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:
RV Trip West: Heading into the Unknown
RV Trip West: Petrified Forest
RV Trip West: Winslow, Arizona
Photos by Ann Kroeker.
For about a year, I’ve followed this blogger with interest. His stories and photos inspired some of our planning.
The figurative icing on the cake….. that rainbow. An awesome reminder of Divine promise right after a particularly rough ride just can’t be beat…. 🙂
Hazel Moon says
What a nice police man to give directions and wish you a nice trip. That old highway is a legend, I remember the song that goes with it. It was popular in “the olden days.” Your husband was wise to slow down going through that wind and all and all – some good memories for this vacation!
Thanks for your comment, Hazel! We were humming the “get your kicks” song on and off for several days. 🙂
Megan Willome says
John was driving us in high winds–70 mph–several yeas ago. Very frightening! We ended up pulling into a motel that rented rooms by the hour. It was the only motel available, believe me! No rainbow for us, but glad you had one.
I think Dena (Panhandle girl) would agree that tumbling tumbleweeds should be cause for terror. Cue the “Jaws” music, slow down, be safe.
Janis@Open My Ears Lord says
Well, Ann, being one of the oldies but goodies myself, Route 66 and the song resurrect memories from very early childhood. The next time I saw that highway was during a cross country trip that Hubby and I made but we had to get off Interstate 40 to see it. Sad to see how an iconic part of U.S. history can crumble as our technology and need for better and faster transportation needs circumvent the old.
The rainbow at the end of the storm–reminds me of another song from that era as well as the blessing after a storm.
Still enjoying the ride,