Driving on the Open Road
I set out from San Antonio with a full tank of gas and a Whataburger meal by my side, the radio blaring some top 40 tunes. I had somehow managed to leave half an hour behind my scheduled departure, and for someone with a “P” personality that’s probably considered normal. Except, as a traveler, I absolutely abhor being late. Trips can be made or broken all on the tick of a clock. I managed to have clean laundry packed, dishes done and the trash taken out before I left, but was unable to refill my prescription because of some technicality. Too late to worry about it now, I had a deadline to keep. (No worries, it’s nothing absolutely necessary to have.)
I know the stretch of I-35 from San Antonio to Dallas by heart. There’s really not much to miss on that route, Austin traffic being at the bottom of the list. Drove through my home town and remarked how they still had not put in traffic lights on the main roads. Yes, it really is that small. Hit some showers north of Waco and was overjoyed to try out my new windshield wipers. The squeaks they made against the glass were oddly satisfying because I could finally see out my windshield. I ended up arriving in Dallas ahead of schedule, if you can believe it, and overnighted with my boyfriend’s family. I shaved the drive time from 5 hours to 4.5, and yes, I was going the speed limit.
Deciding to leave an hour earlier than planned the next morning, I drove off at 7:00 AM adding some dark chocolate Piroulines to my inventory. To stave off my hunger for the next several hours, I took a few roundabout ways to get to another Whataburger where my coupons came in handy for a free taco. (I have no idea why they insist on labeling it “taquito”, but whatever.) Filled up my gas tank, plugged my iPod in and was on my way with David Bowie to keep my company.
There’s something freeing about not knowing where you are other than that you’re on the right road, somehow traveling in the right direction. There’s a chance to enjoy the scenery, to put life on cruise control and all you have to do is steer. I was as giddy as a school girl whenever I encountered a rain shower on the road, a glimpse of a green field, a view full of water or signs that didn’t make sense. The lack of a companion was surprisingly comfortable. I didn’t have to fight over what songs to play, deal with a snoring passenger or make frequent stops for potty breaks. I could belt out my favorite songs, stop whenever I wanted to stop and think about the scenery. I was just along for the ride.
It took 3.5 hours to drive through Oklahoma, which I have decided is a relatively pretty state. Coming from Texas, it is a very exciting and desirable thing to be able to drive through a state in less than 8 hours. All in all, I made it to my destination in roughly 14 hours instead of the mapped 16 hours it should have taken. Here are a few of my favorite things from the trip:
- A ranch sign that said “Eat Beef”, with a full view of all the cattle on the property. I wondered if the owner had ever had any incidents of people consuming the cows while on the property. Maybe he provides visitors with a steak knife to chase after the cattle.
- A grasshopper hitching a ride on my windshield and then leaping off before I could snap a picture.
- Turning onto route 166 and staring in disbelief at an orange road. Yes, orange. No yellow bricks in site, but definitely orange, graveled pavement. And this particular hue apparently attracts the state’s population of skunks because their carcasses dotted the road for miles.
- Finding a roundabout! I was so overjoyed and excited that I took the turn a little too quickly and didn’t have time to snap my blinker on for the car behind me. He might have been mad, but I’m sure he’ll get over it.
The trip ended safely at my aunt’s house with a nap and then dinner and the best margaritas I’ve ever had. They were well deserved and made sure I was ready for a world of sleep.