The route I chose to get from San Antonio to Las Vegas was a fairly scenic one. I decided to blast right down Interstate 10 until I got to New Mexico. In Las Cruces, I’d take I-25 up to Albuquerque and catch I-40 (the old Route 66) across New Mexico, Arizona and into Nevada where I’d take I-93 about a 100 miles north straight into Lost Wages. I made pretty good time I thought. Even stopping in Van Horn around 3:00 p.m. (to call the Stardust as I’d promised I would) and considering there was a time zone change in El Paso, I made it there in seven hours — it was about 6:00 p.m. Mountain time (5:00 p.m. San Antonio time) when I glanced “The Armpit of Texas” in my rear view mirror. (Apologies to El Pasoans, but really….)
I drove a little further past a town called Anthony, New Mexico, which is literally on the border between Texas and New Mexico and which also boasts a prison. A Texas Prison (go figure!). By seven p.m. I was getting hungry. I decided to stop in Las Cruces to have a bite to eat and stretch a bit. I had a nice, leisurely meal, piddled around with my food for about 30 minutes and was back on the road by 7:45 p.m. I headed north on I-25 toward Albuquerque. For all my careful planning and charting and list-making and packing, I’d forgotten one thing. The clock in my car didn’t work. It never had. And it probably never would. But did I bring a watch? Nope. I had been relying on the radio to tell me what time it was. But here in desolate New Mexico, the choices were Navajo radio and Navajo radio. And my tapes. So I decided to put in my favorite Survivor album, Vital Signs, and boogie on down the road.
It seemed like hours and hours had passed. I’d listened to that tape over and over I don’t know how many times. It was dark, and had been for a few hours. I was getting tired, but I remembered my promise to call the Stardust. Part of me wanted to press on to Albuquerque and just call from my motel room. But a little voice inside my head kept insisting, You said you were going to call so you NEED TO CALL!. I spotted a motel sign up ahead and swung off the Interstate. I figured it was pretty close to nine p.m. by that time. And that was when I was supposed to make my phone call. I finally navigated the cloverleaf exit and pulled into the parking lot of the motel. There was a bare light bulb hanging in the lobby and a biker-looking dude behind the desk reading a magazine. I pointed toward the lone pay phone on the dingy wall and he nodded, bored, and returned to his magazine.
I glanced at the wall clock above the phone. Yikes. It was already 10:35!! I was way off. But I was already here. Might as well call. I decided to call my house first. Of course, there was no answer. Then I called the Stardust to have Robert paged. The operator put me on hold for what seemed like an eternity. I was just about to hang up when….
(To be continued)