No need to be nostalgic or weepy-eyed… or weepy-voiced. If that intrigued you, let me tell you a story. On one of those real-life crime drama shows I enjoy watching from time to time I encountered the story of Paul Michael Stephani. Every time I hear the word weep or weepy I think of him. Why? Stephani was in the nasty little habit of soliciting prostitutes to kill them. He would then call the police and, in the most high-pitched and truly pathetic voice, cry his way through a confession before disappearing to kill again. He was ultimately caught because one of his victims, a woman named Denise, said to him “You’re gonna’ do what now? Oh hell no…”
That was probably the strangest diversion I’ve made to date. Don’t fault me. I have the prospect (since you’ve been reading) of an 1100 mile drive ahead of me.
DAY 53/The LONG Drive Home
5:00 comes very early. So the question of whether we’re going to drive it in one day… Karla said we are so we are. I’m not unused to these kinds of drives. When I was 12 I accompanied my older brother Paul who had just graduated from West Point to visit his best friend in Birmingham, AL. He took the drive home to NJ in a single day. I resent him to the present moment. That was 15 hours. During the Northeast Blackout of 2003 I had to drive from Dallas to Atlanta in a day. That was 14 hours. The next day I drove to NJ for another 17 hours including traffic. This promised to be only 14 hours. I think we can do it.
Truth is, Karla’s going to get her driving chops on this leg. I’m just not feeling it today. Maybe I’m just a little sad that it’s coming to an end.
First up was a jaunt from Phoenix to El Paso. This was only six and a half hours. Given Arizona’s penchant for remaining on Standard Time the whole year, we gained an hour at the New Mexico line.
Next up was a trip from El Paso to Carlsbad which is back in New Mexico. Strange how the states fit together down here. This leg only cost us two hours and fifteen minutes. Actually it should have taken that long. We let Wilma drive so it took about an hour and forty-five minutes. She be crazy. We went to Carlsbad so the kids could get out and stretch in a cool environment for an hour. The caverns are a constant 57 degrees and the path takes an hour to walk. Pretty brilliant, huh?
Next up was a drive from Carlsbad to Pecos, TX. Here we stopped for dinner. I have to say that for all the chain restaurants we’ve eaten at on this trip this particular Denny’s was unique. The place appeared to be the local hangout. At the counter were about ten men all glued to the TV watching Ted Cruz’s speech to the RNC. The wait staff, though friendly, took forever to bring our food. It was about 9PM before we got out of there. This stretch took us an hour and a half plus two hours for dinner.
Finally (finally) it was a stretch from Pecos to Irving and home. This stretch took a final six hours. Although I’ve driven I-20 in west Texas many times before and enjoyed the posted 80 MPH speed limit, there isn’t much to see. I wouldn’t have seen it anyway since I slept (quite uncomfortably) in the back.
At 4AM we pulled into the driveway and went straight to bed.
DAY 54/You Didn’t Think We Were Actually Done, Did You?
On our first day back I slept in just a bit. Remember that Weepy-Voiced Killer? Wasn’t that a hoot? Then you might also remember back to Minnesota and the story about how I cracked my tooth in half and have been driving the country looking like a meth-head.
Today I visited my dentist and discovered that for a mere $1400 he can pull the tooth, build up a solid core on either side, and implant a bridge. Actually, this will level off my front teeth making them a hair straighter and give a brilliant white sheen to replace years of coffee and cigarettes. Perhaps I should have broken that tooth sooner. Just for fun I think I’ll take up dipping this week (again). Couldn’t hurt since the choppers are getting a facelift.
We’ve got one more for us, folks, and I can’t wait to experience it as the host in my own home. It’s gonna’ be huuuuge. Stay tuned.