We’ve traveled through the Texas Panhandle for 30 years on our way to Michigan. The flat, nearly house-less land seems endless. Only occasional towns and windmills (a bazillion, I think!) break up the monotony. Although there surely must be something more to see, it’s been a “pass-through” state for us rather than a destination. Oh yes, we did stop a couple times to visit the gigantic cross along I-40, and that was pretty cool and I recommend it for a good break.
I’d expected something different, I suppose, but this drive on I-10 across the southern part of the state proves to be miles and miles of the same, if not more desolate. There’s not much out there except mesquite, sage, sand, rock, really tough critters, and WIND. For you Arizonans – imagine over two hundred miles of waffled land like the stretch between Phoenix and Tucson – minus the saguaro cactus ‘cause they only grow in the Arizona/Mexican Sonoran Desert. Thankfully, the flatness finally undulates to the beautiful Texas Hill Country (more like Flagstaff and east). I use Arizona as a reference point, because the whole terrain is so similar – as is much of the southwest. Midwest visitors look at me like I’ve lost my common sense when I say I find it quite beautiful. I usually smile sagely and say, ‘It’s an acquired taste.”
PANIC CITY BESIDE THE ROAD!
Yesterday, we pulled into a small rest area to check the car straps. Larry got out while I stayed in my seat. A couple minutes later, I hear a tap- tap on my window.
“The door won’t open!” he says. “See if it will open from the inside.”
I weave my way back to the door over and around debris that has shifted to the floor in transit and give a great tug. Nothing. Pulling the handle is useless. The door acts like it’s locked.
“No luck,” I holler through the door. “It won’t budge from in here either!” Suddenly, inexplicably and unreasonably, I’m struck by a moment of claustrophobic panic. This is silly, I tell myself, but I have always hated tight spaces. Enclosed MRIs practically send me into a coma. I remind myself to look around! See, I’m not in a hole or a tube, I’m in a 32’ motor home, for crying-out-loud! There are windows. There IS another door to get out if I have to. Not an easy jump, but do-able. RELAX! Be reasonable! I hate to admit it, but seeing my husband stuck outside with me stuck INSIDE and not able to get out raised my blood pressure a few notches.
SLAYING THE DRAGON
In my heart of hearts, I have no doubts he’ll figure out how to “make-do” until we can get to a place where he can take the door apart, but it takes a while for that message to get through to my racing heart. I’m hoping he thinks I’m just getting a better look when I stick my head out the window and breathe deeply. Finally, after jiggling, pounding, and pushing on the door for a few more minutes, he gives it up. This gives me time to pull myself together enough to appear sane. I can actually laugh as I watch him try to climb up the side of the coach.
A couple years ago, he’d had some body work done on the front left side which eliminated the steps into the driver’s seat. Looking a bit like a cripple trying to climb a ladder for the first time, he steps on the lug nuts, grabs my hand and the steering wheel, does a belly flop onto the seat and heaves himself inside. I’m impressed! Not bad for an old guy.
By the time he’s clambered up and down 5 or 6 times, he gets the hang of it and adds an element of grace and pizazz to his routine. As for me? I was just smiling and sitting inside, occasionally hanging my head out the window, praying and waiting for him to rescue his damsel.
When we stop for the night, he pulls out his bag of tool tricks. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed or taken apart with a screw gun, a screw driver and a hammer, and he uses all three. The dang door doesn’t give up without a fight, but suffice it to say that, 30 minutes and a few choice words later, the latch has been dismantled and reassembled so that it opens and stays closed with the dead bolt. Like I said, I knew he’d make-do until he can get to someplace to buy a new latch. By now, he’s got the (somewhat complicated) exiting routine down pat and he’s climbing in and out of the driver’s side like a circus performer. I’m good, my heartrate is normal, and I notice he looks awfully pleased with himself. I chuckle.
“You feel like you’ve just slain a dragon, don’t you?”
He laughs and gives me a thumbs up.