Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Miniature Traveling Companions

The route from DC to Albuquerque was simple: I-66 W out of DC, I-81 S to Roanoke where I boarded I-40 W for the long haul to Albuquerque. Two and a half days seemed a reasonable target time. Alas, hurricane Gustav had other plans for me.

After driving 12 hours on day one (Corky did none, N-O-N-E, of her share of the driving), I-40W brought me to Memphis Tenn. which seemed a nice place to stop along the "Musical Highway" (though not quite sure what that meant ... I rolled down my windows but didn't hear anything). But Gustav says "no" all the hotels and motels east of Memphis were full with evacuees. On to west of Memphis and hoping for better luck. But again, Gustav gives me the big blow off and there's no room at the inn. Okay, it's getting really late and I don't want to drive exhausted in this increasingly intense wind and rain. Best pull into a rest stop and resume driving after some rest.

Okay, see that little white dot halfway between A (DC) and B (Albququerque)? That's Memphis. Nice area, big river, lots of vegetation, lots of moisture. Corky and I find our little rest stop right about there, move everything out of the passenger seat into the driver's seat get her some water, roll down the windows a bit for ventilation, and settle in for some sleep. Not so much. Itchy is me. Must be all that dog hair on the seat mixing with moisture that's got my skin creeping out. Turn on the light, remove said dog hair with handy lint brush and it's back to shut eye. But now itchy is really me. Turn on the lights again and notice drops of blood on my legs. What the *&(%? Turns out Memphis is built on a swamp. Right. My car has been invaded by a swarm of hungry mosquitoes. Guess the car light was as good as a dinner bell. Thus began a tirade of cursing and throwing everying from the drivers seat to the back seats. Corky's freaking out not from mosquitoes (fur's too think, lucky dog) but cuz Mom's completely lost it. In less than a minute we're on the I-40 ramp with all windows fully down. Only its raining hard now and mosquitoes, being determined to live or something, have no interest in flying out the window into a downpour. They hunker down. Like soldiers on a hill, at least 20 of them stand waiting in the crevice between my winshield and dashboard. At least, for the moment, they seem less interested in eating .... me.

Now well after mid-night, I'm searching again for a Super-8 or somesuch with at least one spot in the parking lot. I decide to focus on towns with no major north/south artery that would bring folk up from Louisiana and Gustav's rain. I find just such a town 50 miles west of Memphis and sure enough, the parking lot is only half full. A friendly woman at the front desk set me up with a room. $10 fee for pets. No problem. Too tired to itch now, I don't remember unlocking the door before my head hit the pillow.

The next day, Gustav's wind and rain continued until noon, but I made it all the way to Albuquerque before 11 pm, periodically rolling down all windows when one of my miniature traveling companions would start circling for a meal.

Even now, a week later, my legs, feet and right shoulder are still covered with little bumpy souvenirs. Safe and mostly sound, we made it. After sleeping the sleep of the dead, I was perfectly refreshed and ready to go. I set out that morning to find the New Mexico state office for Obama's Campaign for Change.