Life Is A Highway

There ain’t no load I can’t hold

Road so rough this I know

I’ll be there when the light comes in

Just tell ’em we’re survivors

Life is a highway

I want to ride it all night long

If you’re going my way

I want to drive it all night long

– Tom Cochrane

 

Last time, on the Single Girl’s Guide to Skipping Town

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Amarillo, Texas (continued)

  • Noms: The Big Texan
  • Fun (revised): Cadillac Ranch; hanging out under over passes; locking all car windows and doors; watching “homeless” folk dick around on their iPhones; praying to baby Jesus

Our waitress had just leisurely announced to our table that “softball-sized hail was coming” and she hoped we didn’t have to drive too far to get where we were going. “Umm, actually we still have a few more hours,” Joan replied in her sweet voice… the one she uses when she speaks to strangers. “We’re headed to Albuquerque though. Maybe we can out run it. Do you know where it’s coming from?” she asked. I was already downing the rest of my Pecan Porter. “Albuquerque,” she replied flatly. Our waitress sensed my panic, “But there’s not much you can do about it now. I’m sure your car will be fine.”

Oh. I’m sure it would.

I’m sure it would be just fucking fantastic.

Amarillo sky my ass.

Softball-sized hail?

You’ve got to be shitting me.

You see, contrary to what our little hipster cowgirl waitress thought she knew, my car was not the first item of concern on my priority list. My dog was. We had left Sonny in the backseat with the windows cracked. He hadn’t had dinner yet and still needed another walk. Not to mention, the fact that all of my belongings were, you know, on the fucking roof of my goddamn car. But, hey, the waitress at The Big Texan said it should be fiiiine so what the fuck was I worried about? She obviously had a meteorology degree pinned to the back of that super official-looking, plastic “Partner” badge stuck to her boob…

Clearly, I needed to lighten up.

I slammed my pint glass down, scooped up our leftovers and told the girls to meet me at the car.

The sky was inky and ominous. Flashbulbs of white light lit up every inch of the city. My hair whipped in tangles around my face and down my back. I ran to the car. I just knew I would find Sonny sitting pretty in the front seat. I could picture his nose twitching curiously in the air – hounding out the rain to come. However, when I reached the trunk, I saw no signs of him through the back glass. My heart sank.

I called to him through the cracked windows as I fumbled with the keys and unlocked the car,”Buggy? Soooonny-doooog?” He was sprawled out across the entire backseat sound asleep. I smiled – one of those big, toothy grins. “Hi baby. I got you some dinner. You wanna come take a walk?” He stretched. “C’mon bugs. Hip-hop!”

Priority One lazily nibbled on pieces of prime rib, green beans, and au jus-soaked bread as I tried to video the wicked storm brewing up around us. It was one of the most cliché-looking scenes I had ever caught myself in – the wind vane spinning, the over-sized bull, tumbleweeds… fucking Texas.

And I think that’s what actually scared me.

Everything was exactly how it was supposed to be, you know, for us to die.

At first, I thought of going to a gas station to wait out the storm. But then, I got flustered, ran a stop sign, missed the turn, and accidentally got back onto the interstate. So, Plan B was to go to a hospital. Why a hospital, you wonder? Because they’ve got to have a parking deck, duh. (Yes. I know. I’m a fucking genius.) But theeeen, the next hospital sign I saw said something like eight more miles. I couldn’t risk Priority Two – my clothes and pillows. We had to turn back.

Not gonna lie, I ran a few more stop signs (fucking frontage roads) before making it back to Square One. And by then, Kaley had made a good point, “That gas station’s awning looks a little high. We should find something lower to the ground.”

The next thing I knew… we were parked under an over pass, behind a suspiciously dark Dodge Ram truck, and I was whisper-yelling, “He has an iPhone, Joan. I highly doubt he’s homeless.”

The storm came. Water hit the windows as if there was no concrete barrier above us. Trees stretched to stay grounded – their roots clenching to the earth for safety. We watched in awe as the wind shredded a flag off of the pole in front of us. Pieces of that awning we nearly parked under flew through the parking lot.

