The last save date for this post was 18th September 2018. It is an historical recollection at the time it was written. For more about looking backwards, read the introduction.
Enjoy what was...
Dear Adventurous Reader,
We drive out of Mexico, it is a hot day. No rain. Four hours waiting in the immigration line... and Loredo is busy. Cars filled the main road, and we decide to beat it straight out of town, and as far away as we can get. Find a place somewhere. No expensive hotels for the evening.
We turn off the interstate an hour later. Down on a side road, crossing a railway line, and heading west. A small bird stands on the hot tarmac, at the sight of the car it runs into the shrubs on the roadside. A road-runner. It didn't make a "beeping" noise, and no rock crushed our car as it disappeared.
We call our car Road Runner.
The camp ground was just 10 minutes down the road. After a hot day in the car, it was good to get out and stretch our legs.
Texas is huge. We could get lost for a lifetime in this country.
Austin Texas. The interstate rolls down through the tall buildings, winding out into a vast intersection. Navigating laneways we roll out the north side, over tall roads. A ribbon of interstate.
Finding a place to pitch a tent is hard work, in a country of Recreational vehicles. No tents allowed. No tents allowed. The travelling dogs, common companions on the road, when life exists within the walls of an R.V. have taken the small patches of grass where we could stay.
The U.S. Army Corps have some excellent camping grounds, dotted outside city limits. Wonderful views, and excellent facilities in huge campgrounds. We are glad that it is not peak season - it is busy enough right now.
The older boys opt to spend the night in hammocks. They string their "eno hammocks" up below the roof of the cooking area; stretched in different directions they sleep above the table. In the morning there is a story, what follows is the account of the boys...
"Dad. A monkey poked me last night."
"I woke up in the night and something was poking me from the bottom. It made a noise when I moved, and when I looked over there was a monkey running away."
"A monkey?" I asked. Confused. "Are you sure?"
The three boys nodded. Absolute certainty that it was a monkey.
"I think it was a monkey. It was small, and ran away with it's hands waving above it's head." The boy put his hands up and waved them around.
I laugh. They don't think I believe them. "Are you sure?"
"It was a monkey. Or a small human..."
We laughed. Jacqui did say, "Well, we are close to Austin. If there is any place in Mexico where someone owns a monkey, that could escape, it would be here." I think she was being serious.
Not in Kansas
The clouds pulled together in a tight formation. Dark and menacing. They swirled, slow and steady, as we drove between the wind turbines. The road twisted, back and forward, winding between posts and turbines. The clouds pulled tighter, and darkened.
"Maybe it will be a tornado." One of the boys postulated.
We watch the dark eddies of clouds as we drive towards our next stop. Amarillo Texas, where our road meets the interstate, and we find a place to pitch the tents. The clouds have followed us, and over the fence we see the clouds moving over cities we cannot see. Our tents go up, slow and steady, with more than one eye over the horizon, the ominous clouds a cause for concern.
Inside, making dinner, the television is on. The news stations are all talking about a tornado. We watch the newscasters speak calm warnings to the residence of Claude and Groom.
"What happens if it comes here?"
"Well," I tell the boys, "First we look at what the TV says - the tornado is moving away from where we are. Second, we have to expect that they have gotten a tornado past here before - because of that we would expect everyone here to know what to do. Third, the campground owners will know what to do, and if we get worried, we can find someone to talk to."
It was a dark night. Over the fence the tornado moved away, a path of destruction following it's wake. It was an difficult night to find sleep, but waking in the morning was a joyous feeling.
The interstate doesn't tell all the stories of history. The interstate bypasses history, taking the fastest way around and away from the stories grown in small towns. To experience America's Road we needed to get off the interstate and drive a little slower. To see the places that made Route 66 the legend it is.
A wide boulevard stretches along side abandoned buildings, and deteriorated signs. If nostalgia had a look, and the romance of travel needed a town, we were there. Broken neon tubes, old signs for long-dead mechanics, buildings that could do with some love, and baking tarmac below the sun. It was picturesque, and a little depressing - Splendour and Wonder faded; time moved past the this small town, and onto more attractive areas.
We stop, fall out of the car, and into a small diner. Baking hot sun pushing us towards a small café. The air conditioning is refreshing. The milkshakes are even better.
I expected Texas to be give me the "feel" of Route 66, but I was wrong. New Mexico is the state that feels most like Route 66. The grey sand, the long road that stretches far beyond the horizon - rolling over the land like a gentle breeze. Low mountains, stretch alongside our dark road. Long trains, somehow going faster than our car, snaking alongside of us.
The campground is a picture of New Mexico. From our tents we look down upon a large lake, edged with large stones. Wild horses walk free, allowed anywhere as it is their land. This native American land is edged with steep hills, surrounded by the light blue evening sky.