There is a lot to see in Tucson, but I didn’t see it. My apologies to Tucson.
Today was car day and me day. I took care of the car first – wash, shampoo, wax, and windshield repair. Then an oil change. I met wonderful people at each stop and ended up telling Round America stories. There was lots of laughter, so I think people enjoyed themselves. Many of the folks I met suggested places to go and things to see.
At the Simoniz Car Wash, Anthony, Arturo, and Reuben got the car cleanup started, and Jose did the detailing. Jacques repaired a chip in the windshield. Inside, I met Debbie the cashier; Yolanda (originally from Paxico, Kansas) and her boys Cole, Drake, and Blaze; Joyce; and others.
At Jiffy Lube, an especially friendly group of happy workers included Leo, Francisco, Javier, Joe, and Granpappy Jack.
Once the car was squared away, it was time for me. First stop was the Pearle Vision Center where Dr. Steve Miller diagnosed me with “dirt clods in the eyelids.” He was kind enough to remove them and provide medication. No wonder my eye kept hurting so badly. The cornea was not scratched, but the upper part of my eyeball was badly scratched, and there was dirt or sand embedded inside the upper and lower eyelid causing the irritation to continue. I could feel some relief right away, but it will take several days to heal.
Liana and Kathleen were great fun at Pearle. Kathleen said I made her day telling them the stories of Fast Freddy and the Floating Neutrinos. I told her that she made mine by feeling that way and telling me.
Next stop was Just for Feet. The trip began with a brand new, bright white pair of Nikes. Seriously, they now look to be a year old and are a really ugly combination of colors. Judging by the shoes and my left eye, I stopped to realize that there is a lot of wear and tear going on. I’ve taken 2,033 photographs, so that means glasses on and off at least 2,000 times and the car door opened at least half that many. I’ve put 6,417 miles on the car so far, and I’ve gone in and out of 19 motels in just three weeks.
Back to the shoes, I wanted a dirt color pair in hopes they will look better over the long haul. I also needed something as comfortable as humanly possible. I tried on really cool-looking shoes by Timberland, New Balance, and others, but they either rode up on my heel or felt like I was going to topple over due to an oddly shaped sole. I finally settled on the ugliest, but these babies are comfortable. I’m the proud owner of Rockport Walking Shoes Model MWT13 (made in China). Sand is the official color – perfect!
At Just for Feet, Jeff helped me, but then Jason, Eric, Ricky, and Frankie joined in. Analisa took my money. Brian wouldn’t let me take his photo, but he was the answer when I asked the guys where to find the most unique sight in Tucson. Brian can put his hand flat on the floor without bending over. Amazing but true; I saw him do it.
Since today is a day of rest and a break from the norm, I broke the rule about fast food chain restaurants. I enjoyed two delicious hot dogs at Weinerschnitzel. It was nostalgic for me. We haven’t lived in a place that had a Weinerschnitzel since college. At Texas Tech in Lubbock in 1971, it was called Der Weinerschnitzel. Nasty Johnny, Arne Ray, Cottar, Franklin Shanklin, Bozzie Jane, and I and all the other students called it “the Der.” We’d go, especially late at night, for a Der Dog and Chili Cheese Fries. I think the chain blew it by dropping the Der from their name, but the dogs were great.
At “The Der,” I met a really nice couple, Mario and Stephanie, and their dog Rocky. Mario said my little car is his dream car, so after scarfing down the dogs, I went outside where he was seated and gave him the key. He wouldn’t drive it at first, but he finally did. Mario invited Barbara and me over for home-cooked Mexican food the next time we are in town. I’ve got their number, and we will most definitely take them up on the kind invitation. It took a lot of shots to get a decent one of Rocky. The only thing harder than photographing animals is flags…the darned things just won’t hold still. It may take me five or six shots to get a decent flag photo.
This marks the beginning of Week 4. 34,453 on the odometer. It’s been quite a ride so far. I look forward to healing so I can get back at it, but the decision was made to extend the stay in Tucson by a day so my left eye can rest…and so I can get caught up on the writing and web site work. As a result, I spent the rest of the day in the room. I organized the huge piles of brochures and things to be shipped back to Atlanta, and I processed photos, wrote, and slept. I perfected sister Marty’s technique for processing batches of photos with PhotoShop. It works great and is saving at least an hour a night. Thanks, Murt the Gurt!
As I reflect on the first three weeks, I am really happy. The trip has gone very well. Not without the occasional unexpected event — Officer Passarelli, eye injury, and gas panic on the bad end … with Harry and the Natives, tee pee village, Floating Neutrinos, Fast Freddy, and many others on the good end. We’ve been able to see most of the sights we wanted to see; only a few disappointments in that regard.
I’ve really missed Boz the last week, and I am anxious for her to return to the trip in two days in San Diego.
We keep adding book title ideas. Check out the list, and email and let us know the title you feel would be best.
All systems are working well, though there have been too many too long days. I’ll sit down again with the itinerary and see if there are more days that need to be split in two.
I haven’t read a newspaper or watched the news (other than brief war reports) for 22 days. Not hearing all the bad news is good.
I am surprised that only seven antacids have been consumed, and five of those were on one day when Bozzie and I both got sick after drinking a Coke of all things. Contrary to popular expectations, we are not gaining any weight. I’m not eating nearly as much as when I am home; I often feel like only one meal a day.
Eight states so far, though the trip will soon be 20% behind us. I’ve lost track of how many people we’ve met so far and how many times “the car” has been lost. That will take some work to calculate, but it’s probably well over 200 people – at least 10 a day on average and probably lost 30 times. 8 states. 2 countries. 576 towns. I’ve bought 320 gallons of gas so far. 6,417 miles. 2,033 photographs. 1,500 U-turns. 1 flat tire (bought for someone else). 1 speeding ticket. A million laughs.
I’d have to look back at each day to answer this best, but the most fun for me so far was Day 18 – seeing Big Bend, meeting the Floating Neutrinos, getting my beads, viewing 50 spectacular sunsets, eating a bowl of chili in Terlingua, and losing the sight in my left eye. Savannah on Day 2 was a close second. My favorite stories so far are Freddy’s Fast Lube & Snow Cone Stand and the trip to the river on Day 16 and the Floating Neutrinos on Day 18. Barbara and I will update our initial round of nominations for Best and Worst as we leisurely see San Diego and Los Angeles.
Thanks again to those of you following the trip as Online Travelers. Please email.
As I write this, I just tried to play back the tape from the last two days, and the brand new Radio Shack Micro-45 Recorder is not working. Looks like I will have to add Number of Tape Recorders to the Trip Scorecard. I’ll have to get a new one – number 4.
The lesson for the day is that you can have more fun just doing what you gotta do every day in real life if you just take a minute or two to talk to folks.