It was quite the song and dance but I never caught a glimpse of any softball-sized hail…

(Surfuckingprise.)

We didn’t get 15 miles down the interstate before the rain started again. Buckets of water. So much water and so much wind that I had to hold a towel above my head to stop it from pouring in from the ceiling (the cargo bag I used strapped on through the doors – breaking the seal). I pulled over under another overpass but this one was too high. We had to find somewhere else. Coincidentally, there were no lights, no towns, no gas stations, no exits.. no nothing. We were in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t see the road in front of me, water was pouring in from the doorframe, and we were in the middle of fucking nowhere. All I could think was, “Where is that ‘I heart Amarillo’ koozie I just bought? ‘Cause I want to chunk that bitch outta the goddamn window.”

And then, the hail came.

 

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Not a huge fan of the ABQ. Could be because it served as my “safe city” for the first two weeks after the infamous “break” (… which led to the inevitable break up [note the difference in syntax there {he didn’t}]) from the ex. Or it could be because it’s all turquoise jewelry and earth tones – bluh. Whatever. Albuquerque’s just not my gig.

Anywho, the only reason why Albuquerque even got on the itinerary in the first place was to serve as a break between Dallas and the Grand Canyon. If you look at a map, it’s literally the only recognizable city in the state of New Mexico along I-40. Ironically though, I had never been so happy to see that dirt trap in all my life…

A few miles after the hail started, I noticed what looked to be a closed gas station off of a frontage road up ahead. I got off of the interstate and pulled into the parking lot of the scariest fucking abandoned service station (even though that kinda goes without saying) I had ever seen in my entire 27 years of life. There were other cars parked around us but we couldn’t tell if any were occupied. An 18-wheeler (a.k.a. death mobile) blocked our view of the interstate. A beat-up old truck with only one passenger (a.k.a. the man who was planning to abduct us and take us back to his basement of torture decorated with the remains of once-was women in their mid-twenties) slowly pulled in behind us and turned off his lights.

We waited for the zombies to start filing out of the dilapidated building.

Luckily, the hail stopped before they – the zombies – could get their shit together. I bailed out of that joint like a bat outta hell. The rain and wind really never let up. I was exhausted. Kaley switched with me when I started to doze off at the wheel. She drove the rest of the way. She’s a saint.

I checked us in around 2:30 a.m.? Maybe three?

The storm had put us behind schedule by a good two hours.

On Thursday morning, we slept. We didn’t race to beat the sun. We didn’t set an alarm. We didn’t drag ourselves into the shower at some ungodly hour and pack the car hours before check-out. We took our time. And then, I drove the girls to Old Town for some authentic Mexican food.

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Old Town is cute. It’s full of trinket shops and restaurants. There’s this old Catholic church in the center of the square that has literally been there since the 1700s – they still hold mass there today. The Church Street Cafe sits directly behind the church. If you find yourself in Albuquerque, for whatever reason, you must go there.

The food is good.

The restaurant is beautiful.

But the Sangria Margaritas will put you on your ass.

Do yourself a favor, don’t order a pitcher. Also, don’t share said pitcher with any self-proclaimed “lightweight” friends – especially if that friend happens to be named Joan.

If you make a mistake listed above, just know… you will have to be the responsible one. You will have to silently cut yourself off early, switch to water, and give up your nap time in the backseat just so someone will be sober enough to drive the 6-ish hours to the Grand Canyon.

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Winslow, Arizona

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The Grand Canyon, Arizona

I was most excited to take the girls to the Grand Canyon.

There is nothing like driving up to the Grand Canyon.

Absolutely nothing.

I have heard people mention they aren’t too impressed with the Grand Canyon. Some even say, “If you’ve seen it once there’s no need to go again.” They are wrong. I could go there every day of my life. I could go to the Grand Canyon every single day for the rest of time and still be just as mesmerized as I was the very first time I laid eyes on it…

Maybe that’s the difference between me and most. I appreciate so much – the tiniest of blessings. A gaping hole in the earth, a bridge, blue water, a clear night sky, or a movie to myself. It doesn’t take much to impress me. Actually, for this particular Canyon viewing, it only took a sausage biscuit combo from McDonalds and my houndy.

