Henryetta, OK - Roswell, NM
Actual trip: Henryetta, OK - Roswell, NM (560 miles)
Don't have a cow, man!
Early morning in Henryetta we checked the oil levels and
added a little since both cars were burning fluids. The
weather promised us a fine day and after breakfast we continued
westwards. The first fuel stop was made in Oklahoma City.
At the same time the suspension contraption was adjusted
because we had experienced some wheel/bodywork contact the
By now a ritual had formed during fuel stops. Everybody
got out to flex the muscles; maybe the cars changed drivers.
The exact amount of fuel purchased was carefully noted so
fuel efficiency could be calculated. We each took turns
paying the bill. Most of the time it came to less than $15
per vehicle. While one guy pumped the gas the other cleaned
the windows, which in no time became very filthy indeed.
Extra supplies were bought so each car had an adequate stash
of sodas. Trash was discarded while Mark didn't think twice
about popping the hood for a quick glance of his 302.
We raided a nearby supermarket for some groceries. Some
of our favorite brand names included Doritos, Nachos, Coca-Cola,
Mountain Dew, Fanta, and to a certain extent, beef-jerky.
The latter really first became a hit on the way back east.
We could have visited the infamous site of the Oklahoma
City Bombing but opted not to partly because of our tight
schedule but also due to the fact that nothing but an empty
lot remained. Instead we spent some time at a Native American
souvenir shop located on the plains west of Oklahoma City.
We didn't meet any 'real' Native Americans though; most
of it was just a tourist scam where Taiwanese plastic crap
was cleverly disguised as authentic Americana. The view
from the parking lot was interesting though. No trees or
bushes grew for as long as the eye could see. The only vegetation
was knee-high grass, which emulated the waves of an ocean
as the strong, dry winds blew across the plains.
Not long after entering Texas giant billboards appeared
off the Interstate. They spoke about an Amarillo restaurant,
The Big Texan, where you could get a 72-ounze steak
for free, i.e. if you ate it in one hour. And why not? After
all this was Texas, the bovine state. Each billboard told
the exact distance to the restaurant and as we closed in
on it we agreed to give it a go. The 72-oz would certainly
not be our primary choice - less could do nicely. In the
last few days our diet had consisted solely of junk food
so we all craved some real sustenance for a change.
We pulled over around noon and as we entered the establishment
a slab of meat resting on a mountain of ice cubes greeted
us. At closer inspection we discovered that what we gazed
upon was in fact the much-fabled 72-oz-artery-clogging piece
o' meat one had to devour in 60 minutes if you were to get
it for free. It looked like an impossible mission and none
of us had the guts to go ahead with it.
The inside of the restaurant was designed as an old-time
saloon. The walls were decorated with old revolvers and
Winchesters and a bunch of stuffed animal heads were thrown
in for good taste. One end of the room had a podium with
a table and a chair. This was where the contestants had
to do battle against time and meat. During our dinner, which
consisted of puny 20-oz steaks, a guy fought valiantly with
his side of beef. From the looks of it he made it before
the allotted time ran out so who said it couldn't be done,
huh? Although the place was pricey our money was well spent.
The steaks were tender and it was definitely the best meal
we'd had for days.
Now our journey turned south towards New Mexico. The grassy
plains were replaced by dryer, somewhat more desert-like
landscapes. On Highway 70 traffic was very scarce. As we
approached the village of Elida (or was it Kenna?) the radar
alert went off for no apparent reason. Naturally we slowed
down to the legal speed but we couldn't see what was triggering
the device. Then, half a mile up the road we discovered
a police cruiser sitting by the side of the road. There
was no way we would have discovered it if it hadn't been
because of the radar detector. Both drivers would undoubtedly
have received a sizeable ticket if the alarm hadn't sounded.
Really, this was a tourist trap intended to raise money
for the municipality. Luckily we didn't become donors.
It was strange passing through the sleepy townships on the
road to Roswell. Everything seemed to be abandoned but at
closer scrutiny people just stayed off the streets. Maybe
it was due to the dry heat, which probably was in the 80s
In the car you either ran the A/C or you opened your windows.
Both options had their drawbacks. Using the A/C was nice
and cool but as soon as you had to go outside your sinuses
would be messed up. The alteration between hot and chilly
could eventually give you a nasty cold. However, if you
opted to drive with the windows wide open (what Dave McCusker
called the 4-60 air conditioner - 4 windows down while doing
60 mph), your eyes would soon feel dry and irritated.
We reached the Roswell City limits just before sunset. It
wasn't a problem finding a motel downtown. After unloading
the cars we went sightseeing in the Mustang. First stop
was at an abandoned gas station outside of town. Here we
enjoyed the spectacular sunset. Dave was determined to get
some good pictures so he climbed a roof and placed his camera
on a tripod. He managed to get down again without hurting
We briefly discussed how to spend this Saturday night in
the middle of New Mexico, and the choice fell upon the cinema,
which showed the movie "Twister". The local cinema
was located in a brand-new mall, which we checked out before
the movie started. Some time went by in the CD store. Jokingly
Manuel bought some "Brujería", a Mexican
rock band, largely because the cover contained several misspelled
"Twister" was a disappointment. It had some nice
special effects but the story line was crap, we all agreed
during the ride back to the motel.
Day 01: Leaving NC
Day 02: Tupelo, MS
Day 03: Henryetta, OH
Day 04: Roswell, NM
Day 05: Flagstaff,
Day 06: Las Vegas, NV
Day 07: Victorville, CA
Day 08: Long Beach, CA
Day 09: Los Angeles, CA
Day 10: Thousand Oakes, CA
Day 11: Malibu, CA
Day 12: Lompoc, CA
Day 13: Lompoc, CA
Day 14: Palo Alto, CA
Day 15: Palo Alto, CA
Day 16: Fallon, NV
Day 17: Escalante, UT
Day 18: Grand Junction, CO
Day 19: Lafayette, CO
Day 20: Colby, KS
Day 21: St. Louis, MO
Day 22: Knoxville, TN
Day 23: Burlington, NC
Epilogue: Author's notes