Home Travel Stories Destinations DESERT OLDS Part 8 Route 66
DESERT OLDS Part 8 Route 66 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Magnus King
Thursday, 10 March 2011 22:26

DESERT OLDS Part 8 Route 66

oneownercollectorcar.com

Writing and photography copyright Double Dragon One Owner Collector Car Ltd. Brochure image copyright GM.

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THE CAR

Nantucket Blue 1967 Cutlass Town Sedan built Dec 20, 1966, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. 330-2bbl-250 HP, two speed auto, 2.78:1 axle. To read a history of the Cutlass and its MPG look in the GAS LOGS subsection of the TRAVEL STORIES drop down menu. Below are some shots of a 67 Cutlass from page 30 of the 1967 Oldsmobile dealership brochure.

 

67-cutlass-brochure-us--30

 

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THE TRIP

Just past Hoover Dam Highway 93 drops out of the light. No streetlamps. Faint traces of worn-out reflective paint led us weaving through the night. A sign with a stylized drawing of a martini glass popped into the headlights:

'DRINKING!'

Moments later more primitive images appeared below stark statements:

'SLEEPING!'

'SPEEDING!'

A sign concluded the story:

'THERE'S A LAST TIME FOR EVERYTHING!'

A crude cartoon of a car crash with impact lines radiating outwards foretold potential doom. Martin was still stoked about his winning streak in Vegas. We talked and fought off sleep winding back and forth through the dark narrow old two lane blacktop.

At the junction of Interstate 40 intense streetlights and the colorful distant lights of Kingman, Arizona stimulated my second wind. Interstate 40 going east climbed mountains higher into the cold desert night. At a pass, the road widened with the shoulders spread out flat in all directions,

"This is a good place to pull off."

The car eased over compressed sand coming to a stop between tumbleweeds near a drop off. Martin fell into the back seat out cold. We were perched on the edge of a 30 foot diameter bone dry drainage pipe emptying out into a parched trench of hardened cracked earth surrounded by prickly bushes. Powerful street lights lit up the sparse desert landscape. After desperately wanting sleep the entire length of dark Highway 93 now that I could sleep the blazing light here kept we wide awake.

I ate cereal substituting water for milk watching the sky while my legs dangled in space above the drainpipe. The desert night blackness showed a hint of bluish tinged overlays atop the deep void of space and bright stars. Cold desert mountain air is thin and fresh providing clear vision across great distances.

Desert highways have modified travel patterns. 4 AM forwards is theoretically prime time for avoiding daytime heat. No trucks or cars passed by although ti was now a bit after 4 AM.

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The next morning was hot. My dry throat made scratchy sounds when I tried to swallow. Blinding white refracting sun rays blasting through the windshield made a mockery of the filtering effect of the 'Soft Ray' tinted glass. Supernova starbursts blazed on the hot chrome dash pieces. Lying flat on the front seat I rolled the driver's window down. Some air entered that was marginally less superheated than the air inside the car.Sitting up slowly, my eyes burned from a week of minimal sleep. The travel clock on the dashboard informed me I'd slept 3 or 4 hours. I needed more but the heat and brightness of the sun set my internal generators back on.

Martin was already up. I exited the burning hot car to take a piss off the 30 foot drainpipe. That was probably the first liquid to hit the dried out riverbed in a long time. The silent Interstate cut through barren and forgotten desert. Amazing that a major Interstate could be utterly empty! Still no other cars. Just heat and sun.

Martin and I were ready to move out. Dangling off the radio dials our good luck psychedelic painted voodoo talisman reflected stray rays of light. The chromed Cutlass dash beamed light back in our faces. The dash is framed with a padded dash 'surround'. The bottom of this safety pad runs the length of the dash and angles upwards. It served as a handy shelf for change, keys, pens, our travelling clock and my Rayban sunglasses. Reaching for the glasses I saw my reflection in one lens, Martin in the other poised to drive into the unknown.

desertolds-AZ-shades cutlass dash

No movie or TV show to reference this place, no friends or acquaintances anywhere nearby. Just a giant blank canvas and our reflections.

All of the travel leading up to Las Vegas had a familiar, pre experienced feel to it. We'd seen it before on a TV set. Things spiraled upwards into increasing levels of self conscious observation, culminating with my watching myself watch myself in a 1970s existential movie scene in Vegas until there was nothing left to see.

This section of Interstate 40 felt untouched, stripped to the bone, born the instant we first saw it. I put on the shades and fired up the Cutlass; rolling into a new and expansive world. The sky stretched outwards without limit. The sun rose hotter and hotter, it was never coming down. The road seemed limitless in any direction we cast our gaze.

First stop: provisions. Off the four lane Interstate onto an old two lane blacktop which morphed into Main Street of Seligman, Arizona. Martin spotted a General Store sign on a barn like building,

"There!"

A thin Native Indian guy in Western clothing and hiking boots sat with his dog on the wooden bench in front of the Route 66 General Store. A vacationing family waited while their young son showed his lizard to the Native Indian guy who nodded appreciatively. A Route 66 neon sign was lit in the window. Signs for Western Union, general supplies and fishing licenses covered the glass. A file card was taped inside the door glass,

"Two boys looking for work. Ranch work or anything honest. Locate us in behind General Store. R.V. park in middle row last camper. Blue."

My attention was drawn to a large poster promoting Seligman. The poster mimicked the format of a Monopoly board layout. Squares around the outside listed local attractions such as Canyon Shadows Motel, Delgidillo's Barber Salon and Delgidillo's Snow Cap.

At the corner of the monopoly poster, a square with a giant question mark said, 'CHANCE. Williams News. For 48 Years.' The corner square announced 'Free Parking, Seligman Garage. 24 hour towing'. Another square held the 'Black Cat Bar, center of town, Route 66'. The Mobil logo with flying horse symbol decorated the square for Judy's Self Service Exit 121 Interstate 40.

Inside the rustic log building the store proprietor provided the facts surrounding the 66 revival but not the meaning of 66. That was assumed to be KNOWN. He explained that Angel Delgidillo spearheaded a campaign from his barber shop initiating the Route 66 preservation movement. Nostalgia saved portions of highway and some small towns from extinction after being bypassed by the Interstate.

We found milk then scouted out a spot to eat our cereal. To the side of the store old wagon wheels and cattle skulls mark the entrance to the R.V. park. I pondered the addresses expressed as 'Route 66' on the poster in the front window of the store. Most business were along Main Street. I turned to Martin,

"Main Street and the actual highway Route 66 must be one and the same if I'm interpreting that poster correctly. That means we're probably on Route 66 right now."

