Wow, what a day!
I started my drive at 2 P.M. thinking it would take about 5 hours to get here. Forecasters were predicting a high of 97 degrees today. When I got into the truck the thermometer indicated 102. It's Big Bubba's Ford Explorer Sportrac, and thank God it has a great air conditioner! On the highway I realized I'd better check the fuel status and to no one's surprise BB left me with 1/8th tank of fuel. So first order of business... stop in this heat and buy a tank of gas. I pull into the gas station and notice a disheveled looking gal pushing a bicycle, chatting with a guy at the front door. She looks at me as I drive up and when I get out of the truck she approaches me...
"Sir, do you have any change?"
(We're gonna see more and more of this as the economy worsens, folks.) I used to have compassion for panhandlers, but I know many of them simply use your money to buy booze/drugs, so I just shook my head. It's hot. I gotta buy a tank of gas to even get started on my trip. It's a bad time to ask me for money. I open the gas door to find a locking gas cap. On the phone to BB... "Where's the key to the gas cap?"
"Oh shoot! I forgot about that. It's here."
Backtrack... foul mood. Bite tongue... retrieve key. Start all over again, glad I didn't drive 'til the tank was empty, THEN find I had no way to refuel.
Gassed up, Carmen the Garmin takes me to I-10 West outta Phoenix. This is the same GPS unit I have at home, but something is different and I'm initially puzzled. I finally figure out the icon for the vehicle moving down the road is different...
At home, mine is a car. Big Bubba's icon is a slice of Pepperoni Pizza. (Don't ask 'cause I don't know!)
Traffic comes to a stop...
Road construction. I watch as the GPS indicates I've added an additional 20 minutes to my drive. I clear the construction zone and I'm JUST ABOUT out of Phoenix when traffic again comes to a stop. ARGGHH! Now I remember why I moved from BigTown to TinyTown, where it takes 5 minutes to drive from the North side to the South side of city limits! This jam adds yet another 15 minutes to my drive.
Now I'm West of Buckeye, Arizona, and although there is still considerable traffic, we're all behaving like adults and some are blithely exceeding the speed limit. I settle into the right lane at 2 miles less than the speed limit and poke in the first disc to the monstrous, 15 cd "DaVinci Code", take a deep breath, and vow to enjoy this drive. At about this point I hear Carmen say "Stay on I-10 283 miles to Riverside, California", or something like that. Ooooookay!
I'm pretty sure fuel will cost more in California than Arizona, so I tell myself to stop and buy fuel before crossing the State line. At Quartzite, AZ I stop at a truck stop and swallow hard at the fuel price...
$2.68 per gallon. Lots of folks filling up, I don't want to wait in line and add more time to my trip so I get back on the road. At Blythe, California I pull into a gas station and get the wind knocked outta me...
$3.19 per gallon! I've still got half a tank, so I decide to march on and hope for better pricing later.
Darkness falls... So much for seeing things I've flown over on this route! I drive through Banning and can faintly see the huge windmills closest to the road. The wind here is turbulent enough it's moving the truck a little in my lane, so I'm sure the windmills are making their owners happy with their power output.
Thank God for the GPS! I had the road atlas tucked next to the seat if needed, but my eyes are such at night now that I'd have had to pull over to read it if necessary. The GPS takes all the fear out of driving in unfamiliar areas... just poke in the address and let the machine guide you.
I pulled into the Ramada parking lot at 10:30 P.M.
I'm drinking a cold one for ya CJ as I type this. School starts at 0800 hours tomorrow. If I hit the hay RIGHT NOW I can get about 7 hours sleep.