This trip has become a familiar one for me for the past 25 years. Regardless where we were living – NM in Santa Fe & Abiquiu, London, California, and now Arizona, the trek to Oklahoma City has been occasioned by family members living there, some originating there, some returning there and now dying there. S. began her life’s journey there and spent some 40 years in OK before we met in NM in 1996.
My mother-in-law made her final transition and crossed over October 21 around 11 PM, peacefully asleep at age 107, 3 months shy of completing 108 years. Her life is best characterized by Lincoln’s words, “It is not how many years are in your life, it’s about how much life is in your years.” Hers was a life of adventure and accomplishment filled with numerous interests including travel, writing, reading, art, sports and keeping tabs on a large extended family. This road trip was to celebrate her life and accompany her body to her final resting place next to her husband of 55 years, W.T. (Dub) Richardson. About 40 of 60 family members were present and some 200 others attended the celebration. For an historical reference, you can read Mozelle’s obituary below. She was 90 at the time of her graduation from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism. https://www.oklahoman.com/obituaries/p0157774
I set out Sunday morning, October 24, from Tubac, AZ, around 10:30 A.M. for the 950 miles of highways and byways. Instead of going the usual route of Interstates 19 north, 10 east, 25 north and 40 east respectively, I chose to stay off several of those heavily traveled roads, choked with big trucks, and found a route through Las Cruces, NM to Alamogordo, NM and then north to Santa Rosa,NM. The drive through the desert, passed by White Sands, NM and a few, forgotten, small towns such as Tularosa, Corona, Carrizozo and Vaughn. This part was blessed with a spectacular sunset which is reflected in the featured image of this post. Desert and mountain landscapes enrich any road trip and this one featured good weather, lightly traveled back roads, and a camel imprisoned in a trailer ahead me desperately wanting out. Because I am an adult with ADHD I tend to read all the signs both along the roads and on trucks and some day, I will make a longer collection of the more interesting ones. Here are a few. “I may be going slow but I am ahead of you.” “If you have it, a truck brought it.” “Next Exit: Eat Here and Get Gas.” “Tucumcari Tonite.” That last one I took literally.
Near the end of the trip on the next day, a crash closed Interstate 40 completely and while WAYZ gave warning, there was nowhere to exit until all traffic was diverted onto a small, narrow county road, moving at no more than 10 mph for about 5 or 7 miles. At that point on this little country road, which happened to be part of the historic Old Route 66, a large truck had gone into the ditch and blocked any further forward movement. Two diversions in a matter of a few miles! As we inched past the ditched tractor-trailer with guidance from a policeman, I found the whole thing amusing and chalked it up as another event from life on the road, hoping that no none was injured in the bigger crash. My sister-in-law said only I could find this kind of experience entertaining.
This was not a leisurely RV trip, more one of expedience and necessity, thus the criteria were reasonable time and efficiency. Stopping only for fuel and food with one overnight after 600 miles, in Tucumcari, NM, I covered the 950 miles from Tubac, AZ to OKC in a total of 16 hours for an average speed of 60 mph and around 28 mpg. (If you haven’t noticed, the price of gas has increased significantly.) S. left 3 days ahead of me via a 2.5 hr, non-stop AA flight from PHX – OKC. A day and a half later, our family business having concluded, the same route in the opposite direction and same approximate time brought us home. Home is our refuge, a sanctuary, a place of comfort and connections both internal and external. It’s our base, yes, home base and this trip was one around all the bases, a home run for sure.