Saturday, February 9, 2013

Needless Complications and a Trek Across North Texas

It's Complicated
Estimated Latte Count: 0

All right, now that I've gotten a first road trip blog post out of the way, and after reading it, I realize it's got my special "touch" all over it haha. So many quirky vocabulary words and phrasings. Go figure. This post is called Needless Complications because of what happened not a minute after I picked up the 2nd Duckie from Myranda on Main Street in downtown Dallas.

So, as I was driving away from Myranda's building, I got turned around when I headed out of downtown west toward the Mixmaster (I-35), and I think I ended up going across the river on Commerce Street, then turned around and somehow started going east on Woodall Rogers. Now, I had my iphone out, and could've easily used the maps, but I'm thinking I was just too dang prideful to use them to get out of downtown. Pride go-eth before the fall. I did a loop of downtown, thinking yeah it'll be easy to just head west on I-30 and I'll be at Clark's in about 30 minutes. But, thanks to falling darkness and an unfamiliarity with the many signs on I-30 as one approaches the Mixmaster, I took...I-35 South? Yep. Not a very successful start to a 37 state road trip. Thankfully Highway 67 to I-20 to Highway 287 to downtown Ft. Worth corrected my mistake in a roundabout way, but I still felt very foolish. Even the Duckies were like "really man?" I was kicking myself verbally for the first few minutes.

I got to Clark's house in Fort Worth around 8 or 9 that evening, Whataburger in hand and glad for the opportunity to catch up with him and how life was going for both of us. I even promised that he would be impressed by my spreadsheet of all my planned destinations and estimated distances. And Clark is a very active person, he's hard to impress as far as activity-based endeavors. The best part of that evening was hearing about who his oldest sister had just gotten engaged to: Clark made this poor guy sound like a concentration camp survivor, judging by his smallness of stature and lack of physical strength and endurance. And Clark described the guy as a wuss, or pretty much the opposite of Clark. Hilarious!

Naturally, I was pretty keyed up about the upcoming trip, so I was up till 3 or 3:30 am that night (which was a Sunday night) and had to sleep till 10 to even get on the road :\  These little guys, however, were tucked in and well rested the next morning.
Rubber Duckies in Bed
Yeah they were pretty comfy. It'll be hard for me to remember exactly when I got started on some of the days on the trip, mainly because it's been a few months so details slip my mind; but then again, you're not reading this for nitty gritty details like that right?

That Monday, August 20th of 2012, marked Day 1 of the Road Trip, and no offense to Texas, but it wasn't the most glamorous of days. Hard to be very bummed out life though, not when my Mattmobile was this Silver Star:

Infiniti G35

I mean, look at it, freshly washed and all! 306 horsepower and rear-wheel drive, which came very much in handy in a few places, especially out west. Tires were a little low the first day, which is part of why I went to Walmart to pick up a tire inflator (didn't find a good one) and coolant on the way out of Fort Worth. Here's Clark's neighbor's house in the city, by the way:
House in Fort Worth

 I had already stocked up on caffeine for the cooler and granola type bars of course.

Starbucks Doubleshot

My mom was so thoughtful and had brought me a literal knapsack full of meds and helpful knick knacks that weekend as well, so I was pretty well set. I'd jammed a few large bags full of clothes, laptop and attachments and other essentials into the trunk of the car the night before, and I'd spent several hours loading music CD's from the library onto my ipod so I'd have a good music selection to draw from. Not that my 2,500 or so songs that I already had were inadequate for a trip.

Take Off
You'd think that I'd be super nervous about embarking on this trip on that Monday, but remember I was already mentally committed to getting out on the road, and giving the results to God. No budget was in place for the trip, I just figured I'd been blessed to have savings built up for whatever the trip cost and that was that. I just had a list of destinations and places to see, people to connect/reconnect with, and a big itch to wander and explore. This song comes to mind:

That Monday was tough from an energy standpoint, having stayed up so late the night before; the fact that the 350 miles covered that day from Fort Worth to Amarillo were almost 100% plains didn't really help. It was one of the hottest days on the trip, and it was nice to start delving into good music and to see a part of Texas that I hadn't experienced before. I did my first real Facebook check-in at a Popeye's in Wichita Falls, where my friends Robyn Birkhead and Josh Canafax are from. They of course immediately gave push-back on the fact that I'd stopped for lunch at a Popeye's. My reasoning was that I was in a hurry, was really hungry and tired and needed a place to stop and chill for 30 min around 3 that afternoon. They suggested a few better places to eat, and yeah I'd like to take them up on that knowledge if I visit Wichita Falls in the future. Not sure what the odds are of that since that might've been my first time there.

From Wichita Falls, north central Texas along 287 is straight plains for about...225 miles. All plains, not, scenic per se. Just spacious.

Fields in Texas

I stopped in Childress, which was a dusty little place, around 5 or so to get out, stretch my legs and get more Starbucks out of the trunk. From there it was a couple more hours to Amarillo.

North Texas highway

 I had to play You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi (featuring the Duckies "singing" to each other) in order to stay awake and end the drive on a good note :)  I didn't see much of Amarillo when I was there, just drove straight to the west side of the city on I-40, passing the Big Texan along the way. I know the people who know that I eat a lot might assume that was a must-stop place in Texas, and had I had the time, it would've been very tempting. The main thing that derailed me was the ridiculous rainstorm that hit as soon as I checked in at the Fifth Season Inn. These clouds were the foreboding of what was to come as I approached the city:

Thunderstorm in North Texas

It poured literal SHEETS of rain! Hadn't seen anything like it in a while. This is the actual storm:

I guess I could've also visited Palo Duro Canyon nearby, but again the rushed nature of the first few days of this trip threw off my capacity to sightsee very effectively. Just hadn't had time to plan much, that's why I had to stay in hotels the first 3 days of the trip, no question about it.

Anyhow, once it stopped raining, I ventured back out for Subway, and when I got back to my room, I started the routine for the first time that would endure almost every single night of the trip, which was to get out the laptop, pop out the memory card from the camera and put it in the accompanying card reader, and uploaded the photos from that day to my computer, and the external hard drive. Having a backup of all the photos on the external drive proved extremely wise after the laptop was stolen a couple months later from my apt. in Dallas. Whew! In summary, with all that wordiness and detail, that was Day 1 of the trip. Since I was still in Texas that night, I don't think I felt too far from home yet, so mentally I wasn't totally lost in the journey yet. Don't worry, that mental switch flipped not too much longer, but that's a story for another post.

If I leave out important details in a day, I will try to open the next post with a refresher just so you readers are as up to speed as possible on what all happened. Sometimes it's tough to remember details from so many places 4 to 5 months ago, but hey God gave me a pretty good memory for occasions such as this! Feel free to ask questions about a specific day or in general if I fail to address something in a post.