Amarillo Travel Blog› entry 6 of 15 › view all entries
February 9th, 2007 – by: Seetwist
Since it was so foggy, I had absolutely no idea which way was north, so I ended up driving in the wrong direction for about 20 minutes, looking for the highway. After I finally found it, and after I made my way onto I-27, I clicked on the cruise control and started drinking Red Bull. At first, I could see cars close to 2 miles away. But the more I drove, the foggier it got. After an hour or so, I could only see about 1/4 mile in any direction. I dubbed my big white Sebring "Falcor" because it safely carried me away from The Nothing that was closing in all around me. When you're driving and nothing changes, you start to feel like you're in a Hanna-Barberra cartoon and the same background picture is being reused again and again. And then you start to imagine your car is a giant white Luck dragon from The Neverending Story... =)
After driving for another hour or so, I saw a tree! I know that sounds extremely mundane, but this was the first thing I had seen other than cotton fields and the occasional semi. So I pulled off the road, set up the tripod and spent the next half hour fooling with my Alpha, attempting to get a nice shot of this lone tree and an old barn in the background. I think I ended up getting some nice pictures, but without that camera cable, I cannot share them... I'm going to swing by an electronics store tomorrow and see if I can get one that works.
I pulled into Amarillo around 1:30 and stopped for lunch at a place called Famous Jeff's Grand Burger. HUGE burger, tater tots and about a gallon of Coke for 6 bucks. The entire place was really friendly, too. Not just the usual phony friendliness that you tend to see when you go out to eat, but the actual I-like-being-here-working friendly. I ate in the car and then hopped back on the highway.
After an hour or so of driving, I noticed flashing lights up ahead on the shoulder. I moved over to the laft lane to drive past the police cruiser that had someone pulled over, and not more than 2 seconds after I drove by, the car and the cruiser both pulled back into traffic. Wonderful. Nothing like having a cop behind you while you drive through the middle of nowhere. Turns out I didn't have to worry about it for long, because he pulled up next to me, dropped back behind me and flipped on his overheads.
Awesome. I'm barely 3 days into my trip, and I'm already getting tagged by the Texas State Patrol. Hell, I haven't even spent my 5 scheduled days in East Texas yet. Why the hell is this guy going after me in upper West Texas anyway? Well, I pulled over and did the whole routine of turning on the flashers, rolling down the windows, keeping my hands on the steering wheel, etc. The trooper walks over to my passenger side window and asks for my license and registration. I grab my ID and start looking around for the rental agreement. Nothing in the glovebox. Fuck.
"Could it be there in the center console?" he asks.
I open it up to take a look, and when I do, I notice out of the corner of my eye that he quickly leans in to peek at what I have in there. Not too subtle, Mr. Officer. He asks me to step back to his car with him, and I get in the front seat next to him. He calls in my license number and starts asking me questions.
"You know I pulled you over for following to closely behind that semi, right?"
That strikes me as a complete BS story, like he felt compelled to give me some sort of reason for pulling me over. But whatever. Just smile and nod politely to the man in uniform. Don't mess with Texas, boy.
"Where are you headed to?"
"Jacksonville, Florida sir."
"What're you doing out there?"
"Visiting friends, sir."
Somehow we start talking about the whole couch surfing project, and I actually start to get along with the guy. He seemed surprised and interested in the whole concept, and and one point he told me that I was a lot braver than he was.
"You'd never do something like that, sir?"
"No way! I'll stick to hotels..."
We exchange a laugh, and my license comes back clean. No warrents, no priors, no tickets. I'm golden. He gives me a warning and I sign it. The officer tells me to have a safe trip and I open the door and begin to step out.
"You wouldn't have any objection to me checking the trunk of your car, would you?"
"No, I... wait... what did you say?"
"What all do you have back there?"
"3 weeks worth of clothes, this is a long trip, why?"
"You don't have any drugs or anything back there, do you?"
"Why dontcha pop the trunk for me if you don't mind..."
Well, fuck again. I've already given him permission when he caught me off guard with his question, but I could tell that he was trying to trap me into taking that permission back. I'm sure he could have had a warrant and a K-9 out there in moments. And I'm sure he would have taken great pleasure in going through my car from top to bottom, looking for any minute thing that he could bust me for. Resigned, I pop the trunk for him and step to the side. He unzips the first of 3 suitcases, puts his nose to the bag, and sniffs. I almost laughed, because if this had happened 2 weeks later, he would have gotten a nice whiff of dirty socks and underwear. He starts digging around in the bag, feeling for who knows what. He grabs the second bag and does the same thing. Nothing. In the third bag he comes across the 2 bags of souveniers that I got in Cline Corners and in Roswell, NM. Stickers, postcards, general touristy crap. Then he finds the hot sauce. Uh oh.
"Whatcha got wrapped up in here, a pipe?"
"Haha, no. It's hot sauce from Santa Fe."
"Oh... 'Cause you know, some people collect pipes and such."
"You don't say?"
That gets a dirty look. But he's down to backpacks and extra shoes (which he fully inspects for contraband or out of envy... they're nice shoes!), so he follows up with one more quip before he sends me on my way.
"Well, you sure do pack neatly for a guy."
How should I take that? Did he just call me queer? Is he questioning my manhood, trying to get a rise out of me or something? WTF?? I bite the inside of my cheeks to keep from laughing and say nothing. He looks at me for a moment longer, then tells me to enjoy my trip. I get back into my car (this whole fiasco has taken close to 45 minutes by now, and it's still really damn cold), start it up and sit there for a moment to warm up before driving away.
He sits behind me the entire time, waiting until I leave. He pulls out right behind me, and 2 minutes later, he takes an exit and disappears into the fog. I continue on, Oklahoma or bust. Turns out, it was almost bust....
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