Tuesday. AMARILLO, TX – CADILLAC RANCH – TECUMCARI, NM – ALBUQUERQUE, NM – ADRIAN, TX – TIJERAS, NM – GALLUP, NM
We start every day in Sparky with song: “On the road again, we just can’t wait to get on the road again. The life we love is making music with our friends, and we can’t wait to get on the road again…” And often someone belts out a line or two from “Get your Kicks On Route 66” randomly during the day…my favorite is “Joplin, Missouri!” for no reason. “Don’t forget Winona!” gets a lot of airtime too.
We were killing some road time and decided to share stories. When you do that don’t let Patty and Jane start first. No one can follow them. They are hilarious. They told a story about when they were about seven (Patty) and five (Janey) back in Illinois. Let’s just say that when there was a neighborhood problem Patty and Janey went about solving it. They wanted to protect the neighborhood.
Janey says she was too young to have thought of it. Patty doesn’t say anything when Janey says that. So you be the judge. A long rope, a cinder block and a stool. That was the plan. Tie the rope to the cinderblock and drape the rope over a tree limb. Set the stool precisely under where the cinderblock would fall. Entice any enemy to sit on the stool. It never worked out for the girls…the cinderblock was kind of heavy for a five year old and a seven year old. But feel free to you google how Wile E. Coyote solved his issues, and you may see where I believe Janey and Patty got their ideas.
No one else had a story to share that could compare with that one.
OH, and it turns out that Fart Calls are a thing. This came up because, of course, there is downtime in the Suburban. Patty has many skills but none as impressive as her ability to make fart noises into the palm of her hand. Jane and Patty initiated phone calls to loved ones, and then Patty proceeded to…well, I can’t really explain it.. but she has the lung capacity of a well trained Olympian.
The best part is that after the call they hang up without speaking. It’s hilarious when people call back. Missy. Kathy. Betty. They all called back. Jane then answers the phone with a delightful sing-song “Hello?” as if nothing has happened previously. It’s epic.
If you are really observant you start to see things as you walk through life. You realize that people are more than happy to have a nice chat with you. They want to show you how caring they are…we struck up conversations with folks this morning at the breakfast nook at the hotel…Jean and I chatted with a woman and her daughter a bit, shared Patty’s story, and soon enough found out that the mom had worked at a Comedy Improv Club in Dallas years ago..and, of course, Ellen Degeneres had worked there too, as a comedian. She’d chatted with her loads of times. Yes, Ellen is really nice. Really normal. So you see, we’re getting closer…
Look what else you see if you are really observant…a gal walked by Patty moments later with these poignant leggings…and we drove by this bank shortly thereafter..
“This is my fight song” was playing at the Walgreens when we stocked up on treats for today’s ride…
This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove I’m alright song–
My power’s turned on, Starting right now I’ll be strong, I’ll play my fight song–
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes, ‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.
Side note: Always pick a large vehicle when traveling with a group of women. You need a big car for the snacks. Back in the car we went…
With a scant twelve miles under our belts we disembarked at the Cadillac Ranch with cans of spray paint in hand from the Hobby Lobby in Amarillo. We do a lot of shopping in case you hadn’t noticed…
We were off again and got excited when we crossed both into New Mexico and into the Mountain Time Zone. Time was standing still but we weren’t! And then we were off to Tucumcari, NM and stopped at Tepee Curios for what-nots and navajo ghost bead bracelets that are in the style given to navajo children so that they never have bad dreams…we’re all wearing our ghost bead bracelets now.
Next stop Tucumcari Historical Museum. Cooper, the museum scottie dog perches at the front door that’s always open and runs down the steps to greet new patrons…he’s all business though because it’s 100 degrees of the driest heat you’ll ever feel. A quick burst of speed to greet us, and then directly back to the shade he goes!
We scurried to the restroom as per usual. In typical fashion we had to line up for the girls’ and no one was in the boys’. So we felt entitled and took advantage of both. While some of us were still waiting a nice family came in to also use the amenities, and we offered the dad, Tom, a chance to use HIS restroom. He declined and said, we should get to go first. And of course, we agreed! We called him a “gentleman and a scholar,” had a good laugh, and went on our way…an hour later we found that he had followed our blog and posted well wishes to us, “It was a pleasure running into you ladies outside the restroom at the Tucumcari Museum. I wish you all safe travels, and I hope and pray things go well!” He signed his comment, “Tom (a scholar and a gentleman)” Thanks so much, Tom!