As we drove through town on Main Street my theory was confirmed by a small official Route 66 sign. Hence I discovered "Main Street America'. This highway was every small town Main Street. The rest of the 66 nostalgia revealed itself to us in bits and pieces.

The Route 66 theme showed up in old hotel signs, neon signs and replica tin signs displayed in many of the shops.

The Younger Brothers name appeared on a sign.

"They used to run with Jesse James."

Martin nodded and immediately listed the actors who portrayed the various Younger and James brothers in an assortment of films. He pointed at a rustic weathered wood building,

"It says this jail housed the Younger Brothers for a period during their careers as bandits. I would imagine that they saw the inside of quite a few more jails than just this one."

We ate breakfast in the sun near the jail sitting beside a buffalo in a corral. An old bathtub full of water sat by the fence which served as his 'water bowl'. Martin examined the atlas trying to find Route 66. Because it had been decommissioned scant evidence of its existence was found in the state map of Arizona.

"It looks like there is a small loop of Highway 66 going west from Seligman, then it seems to merge with 40 again."

It was pointless suggesting to Martin that we backtrack along the section he found in the atlas. My detours and tangents had piled up to saturation level in his mind by now. We didn't know that we'd already driven on Route 66 extensively back in California when we went to Santa Monica. Historic Route 66 signs were only just beginning to be erected in Arizona and hadn't caught on yet in other states.

Leaving the frozen 66 world of the past behind us, we rejoined Interstate 40. Even this modern mega structure seemed to be still and depleted of activity. Occasional trucks and the rare tourist car infrequently shared the road with us as the Cutlass clicked off territory at a steady 70 MPH. An official highway exit sign read 'Devil Dog Rd'. What a wild name to be on a state highway sign. Devil Dog Road led to Pine Springs.

desertolds-AZ devil dog road

In Flagstaff we pulled into a gas station for directions to the Lowell Observatory, famed for the discovery of the planet Pluto. Once again, we found ourselves using portions of old Route 66 as we made our way through Flagstaff. We climbed the top of Mars Hill Road to the observatory. The road name reflects Observatory founder Percival Lowell's search for canals on the surface of Mars in an attempt to prove the possibility of life there.

The Cutlass shrugged off marathon hours pulling a heavy load through high noon desert heat like it was nothing. The same couldn't be said of abandoned cars we'd encountered along the way with hoods open or cloth tied to an antenna. Manual transmission cars sans power accessories run coolest, but the Cutlass managed to plow along for hours despite an automatic transmission and power accessories. I attributed it to the healthy timing, minimal emissions equipment, 'expressway axle' and the actual size of the engine block relative to the engine bay. Tons of space for air to circulate.

At the top of Mars Hill Road I spotted yet another radiator failure. A big blue LTD was gushing green coolant out of the radiator into the fine sand where it evaporated in the scorching heat almost immediately. Waves of heat blew off the hood as coolant continued to pump out into the sand. I managed to catch the elderly man who owned the car and brought him back to see what was happening. If he had left the car for any length of time the radiator would have emptied itself with the telltale radiator fluid in the sand evaporated leaving no warning sign to alert him.

Our karmic reward appeared almost immediately. A guy with a camper presented us with his National Parks board admission to Walnut Canyon which still had a day left on it. I looked at Martin,

"See: knowing something about cars pays off in the end."

Martin was not sold on this line of reasoning at all but he grunted to make the conversation go away.

The Lowell Observatory surprised us as we gazed upwards inside the tubular structure that houses the telescope. It was primarily made of wood. After seeing ultra modern titanium mechanized super telescope buildings in National Geographic magazines it was a real shock to see a handmade folksy looking building. Of course it made sense since the observatory was founded by Percival Lowell way back in 1894.

Lowell chose this location for the clear mountain skies which I had noticed last night when we were still at a lower altitude parked over the drainage pipe. In 1906 Lowell began the search for Planet X whose position was extrapolated based upon deviations in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. Ironically the observatory took photos of Planet X on March 19, 1915 but it wasn't identified as such before Lowell died in 1916. On Feb 18, 1930 Clyde Tombough discovered Planet X. On May 1, 1930 this dark cold planet was officially named Pluto, the god of the underworld. The first two letters of the name also match the initials of Percival Lowell.

Pluto endured periodic downgrading of its presumed mass and size. Once Neptune's proper mass was calculated the need for a 'Planet X' to explain the orbit became unnecessary. Pluto suffered demotion to 'Dwarf Planet' status. But that's getting ahead of the story. When we stood in the observatory that day Pluto was still secure in its status as the official ninth planet of the solar system.

"Let's get going to Walnut Canyon to use our free admission pass."

The Cutlass ate up Interstate 40 heading east and in no time the National Parks guest parking spot deposited us close to yellow dry desert cliffs. The hills are full of remnants of the old Sinagua Indian dwellings in caves honeycombing the rock.

"This is like some kind of a stone age condominium."

I climbed down off the trail getting cut up by brambles and prickly bushes and gashed by rocks. It was worth it to enter an old dwelling and perch in there staring out into the desert below the cliffs just like the original inhabitants would have done 700 years earlier.

Back on Interstate 40 a big car accident sent billowing smoke pouring straight up into the sky. A back up of cars stopped dead on the Interstate. The China blue sky above gradually turned orange with sunset as the traffic jam crawled forwards. The highway surface became a purple color as the sun shone its beams into the Cutlass from behind us.

Interstate 40 carried us into Navajo Reserve land, then into the night and over the border of New Mexico. A sign announced a junction with Route 666.

What?

Martin and I laughed,

"Who would name a highway 666?"

Martin shrugged,

"Kind of a Satanic version of Route 66? One of the major paperback publishers is located at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York. I guess some people figure a meaningless number is harmless."

"Yeah, but buildings usually don't number the 13th floor. With that much superstition still around you'd think they would avoid a controversial number like 666."

In the distance we spotted flames pulled across the grey black cloudy skies by the wind. As I pointed at it, Martin anticipated my comment and cut me off,

"It's just a coincidence about the flames and the number 666. That is a petroleum factory you're seeing in the distance. We're not entering Hell."

desertolds-AZ 666 refinery night

It was still warm as darkness dropped onto the horizon. In a rest stop we ate dinner. Leslie's hot plate boiled water in about five minutes for our plain spaghetti noodles. We added some raw vegetables rounded out with a cup of water.

