MAY 18, 1996: SATURDAY


Scheduled trip: 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 day before.

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 himself.

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 words.

"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.

<<May 17, 1996<<


Day 00: Prelude
Day 01: Leaving NC
Day 02: Tupelo, MS
Day 03: Henryetta, OH
Day 04: Roswell, NM
Day 05: Flagstaff, AZ
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



Movie review: Twister
What sucks more than an F5?



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