September 22, early 23, 2021: Albuquerque, New Mexico almost to Marathon, Texas. Cheap motel on noisy street in Carlsbad on night one. My first substantial road trip in a few years. Albuquerque to Carlsbad NM to Marathon TX to San Antonio TX. Granddaughter Patricia’s in San Antonio to Granddaughter Teresa’s in Austin to Hobbs NM to Albuquerque.
Primary goals, besides having good fun with Patricia and Teresa, include never setting tire to interstate and taking ever more photos of the grand geography of this whole big beautiful country—if only the bad people would go away.
Every day should include a report on an event, sight, or activity peculiar to the day thereof. Today, for example, I engaged in two highly recommended activities for elders desiring mental fitness—solving puzzles and socializing. And all because I believe in Real Paper Maps and Road Signs to guide me to my destination. It went like this:
9:30 am. Los Lunas. Half an hour from home. Following Highway 47. Oh dear, my map says do this, the road sign says do that. I ask a person #1…she says it’s there. It isn’t. I ask person #2…he says it’s back there. I look again at the map. I drive back a ways. I ask person #3…she says…and then #4 says…which takes me back to a sign I saw in the first place…doesn’t match the map but by now I’ve been in Los Lunas (a really small town) about 40 minutes. Person #4 is the winner. And, by socializing with four people and working my way through a puzzle, I’ve completed my elder-health-goals for the day.
Of such grand adventures is travel made. Day one saw mostly the kind of flat, unpopulated country that’s only interesting from two-lane roads where one can stop at every historic marker, pull over at will for a stretch and photo of a windmill, and wait with anticipation for the next McDonalds where an apple pie and a pee is always available.
I drive and I drive. Easy days. I could have been a truck driver. Solitary road trips offer the best thinking time in the world. With a companion there’s bound to be an occasional exchange, and if someone else is driving…well, you nap, right? On a plane or train, there’s reading/writing, people around speaking. Bothersome. But my kind of road trip. Me and Ghost (or any one of the many clunkers I’ve driven over the years) and the highway. I formulate my future, ponder my past, and I imagine what it’s like to live on that ranch over there or in the last village I passed through…what it’s like to be a cowboy, a bank robber, to be a crazy Scandinavian artist planning a ‘Prada’ installation along a desert highway.