcycle. It even had the little hobo statue he used as inspiration when
he wrote the song "King of the Road."
It was right after 3 PM when I went through Amarillo. The famous Jesus
is Lord Travel Center looked closed. I guess no one could have have seen
that coming. There were dozens of cars stopped at the Cadillac Ranch as
I headed out of town. I stopped at a truck stop and got another $20 worth
of gas. That was where the Texas Welcome Center used to be back in 2000
when I took my family on our road trip to the Grand Canyon. Behind the
truck stop, the building was hollow shell, halfway torn down.
In all my preparations, I had forgotten to pick up an insurance verification
for the van. On the road, I used my smartphone to look up the number for
the insurance agency. I called, and asked the nice lady to send the latest
verification to me as an email attachment. She said she sent it, but with
the delays on the smartphone the email didnít show up. I hoped it would
down the road. Somewhere west of Amarillo, Satori clicked over 295,000
Clouds were picking up. I crossed the Deaf Smith County line at 4:34.
Two miles down the road, I crossed over into New Mexico, and into Mountain
Time. There seemed to be plenty of daylight left. The wind really got fierce.
It was another half hour before I passed San Jon, passing in and out from
under cloud shadows. Ten minutes later put me in Tucumcari. I had been
on the road for 9 hours. I kept seeing a big truck pulling a boat; the
name on the boat was Eesti Laev, which I think means something in
Estonian. I made a pit stop in Santa Rosa and got another $20 worth of
gas. I had budgeted myself $75 a day to travel on. I was over budget, and
still 2 hours from Albuquerque.
Ponds beside the highway were much damper at the higher elevation. The
Sun was getting lower in the sky. At 7:14 (Oklahoma time) I passed Clineís
Corners. I thought about stopping there to get some gifts to give away
on the playa, but I figured there would be someplace else further down
the road. Iíd been too preoccupied with planning the trip to think much
about gifts. The sky turned overcast. The air got cool. Twenty miles from
Albuquerque, the highway plunges into a valley that always freaks me out.
It was right after 8 PM when I got to Albuquerque. Traffic seemed light
for a Wednesday evening. I breezed through town and got off at Exit 149.
There was an RV park Iíd never been to before. It looked comfortable from
the highway. The office was closed when I arrived, and the notes outside
said it cost $36 a night. I turned around and went to the High Desert RV
park, where Iíd stayed before. They charged me $10 for dry camping, and
put me in a spot right in front of the office, with easy walking distance
to the showers. The clerk let me use the office computer to access my email.
I was able to print off two copies of my insurance verification. That was
a load off my mind. The clerk wanted to talk about insurance companies,
and about speed limits in Montana.
I took a hot shower and called home. After trying all day, I was finally
able to post a picture to Facebook from my smartphone. I donít know what
the hold-up was. I drove 675 miles that day, and my sitter was all worn
out. Darkness fell; the park grew silent and traffic on the interstate
even quieted down. I dozed off about 10 PM. I woke at midnight when the
full Moon showed up in my windows. I woke again at 4 AM when it got chilly.
I bundled up and fell back asleep.
Last updated: September, 2013