Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson

(This essay recounting an automobile excursion from the Midwest to the Florida archipelago in the Gulf of Mexico is offered by an amateur writer from central California. American Travelogue Magazine does not by habit publish articles other than submissions by professional travel writers, but in this case, we felt readers would enjoy the writer’s unpolished storytelling style. Editors.)

I started out walking and reckon that’s how I’ll finish up. The very first leg of this 11-day jaunt from my little town set in the farmlands of the Salinas Valley in Monterey County (which was made pretty famous by the writer John Steinbeck who was born up in Salinas) to Oklahoma City, or at least a city just north of there, starts with a three-minute walk to the nearest bus stop. And when the bus pulled up smack on schedule, I figured it for a good omen.

It’s 2:03 in the morning and I can’t sleep, been trying since around 10 p.m. when I arrived at the hotel. Yep, a hotel not figured into the original mix. Seems somewhere along the way the airline I’m flying ran out of flight crews, so my flight from Monterey to Phoenix was delayed three hours, meaning I missed the connection flight to OKCity. I was given a choice of just going home and starting the whole shebang again the next day or take the delayed flight and get a voucher for a room near the Phoenix airport. I figured why turn back so I took the flight and hotel room. I figured I may as well get as far as I could along my way, and now here I am and I can’t sleep.

I chalk that up to being so cold all the day that I had a cup of coffee in the Monterey airport restaurant around 6 p.m. and another one on the flight down to Arizona, and that is too much caffeine too late in the day for an old boy like me. The weather in Monterey was typical summer fare, around 63 degrees and winds blowing up to 10 mph, and the airport is air conditioned so both inside and outside were cold on these old bones. And the flight was air conditioned to the point the flight attendant gave me her personal sweater to drape over me so as not to shiver. I ain’t got a lot of padding on my frame so am surely susceptible to such coldness and that was the reason for the coffee; that plus I had been awake and active since around 4:30 in the morning and was dog tired after near 14 hours of being up with another couple of hours to go before finding a bed.

And now after getting settled into a room, I can’t sleep. And tomorrow, today actually, it will be another long day as I am on stand-by for an midday flight, but if I don’t make that I am booked for a 7 p.m. flight to OKCity, meaning I have to get on a shuttle to the airport at 9:30 in order to be early enough to get through all the rigamarole of getting on a plane that I may not get on, and if I don’t get on, then it is another seven or eight hours sitting around another airport. And seeing as how I haven’t had nothing but a sandwich and a banana since breakfast, my stomach is growling like an ornery old bear; the restaurant here in the hotel was closed by the time I arrived, and the nearest eating place was about a 20-minute walk away and I just wasn’t up to that after my day. In two hours, I will have been on the go for 24 hours, and still can’t sleep.

And so, it is now 10:30 a.m. Sunday and I am back in SkyHarbor Airport in Phoenix with about three and a half hours sleep and a hotel buffet breakfast of scrambled (powdered) eggs, greasy half-cooked bacon, cold toast and warm orange juice. In short, I am getting short on patience. In two hours, I will know whether I make the early flight or have to wait until the 7 p.m. flight. In evaluating my luck traveling so far, I fully expect to be here until the later flight; providing I don’t fall asleep in the terminal and miss it too. I have my cell phone alarm set for 5 p.m. just in case. You can see right off this ain’t much of a travel journal any fella my age traveling alone would want to read with hope of finding any comfort in it; in fact, would probably find it a sure argument against such cross-country attempts.

And then it happened. I musta got a smile from above because I made that earlier stand-by seat and it is now a rather balmy Sunday evening of 68 degrees with 87% humidity and I have spent the past couple hours here in Edmond, Okla., with family, and right now all the sitting and waiting and sleeplessness and hunger and the overall fatigue of the past 37 hours have fallen away and I’m real glad a way was made to make this journey. I guess there’s a right tonic for every ailment and I got a dose of the right one for me.

Tomorrow, Monday morning, will see activity toward loading up all the stuff a family gathers over the years and come early Tuesday morn it is off to the wild lands of Arkansas. That telling will be for a later date so until then, this is your old buddy Charles Bogle wishing you happy motoring.

(This is Steve. I found this article in one of my father’s old magazines and thought it would suffice as filler while I am away from my laptop on a few days’ hiatus. Take care. Peace.)

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King City and Greenfield columnist Steve Wilson may be reached at [email protected].


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