May 2, 2006

Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Earl and I have settled for the night in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

After a wonderful night’s sleep, due to the fact that we were in the Central Time Zone, which is perfectly in sync with my body’s time clock, Earl and I were up and about early this morning. Eager to make progress on the journey west, we hit I-44 early, leaving Lebanon, Missouri behind.

Our first stop was a little side trip to get some kicks on Route 66 between Joplin, Mo. and Galena, Kan. There wasn’t much going on in Galena except that we washed the Jeep at a local car wash. The owner stopped out to say hello and tried to carry on a conversation while I was getting change out of the change machine.

“Is your wife’s name ‘J.P.’?”, noticing our personalized license plate and my wedding ring.

“No, I’m J.P.”, I responded, worried that I was going to have to go all superhero on this guy.

“Is your wife’s name Earline?”, he persisted.

“No, my buddy’s name is Earl.” I never refer to Earl as my ‘buddy’, but I didn’t want to throw this guy into a stroke, heart attack or biblical tirade. He muttered an “oh” and started to walk away when I mentioned that we were driving across the country. He smiled and wished us luck.

After our brief journey into Kansas, we hopped back on I-44 and headed through Oklahoma, with a quick stop at Sonic outside of Tulsa, to Oklahoma City. It was original intention to stay there for the evening, but it was still early afternoon. We decided to forge on to Amarillo, Texas.


So we crossed through the plains and prairies of western Oklahoma and crossed into Texas. Earl and I both checked off Texas on our “states to do list” and proceeded on to Amarillo. After our encounter with Mother Nature, we plunged westward, arriving in Amarillo still wonderfully refreshed and eager to put more miles under our belt, er, tires.

So we continued west on Interstate 40. It’s kind of neat going from the flatlands of Texas into the high desert at the Texas-New Mexico border. You’re going along flat, flat, flat, flat with land stretching in every direction as far as the eye can see when all of a sudden at Texas milepost 15 or so you go down a curve and viola, the whole eastern half of the country is apparently on a plateau and you just dropped down into the desert. The scenery changes from browns to reds, the number of trees diminishes significantly and the temperature goes up 10 degrees.


It wasn’t long before we were in New Mexico.

The first ‘major’ town in New Mexico is about 40 miles west of the state line, so we decided to call it a night in Tucumcari. We had a wonderful supper at a local restaurant called “Del’s Family Restaurant” on Old Route 66. Best food and best service we’ve both had in *years*. If you’re ever in this area, this place is highly recommended. It’s super casual, the menu has a wonderful blend of American and Mexican food and the serving staff is very friendly. Two thumbs up from the jpnearl crowd.

Tomorrow we were suppose to spend the night in Albuquerque. I have a feeling we’re going to make it all the way to Tucson.

All Hail Texas.

All Hail Texas.

Originally uploaded by macwarriorny.

Earl and I drove through Texas today as we continued west. Always on the lookout for wild weather, I was delighted to see storm clouds gathering ahead of us on Interstate 40 between McLean and Groom, Texas. There wasn’t a peep on the weather radio about any severe storm watches or warnings, but there was quite a bit of wind and lightning dancing across the sky.

As we made our way down the interstate, we ran into a downpour. It was raining quite hard and I had to actually turn the wipers on high (which I refer to as “hysterical”). It rained for a couple of miles and then the rain stopped, but the wind and the lightning continued.

Then we heard a “bam”, followed by another and then another until it sounded like popcorn was popping. We were being bombarded with hail and it was making quite a racket on the hood. At first Earl thought he could help hold the soft top in place until his hand was hit by a hail stone; then he decided the roof could fend for itself.

After a few miles of being pelted, we came upon an overpass which was very crowded with cars, motorcycles and tractor trailers. I pulled over to the left side and wedged myself the Jeep between a car and the middle bridge support. The cars were four wide underneath. It was then we discovered just how big the hail stones were.

We also discovered the ten or so new dents in the hood of the Jeep. Thank the universe the windshield survived. Others weren’t so lucky.

After the hail gave way to rain, we got off at the next exit for some much needed fuel. A family stopped in right behind us with a hail stone in a ziplock bag to put in the freezer for safe keeping.

The hail stone was larger than a softball. The locals said they had never seen one so large.

So while we didn’t get to experience a tornado while passing through the area, Mother Nature did give us a magnificent display of her power.