Day Seven

I woke up at 6:00 AM, showered, packed and headed down for breakfast. On entering the breakfast room I received the friendliest greeting from Helen the women in charge of the breakfast room. After I had eaten a good breakfast I sat down and told her my story. She had kidney stones and recommended a tea made from peach leaves. I asked, “Where in the hell am I going to get peach leaves in Elk City, OK in February?” She responded, “Nowhere.” We had a lot of laughs and this lifted my spirits. I said, “I know how I got here, but how did you end up here?” She said, “Many years ago she got in some trouble and left LA and ended up here and was adopted by some local police and never left.” She also told me, “You couldn’t have picked a nicer place in the world to get sick.” This is true, everyone at the hotel, the ER and Walgreens were incredibly friendly to me. I went back to my room got my bag and was about to check out when I heard Helen’s voice again. I went back and asked to get a picture with her. While we were posing she asked, “How are going to explain to your girlfriend the picture with this beautiful piece of chocolate?” I thanked her for her joyful personality that had truly lifted my spirits.


I’m finally back in the car heading west on I40 and feeling like I can actually make it a full day of driving. I discovered that I needed to take my Meloxicam by 10:30 AM or the pain would come back. No problem, I haven’t adjusted to any time zone so lunch a 10:30 central time is fine. First stop is Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX. I saw before I knew what it was. I noticed there were people walking through a field on the other side of the highway before Waze tells me to get off the highway. I passed this way back in 1977 on the bus, we didn’t stop but I vaguely recall seeing cars buried in the ground. What seemed different was how colorful they are, when I get closer I find out why. People have been tagging them with spray paint for so long that they are covered with inches of paint turning them into grotesque caricatures of cars. A family was painting while I was there and offered me to use their paint, but I passed. On the way out I met a couple with a dog and the husband had an Ithaca sweatshirt. I asked if they were from New York, but they were from ST Louis and their daughter went to Ithaca. I skipped Palo Duro Canyon State Park because it was an hour detour and I wanted to get as far as I could.

I changed my route, skipping Santa Fe so I can get as close to Arizona as I can. I set my next stop to be Laguna Pueblo. I switched from Waze back to Google maps, no more dog personality. It took me off the highway to Laguna Pueblo, I guess. What I saw was some broke down houses where it directed me down a dirt road. I decided to pass on this attraction and put in my next destination. I did see signs for fry bread which intrigued me, got to get me some of that.

Cadillac Ranch

So I head back on I40 west heading for Church Rock. Unfortunately it was trying to send me east so ignored it for the next hour and a half. I saw a sign for Continental Divide so I pulled off and went into a gift shop. Everything is overpriced but I figured they needed the money so I grabbed some Agave honey, an espresso cup and an XL t-shirt (It just came out of the drier and doesn’t look like it will fit me). While I checked out I asked about fry bread, they weren’t making any then but assured me it is good and I will like it. Back on the road, heading towards Arizona.

I’m ready for a break so I get off the highway and pull into a Navajo casino. On the way there I see a sign for Church Rock. Interesting, I saw some rock formations in the hills from the parking lot, no doubt one of them is it. Where the hell was the GPS sending me? I went into the casino to make a donation, I’m the only white man there, and maybe this is the only thing to for miles around, too bad no there isn’t money coming from outside the reservation. I finally found a video poker machine. I put $20.00 and start playing Jacks or Better. These machines are weak, the CT casinos would have used the $20.00 up in a matter of minutes, after 15 minutes I now had $25.00. I cashed out and headed to the food court. Bingo, they have fry bread I got one with a fizzy lemonade, $7.00 with a tip. I liked fry bread, pretty much fried dough with sugar on it, just a little greasier and not as crunchy. On the way back to the car I asked a couple if one of the rock formations was Church Rock, she pointed to the big one and says that’s it. He says no that the big one is Pyramid Peak and the smaller one with the three cylindrical towers is it.

Pyramid Peak
Fry Bread

Back on I40 west and I see a sign for the Hampton Inn in Gallup, NM at exit 40. After I checked in I searched for food and found a Mediterranean restaurant called Oasis. I put the address into the GPS and start heading for it. It was sitting in the parking lot of a shopping center within sight of the motel. I ordered French fries, the falafel appetizer and some pita. I asked the waitress where she was from and she says local, I meant ask what from country was the food from and she told me the owners are Palestinian. It was all very good and these were the biggest falafels I’d ever seen.

Back at the motel I spoke with Maureen and she booked me on the redeye home with a stopover in Charlotte, NC.

Church Rock
Elk City, OK to Gallup, NM
570 Miles