Road Warrior (Part 1)

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The day had come, and I was on the road (again….Just can’t wait to get on the road again…sorry, I’m easily distracted.) So, it was 9 in the morning, and my traveling companion and I were beginning what would turn out to be a slightly harrowing journey across 5 states in 3 days. Of course, we were unaware of the hardships to come; the somewhat minor grievances and the laughable frustrations would rear their ugly heads soon enough. I was nervous and excited to leave St. Louis, my home of 9 years. St. Louis, a place where I had learned so much, become a different person and met wonderful people, made an indelible mark on my life and forever changed my path, for better or worse. But I, vagabond that I am, had had the traveler’s itch for quite some time, for 9 years in one place is far too long! Yes, I had started on a new adventure, and I thought we were Road Warriors! To be honest, though, the first 600 miles were extremely…boring. The first 2 states we crossed were Missouri and Kansas, and while Kansas had some beautiful rolling plains to offer, Missouri had absolutely nothing. Let us skip ahead to the dark night. We were still in Kansas and I wanted to stop, but my traveling companion wanted to forge ahead just until we crossed the Colorado state line. With a shrug of my shoulders I continued (not yet having a break in driving, after all, I was a Road Warrior!) and on that note we continued down the next stretch, not realizing that we were leaving civilization behind. While my companion conveniently slept, I kept going down the dark, deserted Hitchcockian highway, my eyes shifting constantly to the ever-dropping gas gauge. With every group of lights, glowing like beacons, my hopes would rise, and for every group of lights, my hopes were dashed by Chernobyl-like factories. Finally, my companion awoke and realized the fix we had found ourselves in. We drove on in silence, our imaginations getting the better of us, until I could drive no further and we stopped to switch places. For the next hour we drove, now just waiting to become stranded. I had to face taking a bathroom break, at 1:30am, in the middle of nowhere. As soon as I stepped out of the car, the wind picked up, twisting me about, and the temperature dropped what felt like 15 degrees…I concluded I was being tested and toyed with, like Hercules was tested by Hera. Finally, I reached the bushes and assumed the position…where the wind promptly knocked me down…twice…but this Road Warrior just looked on it as a funny story to share, and I hurried back to the car to defrost my fingers (and inspect my clothes for dampness). We drove on with bated breath until we finally reached a gas station, which looked as though it came straight out of a zombie film (I love zombie movies) complete with a plethora of seemingly abandoned cars. The wind continued to throw me around, and my fingers could barely move frozen as they were, but the gas tank was full and we drove on, laughing now that the immediate danger was over. Finally I could sleep…just as the rain started. During my slumber, my companion drove through a howling, tornado-like storm complete with impenetrable rain, and now we were facing dense walls of fog. I woke with a start, and gave a shout at the veritable clouds around us. Like a dream, we drove through the haze until we rolled into Colorado Springs at 3:30am. We were exhausted, tense, but quite honestly, thankful to be alive. We stopped at a Super 8 (big mistake), took our things to the room and got ready to sleep. I laid my tired body down on the bed…and it promptly collapsed! We both began to laugh, the kind of laughter that comes from absolute exhaustion.

To be continued…

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