“…St. Loo-ee, Joplin, Missouri…”

“You’ll see Amarillo…”

It’s hard not to be humming and singing “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” most of the time when driving along 44 and 40, the highways that have outmoded Route 66, “The Gateway to the West.” I heard the story of the song once—popular myth has that it was written by a grateful GI returning home from abroad—and have always loved it. So to get to spend time even next door to this old road. Which is lucky, since that’s what we’ve been seeing on this day of driving. Missouri, Oklahoma—a whole lot of OK, and some Texas panhandle, cowpokes! Which brings us to Amarillo, which Julie seems determined to pronounce with a hispanic flair: “ah-mah-REEE-lo.” I say: “Julie—say it like a redneck…that’s better.”

The nighttime air here is glorious. A constant breeze seems to billow by, the stars boom down from overhead, and it’s ever so slightly cool once the sun goes down. Not the case during the day; earlier we hit the upper 90’s south of Oklahoma City. By the way, can’t really call Oklahoma City “mighty pretty,” but aside from that basic truth, I still like the road and am content to sit and let my eyes roam across the diminishing landscape. The trees grow lower, the scrub brush spreads and the dust starts to take flight. And something happens to franchise food service. I can’t exactly explain it, but it was irksome. A lackadaisical putter that seemed to localize in line right in front of me. The kind of glacial transaction that takes the “fast” right out of food. Rude or not, just passing by, sorry pal—but can you make me a sandwiich soon? I gotta go.

We ate at a nice little scrubby diner with a huge neon EAT sign out front. Home made fries, yum. The men’s bathroom made me laugh twiice; once for the framed picture that I recognized from the farm of two incredibly old looking toddlers in overalls, with the quote “So how long you been farming?”; and two, for the lectern that apparently is stored in the men’s bathroom when not in use by who-knows-what ciivic group that holds their regular meetings at the EAT diner.

We’re Motel Sixin’ it for night number 2. I don’t expect the wonder of yesterday’s Airstream caravan in the morning, but soon we’ll be in New Mexico (an hour and a half away) and there’ll be wonder a plenty. I haven’t been to NM since—I’m not sure—maybe since I was about 15. Over 20 years. My memories of it have always reigned supreme. New Mexico is another planet, different, haunted. We’re all excited about it.

Santa Fe. I’m thinking of a special thing, but it may not happen. The odds are against it. Sometime, I’ll tell you about JW Eaves Movie Ranch, also known once upon a time as Rancho Alegre, the home of my 2nd cousin, once removed, and the most wonderful place I ever played. JW and Ermalee Eaves are gone now, and I miss them even if they only met me a few times.

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