Speeding Tickets Acquired: 0
Speeding Tickets Narrowly Avoided When I Slowed Down and Got Out of the Trooper’s Way and Then He Disappeared From The Road Like a Sneaky Ghost Trooper: 1
Speeding Tickets Narrowly Avoided When I Spotted a State Trooper Lurking in the Long Grass of the Texas Median Like a Goddamn Velociraptor: 1
Oklahoma -> Texas
Today we ventured off the I-44 and after recovering from this great shock we got on the I-40, which was more or less the same road and that calmed our nerves considerably. We made a short stop at the Mohawk Lodge Indian Store, the first trading post in Indian Territory according to the shop owner and has been a shop since 1892 (longer than Oklahoma has been a state). The 81-year-old shop owner has been there since her mother, the store’s third owner, died, and she runs it with her husband (though, she told us conspiratorially, she has to order all of the beads herself because he can’t tell one shade of red bead from another). She told us about the history of the store and the people and where she buys her beads, and how the company that sells her some of her blankets tried to take away a style she liked and she called them and told them no and so they still make that blanket for her today. After we purchased a pair of earrings apiece she asked if we liked apples. “Sure?” I hesitated, sensing a Snow White situation in my future. “Our tree is full of them!” she grumbled. “And I’ve made as many pies as I intend to make.” She then proceeded to give us a bag with six apples in it and sent us on our way. What even is Oklahoma.
Further down Route 66 was one of two museums. The first one had a room for each decade and explored the history of the road. We played an Oregon-Trail-style game and hammed it up in the fake diner.
The second museum was a collection of buildings, most glass-closed and full of weird old things and props and terrifying looking dummies meant to bring the sets to life. We got to put a pin on a map of the country to show where we were from, and got to see the map of the world and all the pins from this year’s visitors. It was a treat.
We made it into Texas after that and I have to admit I have mixed feelings. The first indication that this was strange country was the insistent signs on the highway that said the left lane was for passing only. “Don’t worry about it,” said Ithaca with a wave of her hand. “People in Texas respect confidence.” This is the same girl who told me she never looks at the speed limit sign when driving down highways, but still I nodded and continued on in the left lane like an asshole. I realized after a while that I truly was the only asshole because everyone was honest to God driving in the right lane except when they had to pass. It was strange. People started becoming more courteous drivers in Missouri, but now that we are in Texas they are truly polite. It’s kind of freaking me out, to tell you the truth.
The disadvantage to Texas roads is that there are almost no signs at all, and it’s really easy to miss your rest stop, exit, entire city, or what have you. This was a hard adjustment after Oklahoma, where the “lane ends” sign would appear eight to nine miles before the lane ended, and you would get eight warnings about the exit ahead and what you might find at that exit. Eventually we did find our hotel, and after Ithaca carried four cups of water down to the car to water the plants we have been towing in the backseat for three days, we headed off in search of the Cadillac Ranch. Getting to this included turning onto a road that didn’t really look like a road and then actually went in the direction of the highway and then proceeded to cross over the exit ramp of said highway for the traffic that was going in the opposite direction in some sort of horrible Texas highway ouroboros. It was the most alarming thing I have ever driven through and I hope to never encounter its like again.
The Cadillac Ranch was a strange and unexpected thing, much like every other part of Texas I have seen. It is ten old Cadillacs, noses buried in the Texas dirt like expectant hounds who lost their bones. The ones at the front of the row were falling apart a lot more than the ones in the back, and the spaces between were muddy in places where the sun didn’t shine enough to dry it. Scattered, empty spray paint cans litter the ground from the entrance to the cars themselves, some new and some half buried themselves. Some of the plants have been painted and there are words painted on the ground (my personal favorite was the one where someone wrote “I <3 Candy” and someone painted over Candy with Dick). I wandered a bit aimlessly among the cars as various foreign languages were uttered nearby, but my favorite part was when a woman offered Ithaca and I a can of pale pink paint for ourselves. I painted “SNOW” and “<hope>”, so that a car would have my nom de plume and a tattoo to match my own. It felt very American, taking borrowed spray paint and building upon and over old art in an outrageous monument that was designed to be a talking piece and grew into a strange piece of American spirit.
For dinner we found a local pizza place (with a serious effort, mind you, I was not joking about the insanity of Texas roads) and we sat by the hotel pool. I watched some local news and chuckled at the ridiculous Texas-ness of the show and the ads. Now I am off to scratch the rest of this pink paint off my arm.