On Tuesday morning I woke up and just decided "I'm going to Colorado". Just like that. I had already planned a lunch with my mom and daughter, so I took my time packing my camera gear and some clothes. Oh and some Lemonheads and Mike & Ike. Must haves for a road trip. Lunch with my two favorite people was great, then I headed west. I love the feeling of being on the road, especially when I know that on the second day I'd be spending the night in one of my two favorite states. My other fav is, of course, Wyoming. I was jamming out in a one person karaoke contest in my truck...and I lost. I can't sing a lick but I was smiling and enjoying the ride. I also knew that I'd be driving through the dreaded Dallas late at night, which, if any of you have ever driven through Dallas, know is as close to hell on earth as possible. Traffic is always a nightmare. To my delight, I made damn good time and made it through with no delays. Somewhere around Chillicothe I pulled into a rest area and stretched out on the back seat of my truck for some sleep. It was dark and quiet except for the wheels of the occasional car or truck going by on Hwy 287. It reminded me so much of my childhood road trips in our motor home. The sounds and feel to the air were very familiar and brought back so many good memories. At times I was that child again, laying there with my eyes closed imagining I was in my bed inside the motor home. The only sound missing was my Dad's constant snoring. I miss that. So many nights I either didn't sleep well or had to put a pillow over my head to try and sleep. I'd give anything to have him keep me awake at night with his snoring. It was a happy day, but I fell asleep a sad 10 year old boy.
I didn't sleep very well. Not due to sadness, but I just couldn't get comfortable. So about 5am I decided I'd push on so that I could spend some time along Route 66 before stopping the next night in Durango. I actually had a destination in mind, which is something I don't do often. I made reservations at the always classy Super 8 Motel in Durango. What could possibly go wrong? I was Rocky Mountain High and I wasn't even in sight of any mountains yet. I passed some familiar sights, like the Big Texan restaurant and Cadillac Ranch. Just at the New Mexico border lies the ghost town of Glenrio. I'd driven through here 7 years prior...and it looked exactly the same as it did back then. There are one or two people, about 6 dogs, and some chickens that live there.
For a few moments, I thought about getting back on the interstate and trudging on through the desert to Albuquerque and on to Durango. But I figured I'd just keep on old Route 66 until it met up with I-40 later down the road. This would prove to be a mistake.
For the first time in my thousands of miles of adventures, I ran into a problem I couldn't fix. There was that one time in Utah I almost got stuck in the sand, but we won't talk about that. No pics, so it didn't happen. Anyways I was able to get back to the interstate and spend a lovely 17 minutes...yes a full 17 minutes, with roadside assistance trying to explain where the Texas/New Mexico border on I-40 was located. No joke. I said no less than 7 times...I'm on I-40 east at the Texas and New Mexico border. She couldn't find it on the map. Really. I think that was the most frustrating part of the whole ordeal. I sat for enough time to watch a movie, the Magnificent 7 (which was good by the way), and probably had enough time to watch another movie, by the time the tow truck arrived.
The driver was kind of quiet as we started back towards Amarillo, which is where I...the introvert who hardly strikes up a conversation with a stranger...started to ask questions to get some conversation going. Perhaps he is an introvert too...we probably would have both been fine if we didn't say a word to each other, except for the fact that it was a 70-mile trip back and this thing couldn't get above 60mph. I wasn't about to start a karaoke contest. I would have come in 3rd place even though there were only 2 of us in this nasty cab of a tow truck. The ice broken, we talked a lot about life...and I realized just how lucky I am even though I'm riding shotgun with my crippled truck almost 1000 miles from home.
I have a horrible memory when it comes to names with faces. So let's just call him Juan. He told me about his childhood, filled with memories, like a horrible father and dealing with gangs. He'd been in prison for robbing an inhabited dwelling. Someone had stolen something from his house when he was gone, and he went and stole it back. Problem was there happened to be someone home sleeping and he didn't know it. Bam, instant prison time. We talked about the old days when people would simply fight things out if it came to that. Settling a score with a gun just was a rare thing back then. Nowadays he carries a gun with him 24/7 as protection. He's often sent to bad neighborhoods to repo cars. His dad, a horrible father when he was young, now rides with him sometimes and carries heat with him too...to protect the son he treated so badly as a child. I was glad to hear that his dad had finally come around to love and do everything he could to protect his son. That wasn't always the case. I was lucky growing up. My dad was an awesome, fun-loving family man. As a child, Juan had to turn to the streets to find someone to protect him. I felt guilty as I listened to him. I've always believed in the philosophy that if you and everyone you know throw your problems into one big pile and you had to choose to take some problems back, you would find yourself picking your own to take with you. Juan had to carry a gun to do his job and support his family. Not to save others, but to hopefully save himself from harm. He told me that being in the gangs has sometimes helped him get out of some hairy situations because he knew what to look for, how to act, and what to say, even though he may be forced to repo someone's car. Someone who could easily pull a gun and shoot him. I can't imagine having to do that. That hour and a half or so taught me a lot and put things into perspective for me. I realized how blessed and lucky I've been my whole life. I respect the hell out of Juan. He told me if it wouldn't be for his family and his job, he'd definitely be in prison or dead right now...along-side some of his "friends" he walked the streets with growing up. When we arrived at the dealership, I thanked him, told him how much I appreciated the fact that he had to drive so far out of town to get me, and wished him well. I'll never forget that conversation and how it made me feel. I had mixed feelings knowing his dad is there for him now to protect his son...even to the point of placing himself in danger for him. He has a dad he can call whenever he wants. I no longer have that. But at the same time I never once felt unloved by my dad, which is what Juan wanted so badly as a child.
My point in all this is to not judge people on what you see or hear...you don't know what they've been through or are going through. Thank God that your problems are yours because others have it far worse than you or me. I'll keep my problems. I don't want anyone else's.
More to come on the rest of the trip later.
Oh, and J3 stands for "Jezebel 3". I called my first truck, the Avalanche, "Jezebel" because she really "got around"...from Washington State all the way to Florida and many states in between. J2 was my first Ram truck I bought in 2012. It was only fitting that I keep the Jezebel thing going, since all of my vehicles have gotten around quite a bit.