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.
I’m so enjoying all these posts… I feel like I’m living your vacation. Good times!
Glad the hail damage wasn’t worse – but sorry it put dents in the Jeep even so. I lovelovelove New Mexico! I’ve been there twice for work-related conferences (Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos) and I think it has some of the most beautiful landscapes that I’ve ever seen.
I think you handled that quite well! I am so jealous, I love taking long trips and since I’ve never been to Texas or New Mexico this sounds like an amazing trip!