Who was forced to read The Grapes of Wrath in High School? Weren’t we all? Who chose to review the Cliff Notes, instead? Didn’t we all? Well, I had a grandmother who brought me a box of books each month, and John Steinbeck was in that box. The story is actually pretty great. It’s set during the Great Depression and the Joads family are poor farmers from Oklahoma, who are victims of drought, economics, bank foreclosures and all the sorts of things, that would drive a family to pick up and go west–to California. And they, along with a lot of Okies, did exactly that. The road they took was Highway 66; which became a powerful symbol of escape and loss. As a kid, I liked the book; and dreamed of something as equally horrible occurring in my world, that could drive us from Indian Land.
Today, I find myself on the famous Route 66, and the story replays in my mind, imaginary voices fill my ears. I am transported to another time and it is really nothing short of magic. I am surprised, in spite of myself.
My goal is to get to Shamrock, Texas. I chose Shamrock, for no other reason, then it sounds like a ‘lucky’ town. I decided to drive a certain amount of hours each day, and where I end up, is where I’ll be. And today, it is Shamrock, Texas.
Shamrock, population 1,910, is like most of the towns along this route; it is nothing more than a wide spot in the road. Oddly, I feel at home in these wide spots.
I started out from Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the humidity was so high, that my glasses fogged over the moment I stepped outside. I am beginning to learn to breathe better in the humidity; but, not sure what the point of a shower is.
I will be going through Oklahoma, which is HOT. There is no humidity, so this is a dry heat, or perhaps we should just call it flambe. Oklahoma is beautiful; although I do not understand why there are so many toll plazas. Honestly, how many does one state need? I paid them getting on AND off—-for a total of NINE tolls today. At the first toll, I was excited, because it is super cheap; but by #9, due to the heat, or exhaustion from toll booths, I began to melt down.
I got out of Bubba and began to shake the plastic bucket, to try and get the gate to open. I threw all my money and other items into the bucket, and the gate steadfastly remained closed. A country gentleman in the truck behind me got out and began having a conversation with me. He was from Nashville, complimented Bubba’s current Titans Paintjob, and explained that he too didn’t understand the tolls. We stood in the heat and chatted–there were no other cars in line; eventually, we got the gate open, bid each other a farewell and went along.
Passing the wind turbines in Oklahoma, filled me with an awe-inspired hope. They are beautiful and weirdly peaceful; in their silent motion.
Bubba is quite popular on the road, with comments ranging from, “that’s the coolest vehicle I’ve seen in years,” to all sorts of questions and queries; what am I doing, how am I doing it…and WHAT? You’re driving it to San Francisco? But at the end of this day, my body is sweaty, my feet are dirty, my hair is messy, my eyes are sparkling and I know I wouldn’t trade a moment.
I arrived in Shamrock, got a cheap–but great room; took a shower, drank some beer that my Memphis friend sent with me–and will get ready for tomorrow.
Life is about good friends and adventure; thank you for being present with me. I appreciate you.