July 4th, 03:00.
Plus some random articles from his mother, and a box from Carmen for Chad. I should charge people for this stuff. Oh, and Matt and I each had a backpack and duffel bag. And our hats. Actually, as I write this now my trusty Navy cap is still plastered to my head. You think I'm joking when I say plastered? I haven't showered since Sunday night. Ha.
Our original plan was to leave Thursday morning, but Matt told me that since he had slept all that day anyway, why not leave right then? I didn't have any valid arguments as to why not, so I said sure. First stop: Sonic. Where I happened to run into the Sapios, and spent a few minutes talking with them and some friends of theirs who had just driven I-40. They said there was some construction, but it wasn't that bad. We'll get to how wrong they were in a few moments. After a brief stop at Wal*Mart to grab some batteries for our discmans, we head out. And already we're having a disagreement. I say we take the quickest route, Matt wants to take the scenic route to Flagstaff.
"It's a pretty drive!"
What follows from there is miles and miles and miles of road construction. Apparently I-40 is getting re-paved from Texas to Tennessee. There was one detour in particular that royally pissed me off. Where the interstate crosses the Arkansas River, a barge apparently ran into the bridge, completely destroying it. Matt got a nap and I got two hours of driving around Arkansas back country. We celebrated the end of that by having a nice sit down dinner at a Cracker Barrel I swear I've been to before.
We crossed the Mississippi and entered Memphis under the cover of darkness and over a brightly lit bridge. We had to stop for gas. Let me tell you. 3 am in Memphis is an interesting experience. People were just hanging out at this gas station. For no reason! I mean, in Memphis, you'd think there would be a more interesting spot to chill than the local 76. Come on. Even in Prescott we at least have Denny's. Matt finished the night out and I took over the next morning, just before we entered one of the most beautiful National Parks I've ever seen. It is right on the Ten. North Carolina border. Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So many shades of green my eyes could hardly take it. Clouds hanging so low they met up with the mist rising from the forest. It reminded me of Austria. I turned off the radio (not that I could hear it anyway with the windows rolled down) and enjoyed feeling like I was in a car commercial. That little civic has magical handling. I made a mental note to tell Chad about it. What a fun place to bike! I got us through North Carolina and into South before I yet again turned the wheel over to Matt. Out of the 40 some odd hours of driving, I did maybe 6. Go Matt.
And these doors don't open from the inside or the outside unless someone with a magical key card makes them open. It was amusing for the first 3 hours to watch people come up from the outsideand try to open them, then look at you as if it's your job to let them in. Idiots.
Lucally the terminals got better from there. Dallas was a breeze, only
an hour there. And we somehow managed to get bumped to the front of the
line and get on a less crowded bus. We had a cool driver from Dallas to
El Paso, even though we left someone behind at a Wendy's in the middle
of Texas. At least, we think that's what happened to him. No one really
knows for sure. From El Paso to half way between Phoenix and Tucson we
had this poor guy who was used to driving the east coast, and just "wanted
to see" what it was like driving in the west. In Tucson (after we
finally found the station) he noticed that one of the tires was low on
air. Someone pointed it out to him and he just shrugged. "We'll stop
somewhere and put air in it."
"We've got 16 more back there, one isn't going to make much difference." The driver shouted back.
Silently we continue on, going slower and slower. He finally pulls over to get out and take a look at it. The smell of burning rubber catches up with the bus and it's so strong I nearly gag. He gets back in and we crawl along until we find a mile marker. 216. And an Adopt a Highway sign proclaiming this stretch as belonging to the Members of the Fennemore Craig Foundation. He calls for help and we sit on the side of the road. Our driver finally consents to let people smoke, but warns, "If you start a fire, I don't know shit. I didn't let you off, I know nothing." I wander around stomping out sparks, much to the bemusement of the people heading to LA. I don't know how long it took to get the truck and second bus out there, after 3 days on busses everything runs together. Regardless we finally get to Phoenix, and Mike Jones picks us up from the station. We ditched our bus ride to Prescott and head up with Mike after a detour to Taco Bell and the apartment. Now I'm home.
Over all I had a blast on the way out, and think riding Greyhound was a good experience but you'd have to bribe me to do it again. Those minimum 2 hour waits per terminal while they "clean the bus" is nuts. The Civic is a good little car, Chris loves it and is really going to put a lot of work into making her a fantastic vehicle. As for me, I'm going to sleep for a few hours before heading over to the Levenson's to start house sitting. And to take advantage of their shower.
Happy Fourth of July, wake me when we get there.
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