I was quite alarmed when I was fifty miles deep into Arizona. The number of signs warning of elk stampedes made both Bob and I sit up straight. The diamond shaped, yellow signs featured an elk on its hind legs with his front paws in a limp-wristed stance and its antlers erect. The text warned of elk crossing and I imagined a herd likely to pounce at any moment. After a hundred miles of not seeing a single loping deer or elk, we breathed a little easier and took the numerous signs in stride.
I found the pose given to the elk a little disturbing though. It looked afraid and defensive. It certainly wasn’t a masculine posture and I wondered if the Elk Esteem Association knew how they were being portrayed. When I get to DC, I’ll have to contact their lobby.
Today was miles and miles of open desert, a little of which goes a long way. Long intervals separated gas stations or fast food stands and forced Bob and I to plan ahead. Every time I stopped and he hopped from his back seat perch, he would give me an annoyed look as if asking the age-old question of children; “Are we there yet?” His steroids, which are doing wonders for his hips, also make him pee a lot so there were many stops made for the singular purpose. One in particular was uncomfortable as he started to walk on gravel that had been heating in one hundred degree sun all day long. He was a Bob on a hot tin roof as he pranced his feet higher and higher. It was a joyless walk for him while the stickiest, most painful burs I had ever seen attacked me.
As we eased ourselves through New Mexico at a leisurely ninety-five miles per hour, the Stuckey’s billboards started to appear every fifty feet. They had a different tone than I remember. Now they simply state, “Stuckey’s: United We Stand,” with an American flag flying behind the bold statement of solidarity. Realizing there was no better way to show my patriotism, I stopped for a pecan log and ate the gooey treat, supporting our troops.
Bob and I are now in Amarillo, a place in which I slowed down to the speed limit and not an inch above it. The last time I was driving through, a Texas trooper who managed to pull up the arrest record from my 1980 pot bust stopped Billy and me. I know how resourceful they are and I took no chances, especially since I never paid the speeding ticket he handed me after glancing through our truck. Today we set the speed at seventy and crawled our way to the Red Roof Inn. Its bedspread is not as distressing as last night’s motel and Bob seems very pleased.
We’ve gotten into a routine, Bob and me. I think he believes his life is now spent in the back seat of the Explorer for hours on end until we land in some new, yet increasingly familiar, room. Because we’re on dial-up, and lucky to have it I believe at this point, I’m able to spend little time on the net because it takes about four minutes before I get bumped off. I forgot all about that particular indignity.
For now, we’re okay. I spoke with Dixie, Billy’s good sister today, and they have a lot of plans for my arrival. I can’t wait to see them, to be in their presence and feel like a Ledbetter. Hell it says it right on my back so I will feel at home, with family.