We had begun re-using one gallon plastic jugs filled with regular tap water. We also used it for teeth brushing and flossing and dish washing. By the time all of that was done it was just about Martin's bedtime of 11 PM.

"Why don't we just stay here?"

I nodded assent and we distributed the pillows. Martin always took the back seat and I the front. Our system left the key in the ignition which was located on the dash board. This car was built prior to steering column interlock. I slept with my head at the steering wheel with the ignition switch instantly accessible. The Cutlass starts up with a turn of the key if it has only sat for 6- 8 hours. Its ready to go just as quick as a fuel injected computer managed modern car. Martin had a whole system for the back of the car using the rear package tray to lay out his towel and toiletry items. Martin crawled into the back of the car,

"Night."

"See you in the morning."

I found a row of trees planted as a wind block surrounding the rest area. After a few chin-ups and abdominal leg lifts I had to stop. My hands were coated with sap. The putrid smells wafting over from the oil refinery combined with the acrid stench of diesel exhaust also contributed to an abbreviated workout. Trucks in the rest area run all night long to keep the A/C working. A strong desert wind carried the fumes into my face.

There was no hot water at this rest area. I tediously worked the sap off my palms using cold water. A few cars swished past and trucks lumbered up the highway. Walking out into the desert away from the exhaust transformed the environment. As truck engine noise faded off natural sounds swelled up loudly. Crickets and other night creatures created a hazy background of white noise.

It was starting to get very cold. The stars pulsed pinpoints of light. Off in the distance the flames of the refinery flickered. I did pushups until I was fully heated then began slow precise one arm pushups. Sand spilling up over my fingers was now very cold as the desert temperatures dropped further. I was panting and hot despite the now frigid temperatures.

Getting up from my pushups a sudden shock hit me. I looked straight into two eyes glowing in the dark.

SHIT!

The eyes were about 10 feet away. Fox, coyote or wolf? We stood looking at each other for a long while then he darted away. I got back to the rest area pronto!

Cereal with water substituting for absent milk constituted my post work out meal. Sitting on the ice cold picnic table I was lulled into a trance by the diesel truck engines hammering away harshly in the night. A car hissed into the rest area. The voices of the people disembarking sounded alien and far away, jangling and out of place in this desert of night denizens with glowing eyes.

I slid into the front seat of the Cutlass, closing the door with a faint click. I dreamed of wolf eyes and jagged grinning jaws full of razor sharp teeth.

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About half past eight in the morning I woke up in the superheated car and strolled over to some bushes to take a piss. Squinting in the brightness, not really awake all of a sudden the ground opened up below pulling me down into swirling darkness of an open pit. Shrieking demon voices echoed in my brain. I fell into eternity. Ten tons pinned me to the ground as if gravity had multiplied dozens of times. I was paralyzed and tried to call out in vain as I suffocated and completely blacked out spinning downwards into the vortex. Total claustrophobic panic and helplessness washed over me, mind whirling.

The mundane facts were that I collapsed face first in the sand mercifully missing the fresh piss stain. I came to with my face mashed into the sand and my limbs folded under my weight in an awkward position. Rolling over onto my back gradually allowed feeling to return to my limbs followed by pins and needles. Brushing sand off my torso and face I groggily staggered back to the car, disoriented after my roller coaster drop into the black pits of the inner chambers of hell.

Martin missed the whole thing. I was raving about the incident and how it might be an Indian burial ground we were on or maybe some connection with the fact we were on Route 666 or who knows what when he shut it down,

"You fainted from lack of sleep. It had to happen eventually. You've been awake round the clock for months now. If you ever just went to sleep early one night and slept 8 hours, even just one night...."

I wasn't buying his explanation and he wasn't interested in the revelation that consciousness and even life itself was just a fragile veneer of reality stretched thin like gossamer between us and a giant sucking force hauling us into the black pits of hell.

We got onto Interstate 40 which was running in combination with Route 666 at this point. At a Stuckey's store we were disappointed to hear they had no milk.

"There's a grocery store 8 miles further down in Thoreau."

In Thoreau, New Mexico the Cutlass was the only car in sight. Thoreau Grocery had old produce we couldn't imagine eating, but they did have milk. This small town Main Street was once again Route 66. Highway 66 took us past a Thriftway Pawn and houses with multiple old cars parked out front eventually carrying us to the railway tracks. Sitting on the grass by the tracks we ate cereal.

"Notice how Highway 66 follows a pattern? It keeps appearing not only as Main Street in each town, but it's always next to railway tracks."

Martin nodded,

"Yeah, I suppose it might be possible to find the old bits of Route 66 just by locating the railway between each small town around here."

"Let's do it!"

Martin patiently explained that we had to get to New Orleans sometime this year. Back on the Interstate we were humming along at 70 MPH when Martin closed the atlas,

"We have ten bucks left. How's our gas?"

I checked the gas gauge,

"We're below a quarter tank right now."

Martin asked, "Can we make it to Santa Fe? It's about 160 miles."

A friend of a friend lived somewhere in Santa Fe. It seemed like a good place to crash out while we figured out our next move, except that the math didn't work.

"We don't have enough gas to make it."

"If we put our last ten bucks in the tank would we make it?"

I shrugged, skeptical. Martin formulated a new plan,

"Maybe I can get Leslie to wire us a few bucks to get us to Santa Fe."

As Martin thought about Leslie it dislodged a pertinent fact from his memory,

"Wait a minute! I met a friend of Leslie's about ten years ago. I think she mentioned she was from Albuquerque. Albuquerque is closer than Santa Fe."

He dredged the memory gleaning further information,

"Her name was Carol!"

He reopened the atlas,

"It's about 100 miles. Can we make it there?"

"We'll be on nothing but fumes. It's iffy. I guess it's possible if we throw some more money in the tank."

We pulled over. Martin made the collect call from a pay phone in a Dairy Queen parking lot festooned with urgent advertising signs. Leslie agreed to wire money to Martin for pickup in Albuquerque and to call ahead to see if Carol was still there.

The Cutlass arrived in Albuquerque with the gas gauge needle dangerously low. The 5 bucks added to the gas tank left us with 5 bucks cash. The off ramp from Interstate 40 just after the Rio Grande River deposited us right at the entrance to the Hilton Hotel. Carol worked somewhere in this beige tower as a cleaning maid. Martin staked out the bar investing our last 5 bucks in a drink to validate our presence. I vaulted over the 6 foot fence surrounding the pool and asked two older ladies sunning themselves to watch my book and towel for me.

"Certainly, dear!"

