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Another Road Trip: Part Two

[In the last post, Catface and I cleared out the apartment and left for Jerome, Idaho for the night on the first leg of our trip back to El Paso, Texas. Well, I did the packing, he mostly watched me, supervised I suppose. We have a planned 14.5 hour drive ahead of us this time]

I woke up at nine in the morning, four hours after finally going to sleep. Catface Meowmers kept jumping all over me. Since he was neutered, the morning has become his favorite play time. That is a great improvement over him going crazy at two in the morning.
I got out of the car and walked into Walmart to pick up a few things: four apples, a bottle of orange juice and two chocolate doughnuts. A young blonde girl was my cashier and looked as bored with life as everyone did when I worked at Walmart a few years ago. The Walmart had a gas station where I gassed up before leaving. The gas prices were much cheaper than in Portland, thankfully.

We set out on the road again. Utah opened up in front of us before too long. Once again I stopped the car at a couple McDonald's in order to pick up their wi-fi. I also picked up some Chicken McNuggets. To my surprise, they actually tasted like chicken instead of the chicken-like thing they had before.

Salt Lake City is a drag. There sure are a lot of people there though. It is better than Boise though (where the previous night everything was closed at 11 pm and I had to take three different highway exits before finding an open public restroom. Again, this was at FRIDAY at 11 in a city. Wow, Boise).

Outside of Provo I was supposed to take a certain exit to get onto Highway 6. All of the construction made it difficult to ascertain where to turn and the lack of the actual exit made it impossible. I think it was something like Exit 278 I was intending to take, but after 277 A and B, there wasn't an exit until 283. So I got off the interstate and turned around, hoping I would guess right.

I ended up in Spanish Fork in the McDonald's parking lot, checking Google Maps on their wi-fi. I guessed right. At this point the weather turned a bit ugly. Although, I love clouds and rain. So, really, it was beautiful. The only problem was neither of my windshield wipers worked. That meant I had to really concentrate in order just to see in front of me.

Just hangin' out while I figure out the directions.
Just need to figure out how to focus while I'm driving...

There we go.

I am Don Quixote now.
The drive in this part of Utah is actually great. It becomes mostly a two-way highway and there isn't much passing to be done since the road is constantly curving one way or the other. We approached Moab and the scenery changed drastically. What was once full of grass and plants now was taken over by red mesas everywhere. This impressive desert scene cries out to be photographed. But. There. Was. No. Time.

I stopped for gas in Moab and noticed the bustling streets again. It is impressive that so many younger people (20s-30s mostly, but some even younger) are always walking around in town. It seems like just a small town, cute, but nothing special aside from the mesas which surround you at all times. And yet it seems to be a really happening place to be. If I could I would spend some time there for sure.

I was getting hungry so I walked into a Subway. Three guys made my Cold Cut Combo. The middle kid, a tall, overweight teenage boy with blonde hair which covered his eyes and freckles which covered his arms, refused to speak to me in any way at all. I walked up to his station and he didn't even ask me what I wanted or respond to my requests for what I wanted. He just looked down and put the vegetables I wanted on the sandwich. It was very awkward. The cashier, a guy in his twenties, looked at me apologetically when I looked at him with a "what is this guy's problem" look on my face.

Here is where things started getting interesting. Once I left Moab I passed the Hole in the Rock again. Then I was supposed to turn in Monticello and drive into Colorado, down to Farmington in New Mexico and on into Rio Rancho just outside Albuquerque. Instead, I missed the turn in Monticello because I did not write down what city I was to turn in, only what the road was. I did not see the name of the road since every road in those places has three or four names. There is the state name, county name and usually a local name based on someone's last name.

Anyway, I missed it and drove into Blanding, Utah as the sun began to set. It had obviously snowed a good deal there earlier. The streets were cleared, but there were inches on snow on all the buildings and on the cars. If I was not so mesmerized by the beauty of the place, I would have probably questioned myself not remembering this town from when I had driven to Portland six months ago. Nevertheless, I drove on and entered Bluff. At this point I knew something was very wrong.

The sun disappeared for the night and I was lost, but not totally sure. After all, the last time I had driven this way it was during the day. Everything looks so different at night. I drove through a little village and followed the signs to stay on the highway I was on. I had to turn across another highway and I knew now I was not going the right way. There was a sign saying which towns were coming up and they were all names of small towns in Arizona. I only knew this because of some books I had read about the history of the Southwest while I was in college.

Twelve miles outside Bluff I pulled over to the side of the increasingly empty road. My only option at this point was to speak on the phone with Jackie in Korea. I had no internet connection. We eventually figured out how to get me headed toward Farmington. I would go through these back roads of Arizona for a bit.

I have to say, the signs all were spray painted over and impossible to read. I kept expecting I was driving into a trap. I was driving on dirt roads and then poorly paved roads. This place seemed forgotten by time. After an hour I found myself on the road to Farmington. What a relief. My mom texted me to let me know that this part of New Mexico (she grew up there) was not a safe place to be on a Friday night. Drunk drivers. I cautiously drove along, weary of drunk drivers mistakenly driving into oncoming traffic.

From just outside Shiprock to the outskirts of Farmington, there was fog, sometimes heavy. I felt like I was driving in a dream or a cloud or right to my death. But being afraid woke me right up. By this time it was already nearly midnight. I had been driving for about twelve hours. In Farmington I stopped at Sonic to get some dessert. There were a bunch of cats playing around the parking lot. Cars filled a good deal of the parking spaces. Sonic in Farmington on Friday night is a happening place.

I stopped a little ways down the road to put gas and noticed it started snowing. I doubt any of it stuck. And then we got back on the road and drove the rest of the way to Rio Rancho to stay at my aunt's house. I nearly fell asleep numerous times. It was quite scary. Suddenly I would drift off into my thoughts, I daydream a great deal anyway, and whoa I'm still driving. I just made a turn and don't remember seeing it come up... But I made it. I brought Catface inside and went to bed. Finally.

[Part Three is now posted]
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