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Saturday, April 7, 2001

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St Louis to Tucson

I fell asleep somewhere in Missouri last night and woke up in Oklahoma, still on I-44. We had a stop in Tulsa and again in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City bus station looked so different from what I remember and I often took the bus out of here while I was living in Oklahoma City. It could be a different station as it was too dark to really tell what part of town it was in.

I had forgotten how beautiful and green Oklahoma can be. Green grass with the red dirt showing through. Cows and their calves are everywhere, just eating their hearts out. We went west on I-40 into a full moon and I watched the dawn color the sky pink with the huge moon hanging right in front of us.

All the towns let us know that we're following old Route 66. So many museums. It's Saturday so few people are around in the small towns. The land slowly becomes less rolling and soon it's the flat, so flat plains of western Oklahoma and Texas. At Amarillo I leave the bus to transfer to a TNM&O bus to El Paso.

There are only about six of us though I'm told that the day before the bus was packed. We take I-27, US-60 and US-87 south from Amarillo, the Texas Plains Trail. At Canyon US-60 splits off alone toward Hereford. At Hereford we pass dozens of enormous grain elevators. This is center of Deaf Smith county, known for itís hard wheat. The grain elevators show us where all the towns are. You can always tell where wheat is grown by the towers looming above each town.

We enter New Mexico at Texico on US-60 where US-70 and US-84 join us. At Clovis we go southwest with US-70 while the other two continue west. The land becomes more broken and less flat. At Roswell US-285 joins us through town then we continue east on US-70 and US-380. No little green men, just lots of big green military men. There's even a military academy.

Soon we can see the mountains in the distance with snow on top. We go through the mountains in the Lincoln National Forest. This is also Lincoln County, Billy the Kid country. It's a beautiful drive that winds through forests and green river valleys before descending to the desert again at Alamagordo. One lady tries to give me a little booklet on how to be a christian woman, but I tell her I already have reading material. She talks about how wonderful it is to be a mother to her small children and I agree with her on that.

We pass White Sands and finally come over the hill to see the lights of Las Cruces. I love looking down on a city at night. Everything looks so pretty. My ticket says I'm to go on to the El Paso station and catch a bus there at 10:45 PM but the driver says I can get off here and catch a bus at 8:35 PM, about fifteen minutes. Sounds good to me. The bus station is closed so four of us wait outside for the bus. The area of town is pretty deserted and dark so I'm glad others were waiting also.

The bus comes and is packed. I get a seat halfway back and decide to just sleep to Tucson. I don't sleep much and at Lordsburg am glad to get off while everyone makes a dash for the McDonalds. I'm entering the bathroom when a guy asks me to watch his little girl, about four years old, while she's in there. It must be hard on guys with little girls. Women's bathrooms have stalls and doors but, I'm assuming, men's bathrooms all have urinals out in the open, which makes it a bit iffy.


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© Rachel Aschmann 2001.
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