WHEN WE TRAVELLED back and forth to visit Grandma Howe we left very early and travelled while the day was cool. Then about 3:00 when the westering sun began to beat through the windshield we stopped at a convenient motel for the day. This gave the kids time to play in the pool or just run around or watch TV. About five or six we would go and have a good dinner and bedtime came shortly after we returned from eating.
We would wake up around 3:30 or 4:00 and get on the road in about a half hour. This gave us several hours of travel well before the sun came up and well before tourists were on the road. We shared the highway with big semi-trucks and the occasional hearty pick-up or camper. Rachael always dressed and helped carry a few things out to the van. Then she sacked out again with her pillow and blanket in the back while Notah sat up front with me. We rode along, intermittently mentioning some billboard or particular roadside interest. On the radio, we dialed to a ‘trucker’s station’ we called it. It was a station that catered to long road truckers who drove through the night. They played the neatest most haunting country music, interspersed with road and weather reports following the long routs between the east and west coasts. We always listened to that. I only ever found it at four in the morning. Those were neat times.
LOL I remember one time when for some reason I had to stop suddenly—Maybe it wasn’t on the freeway, but it was on a road where we were going along at a fairly steady speed and something made me stop suddenly. Or maybe it was the freeway and I didn’t’ stop completely but slowed down very quickly. I dumped poor Rachael on the floor. From a sound sleep she woke up on the floor. She sat up looking confused. I said, “It’s okay, Baby. You just fell off the seat.” She collected her blanket and crawled back up on the seat. When she woke up we asked her about falling off the seat and it took her minute to remember it.
I remember one morning in particular we stopped after we had been on thr road for about three hours. It was seven am for us since we were still on Ohio time, but in NM it was only 5:00. There was a little trucker’s diner sitting on top of a hill. I don’t know where it was and I don’t remember ever seeing it again. We crawled out of the van and the fresh cool air hit us in the face, blowing across miles of desert. The sun was just beginning to lighten the eastern horizon. And all around us it was silent, even the distant truck sounds from the freeway were muted. We trekked across the parking lot and into the brightness of the diner.
Inside, the walls were covered with old metal signs advertising a multitude of things from Pepto Bismol to coca cola to Budweiser. The decorations consisted of antique containers for baking powder, coffee and flour. We ordered a good breakfast and spent the wait time reading the signs and looking around at the containers. I think Notah even walked around and peered into the glass display cases. In those were little things-campaign buttons, match book covers, bottle openers/can openers with advertisements on them, and all kinds of handy every day objects turned into mini-billboards. Even the sugar and salt/pepper shakers on the tables were a mixture of old fashioned containers. It was such a fascinating place.
When we came out, the sun had risen and although diner still sat on a hill and the fresh breezes blew across the desert, the magic of that time just before dawn was gone.
New Mexico has so many fantastic places like that-a fascinating blend of the old and new. For a similar place look on: http://tangledhighways.blogspot.com/search/label/unique%20experiences