On the homestretch

We road warriors were up and out by 8:00 after coffee, the last of the pumpkin cake, and a farewell look at the beautiful view from the patio. We left the gas can as a small thank-you for the wonderful accommodations. Seriously? Seriously.

We started the day asking one another how we had slept. Mother bowled us over when she said she was bothered by a lot of gas during the night. Her zinger, “I couldn’t sleep but I sure could fart.”

Our route back to Arkansas was primarily on I-40. The question was how, when, and where to join 40. Jerry has driven it many times and laid out a very picturesque route for us from Saddle Brook up. It was on great 2-lane, no shoulder roads that took us through scenery that seemed to change every few minutes. We went from s-curves and switchbacks to vast open spaces that made us think of bison herds to stark rock formations. Cactuses dotted the landscape in Arizona, but that changed to everything from pine trees to shrubs to almost nothing as we drove along. No time to get bored with our surroundings, that’s for sure. The biggest shock scenery wise were the lava fields just short of I-40. The trip from Saddle Brook to I-40 took about five hours. Cyd did all the driving; I navigated with my phone; and Mother shared fun stories.

I-40 took us out of Arizona into New Mexico which is Mother’s home state. Mother left before she was two but she knows a lot about her family’s history which she shared with us along the way. We passed the turnoff for Las Vegas where her Aunt Fay lived to be 102. As we drove through Albuquerque she told us her maternal grandfather is buried there. A couple of her brothers ranched in New Mexico and five cousins still live here. We called it quits for the night in Santa Rosa, 525 miles into the trip back to Arkansas. We averaged 28.3 mpg.

We went to bed Friday night talking about making a run for home Saturday in spite of how tired we all were … especially Mother. As if we had no plan at all, we slept until after 8:00 the next morning, got to breakfast after 9:00, and were on the road at 10:00 which obviously poked a major hole in our tentative plan.

We (read: the Royal We = Cyd) drove 400 easy miles which took us through the panhandle of Texas and as far as Oklahoma City. Because we were on the interstate the whole time the scenery was basically uninteresting. One thing worthy of note is that I-40 boarders and in some cases overlaps part of Route 66, the iconic 2,400 mile Mother Road, which dates back to 1926 and runs from Chicago to LA.

Early on Mother’s parents left Texas for New Mexico, so there’s a lot of interesting Irby history there also which Mother regaled us with. Her parents (our Grandpa Charlie and Grandma Cookie) were born there for one thing. We passed the exit for Claude, Texas, where mother’s grandparents had ranched. Texas offered the cheapest gas of the whole trip at $1.85/gal. Made us question our judgment at so frivolously giving the gas can to Sue and Jerry.

It was obvious early on that we’d run out of daylight before we got home, so we called it a day in Oklahoma City. We ended our nice day by having pizza delivered to the room. We decided before turning off the laughs and the lights for the night that we’d sleep as late as possible the next morning and not even kid ourselves about popping up with the sun.

That takes us to this morning, our 18th day on the road. We rolled out of bed at 8:30 and finally got on the road at 10:30. No problem, really, since we only had a three hour drive to Rogers where we started 9 states and 3,825 miles ago. We all consider the trip a highlight of our year ! and are so grateful we could do it together. In all ways, the trip was wonderful.

I’ll get in the way here for a day and a half and then head home.


6 thoughts on “On the homestretch

  1. I enjoyed hearing about all your adventures during the road trip. I can’t believe you drove over 3,800 miles. Did you count how far it was to fly there and back? I have a coupon for the mexican restaurant near me when you get back 🙂


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