Road Trip Diaries: Homeward Bound, Part V

Dad’s Version of Events:

Dante’s Inferno had nothing on us today.

I have seen The Apocalypse, and its name is Southwestern Texas. We awoke this morning to a cool breeze in Dallas, which lulled me into thinking the heat and humidity we drove into yesterday had broken.

Cruelly, that was not the case.

Not only did it turn out to be as miserably hot again today as it was on Saturday, a gale force wind worthy of The Perfect Storm reared its ugly head – in our faces. All day.

It was intimidating.

But let me return to the heat. How hot was it? I noticed several cars driving in the opposite direction (with the wind) with those heat-reflecting shields partially deployed in their windshields.

I imagined the associated conversation thusly:

“Good, God, the sun is burning my eyes through the windshield. Dear, please grab that aluminum foil heat reflector thing and pop it up on your side, would you?”

“Isn’t that going to affect your view? I mean, don’t you need to see out the front of the car?”

“Nah, it’s the passenger side. Not much happens over there and, besides, you’ll warn me if something’s about to explode or run into us.”

Yep. Something like that.

And I’ve never, ever seen people deploy their shield while driving. Parked; of course. Driving? Come on.

I am happy to reveal that I did not witness such behavior on our side of the Interstate but, then again, Daughter’s crap sh belongings pretty much obscured my vision anywhere to the back or side of us.

And the wind. My God, the wind!

Big rigs were weaving all over the place. Dust devils danced through the landscape around us. And occasionally a gust threatened to blow open one of our doors.

Well, not really on that last point, but it sure seemed like it, at times.

Prior to this leg of the journey, my trusty pickup was averaging almost 22 mpg. But today it plummeted to 17.5 mpg. Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s a head wind.

Out in the middle of nowhere, between the garden spots of Odessa and El Paso, there were actually two bicyclists laboring along the shoulder of the Interstate. They were clearly in the middle of some masochistic bike “adventure,” since they were festooned with sleeping bags and panniers. As we sped by them, I estimated they were tootling along at about 1.73 mph, with 24 miles to the next town of any significance. I thought it was illegal to bicycle on an Interstate Highway, so if there are any law enforcement officials reading this post, please note the location of these two cyclists.

Even though it’s been about six hours since we passed them, I figure they are still out there and have maybe managed to cover all of two miles in that time.

I’m telling you it was windy.

There were two essential highlights today. The first involved passing through an immigration checkpoint. When we realized what lay ahead of us on the road, it sparked a flurry of inappropriate comments from me to Daughter, such as:

“Be sure to turn the Spanish language radio station off when we roll the window down.”

“Remember to say ‘thank you’ instead of ‘gracias’ to the Border Patrol officer.”

Things like that.

The second highlight and, perhaps, the Tenth Festivus Miracle of the year was that Daughter was almost bright-eyed and bushy tailed for much of the drive, until she “hit the wall” later in the day and asked me why I wasn’t tired.

(Note to self: When traveling with Daughter, plan on a minimum of three coffee breaks before noon if there is any expectation of consciousness from her after 3:00 p.m.)

And tomorrow? If Allah and the Dust Devils are willing, we should roll up in front of our Home Sweet Home at some point in the afternoon, assuming:

1) We leave the hotel before 9:30 a.m.

2) The Tarpaulin Gods accept our sacrifice of Hampton Inn Shampoo and Conditioner.

3) We don’t get pulled over for an expired State of California license plate.

4) There are enough foo-foo coffee joints between New Mexico and California to keep us both focused and jazzed.

If all those things come true, we have a chance. If not, well, Hope Springs Eternal and Tomorrow is Another Day.

Or is that Tomorrow Never Dies?

I get it confused sometimes if I haven’t had any coffee.

- Dad


Daughter’s Version of Events:

Miles and miles of.. nothing.

Miles and miles of… nothing.

I got up early for reeealsies today: 7am. Essentially the crack of dawn in my world. But I got up. My dad was probably pleasantly surprised that he didn’t have to drag me out of bed. Oh wait, nevermind. That’s never happened because I am the one always awake first on this road trip.

We made our way to Starbucks in the morning before hitting the road as per usual. I prefer local coffee places but my father has developed a taste for large corporate coffee with no personality. He loves to make fun of me for getting a soy latte which he terms “foo-foo” but I’m not the one who is constantly asking, “So, where’s the nearest Starbucks?” He is an addict.

I don’t love the coffee there but it’s drinkable and sometimes delicious if I use the powers of my imaaaagination. I like to call it Starbutts because it’s just immature enough to annoy my father. I don’t think I’ve actually said it out loud to him and to be honest, he probably wouldn’t notice if I did because he can’t hear most of the things I say.

Anyway, today I may or may not have angered the barista at Starbutts by asking if my drink was coming because it took longer than usual. I mentally berated myself because I was being the customer I always hated when I was working there. Sorry, hapless barista! I was just grumpy because the sun was waaaaay too close to the horizon for my liking.

After successfully acquiring coffee (I pray it was free of spit), we got back on the road and I fell asleep almost immediately. But then my turn behind the wheel came all too soon. It was incredibly windy so my usual multi-tasking was a no-no. I put my DJing, Starbucks-finding, and e-mail-checking to the side in order to keep the truck from blowing off the road. My Dad doesn’t know how to use my iPhone so I had to find Starbucks on my phone only at stoplights or slower portions of the road. Safety first!!!

Speaking of safety, my dad has avoided sleeping when I’ve driven the past four days because he doesn’t trust me or something. However, I happen to be a fantastic driver. I am the Danica Patrick of this road trip. And my dad is… he’s like the Ricky Bobby.

Well, anyway, today he stole my FaceTent(tm) and actually slept. Because of this, I had to rely on myself for two hours’ of entertainment. I sang songs with questionable content and  used the opportunity of him sleeping to push the speed limit a bit. Not a lot but enough to feel like I was James Bond or something. Going three miles over the speed limit is definitely equivalent to how James Bond feels.

Dad, stealing my idea.

Dad, stealing my idea.

As the day wore on, I got more and more tired. My eyes started to dry up and when I went to rub them, I accidentally got sunscreen in them. So, they ended up being dry and also burned with the intensity of one thousand suns (ironic considering it was, you know, sunscreen that caused this). I decided the best way to resolve my temporary blindness was to pour bottled water directly into my eyes while in the car. Surprisingly, it sort of worked and I was able to both see and blink without excruciating pain – success!!!

Not that there was much to see...

Not that there was much to see…

Tomorrow is hopefully the last day of driving. 9 or 10 hours of driving left! My dad is already asking if there’s a Starbutts around here.

- Daughter

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