The water was warm from the sun. After ripping through several laps of front crawl I caught my breath in backstroke staring up into a perfect emptiness of the sky. Everything was peaceful until a back lit silhouette of a crew cut head cut a grotesque black chunk out of the beauty of the blue sky. The head moved in time with my swimming accompanied by a garbled harsh voice mercifully muffled by the water,

"SIR! This pool is for registered guest users only! You must provide proof of registration or you shall require a peace officer escort to cease and desist and vacate these premises whereupon you shall be detained for trespassing upon these premises bla bla bla infringement of hotel this and that violation of code number nine official conduct code violation doublespeak etc."

I heard the snippets of the insistent voice and kept doing laps on my back which partly drowned out the officious gibberish of a plump sweating mustached security guard. He wore an ill fitting likely very uncomfortably hot polyester suit jacket holding a flashlight of all things on a brilliantly sunny day. He shook the flashlight for emphasis, then got on his walkie talkie with his voice rising in a shrill hysteria as I continued to ignore him,

"Apprehended... location verified... suspect not responding... does not acknowledge! ... resisting arrest... situation critical! In the water sport facilities in the water portion segment..."

Water portion segment? Unbelievable! Why doesn't he just say 'swimming pool'?

A second guard appeared. He seemed normal and called out to me,

"What room are you in, sir?"

I acknowledged the second security guy while treading water to prolong the exercise.

"I'm with a friend at a the bar. We're paying customers meeting someone here."

The original tubby doublespeak Secret-Agent-Man guard jumped in front of the normal guard and hi-jacked the conversation,

"Customers of the restaurant and bar do not have registered guest status. You are in fact trespassing and shall be escorted to a place for detainment by a peace officer to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the laws of the state of New Mexico!"

If you can't beat them, join them. I double spoke back to him,

"I will in fact have vacated these restricted code nine water portion premises of the water sport facilities and re entered my privately licensed motorized vehicle with lawful expiry dated identification plates attached PRIOR to the peace officers showing up to escort, detain or prosecute to the fullest extent of the laws of New Mexico...."

The other guard had quietly sauntered away apparently satisfied that I was with Martin. The fat guy was like a dog with a bone. These guys never let go and they can't just say 'car' or 'house' it's always a 'vehicle' or 'private residence'. He continued to dispense bizarre authoritarian jargon while I kept treading water and responding with equally inane jargon which he never once seemed to notice. Once i was totally out of breath and ready to leave the pool I got out.

One of the older ladies poolside who had been holding back laughter at the idiot officious gibberish contest going on told the guard I was with them. Even if he had believed it, he didn't want to believe it and hung about like an angry bulldog. He reluctantly left the pool area when they insisted that everything was fine. Once he was gone I thanked the ladies who waved it off as nothing.

I settled into a reclining chair reading Guignol's Band by Celine. In less than a chapter I was totally dry in the warm sun. The ladies were still out there with their sunglasses and creams when I bid them goodbye before going into the bar to check on Martin.

Carol appeared in the lobby wearing the gold Hilton staff uniform and a big smile. Introductions were made and she informed us that David, her husband was picking her up from work. She and Martin caught up on news in the bar.

I spotted an old Pontiac LeMans out in the hot parking lot and went over to have a closer look. It turned out to be David waiting for Carol. David and I had a long talk about 1960s General Motors intermediates. He was excited to scope out the Cutlass and was impressed with how quietly and smoothly it idled. His young son Jack was also curiously comparing the two old relics from a long gone era.

David noticed the tubby security guard hovering nearby glaring and swatting his open palm repeatedly with his flashlight,

"What's going on with that guy?"

Martin who didn't even know the poolside story nonchalantly answered,

"I'm assuming Magnus did something to antagonize him. You'll get used to it. Whenever you are with Magnus there's always a posse of pissed off representatives of authority gnashing their teeth."

I corrected Martin,

"That guy is not a representative of any authority. He's just some twisted arm of the law trying to pump up the emptiness of his meaningless existence by attempting to exercise a sense of pseudo authority."

David laughed,

"He sounds like a lot of the guys I work with! I'm a security guard down at a computer place and some of those guys are downright crazy. You should see some of them. Frustrated would-be cops. All badly out of shape and totally nuts. They probably failed the physical AND the psychological tests."

David led the way with Martin and I tailing him in the Cutlass east and then south to Mountain Road. David and Carol lived in an 'adobe style' building. Outside the bright red brick facade we entered a standard box style rental apartment. The built in veranda provided a view of the dodgy area patrolled by restless drug dealers pacing back and forth day and night draped with oversized dufus clothes. David made hamburgers for everyone. Martin discerned that Carol's marriage was in turmoil and further that our unexpected appearance was a welcome diversion from the strife. The couple was on their best behavior for us which started to undermine years of built up tension between them.

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Life in Albuquerque flowed smoothly as the earth spun round through the days like a roulette wheel. Aside from serving as inadvertent marriage counselors, our presence also freed David to snatch some extra sleeping-in time. Carol put gas in the Cutlass so I could drive her to work and Jack to daycare. This gave David time to drive into his job in a leisurely fashion after rush hour was over instead of his usual early grind of getting everyone else to their destinations in rush hour prior to fighting traffic backtracking to his own workplace.

As we always did in any new place, Martin and I settled into our new routine quickly. Martin napped while the commuting was going on. He gave up the bedroom when I got home and did some writing while I napped in the room.

Martin and I checked for the Western Union which Leslie failed to send on a daily basis. True to usual form we ended up extending our stay further and further due to the unforeseen circumstances of the phantom money wire. David and Carol continually reassured us that it was no problem to have us in fact; they were really enjoying our visit. We drove a wedge between patterns of bickering that had been hard for them to eradicate when it was just the two of them alone every night. Once the pattern was broken they were able to start anew.

Our days were lazy in the extreme. Like Martin, I did no exercise which helped reduce the need to eat too much since we were relying on our hosts for food while the Western Union failed to arrive. I spent my days reading or wandering the neighborhood while Martin holed up in the air conditioned apartment. After I picked up Carol and Jack everyone had a big family dinner together. Evenings after Jack was put to bed revolved around copious quantities of Jack Daniels. Martin has a thing for whiskey and introduced them to his preferred brand, Canadian Club. I usually stayed for a few drinks but whiskey every night isn't my thing. I prefer vodka.

While the whiskey flowed, I had taken to roaming around Albuquerque at night slowly learning the layout of the town. I drove around 'old town' and then further east to the 'new' downtown. I cruised on Central which years later I discovered was actually old Route 66. My late night forays served the dual purpose of exploration and also shortened the amount of time I spent sleeping on the hard floor in the living room. I made up for it with a nap in the bedroom later in the day.

