Day 70 – August 14, 2001 – We stopped for gas this morning at a combination gas station, convenience store, and coffee shop. As soon as we pulled up, truckers and other customers started pouring out to look at the cars. One of the clerks was particularly interested and kept coming back with questions and to take pictures. When we were about to leave, we heard her talking with some burly guy about the cars. “You think they’ll never make it? They’ve already been!” Even though we all have car signs showing the trip dates and we are clearly headed south, we are still asked daily if we really think we will make it to Alaska.
Remember when I was telling you how cold we all were in Alaska? Well, we’re back in Texas now and it is hot! We left Garden City, Kansas, this morning and it was in the low 80’s, reasonably cool and comfortable. We crossed over into the Panhandle of Oklahoma and it was in the high 80’s. When we drove into Texas, a bank sign indicated that it was 92. Ross says that it doesn’t get that hot in England; he isn’t sure what that would translate to in Celsius. Their thermometers don’t go that high.
We fought a powerful headwind all day and moved much more slowly than we had hoped to travel. It took us nearly five hours to go the first 110 miles, way too slow for the 262 miles we planned to drive today. The Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles are in the high plains and the winds are notorious. As the day went along though, we drove out of both the high wind and the heat. It is really pretty pleasant tonight.
For the first hundred miles (Kansas and Oklahoma), the land was level as a table. You could see for miles in any direction. Where it was irrigated and cultivated, it was green and healthy-looking. Where it wasn’t, it was gray or brown, with sage or dirt covering the ground. This portion of Texas, though, has a lot more character. Hills, bluffs, draws and dry stream beds make for a more interesting drive. There were some small towns, some with 1000-2000 people, some with less than 100. But, just like in Alaska, we wondered about the hardships of living in such isolation. As much as possible, we are avoiding the cities so it is possible that Ross and Bruce will leave America thinking that nobody actually lives here.
Ross’s car broke a timer spring but, otherwise, we’ve had no trouble. (Please excuse me as I say a quiet “Horray!” ) We hope to make it home by Thursday evening so that means another two days of hard driving. We plan on 235 miles to Stephensville tomorrow and then 170 more on Thursday into Bryan.
Speaking of home, we were all excited when we crossed the state line into Texas. Even Bruce and Ross shared our enthusiasm to be “home”. We may be hundreds of miles from Bryan and have several more hard days to get there, but being back in Texas brings a sense of relief like we felt when we crossed the border back into Montana. We’ve had a wonderful trip and seen some wonderful places but this is home.