Elk City, Oklahoma — Owen and I arrived just after 7:00 p.m. local time and secured lodgings at the Days Inn off Interstate 40 eastbound at exit 38. It was a good drive and fast, often at 70 mph in the 26-foot Penske rental. The vegas of northwest New Mexico were green from recent rains. The burgers at the Denny’s in Tucumcari were superb, the wait staff sullen and distracted, the men’s room a mess. Northwest of Amarillo is a vast wind farm, dozens of large white turbines arrayed for thirty miles or so across the plains, looking like nothing so much as the spaceships of an invading alien army. The American and Texas flags in Amarillo were large and extended in the stiff breeze; the girl at the Love’s truck stop wore a tight pair of knit shorts in an American flag pattern. Once across the border into Oklahoma, where the flags are much smaller and not made into clothing, the steady wind picked up dust and hazed the late afternoon view.
The Days Inn once had a Denny’s on-site and the floor plan at the front desk still shows it. The desk clerk said, “They closed it down and didn’t even tell their staff they were going to.” She said we could find dining at any one of a half-dozen eateries across the road. We crossed and chose the Western Sizzlin’, where it was Monday Night Buffet. In the lobby of the Western Sizzlin’, there is a photograph of the 66 Diner in Albuquerque.
Back here in the room now, we can hear the voices of revelrous travelers along the balcony outside our smoking room (“All I have available is smoking rooms,” the desk clerk said). The ashtray by my laptop is face down. Tomorrow’s goal is Springfield, Missouri.