One day while Martin and I lounged about watching local TV stations and reading I met the next door neighbor Marianne, a cute young stripper who worked at one of the local clubs. She described her twin sister and her first husband the firefighter who died at 31 of cirrhosis of the liver. She summed him up as having 'gone bad'. That was in Maine. She had been around the country and seen a lot. She started traveling soon after the day she was born in Germany. She was part French descent and bounced about a bit before her ramblings in USA began. We hit it off while she recounted tales of her travels as far as Alaska. Soon she was cooking my lunches and doing lap dances for me. Lounging around and now, free food delivered by dancing girls. Yes, life in Albuquerque was settling into a nice comfy groove!

Another day Carol called home while Martin and I were lounging watching the drug dealers prowling back and forth up the street. The day care had just called her at work because Jack had a fever. She decided to take Jack out of day care. After canceling her work shift I came to pick her up at the Hilton and we went together to get Jack. His fever cleared up later that afternoon. Martin was keen to visit the National Atomic Museum and Jack started leaping about for approval,

"Can we? Can we?"

Carol the pacifist was a little bit worried about taking him to the National Atomic Museum which was on a military base but gave in to his pleadings. The guard with rifle in hand never varied expression as we pulled up to the guard gate in the raw ass motherfucking Cutlass. After signing in as visitors to the Kirtland Air Force Base we entered the museum. It was an interesting history of technological advancement and very worrisome to think about all the radiation set loose in the world. A documentary "Ten Seconds that Shook the World" explained the historical basis for the development of Atomic power leading to the bomb. Various bombs were on display. A video on the thermonuclear/ hydrogen bombs captured the total annihilation created in a 7 mile radius after detonation.

One night instead of the whiskey ritual David took all of us up to see some caves using highway 14 just off Interstate 40. Partway up the mountain the lights started flickering and the LeMans died on a darkened hill a few minutes before reaching 'the crest'. With the emergency brake on David cranked and cranked until he managed to flag down another car. Boosting the battery coaxed life into the car. After dying five times on the way down the mountain we finally made it back to town. The alternator was shot.

From this point onward my morning route added a loop north on Interstate 25 to David's work after I chauffeured Carol and Jack to their places. David was surprised by how well I knew all the roads surrounding the Jefferson off-ramp near his work. It wasn't just that one grid, though. I knew all the roads branching off 25 north and south as well as the roads coming off 40 east of the Rio Grande. My rambling around had imprinted the layout of the city into my mind.

I came 'home' for my lunch and lap dances followed by a nap. Life carried on in this new pattern with a tranquil flow.

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The Western Union money from Leslie finally arrived and the LeMans was fixed. Life was going to revert to 'normal' for David and Carol now that it was time for us to move on. During the celebratory goodbye night of drinking Carol and David were a bit melancholy about us going. Martin and I also felt a bit funny about leaving. Living here felt normal to us just like it felt that way in all the other cities we fell into. Jack had done a special drawing for us which I kept safe in my suitcase with my most prized possessions.

Because of lack of action with Leslie's Western Union wire I'd made some collect calls trying to drum up some money and it paid off. A friend repaid a long forgotten debt with a deposit to my account. The money showed up the same day as Leslie's $50.00 money wire. Adding Leslie's wire to the $60.00 I had collected fortified us. We were primed to cover lots of new ground.

Rumbling through Albuquerque's afternoon rush hour traffic Martin and I were having one of our unresolved arguments about astrology. He rejected the concept out of hand as being too farfetched for him to accept,

"It's all bullshit. There is no force to explain it."

"Just because a concept doesn't tally up with the mechanistic perspective doesn't mean it doesn't exist or work. Science itself has moved far and away from the basic Newtonian concepts anyways."

"There is no scientific basis for the 'rays'. Planetary gravity and magnetism is too weak to affect life on earth."

"The linear extrapolation of energy curves goes haywire on the quantum level. You get supralinear effects and other weird stuff. All that aside, there is also no certainty that relative strength of signal is relevant in the first place. Animals have been shown to respond to specific incredibly minimal frequencies while remaining 'dumb' to larger or smaller ones outside that narrow band of sensitivity. Percy Seymour has a theory of astrology that the planets modulate the earth's magnetic field which is 'read' by living beings."

"That doesn't prove astrology. There is no scientific proof FOR it so therefor it's bullshit."

"Yeah, t's true that zodiac signs have no support from tests, but that is just a fragment of astrology. There is statistical proof that angular planets correlate with career eminence. The inference is that particular personality traits appear at birth under certain planets. The planets might not 'cause' anything but just serve as timers or signposts of innate traits. No one knows the why or how, but the statistics have stood up to replication by various researchers."

"Statistics are just sophisticated lies."

"A second ago astrology didn't work because there was no evidence. Now the evidence has to be rejected because suddenly statistics which are part of science are now deemed by you to not work.. does science work or not?"

Martin sighed and asked,

"Tell me again what our 'planets' are."

"I'm born under Jupiter which is grandiose, chaotic, and expansive with a will for dominance. You are born under Saturn which is observant, solitary, frugal, conscientious, anxious and systematic."

"You could just be picking out the parts of each definition to fit our known personalities."

"Then read the pages for yourself... its all there- my bad temper and compulsion to explore, your need for secrecy and to reign things in and keep the focus..."

This went on for awhile as we made our way to a gas station. Martin challenged me to predict what was going to happen next,

"Some hororary charts give exact answers but that's probably due to the importance of the question to the person involved. Casual interest doesn't seem to 'tune in' anything. Experiments in PSI showed people can score above chance expectation at first but their scores drop off as soon as interest wavers. I suspect that 'prediction' via charts works similarly. Its probably a psychic or magical effect. Astrology is a springboard for the readers just like a crystal ball. Astrology itself is likely no more than a general energy trend."

"Fine, whatever. What is the general trend right this minute?"

I looked up at the sky and saw the sun sitting around three quarters through its travel above the horizon. That meant Jupiter was around culmination overhead while the other significant planets were in weak zones. Uranus and Neptune were rising towards the ascendant right about now.

"Jupiter reinforces my argumentative bombastic tendencies. Traditionally its associated with luck or expansion of experiences. Uranus is associated with quirky, unexpected accidents or electric sudden breakthrough events such as eureka moments. Neptune is universal connectivity, dissipates things, rules water, gases and mass consciousness, also confusion and deception. These 3 planets together in the Ebertin system means receiving unearned benefits... gain without effort."

