Since it involved delivering my Father-in-law to his final resting place, I can't say this was a welcomed vacation. It had to get done, we did it, and now I've got another cache of memories for the brain file...
along with a few observations.
Abilene, Texas: that place is old. Everything in it is even older than that. I kinda dig the old school cemetery, though. One of those who spoke for Daddy was a lady he grew up next door to, attending the same Church she still does, after 88yrs.
The wife says: Traditions die hard in these parts.
New Mexico: short of a few Indians selling cheap cigarettes and baubles, nothing is there.
Phoenix is a larger city than I thought it was. The surrounding mountains, barren and grand, are strikingly beautiful.
Texas is definitely not California: not one public restroom was equipped with seat gaskets. In California, you'd be hard pressed to find one that isn't.
No matter where you are in Texas, you're still three hours from any place else.
I-10 through central/west Texas is a real-world Highway Of Death... littered, splattered and smeared with carcasses of deer and other critters... an uninterrupted, 500 mile slaughterhouse.
We ended up with a flat tire in Van Horn, TX. A small town three hours from anywhere with little to show for itself. It looked like a movie set. For this life long California dude, it was surreal.
Upon advice from the waitress at a locals-only cafe (where we had lunch, great homemade food, btw...), we rolled up into a tire shop several impoverished blocks down the street.
The proprietor's sons removed the tire, checked for leakage and replaced the valve (where the leak was).
It took all of ten minutes.
The whole time I'm thinking... yeah, they see those California plates on a Nissan Murano and it's gonna cost me....
Total price: $5.
Yeah, Five Dollars!!!!
If I was in Orange County, I'd be looking at $50 minimum.
I gave the kid a Twenty, and thanked him, saying "Keep it."
Sonic Burger: You drive up to the stall, park, push the button on the menu board, place your order through the intercom, and several short minutes later your food is delivered by a local high school hottie with a change belt. The burgers are good. Fries and onion rings suck.
Watch your speed in New Mexico. I hadn't been ten minutes across the border when I was met by the local tax collector/welcoming committee. He didn't issue a citation as much as an invoice.
In California, I'd be looking at more like $250.
Maybe I should just take that into consideration, but I'm still pissed off enough to ignore it and just wait 6-7 years before driving through New Mexico again.