The sun was shining. I sat on a rock beside two of my best friends and silently relished at the fact that I had managed to make it this far. I was more than half-way gone. I had brought my dog to the Grand Canyon, for shit’s sake! This was some exciting stuff. I was bold, and ballsy, and woman!

And then, Joan slipped and almost fell into the Grand Canyon.

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Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is probably the best last minute decision I have ever made.

Have you ever watched a John Wayne movie? Like, one of the ones in color. Yeah, I haven’t either. But my brother has. Actually, he watched, like, all of them… before his third birthday. Bubs had a pair of black cowboy boots, a “pow-pow” shirt, and a hobby horse too. He was also a fan of acting out whatever movie he was watching in his second story bedroom. Which seems cute and all – until the Duke saddled up after a fierce band of gun-slinging, booze-guzzling, money-grubbing outlaws – then it sounded like a herd of cattle was coming through the ceiling.

The last time I came out west (remember, the devil trip to NM in Feburary…) I got my little Bubba a koozie from ABQ. It had this vivid scene of red rock mountains on it and a picture of John on his horse. But what sold me was the quote, “Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.” I ended up buying myself the same koozie when the girls and I were walking around Old Town during my moving trip. Everything comes full circle, I guess.

Annnyhow, so I told you all of that to tell you this: Never. Ever. Skip Sedona.

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It’s as if all of the rock God had left in his hands when he carved out the Grand Canyon, he piled up in Sedona. It is breathtaking. And peaceful. And rugged. And lush. It is a page straight out of a storybook – a scene out of a movie. I half expected Mr. Wayne to come trotting down one of the hillsides on his best mare. I got a vision of my baby Bubba – a paci in his mouth, tiny black cowboy boots, curly sandy blonde hair, a diaper, and his “pow pow” shirt. He would love Sedona. That boy would love this place.

Sedona is everything my brother has ever dreamed of…

And one day, I will take him there.

 

The Hoover Dam, Arizona/Nevada

  • Fun: The Dam; straddling the AZ and NV state lines

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In summary, a few things to make note of as you travel through the southwest (or universe):

  1. When it comes to weather, never believe a waitress dressed like a character from Toy Story.
  2. Turns out, frozen drinks aren’t for pussies… at least not when the nice Mexican lady swaps out the ice for some sort of magical tequila slush.
  3. Cokes at the Grand Canyon always taste flat. Regardless, the next time you hear some asshole mention how “lame” the Grand Canyon is, punch them in the nutsack. Trust me. It’s worth switching to water to see.
  4. When your gut tells you to do something or go somewhere – DO. IT. Because maybe the “gut” isn’t really a thing at all. Maybe “guts” don’t even exist. Maybe that feeling is actually the little baby Jesus himself tip-toeing through our minds. Maybe it’s His way of telling us to move our asses (in so many words, of course) – to see the world, experience life, or to just start all over.
  5. You can be in two places at once. So suck that, Einstein.

Our trip ‘cross country is quickly (ha.) coming to a close. Please stay tuned (and patient [also, prepare yourself]) for the next installment of the Single Girls Guide… as it’s not one you are gonna want to miss!

In the mean time, I have a job again. So, like, don’t be all up in my grill if I’m lazy about posting. Ugh. I’m sleeeeepy.

(Kidding!)

(Kinda… not really.)

(You know I’m not a morning person.)

(And I like naps.)

: )

As always, thank you for your consideration and dedication. Also, I think it’s pretty cool that you put up with my bullshit. Until next time…

 

 

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1 thought on “Life Is A Highway

  1. Loved it MC! I can picture it all and I am sitting her at my desk thinking about you telling me this in person with your wide eyes and hand gestures! Damn I miss you! Love Wands

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