It was early morning when they left, almost daybreak. The duo would see a lot of sunrises before I’d see the guys again.
Sam and his brother-in-law, Tim, hitched up the 31-foot Airstream and headed to Las Vegas, Nevada. Of those two, no one would believe they would agree to pull a 31-foot trailer through desert badlands and mountain ranges, but when your girl-child gets a scholarship and when she says she wants to live in a 1974 Airstream for two years, a daddy and an uncle will move heaven and earth to make it happen. And so they did.
A kiss and a wave goodbye, and they were gone. The first day they cruised through Texarkana, Arkansas, to Paris, Texas, and almost to Amarillo. Tim said, “It’s a hard enough drive in the daytime, we’ll get a motel at night.”
Sam thought they’d stay in the Airstream, but after looking inside, “The inside is all a mess. All those bumpy roads,” he said.
They picked out the first Motel 6 that had the light on for them. I asked about Tom Bodett, but Sam said he didn’t think anyone remembered Tom anymore. He said there were no little bottles of shampoo or a coffee maker, but the price was right.
Then to Tucumcari and Albuquerque, New Mexico, with more beautiful sunrises followed by stunning sunsets. “But it’s all desert,” said Sam. “Pretty scenery, but how could anybody live here? It’s over 100 degrees; everything is dry as a bone. There’s no grass.”
Another day’s drive to Flagstaff, Arizona, then to just south of Las Vegas to their destination at Henderson, where the scenery was described by Sam as “Godforsaken, uninhabitable land”
When the girl-child was securely settled the boys headed back. At Amarillo they took a turn to the north through Oklahoma City, to Springfield and St. Louis, over to Louisville, Kentucky, and finally Lexington and Richmond, returning Tim to his abode.
Sam stayed long enough for his sister to provide a hot meal after days of indulging in endless breakfast burritos, Snickers bars and Gatorades. Sam left Tim with good memories and lots of laughs, then he was on the road again.
At Nashville, Tennessee, Sam picked up the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway.
“Ah,” he said. “50 mph is a relief after bumping across highways and being passed by speedsters going 80 mph.”
By contrast, the Trace was slow and easy, the vegetation lush and green. A few nonchalant does stood by the tree line watching and munching. Sam grabbed his cell, “There must be 100 turkeys up here. I’ve seen at least 100, they’re everywhere. It’s unbelievable.”
Another call: “This is God’s country,” Sam said. “Trees everywhere, and guess what I saw. An otter. An otter crossed the road in front of me. There’s no mistaking an otter. They’re long and graceful. He must have been three feet long.”
Sam smiled when he arrived home. Surveying the yard, he said, “I see we’ve had rain and the grass needs cutting.”
A June bug at a porch light sale couldn’t be any happier.