Nuggets of wisdom

The drive across Texas is the source of many comments from those who’ve done it.  Mostly people say they can’t believe how long it takes.  I think there would be more humorous comments if the drive did not cause one’s brain to turn to mush.  That may be what happened to mine, somewhere in the vast vagueness that is I-20 from Midland to Dallas.  In any case, I survived but I remember very little about the day other than the fact that it was LONG.

Really long. The car computer says I logged over 650 miles today driving to Little Rock, Arkansas.  (For comparison to yesterday, average speed 66 MPH,  fuel economy 27.7 MPG.)  All I know is that I’m glad it’s over.  The day started rough.  The hotel room was hot and the air conditioner was ferociously noisy.  The discomfort woke me up at 12:30, 2:00 and 4:00.  I finally gave up about 5:15 a.m., had breakfast, showered, and hit the road by 6:40 a.m.  I figured if I couldn’t get a full night of sleep, at least I could start early.  I was on I-20 in the pre-dawn dark, watching the sky lighten to a streaky gray with occasional light showers.

By 9 a.m. I was already flagging and had to break out the emergency can of caffeinated Pepsi.  I normally avoid caffeine, since it affects me rather dramatically, completely preventing sleep for up to six hours, but in this case it was exactly what I needed. It took me 90 minutes to finish the can, and it kept me startlingly awake until late in the afternoon. But the downside is that when it wears off, all the accumulated sleep deficit hits.  For me, that was somewhere between Texarkana and Arkadelphia, and I had really wanted to make it to Little Rock so I’d have a shorter day tomorrow (522 miles).

I’m lucky to have a good support network. I got Eleanor on the speakerphone and she checked hotels out for me on her computer while I drove up I-30.  By Arkadelphia, we decided I could make it to Little Rock and she got me a nice room online at a sweet rate.  I made my once-a-day stop for diesel fuel outside Little Rock (25.1 gallons to across most of Texas and big chunk of Arkansas, not bad!) and found the hotel just before the sky went dark and a line of thunderstorms swept through. It’s nice to have concierge service, and nice to have someone to talk to once or twice in a ten hour day of highway solitude.

chicken-nugget.jpgEver since we went through the Thanksgiving leftover cycle I’ve been craving some Chinese food, so as soon as I had checked in I asked the front desk clerk for the closest Chinese take-out restaurant.  It turned out to have changed names (twice!) since the front desk menu was printed, and three times since the GPS database was updated. I finally gave up on looking for it and pulled into the parking lot of another nearby Chinese restaurant, which turned out to be the one I was looking for, two generations of owners later.

I can see why it keeps going out of business.  Even for a Sunday night in downtown Little Rock, this place was dead.  When I see a staff of three in a big empty restaurant, I always wonder how places like that manage to pay just the electric bill.  Certainly the $9 they charged me for “Ginger Chicken” wasn’t going to keep the doors open for long.  The Ginger Chicken turned out to be more like nuggets of theoretically chicken-related parts, in meatball form, slathered in a generic brownish sauce with sliced onions.  It could have been the mushed-up brains of other people who just drove I-20, for all I knew.  The rice was good, and I was hungry enough to eat anything, so it didn’t matter much until I got to the end and started to wonder what the heck it was I just ate.  Road food is rarely good for you.

I MUST get some sleep tonight. On Eleanor’s advice, I checked the air conditioner as soon as I checked in, to verify that it won’t make the horrific monster-trapped-in-the-dungeon noises of the other one, so I’m clear on that issue.  I don’t need to leave before dawn to make it to Louisville on schedule tomorrow, so I may take a couple of hours to lounge around the room or go for a walk.  (Other than walking to the bathroom at rest stops, I don’t think I’ve used my legs since Friday.) I should probably arrive in Louisville looking and feeling somewhat human, since the two days there at RVIA will be a health-sapping whirlwind of bad food and hyperactivity.

blue_hand_2.jpgSpeaking of human appearance, the pecan stain from last week has faded completely except for three of my fingernails.  I will have to trim them very short because the black stain simply will not come out.  I’ll do that at the last possible moment on Tuesday, and hope that I can remove all the grim reminders of my pecan-shucking folly. Or, I can just wear blue gloves and get Brett to do it too.  (The geeks in the crowd know what I’m talking about.)

One more day …

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine