My stay in San Diego didn’t really go as planned. I found myself inheriting and amplifying the stress of everyone around me, my own stress level steadily increasing, leading to me drinking more than I should have last night, and this morning I had an urgent need to just get out of there. So I snubbed several friends and even a couple of dogs and I just legged it out of town.
By El Centro, California, I was feeling a little better, but I figured that the smaller the road the more therapeutic it would be. I popped into In-N-Out Burger and took my atlas inside to have a meal and plan my route. Let me say categorically that El Centro In-N-Out at lunchtime is not the place to soothe jangled nerves. The place was a frickin’ zoo, with people jockeying for tables, and clusters of customers waiting for to-go orders blocking the aisles. I found a spot to sit and opened the atlas, conscious of the covetous eyes longingly staring at my prime table. So much for lingering and enjoying a meal.
And yes, I could have just gone somewhere else, but I kind of had a hankering for the classic. Had I picked up the vibe while standing in line I probably would have left, but there was no guarantee that other places weren’t also crazy.
After lunch, things got better. A few miles north of El Centro I joined highway 78, an old-school road that rolls with the landscape rather than the cut-and-fill style of more modern highways. I remember from family trips in the long past signs reading “Dips”, but those roads are rare now, although they are still just as fun as they were when I was a kid. Passing over Imperial Sand Dunes there were some spots with significant sand buildup, but otherwise the road surface was in good shape and the car was running like a champ. Life started to seem a little better.
I took the interstate over the Colorado River but soon after I hopped onto highway 60, which wasn’t terribly exciting, but as I made my way up toward Prescot things got steadily more fun. As the sky turned purple in my rear view I climbed up onto the Kaibab plateau, twisting and turning up the brand new surface of highway 89, a road made for driving.
(Yes, I know that pretty much all roads are made for driving, but there’s driving and then there’s driving.)
Flagstaff. A cheap hotel, a meat loaf sandwich in a brightly-lit diner. Just me. Here, the only issues I have to deal with are my own. I feel bad about not seeing so many people, but I don’t think I would have been much fun anyway.