Well, my skid plate underneath my Xterra came loose again, most likely when I pulled in to take some pictures of a Woody Guthrie mural in Okemah, OK. The proprietor of the Blue Swallow had told me he would be up at 6 with hot coffee and he could help me fix it. At 6:3o am the sun was already high in the sky, solid and bright, not the dappled morning light I am used to. We went into the office and bought an abundance of souvenirs and said hello to the family dog and asked him if he could help.
This man went out of his way, used his own tools and materials, and crawled around on his back on the ground to get us safely back on the road. And if we hadn’t had a timetable to stick to, I’m sure he would never run out of good stories to tell and we may still be there in his motor court being entertained by this good man.
We drove straight through New Mexico, passing by our beloved Albuquerque but not stopping. Old Town ABQ was calling me, but, alas, not this time. The beautiful hollyhocks on the town square would have to wait. By the time we got to Gallup, we were hungry so we stopped at a family restaurant that lets the local native traders peddle their wares. We bought R a necklace and a ring and I wondered if I would be brazen enough to buy a squash blossom necklace at the roadside stop just inside Arizona. I ended up stopping there and asking the price and once again could not justify spending several thousand on something I wouldn’t wear that often. One day I will be able to invest that, but I’m not there yet.
There were still many miles to go before our stop for the night. In retrospect, I maybe had planned more miles than I should have. To get there, I would need more gas. I stopped in Seligman, AZ and pumped gas. 17 gallons later I looked up in horror at the final price: $99.78. Better get used to it out here, I thought.
From Seligman, we descended down to the far western desert of Arizona, arriving in Bullhead City and then crossing over the Colorado River to Laughlin, Nevada. We pulled into the Tropicana Casino and lugged all of our belongings through the smoky casino to registration. After getting our room key, we trudged back through the casino and wound our way through the halls to the tower. By the time we reached our room, I had a headache from the smoke. I started to feel crappy enough that I didn’t even get a chance to go play some slots. A green light shone up into our window until midnight. I was exhausted and fell into a fitful sleep.
The next morning was another a bright one with the sun rising early over the mountains to our east. The day would bring with it a lot of driving on rural roads across a great valley and end in a pink sequined room. But that will have to wait for next time…