I had no idea how many miles we had driven.
I’d lost all track of how many cities and towns and truckstops we’d been through.
The TNBers we’d met, at least, I could keep track of.
Lisa Rae Cunningham.
Yvonne de la Vega.
Claire Bidwell Smith.
Add to that the usual suspects.
Matt Baldwin would have been there, but he’d been snatched up by a giant pelican while walking the streets of San Diego a few days earlier, and it was a while before he could claw his way out of its bill. By then, the evil bird had flapped its way to Arkansas, and Matt wasn’t able to make it to LA in time to meet us.
Next trip, Matt.
We knew it was our last day to show our total disregard for American speed limits, so when the GPS told us that we had 14 hours to make it from Albuquerque to Los Angeles, we figured we’d make it in about ten.
We ate breakfast in downtown Albuquerque, and fuelled up for the day on hash browns, bacon, and bad coffee. Then, after 25 days of driving, we drove some more.
Destination: Los Angeles. Los Angeles and a hot shower. Los Angeles and no more gas station food. No more pulling into hotels and one of us staying in the driver’s seat while the other ran in to see if there were any vacancies. No more calling people to double-check where we were meeting and re-entering details into the GPS. No more stocking up on Gatorade and water and V8 and then keeping a frantic eye out for gas stations and, more importantly, restrooms, on the turn off.
No more cresting hills and watching country I’d never seen before open up in front of me.
No more clinking glasses or beer bottles with people I’d never met before but exchanged hundreds, thousands? of words with.
No more speeding through lonely streets after sundown, our headlights searching across the dividing line.
No more Arby’s. No more new accents. No more beef jerky.
(that last part sucked).
No more new towns and trying to figure out where we were heading. No more driving through the rain, or stopping to take photos.
No more new hotel rooms.
No more putting the pedal down a little harder when the Pixies or OK Go or Peter Fox played.
No more Route 66.
But on the plus side, no more Gary, Indiana!
The road home to LA was flat, for the most part. Flat, and long. Albuquerque to Los Angeles in one day is not a short drive, man. It takes you through New Mexico, through Arizona, through the dusty badlands of California.
No more G. Smith, who saved us from Carol in Des Moines. No more Lester D, the Native American rez worker we met at a gas station who said highly uncomplimentary things about Obama. No more Greg, the hotel valet who gripped my hand in a soul clasp in Dallas and cried ‘My man!’
No more hotel desks, no more local experts, no more gas station attendants to ask us where we were from.
No more new towns.
But a hundred, a thousand new experiences, and stories to tell. A thousand new places to miss, and a thousand new ideas to store and turn over, in due time.
And a homecoming in Los Angeles, in San Francisco, and people to see. Things to do.
New roads to travel.