Freedom Beat Across America: In Search of America's Heartbeat

Day 23 Working on 6000 miles!

We’ve passed the 5000-mile mark and are heading for 6000! Our twenty-third day was another road-thrummer. Miles and miles of hundreds of miles on either side, across a rather bleak part of Texas.

whole lotta nuthin

To beat the monotony, we listened to the radio for awhile, after we figured out that we could only get AM, not FM. Dottie was in rodeo-queen heaven, but I got a little tired of broken-hearted cowboys. Most of them had lost their “babies”, one had lost his truck and one had lost his way, dear Lord. The girls had just lost patience with some man or another.
Maybe it’s because we’ve had such good luck with motels – maybe we got spoiled. But Odessa, Texas, was not a good experience. The first motels we stopped at swore they only had rooms with one king-size bed plus a pull-out. Yeah, the eleven-year-old could handle that, but not three cranky adults. Since the price was twice anything we’ve paid before, we just moved on down the road.

tired town

Cruising along the freeway, we looked at both sides of the road and saw tired frames of empty houses sagging in the heat, window glass long gone, scrub brush taking over the lots. One house in ten looked inhabited, with a sun-scoured pickup truck in the front yard and a few plants in the dirt gasping for water. Gas stations were abandoned, stores were nonexistent anywhere close enough to see from the road. We finally found a place that had a room with two double beds – also at twice the price of any we’ve stayed at before.
When we asked why such an area would charge such high prices for average motel rooms, we were informed that it was because of the oil fields. In other words, those boys can afford it, so why not charge it? I was inclined to believe it was oil field country, since we made the mistake of using tap water to wash down our aspirins. Definite eau de petroleum. Hints of motor oil.

guys in hard hats workin hard

Anyway, after giving up and checking in, we crammed our stuff into a small room that smelled odd. The outdoor pool was murky enough to, as Melissa said, “swim right over a dead body and not know it”. The pool towels looked like something you use to bathe the dog. Our “full breakfast”, which we hoped would help offset the price of the room, consisted of cereal with no milk, hard biscuits, no fruit whatever, scrambled eggs that looked like they’d been left out all night and a broken juice machine. They were out of coffee, and when Dottie asked the young man if he would be bringing more, he replied rather truculently, “Well, I guess I’d better.” Breakfast started at 6:30, and this was at 7:30. Dottie doesn’t complain loud, but she does feel a company should be notified if a customer is really unhappy. The poor girl at the desk seemed to be helpless. But she did offer to drive down the road and buy us some breakfast. We told her that wasn’t the point but thanks for the offer. Then we went in search of something besides McWhatever. Took some looking, but Mama’s Kitchen worked out.
Contrast that with last night’s stay at the Holiday Inn in Willcox, AZ. Our usual price for two big beds, a clean pool, and the best breakfast we’ve had the whole trip! Omelettes, SOFT biscuits, hot gravy, fresh fruit, muffins and there was this darling pancake maker. You don’t even have to pour the batter. You just push a button. We were so fascinated that after securing our promise that we wouldn’t stick our fingers in the mechanism, Becky opened the front flap so we could watch the two squirts of batter hit the tiny conveyor belt and slip between baking plates – you don’t even have to flip them. They just slide out the end onto the plate. She was very proud of her machine, and very proud of her whole breakfast layout and very proud to do her job well. A dying breed. We’ll miss her.

The Amazing Pancake Machine

And best of all, last night we were on the radio show and got to tell everyone about our documentary starring the bikers of the Patriot Guard as well as the many wonderful military members and their families. Unfortunately a lightning storm interfered with the reception, so that after about ten minutes we were breaking up and had to sign off. But it was great and we will definitely try again.
We thought we might be home by tonight, but it’s just a few too many hours, so we decided to take it easy and get home fresh on Thursday. See you then!


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