After we left Santa Fe at noon on Wednesday, January 4, the objective was to follow I-40 to Oklahoma City. This was to be the longest “pure driving” day of our trip, so we’d hoped to start early (but the lure of Meow Wolf was too great–and it was worth it).
We left Santa Fe about noon and headed southeast to 40, then east on I-40. About 2pm, we pulled off to visit Tepee Curios on Route 66 and have lunch at Del’s. At the concrete teepee, I bought rattlesnake coffee mugs for my office, which I was sure my paralegal would love.
A couple hours later, we crossed into Texas, and a couple hours after that, we stopped by the U-Drop Inn to see Tow Mater from “Cars.”
A few minutes later, we were into Oklahoma and reached our Courtyard hotel in OK City about 10pm. While this was a day of few stops and no national parks, we enjoyed seeing the landscape change from New Mexico to Texas to Oklahoma and discussing how distinct each state was (compared to Arizona, too) as we headed east. The temperatures rose to 70 at the beginning of the day but fell as we headed east.
The next morning, we headed to Arkansas, arriving at Hot Springs National Park about 3pm. None of us had ever been to this national park, and it’s quite unlike any of the others we’d visited, as instead of showcasing natural beauty, it captures a time period from 100+ years ago when the wealthy (and, later, middle class folks) from all over the U.S. (and beyond) came to be healed of their ailments in the numerous bathhouses utilizing the hot springs there. We enjoyed seeing the film at the park and touring the visitor center, an upscale former bathhouse/spa.
We had dinner at DeLuca’s Pizzeria at the strong recommendation of the old man behind the desk at the visitor’s center, and it was excellent. While we waited on our pie, however, I check Facebook and saw that the South was “hunkering down” (as we say) for what appeared to be a significant snow storm that was headed right for us. I looked at the weather channel app on my phone and realized it was headed for us, and that we might be stranded in Little Rock for a few days should we stay the night there. So, we elected to change our lodging plans to head south to Tupelo, Mississippi. We arrived at 11:45pm, exhausted.
The next morning, we rose fairly early and continued south toward I-20. Instead of my usual habit of having Waze on my phone (stuck to the magnetized clip on the middle air vent), I had the weather channel app on and watched the little blue dot representing our location move east as the giant mass of purple, blue, green, and pink followed us. We entered Alabama about 10am and crossed into Georgia at 12:30pm; we arrived at our house just after 1pm, right as it started to rain (and before the rain turned to freezing rain or sleet). At times, we went 90-95 mph, but we made it. I’d be able to make drill weekend at my Reserves base the next day.
We put 2800 miles on our Kia Sportage in 9 days. We entered 10 states: AZ, UT, NM, TX, OK, AR, TN, MS, and GA. We saw single digit temperatures with blinding snow and 80-something degrees with desert sunshine. We were as low as a couple hundred feet above sea level and as high as 7,000+ feet in elevation. Somehow, we managed to get along and enjoy every single day.
For 30 years, I’ve wondered if I’d ever get to take my own family on a road trip out west like I did as a child. Now, all I wonder is when we’ll do it again.
Thank you, Kia, for letting us use the Sportage for our 9-day roadtrip across 3 time zones and 10 states. Let’s do it again sometime!