After driving two solid days from Knoxville toward Phoenix through mountains, plains, deserts and finally mountains again, Mr. Vagabond and I were ready to be done. My feet looked like balloons and my butt was numb. We thought once we cleared the lovely town of Flagstaff, the trip would be over. Not so. Planning isn’t our forte, so neither of us knew the distance remaining until he replotted our GPS.
I can't accurately describe the noise that came from him when he checked the distance from Flagstaff to Phoenix. 2 1/2 hours. He growled. Kinda
“Hang on to your bloomers, sweetie.”
Looking at the steep, curving road ahead, and noticing that it was dark, I uttered, “ . . . um, Dear . . . Darling . . . we have come this far with few incidents. I would like to get there in one piece, if you please.”
My plea was drowned out by his primal need to get the job done. Well, that and the sound of our screeching tires on the pavement. Whoever set the 75 mph speed limit on the road from Flagstaff to Phoenix needs to be checked for Sadistic tendencies. After about two minutes of him driving like Cruella De Ville in search of puppies down the twisting, winding, steep mountain, I threw caution to the wind, if only for a second. I unhooked my seatbelt, wedged myself under my seat and prayed. I contemplated the effectiveness of a Hail Mary spoken by a Protestant. Then again, I didn’t know the words and my phone didn't have any service to look them up. Not that I would have let go of the floor mats to do it anyway.
"Dear Lord God in Time--PLEASE slow down!" I begged. He cackled with the insanity of a man who had been driving for two days on nothing but fast food and warm
Pepsi. I closed my eyes and held my breath. There went Sedona, or so I was told. No blurry sideways pictures of that. And on we flew.
“Sweetie! There’s Phoenix!”
I was skeptical, so I only opened one eye to peek. I didn’t see blood and all my limbs were still attached, so I opened the other eye. Either he wasn’t lying, or else I had begun to hallucinate from oxygen deprivation. Or maybe we were dead. Whatever the case, I grabbed the air vents and pulled myself out from under my seat. He handed me a warm Pepsi and I noticed the glare had gone from his eyes. He looked almost human again until we hit Phoenix traffic. At least my butt had regained sensation again.
Sunday night, and all lanes were packed like sardines. He called the guys at the motel. Another 10 miles? You've got to be kidding me. Several twists and turns and lane changes and exits and more roads and more cars and more lanes and more exits and more turns and I wondered how on earth I would find my way back out of Phoenix in the morning. Until that point, I forgot I had to start my return trip alone the next morning. I wept.
We finally found the twitching sign of the Budget Inn. It greeted us like a harbinger of doom, but we forged onward. Sticky carpet? Big deal. Nasty shower? Who cares? I checked to be sure there was a bed. Indeed, there was. We slept.
We woke the next morning, which was actually still night time in Phoenix. Time change. We forgot about the time change. After I exhibited many pitiful faces and sighs and s-l-o-w-l-y dragged one item at a time back to my suitcase, he decided it was a very bad idea for me to drive back alone. I would fly back the next day and he would keep the truck. I was renewed. Energetic, even! Well, as energetic as a person can be after drinking Budget Inn coffee.
We drove around Phoenix. I marveled at the climate (It’s that dry heat, you know). We ate pancakes stuffed with cheesecake filling at IHop, went back for another nap and then woke again to our last night together for a long time. We decided to go out and about again. I took more blurry pictures.
I wanted to do something fun. I suggested Margaritaville, but he thought that was a bit too swanky. We settled on Hooter’s. True to her nickname, the GPS that Mr. Vagabond affectionately named “Loster than ____”, spat us out going the wrong way on a one way street in the middle of downtown Phoenix. The first clue was the homeless guy going into a fit on his bicycle, waving his arms and yelling, “WRONG WAY!!” Traffic headed for us was the convincing element. Reasoning and logic fail when people are sleep deprived. We headed back to the motel for fear of winding up in Washington State if we continued searching for Hooters.
I was still determined to have some kind of drink even though he had all but given up. The previous two days demanded it. Not to mention the “flailing guy on a bicycle” experience. Mr. Over It stopped at the Circle K beside the twitching Budget Inn. I was surprised to learn that even though cigarettes cost $7, a bottle of Jose Cuervo and two limes can be procured for a mere $5. Priorities.
Back at the palace, I cut up limes on the bathroom counter using his work knife while he headed outside to the truck. We drank tequila from plastic motel cups in the parking lot while scrubbing dead bugs from several states off the front of the truck. That’s romance right there, folks. We reflected on the previous days’ adventures and the mood became a bit melancholy. I didn’t even mind that he played Mudvayne while we sipped tequila. It grows on you after a while.
Around midnight, after showering and settling into bed, we had a revelation. After driving through at least a hundred states and snapping countless blurry, sideway pictures, it finally occurred to both of us that it wasn’t necessary for me to make the trip to Phoenix in the first place. Because we’re smart like that, remember? If he had driven alone, there would be no need for me to fly back.
“Planning is for sissies” haunted me as I took my last sip of tequila and fished out the soggy lime for one last bite. Although proper planning probably does prevent poor performance, winging it makes for a pretty interesting life--the life of a Tower Rigger's wife.
If you missed Part I of this adventure, check it out here.