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Road Trip 2: San Jose to Boston, Dec 2012 / Jan 2013
On December 28, I finished up work and packed. On December 29, I left. I left with precisely 80,000 miles on my car. I drove from San Jose down towards LA, out to Bakersfield, and onto I-40. I tried to get some barbecue in Bakersfield but one joint was converted into a church, and the other appeared to be erased from the map (and the world.) Pity. I drove on I-40 past Flagstaff (I had already been to the Grand Canyon recently), where it got to be around the coldest of anywhere on my trip (~15-20 F), and even had snow on the ground - which I had missed a little living in San Jose. I ended up sleeping near Grants, NM; just at a thousand miles for the day.
December 30 saw me through Albuquerque, which had hot air balloons and very many cars from Colorado (which seems to offer the same license plate in five or so colors?), then up to Santa Fe. I had taken a detour to drive to the corners of Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas, thereby crossing the latter two off my list without detouring more than a mile into them. I was surprised by how small Santa Fe is. It has a population of just under 70K according to the 2010 census. It's a city everyone has heard of, and only has a population of some 70K people... incredible. The entire county's population is just double that.
On my way along the detour, and after Santa Fe, I drove to Las Vegas, which happens to be the name of a small town on I-25 in New Mexico. I was definitely confused by the highway signs indicating I was going to Las Vegas... Eventually, I found myself going on US 56 East. It was a fun road. It had a speed limit of 65, one lane each way, and the ability to pass - nothing rare in this part of the country. However, what was rare was that people actually drove quite fast on it; the corn had been cut down, there was visibility for miles, the weather was perfect, and I was passed several times until I matched speed with traffic, flowing at a leisurely 90MPH. I have no complaints; it was a wonderful drive. However, I have never seen a road with so many crosses on the side.
I wonder if those two things are related.
I ate at a little Mexican place. Everyone actually stared at me when I came in - the conversations paused, raised forks were frozen. It was... an odd experience, one I didn't think actually happened, outside of songs and movies.
I continued on, finally reaching the tri-state point. The roads required to get there, contrary to Google Maps' opinion, are not always roads - there were some dirt paths, some paths that were private, and several dirt, gravel, and unpaved roads. The road along the border had seemingly been paved some half century ago, and paved very well, but never maintained thereafter. Driving down the middle of the road appeared safest, and best for my car.
CO, KA, OK Border Border Road Boarder Road
I then got back onto the road; detoured into Texas to Perryton (to cross it off my list). The roads here were almost as empty.
Texas US 83 Texas US 83
Pressing on to Oklahoma City, passing through various towns, I had a thought - things here look like Russia. This may be an odd comparison, but hear me out: everything here was clearly built to last, and has lasted decades, but appears to never have been maintained.
I ended the night in Clarksville, Arkansas at just over a thousand miles for the day again.
December 31 saw me through Little Rock, to Memphis, but right before Memphis I detoured north to Missouri. Missouri has some state roads which are identified by letters, instead of numbers; however, I did not know this, so when I saw a road named O (letter), I assumed it was 0 (number), and the programmer inside me was pleased. Alas, it was not to be.
I detoured again into Kentucky, then went back south to Nashville. I had planned to spend the night in KY but I was driving just ahead of a storm of freezing rain; as it moved south-east, so did I, to avoid it. Besides, I realized the distilleries would be closed on New Year's Day. Along the trip, it rained and fell below freezing, but I got lucky: it never did both at the same time. Therefore, south to Nashville. The Nashville Bellsouth building does look like Barad-Dur. Especially when lit up at night.
I pressed on; I slept in Lexington, VA. Once again, I had made just over a thousand miles that day. I hit the New Year on the road, some 150 miles south-west of Lexington. It was... peaceful: the end of a significant part of my life, on the road, through the New Year, alone. A common pattern for me.
After three thousand-mile days, I met up with a girl; the rest hardly needs to be told. I stayed in Washington, D.C. for two nights, and leisurely made it north to CT and eventually Boston. The trip clocked in just shy of four thousand miles. The last almost-thousand more miles covered no new ground for me.
Ches Koblents
January 10, 2013
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