"That may be true of the trip so far, but it's been that way all along not just in this particular moment."

"Those 3 planets have been in combination for most of our trip. They are slow moving and will hold that pattern for awhile. So yeah, they neatly describe the underlying tone of things for us. We roll along on the momentum of luck and effortless good fortune"

"Yeah, OK, But what does it predict for RIGHT NOW?"

"Well our heated discussion about esoteric subjects without any solid conclusion would fit the pattern if you wanted to look at it as an instant in time. But hasn't been any sudden moment of clarity you would expect from Uranus. Maybe some unexpected thing will happen in the conversation like you'll suddenly see the light... haha. Maybe some lightning bolt event will happen. I hate to create a self fulfilling prophecy here of course since Uranus rules sudden accidents too. Hitting one truck wheel is enough."

"AHA! It MUST be true since you've been babbling about astrology for the last ten minutes. I'm converted!"

We decided to get a car wash which only cost two bucks if you did a fill-up. The argument was still in progress as we eased the Cutlass into the car wash. The green light went off and instead of the customary nozzles lining up and spraying the car the front and rear doors began lowering at an alarmingly quick rate. CLANG! The doors hit the cement floors with an ominous finality sealing out the light and air. I killed the engine to avoid asphyxiating ourselves.

"What the Hell?"

We looked around in darkness waiting to see some further instruction from the light panel that was now apparently off.

"Maybe they close it before spraying?"

I shook my head,

"No. Something just went wrong. Remember in GET SMART when he got kidnapped from a car wash?"

"Hey this isn't GET SMART. We're really trapped in here. I mean, shit, what if the station just closed for the day? Try honking your horn."

I honked the deep bass horn on the Cutlass a few times. Nothing happened. The doors stayed down. We were still sitting in darkness.

"I bet if we get out of the car that'll be the instant that the water sprays go on."

Martin laughed and shook his head,

"This is just so fucking weird."

"Yeah, funny isn't it. I would categorize this as a quirky unexpected weird event. A Uranus type thing, and Neptune is water, confusion and so on but according to you astrology doesn't work."

He groaned. Despite being locked up in the car wash through some bizarre mix-up he wasn't giving an inch on our long standing argument. I hit the headlights. We tried reading all the lights and signs to see if there was an emergency exit button anywhere.

I got out of the car. A few minutes after I delivered a few loud kicks to the sliding door with the base of my foot the doors magically rose again. We found out that someone heard the kicks and went to the attendant who pressed the buttons on his panel to free us.

There is some kind of failsafe system in effect that doesn't allow the doors to close while a car is inside the wash but through some weird sequence of events the attendant accidentally managed to close the car wash down in the microsecond between two different modes on his board. He also didn't see the warning light. He summarized the fluke as a,

"One in a million chance".

Inside the gas station Martin was able to parlay our adventure locked in the car wash into some free drinks. Naturally he chose a Coke while I got orange juice.

'just in case you didn't notice these drinks we're consuming are what Ebertin would classify as 'unearned benefits'."

Martin didn't respond to the comment.

Martin held the receipt for the car wash showing the time while I photographed it. I intended do a chart someday for the exact time we paid for the car wash.

"Hey wait a minute! It says we paid for this wash at 10:56 AM but its afternoon!"

"If you are going to talk about some nutty story of alien abduction where the principle victims 'lose time' I'm going to walk to New Orleans!"

"Well now that you mention it we are out in the desert where all this weird UFO stuff seems to happen... haha! Nah, don't worry. I'm not suggesting that it wasn't afternoon when we got here. I had just looked at the position of the sun, remember? The receipt timer is set wrong."

Then Martin shook his head,

"Jeez! Look at this!"

He thrust the receipt at me looking like he was finally impressed at how weird this whole thing really was,

"It not only got the time wrong, but it says it's a day later than it really is. But the kicker is the year. Look closely! It says 1957!"

Interstate 25 going South shed civilization quickly. We found ourselves in a desert rest stop lit red by a spectacular sunset around Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico. The buildings perched atop stilts in anticipation of flash floods. After a hot plate meal we hit the road again. Our talk gradually veered away from the never to be resolved astrology argument into musings and random thoughts.

The stars were piercing the deep black sky when we pulled off the highway into Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

"We have to send some postcards! Imagine getting a card with the postmark from this town on them. haha."

Bad vibes radiated into our car from hostile guys in a pickup truck and glaring masses of pissed off guys huddled on street corners. In a corner store I bought a few postcards and sent them off with their Truth or Consequences stamp. We felt as if some Consequences were going to catch up with us if we didn't get out quick.

The bad vibes set off a chain reaction in the car. I came back to see that a frosty fog was obscuring the windows. It gets cold in the desert at night and the sudden drop in temperature had caused moisture to crystallize in the back window. I grabbed a towel to wipe out the window. That was a mistake that set Martin off into a tantrum because it was his towel. I'm particular about certain things, but not clothing or towels. My thinking is,

"They're just fabric and easily washed. Good as new."

Martin didn't see it that way and was very pissed off that I had brusquely used his personal towel to clear the window. Things calmed down eventually but it was good to get out of Truth or Consequences.

We pulled into a rest stop around Jornada del Muerto, New Mexico pretty late at night as lightning cracked the sky.

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Next day as we entered Las Cruces, New Mexico Martin was muttering to himself trying to place the significance of the name. We stopped the car near a historic marker which jogged Martin's memory,

"Of course! This is the site of Pat Garret's murder."

Pat Garrett became famous for killing the notorious Old West outlaw Billy the Kid. This story is as well known as the other western tales of Jesse James, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Butch Cassidy. Funnily, the well remembered gunfighters weren't necessarily the most deadly or active. Fame descends upon certain people due to a combination of deeds, place, time and quirks that capture the public imagination.

The discrepancy between the most prolific gunfighters and the most famous gunfighters is well documented in Bill O'Neal's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS. O'Neal tallied the number of gunfights and 'kills' reliably accrued by various gunfighters and outlaws. For instance, Garrett's killer Jim Miller was the most prolific gunfighter with 12 kills. He was also quite active being involved in 14 gunfights. Billy the Kid had 4 kills and 16 gunfights. Pat Garrett had 2 kills and 6 gunfights. What tipped the balance to make Billy the Kid so well remembered was his jail escapes and circumstances of his death. His life provided more angles for a writer and later for films.

