Thursday, December 25, 2008

another day on the road

Last night, after nine hours of driving, I ate dinner at a Flying J truck stop in El Paso, Texas. If you're an RVer like me, the Flying J truck stops are your best friend. They pump propane, which is amazingly tricky to find when you don't use the exchangeable bottles. They have RV sewer dump stations and fresh water for filling your tank. They allow overnight RV parking, have clean showers, and stock a wide variety of Pringles and personalized flashing mini liscense plate keychains.

So, after driving across the massive state of Texas, with it's barren shrubby expanses, I reach the El Paso Flying J, nearly out of propane, nearly out of clean water, and with a holding tank that's making my home smell like a Greyhound bus. I spent an hour taking care of that business, and decided to give my eyes a rest and eat at my first Flying J truck stop restaurant. I ordered a cup of coffee and the only vegetarian item on the menu: the salad bar, from which I uncerimoniously consumed two plates, almost without tasting it. Not because I was in a rush, but because it didn't have any particular flavors to speak of.

I finished off my meal with a helping of chocolate pudding, on a fresh, clean plate. As I sipped my black coffee, I looked around at the others in the restaurant. All truckers, taking advantage of the free turkey dinner in exchange for showing a CDL. A black man crumbled a piece of cornbread with his fork. A hispanic gentleman hovered over the buffet. A weathered woman with a leathery face smoked her cigarrette, eyes on the tv hanging in the corner. We were all together in our solitude, if that's possible, sort of how I imagine evenings in the common rooms of a mental institution might be. We avoided eye-contact, using the edges of our forks to cut our bland food, bucking the lessons of our parents use your knife, Eva! Poor manners, the lot of us, but who's to notice? Even if someone did, reputations only last overnight here, because when the sun rises over the periwinkle mountains in the morning, we will all climb behind the wheels of our rigs, maneuvering humming engines away in all directions, an asterisk of trails from the Flying J nucleus.

But not me. I did not sleep in the Flying J parking lot. I elected to travel another 45 miles or so to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where I spent an evening drinking an eight dollar bottle of Pinot Noir out of a plastic tumbler while checking Facebook and stroking Ralgh.

Oh, did I mention that it was Christmas Eve?

While families around the world settled in around fires or dinner tables or in pews at midnight mass, I cozied up to Ralgh in a Walmart parking lot and thought about the people I love and how much joy I experience. I thought about how this scruffy mutt is my immediate family, my companion, and how happy he makes me on a daily basis. Ralgh and I have each other, we have full bellies, and we have the best Christmas gift of all: the amazing freedom and adventure of the greatest road trip we've ever seen!

Life is good.

Merry Christmas!


Trina said...

Merry Christmas Eva and Ralgh!! Eva, as I read this post I was compelled to say out loud, "Eva is such a beautiful writer." I love you!

Kelly McNiece said...

Happy Holidays and (insert choice of seasonal greeting).
Thinking about you and your trip and hoping you are happy and well.
Remember that you are loved, missed and thought about all over this country. You are hard to forget and enjoyable to remember.

I miss you, I miss lunch.

Melissa said...

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and wishing you a wonderful New Year! Hope your travels are safe and thoroughly enjoyable!

Take Care!

Rachel Tamed said...

Everytime I read your blog it makes me want to pack up Napoleon and never speak to anyone but him again :)

I didn't see any mention of cowboys....