On the road again

Phoenix - El Paso - Dallas - Memphis - Nashville 

I left Phoenix at 6:30am Saturday June 29th with baseball buddy Tim Kolacny as my copilot, and head east into the morning sun, trying to beat the heat of the day. Temperatures in Phoenix in June have been running an exceptionally dry 110, causing even the most resilient desert rat to complain about the weather. Beyond Tucson a brown haze from the forest fires in the north darkens the sky, but doesn't protect us from the growing heat as the sun rises in the East. We make good time at speeds of more that 75 miles per hour, conversation passes the time and we are crossing into New Mexico before long and headed for lunch in the dust bowl that is El Paso, Texas, my home in the late 50's, 400 miles in five and a half hours.

A push out to the east an hour later across the scrub deserts of far west Texas, mountains in Mexico off to our right, a close and persistent reminder that we are skirting near to the edge of America, climbing almost imperceptibly the southern edge of the Llano Escatado onto the great plains. Flat and featureless, first wastelands, then grasslands, then planted fields as far as the eye can see, barely a tree, mountains now buried below the millennial silt of the prairie.  We would make the oil fields of Odessa by 5:00pm, 350 miles more, a total of 750 on the day. An easy ride for the most part, but a tiring drive. A nice motel and a welcomed meal at Logan's Roadhouse (which is really a restaurant).

 And then, of course, the requisite night cap, a well earned traveler's reward at the end of a hard day.  We chose Daddy's Place, a genuine Texas Roadhouse recommended by our waiter at Logan's. A rock cover-band called "Delaid" battered the crowd of truck drivers, waitresses and oil field laborers looking for their Saturday night squeeze. The crowd looked rough, I expected Patrick Swazy to come through the door any minute to start knocking heads. Tim and I chose a pool table in the corner, and people left us alone. Aside from Tim and two pretty barmaids, I think I was the slimmest guy in the place. Smoke and music eventually took its toll, and we left early.

 On day two, we made Dallas (350 miles more), rolling hills and rain, rain, rain. I think it was the first time my car had ever been rained on, and the first time I had been wet from rain in over two years. We and spent the afternoon and evening with Jack and Judy Sparks, a lifetime friend and Army buddy who live in North Dallas. A traditional Texas rib joint for dinner, and next morning a hardy breakfast and we are off again for Arkansas and on to Memphis, another 500 mile run. Dinner and music at BB King's Blues Bar on Beale Street, Memphis' hot music district, and the  Rum Bogie Cafe for night caps and a little late night music.

 Day four Graceland! A tacky "Elivs" theme park and mansion tour not to be missed when passing through the heartland. Three and a half hours and worth the time. Then on to Nashville, another 200 miles in time for dinner with friends, and a late night trip to the Wild Horse Saloon. More on Nashville later.

 1800 miles in all. I had forgotten what road trips were like. No speeding tickets, no flat tires, no problema.

 Gene Ziegler