Friday, August 27, 2010

Continental Undivided attention

"It's a beautiful sunrise! Hurry up so we can eat and get on the way!" Driving across the country in a compact car is essentially an endurance race. So the best way to prepare for such an ordeal, Mrs. Hall explained, is to get lots of rest on a comfy bed and eat properly along the way. To that end, she had insisted that while she would be happy to accompany Colleen for three thousand long miles over dusty bumpy terrain, she would only go if they stayed at Hampton Inns along the way. Known for their luxurious beds and tasty complimentary breakfasts, Colleen was only too happy to accommodate her.
The breakfast bar at the Hampton in Grand Island, NE opened at 6:00 AM and they were there to meet the staff bringing out the food. Twenty minutes later, the little black car, riding low and heavy from being crammed to the rafters with water bottles and fresh fruit, continued its trek to the west.
The original plan was to have a copilot as a handy convenience; while the driver is otherwise occupied with the tasks of maneuvering through speeding 18 wheelers and numerous construction sites, the copilot can direct, feed and otherwise indulge the driver's whimsy. However, all Colleen kept saying the whole way to Wyoming was, "Look at those mountains- take a picture- look over there, isn't that great! Look at the hills; look at the sky; look over there!" "Look at the road!" was all Mrs. Hall could sputter, before grabbing the wheel from her hands. Despite her fear that they would eventually end up in the median strip, Mrs. Hall managed to photographically chronicle the adventure. Green pastures gave way to brown scrub and rocky outcroppings; and finally to craggy mountain passes. The passages between towns became longer and longer.

"Pull over into that truck weigh station!"
"If you drive around the back we can take that little dirt road to the frontage road; I want to get pictures of those wonderful metal whirligigs."
"Slow down- I have to get a picture of that water tank that looks like a coffee pot!"
"See if you can pass that blue car so I can get a picture of those two trains in one shot!"
"Look at all those cows/satellite dishes/rocks/clouds/(insert landmark here)!"
It soon became clear that while Colleen probably thought, when she sat down behind the wheel of the little black car, that she would actually be the one making the driving decisions, that that was not really the case. She dutifully slid across lanes, slowed down, sped up and stopped completely. Deciding that break was in order, they pulled into a mega trading post. "Now take it easy; we've been running at about 5 or 6 thousand feet altitude for the last few hours or so, so don't go doing jumping jacks right away," warned Mrs. Hall. A couple of cowgirl outfits later, they were back on the road again.
They marvelled at the windmills marching across the grassy plains and waved to the horses in the trailers going by. As the overcast rolled in, they could see the rain shafts miles ahead of them. Suddenly as they rounded a corner, Colleen said, "What's that brown stuff?" "Uh-oh," said Mrs. H. "I've seen that before- I know what that is. The gust front ahead of the rain is coming right at us; that's a dust storm." For a few dusty minutes, the little black car was buffeted about and then things settled down.
Mrs. Hall congratulated Colleen on her driving acumen, but the novel combination of the wind pushing them around and the new altitude must have been too much for her. By the time they rolled into Rock Springs, WY, poor Colleen was fairly green around the gills. Mrs. Hall purchased some Dramamine and some clear broth for her and they watched a movie for a while and called it a day. "Get some sleep, big girl, and you'll be good as new tomorrow," she soothed, as she pulled an extra blanket over Colleen. Next episode: Rock Springs to Reno. Stay tuned!

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