Across the Desert

I’m not used to traveling in convoy. It was a pleasant change to roll across the western third of the United States with my brother in the rear-view; good to have conversation at rest stops and meals, and to split a pitcher of Bass Ale at Mad Dog’s Dog House in Kingman, Arizona. There is a downside, however — time I normally spend over a laptop musing about the journey and its larger meaning is spent instead discussing plans to take over the world.

The most notable aspect of this trip, however, was the wind. There was a lot of it, and it was directly in our faces. On day one we stopped at Speedy’s, just across the border in Arizona, where I remembered a decent little trucker cafe. When we walked in I realized I had guided us to the wrong place, but we stayed. We sat by a window and watched the as the wind whipped rain and dust around simultaneously.

The wind roared around the building, a taller-than-necessary steel skeleton with thick-looking walls and a gently-sloping roof. fuego leaned his back against the outer wall and felt the building flex with the gusts. “The employees don’t seem to be worried,” he said, “so I guess this happens all the time.” A particularly strong gust made the roof groan and I made a comment about it blowing off.

Our food came – quite good food, as it turned out; I had mutton stew and fuego had a green chile grilled cheese sandwich. We ate and continued to marvel at the spectacle outside. I was not looking forward to pumping gas out there.

The waitress was bussing a table near ours when a loud POP reverberated through the building. After a bit of confusion we all started looking up at the ceiling. Another pop followed, not as loud as the first. Now, the employees were nervous as well. I began to plan a swift exit strategy should things get worse.

We finished our meal (neither of us that hungry due to good snack supplies) and there were only a couple more pops from above before we effected our escape. [A brief Google check that night uncovered no mention of the roof blowing off after we left.]

The other effect of the wind was on gas mileage. Normally going from the border to Kingman on a tank of gas would be routine, but as we passed Seligman (and the last gas stations for a long, long way), I was surprised at how low I was on gas. I still appeared to have seventy miles’ worth, though, so on we went. The gauge continued its nose-dive toward E, however, and the last few tense miles fuego took the lead to give me a windbreak. We made it to a station, I filled up, and the last few miles into Kingman were routine.

We ate, slept, and Sunday we split up at Barstow, both turning toward our designated blights of urban sprawl. I arrived, scratched my arm on a fire extinguisher box, was met by That Girl with a big hug and the next phase of my journey through life began.

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