Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Road trips can be -- scary

Isn't this an amazing view? What you can't see are the signs at this rest stop (and every other rest stop in the American southwest) warning of creepy, crawly, biting, stinging, hissing and venemous creatures hanging out in desert camo waiting to part you from a delicious piece of your warm, human flesh. And that's just the beginning of road trip dangers ...

I once sputtered to a stop in a dusty, one-horse town on a two-lane highway in Nevada. It was way past my usual stopping time, but nothing more promising had appeared and now the road stretched ahead of me for empty miles towards the horizon. A stringy, tough looking woman greeted me from behind the desk of the town's single, ramshackle, motel. "Honey," she said, "I'm putting you in the room next to mine so you'll feel safe." In my mind, the town lost its air of gentle decay and began to look dark and menacing.

After stashing my suitcase in my room, I stepped out the door, headed for a seedy convenience store, which appeared to be the town's only food source. It was after sunset and shadowy figures were lurking in the weak, orange light given off by the single dingy lamp over the entry to the store. I may have considered going without dinner that night. Luckily, common sense (and my devotion to regular meals) kicked in. I gathered my courage, leashed my attack dog, Sam the Cocker Spaniel, and, assuming my most fearsome don't-mess-with-the-librarian expression, I proceeded forth. The miscreants gathered around the store's entry attempted to intimidate me by greeting me with a threatening, "Good evening, ma'am," but my determination to snag a frozen dinner unmolested must have impressed them because I lived to tell about the encounter and to enjoy my mac & cheese and a peaceful night's sleep.

Road trips can be very edifying and adventuresome, but it is necessary to pack a resolute attitude and a fair bit of courage along with your undies.

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