Road Trip Back
The local roads were worse than the Interstate shown and there was much tree droopage over powerlines and ice dropping into the road everywhere. I probably could have made the trip to MD easily by taking the PA Turnpike south instead, but I'm glad I didn't miss the Birthday Party after all. There are sure to be other road trips later this year for visiting. Interstate 81 was like this all the way to the Rte 209 exit just north of Ravine, where the highway makes a dive from the mountains to the flatter, warmer PA farm country.
Above is the map from last year's trip...identical to this one except for the MD detour on the way back.
I set the cruise control for eight mph over the limit and sliced through VA and TN with no major hangups. I reached Nashville just before midnight and angled south into Alabama, where I stopped for the night at what has become my favorite rest stop that I discovered last year. The first I-65 rest stop has the Alabama Visitor's Center with some unique attractions.
The Saturn I-B rocket is in honor of Huntsville's role in the US Space Program. There is also the Alabama Vietnam and Korean War Memorials (pics taken on my 2004 summer trip).
I reached Bossier City LA right on time, just as rush hour was beginning. Barksdale AFB was the last base where my Dad was assigned before retiring and I could see the house we lived in on Airline Drive on the way to the base gate. I spent the evening with best friends Kevin and Robin who put on a fajita feast. Their youngest son Geran was the only one of four kids left in the nest, in this case a demi-mansion originally built for field grade officers but later turned over to Chiefs' housing. Kevin is one rocker short of CMSgt, but apparently most E-9s echewed base housing for the lucrative local housing market and he got on the list.
We had a great time, watching movies (forced Geran to watch Ghost Rock, the copy I left them last year) and looking at pics from Robin's Baptist missionary work in Mexico. I even gave Kevin an intro to Blogger. Robin's seen my site before, but Kevin doesn't surf mundane, unclassified sites much...he's an Info Warrior for the 8th Air Force. (I hope I can say that without killing you all afterwards.)
The next morning, they filled up my travel cup with Gevalia and watched me head off for the longest leg: Texas. I don't eat much on the road, just beef jerky and bottled water, but after crawling through Dallas, bumper-to-bumper in some places, dodging an idiot* just asking for a pistol shot through the side window in another, I stopped in Ranger TX to decompress and enjoy a Subway sandwich.
Ranger...what a cool name for a town, a dog, a horse. A name straight from military history, Tolkien mythology, my favorite Ford truck (I'm on my second one) and a desert shrub that grows in my back yard.
As I headed into West Texas, the wind has picked up a lot of the local dust. Here's a shot just past Abilene.
As the sun set, the dust blocked the normally blinding setting sun nicely.
The wind had actually slapped the truck around all through Texas. When I reached El Paso, it was a mighty cold wind also. Fortunately, it settled down in New Mexico, where I could also speed up (damn those TX nighttime speed limits!). One more thing...if you need gas around the NM/AZ border, you might as well gas up in Lordsburg NM...I waited until I crossed the border and pulled into San Simeon with less than an eighth of a tank and was shocked by the $2.20 price for regular unleaded! Throughout my trip, prices ranged from $1.66 to $1.80 a gallon. Bastards.
*Speaking of bastards, on this day when we honor the memory of the Rev. Dr. King, it saddens me that there are still people in the world to whom the N-word still applies. What else can you call an asshole who zooms up your ass in his Caddy, you move over to let him pass, then he slows down ahead of you? Then when people pass him, he zig-zags wildly through traffic to get ahead, then slows down in the fast lane again? Yes, he was a cigar-chomping black man...but that could have been a dog turd...I could't really tell.