Though we’ve been back for almost two weeks, I’ll write about most of our trip in present tense. It’s more lively that way. Pretend I was sending back postcards and letters that got lost in the mail and arrive long after we’ve returned home.
Late at night, after negotiating an awkward turn onto a quiet side road in Oklahoma City, a police officer pulls us over. Apparently we’d overlooked a stop sign just after exiting the freeway. He asks where we’re headed and we explain our confusion over the way to a campground. He listens and nods, and then proceeds to give us precise directions without even a warning about the stop sign. “Have a good trip!” he calls out.
The friendly officer drives off, so we roll down the road to the campground where we settle in for the night. In the morning, we continue west through New Mexico toward Arizona.
I realize that several of these exits would take us onto portions of Route 66. I want to drive at least some segment of the old road, so my husband turns off at Tucumcari, and to get the kids to pay attention, I refer to Cars. They’re suddenly interested and start snapping pictures of Route 66 memorabilia.
I’m excited to roll down part of the great American highway, but sad, too. This town has preserved some of the old gas stations and motels seemingly as nothing more than opportunities to paint vintage-style signs with Route 66 in bold, black lettering. Most of the businesses themselves are bricked and boarded up; and those still offering services, aren’t exactly booming.
Still, we enjoy the mini-tour and promise to watch Cars sometime on the trip when we aren’t exhausted.
We get back on Interstate 40. “Interesting sky,” I say to my husband.
It looks like it’s a long way off, and maybe we’ll miss it if it’s moving away from the road as we approach.
The closer we get, the stranger it looks. The wind seems to have lifted sand off the desert before releasing the rain, so we’re witnessing a mysterious, mingling swirl of brown and gray in the distance. We begin to feel the strong plow winds pushing against us. A tumbleweed rolls across the road, lightly touching the asphalt before lifting up again, spinning and tumbling into the field on the other side.
“I’ve always wanted to see a tumbleweed tumble!” I shout over the noise of the wind. “But I forgot that wind is what makes them tumble—this is nuts!”
My husband can’t even respond, he’s so focused on keeping the RV steady. Soon we’re heading into an impressive storm. He’s slowing down as the winds slam against us intensely. We consider pulling over. He decides to slow down even more, instead, and drive on high alert. After several miles, we see the sky clearing in the distance and as we move toward it, the force of the wind and our tension lessen. Finally, we’re on the other side.
“I’ve never felt wind that hard before,” my husband says as the skies calm.
“My heart is still thumping,” I admit.
Our daughter shouts, “A rainbow!”
I turn to look, and with those dark storm clouds as a backdrop, the rainbow seems lit from within.
We snap many pictures, as the rainbow slowly fades.
The last miles on our way into Holbrook, Arizona, are tiring. We’ve been slowed by the storm and now, construction. This time, however, I did arrange for our late arrival. The office manager at the campground picked out a spot for us not too far from the bath house. We try to get everyone ready for bed right away, because tomorrow we visit Petrified Forest National Park.
Posts about our trip:
Photos by Ann Kroeker.
For about a year, I’ve followed this blogger with interest. His stories and photos inspired some of our planning.