RoadTrip America

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The Phoenix One Journals      Stories from the dawn of RoadTrip America

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August 1, 1999
Bainbridge Island to Abilene

It's been twenty-eight days since last I wrote, and in that time, the Phoenix One has born us from the breezes on the edge of the continent to the thunderstorms of northern Texas. Marvin doesn't like thunderstorms, and last night while Mark and I paid a visit to my aunt and uncle in Midland, he vented his fears on a bunjie cord, two printer cables and the power cord to our digital camera. In his efforts to find a safe haven under our desk, he chewed through everything in his path. As Mark noted, he was lucky the power was turned off, or he might have enjoyed a little electrical storm all his own.

Thanks to Mark's skill with a wire stripper and electrical tape, everything except the camera cable and the bunjie cord, which Marvin reduced to its elements, is back in service. I should add, too, in Marvin's defense, that the storm was a fairly serious one. It blew out several windows in a Midland furniture store and downed a power line.

We've stopped in Abilene, but not by design. Just east of town, the Phoenix decided it was no longer able to find any gear other that first, and, since mechanics observe Sunday as a day of rest, we chose to follow suit. Consultation with a Ford mechanic tomorrow morning should allow us to report whether we'll get to Fort Worth and Dallas on schedule.

It's not the only time the Phoenix has demanded mechanical intervention in the last month. We enjoyed a sojourn in a Tacoma Ford dealership, and another emergency call in Denver. In the process, we've become self-taught Ford truck neurosurgeons, and I'm not a little nostalgic for the days when trucks lacked brains.

But even with the Phoenix One's neurological emergencies, we've made tracks. From Bainbridge Island and Seattle, we headed over the Cascades to Spokane. From there, we turned south to Salt Lake City. Zipping across Wyoming, we paused only long enough to learn about Thornburgh, a dog whose glorious exploits are memorialized at Fort Bridger.

In Colorado, we stopped for a few days in Golden, home of Coors Beer and Buffalo Bill. From there we headed south to New Mexico, stopping in Eagle Nest, Angel Fire and Taos before pulling into Albuquerque.

The fastest way to Dallas from Albuquerque is across Oklahoma, but we took the southerly route through El Paso. Not only did this allow us to enjoy a brief visit with my aunt and uncle, but the route also took us through Van Horn, where we had it on excellent authority an outstanding road sign lurked. Sure enough, DIESEL FRIED CHICKEN was waiting for us at the Pilot truck stop just west of town.

West of Abilene on Interstate 10, the trouble started with our transmission. Mark pulled off the highway onto a frontage road where I caught sight of a road sign to Noodle. Yep, Noodle, and since I value terrific datelines, there is nothing I would have liked more than to mosey on up to Noodle and write this journal. But the transmission failure won out, and we're in Abilene instead. Noodle, like us, will have to wait.

Abilene, Texas
August 1, 1999

Click here to read the last 'Life's a Trip:'
"Straight on 'Til Morning"


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