My Trip around the country in 2001 with Halley

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Leg 5: Mobile through Texas, North to Cimmaron, New Mexico and Philmont Scout Ranch

On July 5th, We got in the car and headed out of Mobile, northwest towards the Mississippi border on a beautiful hilly drive towards Biloxi and then into Louisiana. This part of the trip was uneventful, even though it was just myself, Halley and Hillary driving on relatively flat land straight-west towards Texas. We passed the town of Mound, Louisiana and made it a point to snap a picture of the sign. As we approached Texas we got hungry for dinner and made the decision, later regrettable and today unthinkable, to stop at a Mexican restaurant for fajitas, nachos and a drink. An hour later we got to the car and we were both sleepy as hell. The only logical thing to do was keep driving until we couldn't anymore, although I had hoped we would make it as far as the panhandle by the time we got tired. This almost happened, mainly due to Hillary driving my car which was made difficult by the fact she couldn't drive stick, at least from first gear. When I got us to Dallas and headed north on route 287, I helped Hillary take over driving which worked well for a couple hours of needed rest. She got us to a gas station near the Oklahoma border but the drive back onto the road was a disaster, with one side of our highway raised from paving but she veered onto the other side and caught in the middle of her mistake, panicked. Tired but startled, I awoke and got her on the right side of the road before pulling into an abandoned gas station and calling it a night. We slept for a while before awaking to the early morning Texas heat and coupled with the lack of air conditioning or civilization, we had no other choice but to head back on the road, hungry and tired.
Leg 5: 1,191 Miles
Coming across a McDonalds in Amarillo, just before breakfast ended was a good sign and we continued northward until we hit Dumas (dumbass?) and headed west on 87, nearly clipping the far left corner of Oklahoma's panhandle to route 56 in New Mexico, which led to one of the greatest driving experiences of my life. A view that was unparalleled as we rose up and down flowing hills, grassland on each side and no more than 5 cars seen over the course of the next hour. I roared through New Mexico at 90mph and faster when possible, my eyes set on arriving at Cimarron, New Mexico, home of Philmont Scout Ranch.

Northern New Mexico is home to little of note beyond Sante Fe and Albuquerque, but for fellow Scouts, Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron was one of the destinations of our youth where I had gone hiking and camping six years prior with a crew of 10 amongst a contingent of over 100 youth and adults prepared to hike throughout the lands of Philmont and in our case, Carson National Forest's Valle Vidal (Valley of Life). Although the trip into town brought back some amazing memories, set amongst the tent city and grounds at the Training Center, I was feeling sick as a dog and had to lay down in between trips to rehydrate myself. It seems that driving over 1000 miles in less than a day and a half can take a lot out of you, and I learning this lesson the hard way. While Hillary was chatting with my friend from back home Bryan Delaney and his sister Bridget Delaney who had started working there that summer. Bryan was and is still a Boy Scout at heart and works at Philmont still, when he isn't working in Georgia with at-risk teens. While I lay prostrate on a picnic table praying for the pain to go away and get myself together, Hillary and Halley bonded while hanging out and got to hear about the scouting adventures Bryan and I had growing up in Albany, as well as working together at Scout Camp in 1994 and 1995.

Heck's, home of the 1/2 pound burger
After a while I started feeling better, enough to eat something and I had only one thing on my mind - Heck’s. We had eaten at Heck's back in 1995 as our last 'official' meal before eating rations on the trail for 10 days plus 2 at base camp. Heck's is home of the ½ pound burger, which satisfied 100 scouts and adults in 1995 and was going to take care of the two of us in the same manner, with some leftovers for Halley who was relaxing in the car with a nice cool breeze blowing in from the mountains. I complimented the owner on the place and told him I made it a point to stop there only because I was there in 1995 and looked forward to it since we last ate a full meal on the Louisiana/Texas border. He was thrilled to hear it and gave us some free stuff with the name of the place on it - stickers, jar openers and the like. We thanked him and headed out on the road south towards the main highway, where Hillary took over driving for me. I was feeling better but truly needed to get some rest after the last couple days of driving. Halley and I slept for the next few hours as we headed into Arizona. Eventually, Hill, who had gotten the handle of driving stick, pulled over not too far inside the Arizona border at a major truck stop where we slept for a few hours more before each getting up and getting breakfast inside, washing up a bit. It had been two full days without a shower, with only one sit down meal and over 1700 miles traveled. We were almost to a place to sleep for two nights, with showers and the greatest views in all of the country, The Grand Canyon.

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