Martin scanned the atlas,

"We have to go to Billy the Kid's grave. After we finish with White Sands we can loop back up north to Fort Sumner."

I agreed. We were held up by a traffic jam while a military exercise was being performed. By the time we made it to White Sands the sun was high. The white sand almost looked like snow. A ranger at the visitor center warned that the white sand reflects the sun back upwards like a mirror and that people will get severe sunburns on the bottom of their chins and other places not normally hit by the sun. Martin's starting position with the sun is not a cozy one so this information wasn't inspiring him to explore. He crouched in the shade created by the car while I climbed perfectly white dunes. I saw a white lizard scurry past. Many animals and insects in this area had adapted to become albinos.

desertolds-white sands nm

Roads are simply tracks plowed through the sand. We were fortunate to be here at peak sun because it kept everyone else away. Standing atop a dune with nothing but white ripples of sand and a searing blue sky it was easy to imagine I was in some exotic faraway desert with no signs of civilization.

At dinner time we made it to Alamogordo, New Mexico where significant progress was made in the Atomic bomb projects. A lot of testing went on here. Martin pointed out that there was probably radiation still dormant in this area. Martin was red despite trying to remain in the shade and noted that I was so dark it was crazy.

"Combining this radioactive fall out with roasting under The Cancer Ball all day you're likely going to glow in the dark!"

At night we shot north on a two lane blacktop that seemed to be down at the same level as the fields on either side of us. Lightning flashes lit up the landscape at irregular but frequent intervals. Fort Sumner was asleep for the night beneath a bright clear moon. Martin noted with glee,

"It's exactly Midnight right now."

Billy the Kids' tombstone had been missing in action for 26 years after being stolen in the 1950s. After a second theft in the 1980s a quick recovery spurred some security measures. The headstone now has steel shackles keeping it safely above the grave. Moonlight made it easy to read inscriptions on headstones. I counted 21 notches across the top of Billy the Kid's headstone. Legend has it they indicate one kill for each year of Billy's life, but the official tally is 4 kills with several more likely during gun battles where others died. No one specific shooter can be singled out in those battles and hence the official tally which is probably low stands at 4. The inscription read Nov 23, 1860- July 14, 1881. He didn't live to be 21 years old so the notches don't match his age either. I wandered around and read the other tombstones.

We drove north a short stretch and slept around the small town of Newkirk, New Mexico just off Interstate 40 a bit past Santa Rosa.

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In the morning we discovered that I-40 was aligned with fragments of Route 66 which we followed looking for a good spot to eat breakfast. The Cutlass thrummed along at 45 MPH on Route 66. The narrow wobbly road was fenced with four foot high grass swaying in the breeze. Breathing country air we noted small farms swishing past. Driving the Mother Road without history or expectations creates pure discovery. We weren't on a pilgrimage or living inside a movie. We had etched out a vague notion of the meaning of Route 66 for ourselves. Ignorance can be bliss.

desertolds-route 66 67 cutlass

I'd heard of 66 as a catch phrase floating around in the ether. The thing about Route 66 is that everyone has at least heard of it, but most aren't really sure what it is, where it is or why it's become a nostalgic touchstone. Martin and I knew nothing about 66 except for the short explanation the store keeper had given me about the preservation movement when we were in Seligman, Arizona. Having never seen the original Route 66 TV show or read about The Old Road's significance and symbolic meaning to America left it open to impressions. I'd seen a Philips 66 gas station sign somewhere in an antique shop and wondered how it fit in with the highway. It sort of jingled around my mind like '77 Sunset Strip'... a catchy kind of name.

I was actually grateful that the store owner in Seligman hadn't spelled out the 'meaning' of 66 to us when I asked about it. Driving on Route 66 in our naive state of discovery shone a light back to the vibrancy of original trips made on this historic route before it became self reflexive legend. Instead of approaching 66 laden in layers of history and self consciousness, we experienced it pure and simply as a black arc taking us through quiet time- warp landscapes. Vegetation advanced through the edges, closing in. We stopped within the city limits of Montoya in a clearing of trees alongside a railway track. Martin and I ate cereal in the shade.

Back on old Route 66 ruins of old buildings sat beside the carcass of a Buick Wildcat sinking into a field. The Buick Wildcat is one very cool car but it never completely caught on. The Wildcat came out in 1962 as a Thunderbird fighter just before the Riviera appeared in 1963 and eclipsed everything else. The Wildcat was lost in the shuffle. This one was a convertible at one point... now just a hulk of metal.

desertolds-oklahoma wildcat convertible

"It's so strange... someone washed this car every Sunday and admonished their kids not to spill ice cream in the interior and slavishly maintained it and then it was sold as a used car and driven without a care and before you know it five owners later it's in a field.... or maybe this is the original owner. A lot of farmers keep their cars... then when they don't start one day they just leave them parked to rot away..."

Martin shrugged. His main interest was in avoiding the sun's rays which penetrated deep through skin right to the bones... it went right through your spine to the core infusing you with life... Martin squinted up at his enemy 'the cancer ball' from the shade of a dilapidated shack while I lay basking directly in the rays. This was a perfect moment. I was not thinking of where we were going or where we came from. Time seemed to have frozen here. Martin may have been calculating our distance or how much time or money we had left but if so, I was oblivious to his thoughts. I was right in the moment which seemed to stretch and linger at the apex of the sky the way the sun never seemed to drop.

Rambling down the old road again we headed east and I recalled the Dennis Hopper quote regarding Easy Rider. He believed that the trip was an 'anti-trip' or an 'anti-western' because the heroes were travelling east instead of west. Just like we were right now. To me this section of Route 66 and the sky above us seemed to be void of direction. We were just going and there would always be an empty vista surrounding us as if the road was on rollers passing below us while nothing else shifted at all. We would never arrive anywhere. The moment was eternal.

I commented on old Richardson's store which we had spotted. It was now moss covered,

"I think part of this Route 66 nostalgia is that its not only Main Street connecting all these towns but its also that each town has its own individual stores and hotels. 66 connects everything but each one has its unique personal flavor like different stones on a necklace. The interstate has franchise hotels and gas stations positioned at exits so you never need to dig deep into a town and the stores all follow a standard format. The interstate is more like a line of lego repeating the same pieces over and over."

Martin put his book down in surprise,

"You're actually making sense right now. Is something wrong with you?"

As we took in the relaxed countryside it also dawned on me that this was a distorted version of Route 66. The 66 preservation movement traveling the road in a different way than it used to be experienced. Now that it was decommissioned the road was empty and slower. If this was the only way across the country it would be a nightmare of tailgaters and guys trying to pass on the double line and all the rest of it. The interstate would likely be a more relaxed way to travel if both highways were in regular use.