The museum was fantastic…
We talked with a man at the museum who was happy to explain the local industry of farming…cattle ranching, of course, but also alfalfa, corn, and vegetables. They’ve been in a ten year drought and some of the farmers have packed up and left. Every day this month it’s been over 100 degrees. And the gal who mans the front desk loved Patty’s story and also loves Ellen…she’ll follow us on Facebook too! Cooper followed us outside for another quick greeting and send off…then went back to the shade!
We drove on and on on the straightest road we’d ever seen…sage brush, light tan grass, scattered deserted farm buildings…finally encountering something different. Huge billboard signs with only a few words,”Snake Stuff!” “Knives!” “Mother Road Souvenirs” “Serapes!” “Native American Pottery!” “Fireworks!” “Cool treats!” and then no more signs..just big sage brush, juniper and the straight straight road…It’s pretty tempting to get off when you see a “Snake Stuff” sign…you know you’re not going to get too many offers like that during your lifetime..
Next stop, the musical highway of Tigeras…
“It’s right here in New Mexico, one of few such roads that exist in the world,” New Mexico Department of Transportation spokeswoman, Melissa Dosher, told ABC News when she was interviewed.
But drivers can only hear the song if they go the posted speed limit of 45 mph. It’s a series of grooves in the road that play a song if you listen carefully.
“The road not only entertains but uses ‘rumble strips’ to play music and prevent motorists from speeding or falling asleep at the wheel,” Dosher said. “It is a great safety trick as it forces people to stick to the speed limit if they want to hear the song.”
We were really excited to hear the musical highway as it “played” America the Beautiful. And it did. And we looped back to hear it again. Sure did.
Full speed to Gallup, New Mexico where our hotel, EL RANCHO, waited patiently.
We walked into the lobby and knew this was the real deal, even though as Floridians we felt pretty sure we’d been here before…it’s Disney Wilderness Lodge! If you’ve been there you know what we mean…
Nothing to do but to head out for dinner and a steakhouse. We drank wine and laughed so much that our cheeks hurt.
Today Janey spent time typing on her phone and eventually sent me over some thoughts she wanted to share. The following are her own words.
July 13, 2016.
I want to share a little about my experience on this trip. I’m thrilled and excited to be traveling with these five incredibly generous women.
I do know a thing or two about girl trips. I’ve been going with my mom and sisters on a trip on our significant birthdays for years, or just because we felt like it. We call our girl trips “camp” because we giggle and belly laugh like we are away at camp. These have been some of my most favorite times in my life.
So when Patty started talking about this Route 66 trip (again) I thought it was time. I’m not quite sure how this group came together, but I’m so glad we did. I know one thing– we are all here to be with Patty. The past 3 years and 10 months and have been both a challenge and a blessing. More a challenge than a blessing to be sure, but we have learned so much about how to live before we die. My most significant personal struggle is that I sometimes feel as though Patty is slowly slipping away. When I am around her during chemo or in the days shortly after, I see how beaten and tired she is. The little sister in me panics. It breaks my heart, and it’s all I can do to find my big girl panties and be the supportive sister.
On the other hand, there are still plenty of times when she’s feeling good– making jokes, laughing, and finding that spotlight. At those times I feel like things are the way they used to be. She is the same Patty I’ve always had 20 months ahead of me. I can let go of the cancer battle and just enjoy our time. It’s the best, and that is where the blessing part comes in. Though I have always been self-aware enough to value the good times in my life — with my Callaghan family (the original six), with my sisters and mom on our excursions over the years, or with the family Vince and I made — my precious girls Anna and Sara, or with countless extended family and numerous friends, the magic and blessing of Patty’s cancer battle has taught me to live more deeply, appreciate more lovingly, and express my gratitude to God and the people in my life. We have the time and it’s right now.
Thank you Julie, Trudi, Jean, Patti, and of course, the Miracle, the Kid, Patty.