Thursday, May 13, 2010

Driving Across America: 2010 Edition

We're doing it again. It's time for the 2nd Annual Drive Across America blog! Because we have less time for interesting stops, this go 'round is going to be more of a photojournalistic interpretation of the journey, complete with meaningless candid photos of just about everything we long as the camera is on hand. But enough about that - let's get going.

The plan is to hit the road Wednesday morning and be in beautiful Santa Fe, NM by Wednesday night. All we need to do is get packed up Tuesday after we finish our last exams, wake up Wednesday and do the inevitable last-minute car prep, and we're off. Except we barely did anything Tuesday night, we spent 4 hours Wednesday getting ready, and we didn't hit the road until 12:45pm. But the car was stuffed to capacity.

Car is stuffed.

And this is me frustrated for how long it took us to leave...

I had my blood checked at Fischer (most of you are probably unfamiliar with my Fischer Sports experiences, but that's not a story for this blog) and found out that my proteins are now digesting perfectly, and my blood is well-balanced.

First stop, sell back all of the text books that have been the banes of our existences for the past year or two. We figure to pull in a cool $100 toward the trip with the 15 books we had collected. College Bookstore on Rural actually ended up giving us $238 for maybe 8 or 9 of them, and now the rest are weighing down the car.


At this point, it's about 1:15.

After Melissa had spent the morning cooking literally every piece of food left in the refrigerator to fill our cooler with snacks and save money, we decided we were not in the mood for any of it. So, one final In n Out trip was in order! Kicking the trip off right = good idea.
Nom nom nom.

By 2pm, we were actually on the road to Maryland by Santa Fe-Manhattan, KS-Chicago.

Obligatory pre-trip odometer shot.

The trip itself has been completely uneventful. Sadly, the scenery hardly changed. There were no swamp rats, no driving all night for sunrises, no almost running out of gas. We did stop twice for someone to use the bathroom...decided to get gas one of those times.

Entering Tonto National Forest, which actually doesn't have any trees. It's a cactus-ridden stretch of barren desert. But the cacti are in bloom, so that's kind of nice.

Outside of Payson, I was attacked (strangely, for the second time this week) by a bee! It dive-bombed be through the sunroof, made a bee-line (haaa....) for my right ear, and promptly exploded against my earlobe going 80 mph.I'm okay, no permanent damage.

Our first stop.

Our second stop, this time for gas as well. No picture, but this was a "Navajo Travel Center" off Interstate 40. As far as I can tell, the rampant use of "Travel Center" in this region refers to "gas stations with tacky souvenirs."

Random shot of highway scenery.

New Mexico
We weren't ready for the welcome sign - guess whose job it was to know the sign was coming and catch the photo - but we kind of got it in a mad rush.

More and more uneventful driving. This is probably going to be one of the least interesting blog posts I ever write. We listened to music. Talked some. We had an emergency re-routing procedure when we decided Santa Fe might not be the smartest choice of Wednesday night destinations. I guess this is what happens when you throw together a trip route without really thinking about anything but getting to Chicago by Friday.

A quasi-last-minute panic set in for Melissa, who became entirely unsure of our path with no notice. A quick phone call to her mom, and she was on her way to remapping our entire trip. This was due partly to the Armageddon sweeping the heartlands - tornadoes everywhere, flooding, and larger-than-softball-sized hail.

On to Albuquerque! We know virtually nothing about this city. The University of New Mexico is here. It's hard to spell. And we think it's a pretty big city.

We got our first glimpse of real city lights as we came upon the 'Burque (the local name for Albuquerque, because clearly it's easier to say and spell...but it neglects the middle 'quer').

Melissa's Navi-notes: I'm so excited because I was just starting to get really bored, especially after hearing "Forever" by Drake for the 7th or 8th time today. We are definitely stopping!

Unfortunately, navigating a city the size of 'Burque is not easy at night, with no previous knowledge, when you want to find a good, inexpensive hotel near a late night, quality, inexpensive eatery.

Melissa's Navi-notes: Lesson learned. Don't follow big green shiny objects, they'll draw you to the wrong side of the tracks.

She is now 2-for-2 choosing exits that take us straight to the hood (see: The Ozaka Incident). We were afraid to slow down enough to even turn around at one point, so this was an interesting little stretch. We made it back to the highway, found a Best Western, and slipped in to the Albuquerque Bar and Grille (the Zia Lounge, Melissa thinks, was the name of the room where the restaurant was).

My order of Tres Amigos tacos was pretty good, her man-sized Fajita Salad was delicious. The celebratory margaritas were very sugary and sour with not a lot of tequila.
But there was a special on Bud Light ($2) so we ordered the personal maximum (2 each) after we ate and took them upstairs to relax in front of the TV.

The internet in the Best Western Rio Grande Inn (they have so many names for this building) is shoddy at best, and the rest of the pictures will not upload. Hopefully, I can get them up tonight.

Today's plan:
Head to either Springfield, MO or Kansas City, MO, depending on which route best avoids the raging apocalypse in America's heartlands. Severe tornado warnings throughout most of Oklahoma, Kansas, and northern Texas, including flash flood warnings, are threatening our trip. If we make it through, we will be heroes. We spent about 30 minutes last night watching videos of the tornadoes in Oklahoma this week. Probably not a good idea for a worrier like Melissa. But we will be fine. We're mapping the route according to the storm's path.

It's about 8:15am right now. Time to shower up and hit the road! Hopefully, we'll be in Kansas City in about 13 hours.


Julie and Tim said...

your bee incident is exactly why I never use the sunroof! I hate bees, those bastards always find a way into place they are not welcome!

Sarah said...

OMG i love that your commentary on albuquerque is that it's hard to spell. that just cracked me up.