The newness and blank slate aspect of things evaporated back into a movie screen when Martin referenced 'For a Few Dollars More' as 66 passed through Tucumcari,

"This car doesn't stop in Tucumcari."

The slow amble revved up to a modern pace again when we rejoined Interstate 40. Huge trucks boomed along with pickups and the occasional car. A sign appeared:

'Welcome to Texas. Drive Friendly- The Texas Way.'

desert olds texas big sky trucks

Under big sky farmland country we made good time on the smooth Interstate. I actually like the interstate for the ability it gives you to cover the ground and watch the scenery. If you stay back from other vehicles its possible to let your mind wander a bit without danger.

We enjoyed a Thai meal in Amarillo, Texas. Martin was perusing the atlas and concluded,

"Our funds won't last us to New Orleans. Leguirre is supposed to pay me back some of the money I fronted him in Vancouver. He was theoretically going to wire it via Western Union soon but as usual...'

We both chorused Leguirre's standard catchphrase,

'..there were COMPLICATIONS!"

After the laughter settled down Martin pulled a rabbit out of the hat,

'What about your long lost relatives in Oklahoma? Could we hole up there for a couple of days till Leguirre comes through with the money? We're right near the border to Oklahoma right now"

I readily agreed,

"Good thinking. They're somewhere in Tulsa."

Martin consulted the map and announced that the Interstate angling north east to Tulsa was a toll road.

"But it appears that old Route 66 runs parallel to the toll road and could get us there for free."

I was stoked,

"That gives us a good excuse to explore some old towns again!"

The Cutlass ate up miles on the flat straight run along I-40 taking us into Oklahoma in the night. Suddenly the 2 lane interstate sprouted into a 5 lane mega highway with offramp tangles and shifting lanes. Changes in lanes come up very fast and furious. When someone discovered that they were about to be funneled off to the wrong place it inspired some Kamikaze drivers to wildly veer across multiple lanes. We dodged a few muddy pickups making panic adjustments across lanes. The Cutlass was pelted with clumps of dirt and straw and small rocks which were unleashed by the violent course changes the trucks were attempting. We cut north on Interstate 35 in the heart of Oklahoma City and crashed out just north of Edmond which was a suburb perched atop the big city.

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In the morning we cruised north on I-35 to Guthrie, Oklahoma to buy some milk for our cereal. After breakfast we headed east on Highway 33.

"Hey, did you notice that highway 33 is 'half of 66'?"

Martin agreed then turned the page in his book. We rolled through small towns which had remained unchanged for decades. The Interstate system bypassed these towns and they remained in stasis. Some of them had withered and shrunk but most seemed to maintain a limbo status in the Twilight Zone of an earlier time. Just like 66 was Main Street, Highway 33 was also always Main Street as we chugged through tiny towns usually dominated by a large old drugstore. There were gas stations with actual service and old style pumps. Small stores lined Main Street. We were usually the only car on the road. A few people sat on porches and observed our passing.

desertolds-oklahoma-barber shop

Short runs at 60 MPH briefly blasted some cooling country air through the car before suffocating humid hot air pressed in as we slowly idled through another blip of a town. The air was thick and practically laden with water droplets. One story grey or brown buildings popped up momentarily signaling the center of town before the horizon receded back into swaying grass and corn. I liked the rhythm but Martin dreaded the slowdowns as the heat closed in.

In the small town of Cushing, Oklahoma we encountered a little crowd surrounding a DJ from a local radio station. He was talking into an old microphone standing in the back of a pickup truck broadcasting live. His remarks were amplified through some speakers on top of the roof of the pickup truck. Music was pumped out. We had come into some kind of event. We were hungry and rolled further up Main Street. After spotting a series of abandoned storefronts Anton showed some enthusiasm for lunch,

"Hey we can eat our lunch in the shade inside one of these old buildings away from the Cancer Ball."

The buildings proved to be dark and dank inside laden in dirt and dust. Someone with a lot of water and soap may have been able to extract some interesting antiques from all the debris. I went back out into the sun for my lunch while Martin basked in the dim interior of the old store.

desertolds crowley oklahoma lunch

After eating I took a stroll around the town and stopped again where the DJ held his audience rapt. The scene reminded me of old pictures of an Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis show where they sung songs from the back of a flatbed truck and everyone in the audience was wearing overalls. Even the old microphone looked like a 1950s vintage item.

Banners and small speakers lined the streets treating everyone to the musings of the DJ. His random chat passed over my ears without penetrating. When DJs blanket the air with filler I zone it out. Martin sees and hears everything. Ensconced safely back in the shadows of an old building Martin was listening to the DJ from a nearby speaker. Martin was amused to hear the DJ dazedly describing a strange character the likes of which had never appeared here before.

"What on earth is this? There is a man walking down Main Street in his UNDERWEAR! I can't believe I'm seeing this! His hair is down to his shoulders! He must be some kind of hippy or an escaped mental patient."

When I returned to the building later Martin described the scandal I had created by walking around town wearing nothing but my runners and black Joe Boxer shorts. I was so accustomed to wearing the boxers as shorts I forgot that other people didn't see it that way.

Miles of empty sky before Drumright appeared. 33 approached the toll road Interstate 44. We were not going to pay a toll. 33 ended at 66 which headed into Sepulpa, Oklahoma for free. Once again the highway became Main Street, but now it was 66 and not 33 that served as Main Street. I noted a strange coincidence,

"Right here is where 33, 44 and 66 all meet. All these double barreled highway names."

Martin said

"Hmm."

We came upon a cement factory that cut into the sky like a jagged mountain.The long dormant factory hung in a sea of weeds flanked by a rusted fence and 'keep out' signs. Blinding sun ricocheted off the white cement sidewalk cracked with vegetation shooting upwards. A dead skunk lay flat as if a steamroller got him.

Route 66 became various street names as it wound around town and gradually worked its way into Tulsa via Bixby. The route was humid and slow. Warped waves of superheated air distorted the lines of the road, the edges of guardrails and the plane of the hood on our car. The steel in the car was burning hot. We cruised until we found a gas station. No phone book in the phone booth. Bobby, the attendant inside the station lent us a phone book to look up my Hawks cousins. They weren't listed. Martin informed me,

'We're out of cash and I don't know when that wire from Leguirre is going to show up."

"Looks like we're stranded up here in Tulsa."

 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 March 2021 21:06 )