Driving Across America

I am typing this post while driving across the sage plains of west Texas. I typed the article on COM Ports yesterday while crossing Oklahoma. Typing is much easier while driving than I would have thought. It helps when the sky is overcast as it is today. With bright sun, my screen is hard to read by using occasional glances like I am doing now. I made a little shelf that fits into the cubbyhole in the dash and brings the monitor closer to my line of sight. It’s fairly stable allowing me to type easily even on rough roads.

There’s nothing out here but miles of fence and millions of scrub bushes. I passed a humorous billboard a few miles back advertising Santa Rosa, NM “only 2.5 hours ahead”. I tried to imagine a similar sign beside the DC Beltway, but I couldn’t. This morning in Amarillo it was raining when I got up. It was a nice steady rain and there was standing water in parking lots and ditches from last afternoon’s storms. The countryside is very green for Texas in August, and there’s lots of standing water out in the grass. The huge sky here is completely filled with low gray clouds.

I’ve had the good fortune of having really nice motel rooms the last two nights. I’m trying to live a little cheaper while on the road. I found the cheapest motel room I could, and while the outside looked quite repulsive and there were two cop cars idling outside my door -I had a very clean room with a king-size bed, refrigerator, hair-dryer, iron, desk, two armchairs, and a couch all for a little less than $35, including taxes.

I stopped in St. Louis on Friday for dinner. I needed to check my email so I was hoping to find a Panera Bread or some place with free wifi. What I found was a Whole Foods Market in a very cool lifestyle center shopping area. I couldn’t believe my luck. I got to eat super-healthy and use the indoor picnic area to check email and find a motel for night. WFM is a scaled down version of Wegman’s like we have in PA. St. Louis has risen in the ranks of my favorite cities of America. Check out the Brentwood neighborhood if you’re in St. Louis. It’s close to the Galleria mall.

I met Weston’s and Steve’s for lunch in Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City yesterday. The mall was packed, and it’s a very nice mall. It compares with Philly’s King of Prussia and Tyson’s Corner and Pentagon City in DC, only with fewer stores. Malls are still hugely popular in the West. The outside of Amarillo mall looks like an abandoned shell you’d find in the East, but you’ll have a hard time finding parking in the huge lot. Things will be different in AZ without the mega-shopping centers that are popping up everywhere in PA and bringing death to the malls.

After a lunch break in Albuquerque, I’m again on the road and again typing because I’m so bored. Arizona is spectacular. I’ve left the showers and overcast weather in Texas and Arizona welcomes me with wide blue skies. I’ve passed the lava flows between Albuquerque and Arizona. I passed the first billboard for NAU in western New Mexico. I hope it’s as good as the sign said. The sun shines on the red mesa walls beside the road and looks so awesome. Between typing and looking around I don’t have much time for the road. My trip odometer just passed the 2000 mile mark. That’s a lot of USA in two and a half days. The plains here are green, and occasionally it rains even though the sun is still shining. The trains are cruising past every hour or so. Brad would love to check out these locomotives. Albuquerque was very nice; the air was clear and warm, the Sandia cliffs were there just like they should be, and I drove up Central to the top of the hill west of town before heading on west. This country is so awesome. I know I’ve already said that, but it is. There’s not much of anything out here except miles. I just spotted the San Francisco Peaks of Flagstaff over 120 miles away. I hope I’m able to get myself back out of here when I need to try to make a living. There is only living here, not a livelihood.