I managed to time my arrival in Phoenix right around 5 pm—rush hour. From 75 I slowed to 35 but soon it was sundown and I now left the 10 and headed north on the I-17. I’d hoped to stop off at Flagstaff that night. It brought back memories of my journey out to California and how I didn’t make L.A. on that third night but opted for Flagstaff and even made my first phone call to the family in the Palm Springs area where I would stay for a while so I could get acclimated to life in SoCA. But now, in the setting sun of my first night away from the place I’d acclimated to, the mountains surrounding this other western city only reminded me of parts of Burbank and Glendale. I thought of Fry’s Electronics near the Burbank airport. The store with the 1950s sci fi theme where I’d bought such diverse items as buckwheat filled pillows, a rice cooker and various software programs, DVDs and CDs. I drive from Maricopa County to Yavapai County—exotic sounding names of places I’ll linger at for mere minutes as I journey in my least favorite direction – north.
Darkness falls and the wind picks up speed around the stony mountains with tufts of sage and chaparral. Soon the interstate is more like a small road as it twists and turns to accommodate the surrounding landscape. I don’t drive 75 as I’m on unfamiliar turf and it doesn’t seem sensible to shoot through this region so quickly. I know I won’t make Flagstaff but there’s Prescott and I go by the blue informational signs to spot my 2 needs that night: motel and McDonald’s.
I pull into a 2-story chain motel with a vacancy sign that I wasn’t surprised to see. Wasn’t exactly tourist season. I was winging it, not calling ahead for reservations, just gonna stop whenever the mood hit me. Hell, this wasn’t a 9-5 drive, it was longer than that—I was puttin’ in that overtime. I wanted to cover half of America and I wouldn’t do it with a just eight hours and lots of stopping for food and gas. Stopping for gas, vital. For me to have leisurely meals – not happenin’. Only at night, I’d splurge on one meal.
Fork over almost $60. Maybe it was tourist season in that area? Well, whatever, at least I got a free magnet for some local attraction of a Rainbow Bridge. How PC, I thought, being too tired to remember that it was a huge natural bridge that had been here long before that term. Another customer was checking in and I saw he was wearing camouflage and wondered if he was a hunter or a solider or just another traveler going somewhere, nowhere, anywhere.