If I’m being honest, it was in Oklahoma City, when I had my first “what am I doing?” moment. My Dad and I were halfway into the country and the terrain, air, and people were all different. In the papers we read about a controversial law passed in the state called “open carry,” where Oklahomans had the right to openly carry their handguns while at a diner, worshipping, or going about their day-to-day business.
Getting wifi was also a seemingly impossible task. When I asked the hotel receptionist for the wifi password, she told me that I’d need to fill out a form with my address and phone number. When I told her that I just wanted to access the free wifi without entering any info, she apologized and said, “we just don’t do that.” That’s when I learned: in Oklahoma you’re free to carry a gun, but not get free wifi.
Oklahoma City wasn’t all bad though. If a woman hadn’t told us at brunch about Cadillac Ranch, we might not have stopped at one of the coolest pitstops along our trip. We crossed into Texas and headed west for Amarillo. Cadillac Ranch is an art installation of ten junk Cadillacs that have been buried longways at a 45 degree angle in the ground. They’re brightly colored with graffiti, and spray painting is strongly encouraged. If Texas does end up seceding, I’m sure it will become a national landmark for the Texan Republic.
The pandhandle of Texas was easily passable, and we crossed into New Mexico after driving only an hour from Amarillo. The “Land of Enchantment” must have cast its sleepy spell on me, because I was conked out for most of the time that I was in the passenger seat. I only remember a blur of red rocks and mountains for the first half of the trip. I do remember seeing a string of El Pollo Loco restaurants and wondered whether the fried chicken chain was the inspiration for the Pollos Hermanos restaurants from Breaking Bad.
We drove through Albuquerque, which was surprisingly gorgeous, and then kept going – crossing the 2,000 mile mark and into Arizona as the sun set. By the time we got to Arizona, we had been on the road for over ten hours, and my Dad and I were both exhausted. We had alternated talking, with listening to podcasts on my iPhone, and listening to music. As we crossed into Arizona, and the hum of the road started to lull us to sleep, the only sensible thing seemed to be to blast classic rock like the Eagles and Creedence Clearwater Revival for the two hour trek to Holbrook, Arizona.
By the time we rolled into Holbrook, we had felt all of the 774 miles we had driven. We checked into a motel in the town and headed downtown for Mexico food and beers. My Dad and I went to Joe & Aggie’s, which was a perfect mom and pop restaurant that had been the inspiration for Pixar’s Cars.
There was a Route 66 mural on the side of the restaurant and the staff were friendly and lively. We stuffed ourselves with burritos and tacos and called it a night. The longest part of our trip was over. Los Angeles was only an easy 557 miles away, but we wouldn’t be there for another day.
The bright lights and ca-ching of slot machines were beckoning from Las Vegas the next day.