Notes from the Road: II


I woke up in Evanston, WY after about five hours sleep.


Now that it was light out, I realized that there was an overpass right over the pool that I had looked over the night before, and every time a semi went by, the entire place shook. So, between the air conditioner and the overpass, the whole room was shaking all the time. It had not been my imagination the night before when I had thought it might have just been myself still buzzing from the road.


When I checked in the night before, the clerk had told me that a “hot breakfast” was included in the morning. I knew to drink my own coffee in Wyoming (pretty much brown water here), so I had a couple Starbucks Nitros in my room before I loaded up a few of my things and took them down to the car. On the way back to my room, I noticed a few people in the breakfast room. I packed up the rest of my things except my toothbrush, loaded that into the car, and headed back down to the breakfast bar.


Let me preface this by saying that I don’t expect much from hotel “breakfast bars”. But this - this was bad. Inside the single heat-lamp case were a couple dried-up, folded over “omelettes” that must have been microwaved from frozen, fruit loops, and an old waffle-maker. I grabbed some apple juice and went back up to my room to brush my teeth. Out of that place I went.


Paul uses Shell stations and gave me his Shell card long ago, although I haven’t much used it. I had planned to use it this trip and had bothered to sign up for “reward points.” The best part of Evanston was that there was a Shell station right near the motel. I went there to get gas and EVERYTHING WORKED! This was the first, and as it turned out the only, place that I could get gas and actually use those “rewards points”. So, happily gassed, I drove off to the side so that I could go in to get a funnel of some sort. I walked into the shop. There was a predictably rotund, chain-smoking woman behind the counter.


“Do you have some sort of thingy to put oil into a car with?” I asked, sort of pantomiming what I needed.

“You mean a funnel.” She said glibly.


“Yes, precisely,” I said.

She points me to the direction of the back wall. There, I find two types of funnels. One is big and plastic and the others are small and paper. I choose three of the small paper ones. I brought them back to the cash register and she looks at me blankly.


“How much are these?” I ask.


“They are free,” she says in a deadpan.


“Even if I take three of them?” I ask. She shrugs.


I was quite excited about having something free.


I took my funnels to my car, opened up the hood and had the oil tank ready to pour some oil in and - no oil. I looked everywhere in my car, twice. Then I realized that I must have left that huge container of oil back at the first stop when I had put oil in and dropped the cap down the front of the car. Shit!


I went back into the Shell station store to see if they had some oil for my car but they did not have the kind that I needed. Since I had come back into the store, I asked the woman if there was a place to get breakfast.


“Oh, yes,” she says, “Legal Tender at the Best Western hotel is the best place in town”


Since I hadn’t really eaten anything except some road food the day before, I was pretty hungry. I went and ordered scrambled eggs, hash browns and wheat toast. A woman who had not been my original waitress brought a plate over with the eggs and hash browns, but no toast. Oh well, I thought. The hash browns were hardly cooked, not a crisp potato near them. “Cover everything with Tabasco sauce and it’s edible.” I thought.


I had nearly finished when the original waitress came back and noticed the lack of toast. I told her I didn’t need it (since I was nearly finished). But she insisted that she had “started” it so she would bring it back. Calling what she brought back as “toast” was definitely a misnomer. It was really just bread that had been warmed and dried out a little. I ate it anyway, figuring that I might not get anything else for a while. The best place in town.


I took off down the road to find an AutoZone or such. I drove to Laramie figuring that it had to have an auto parts place and, lo and behold! There was a Reilly’s Auto Parts. And they had the exact oil I had previously bought at the exact same price. Since my biggest worry was running out of oil and burning up my engine, I put some more oil in. I took off.


I drove for hours through some of the most boring landscape you could see. It started off somewhat interesting in Wyoming and Nebraska because it is different from what I normally see, but oh! how it drags on and on and on. I finally hit my limit and pulled into Lincoln, Nebraska to find a place for the night. There was a Comfort Inn, but I couldn’t find the lobby. I ended up at a Marriot Fairfield. I knew it would be expensive, but I did it anyway. Besides, I reasoned, it should be a safer place for a lone female.


I went to the desk and a large woman with bad skin eventually arrived and gave me a room. I took the key, went out to my car to grab some things and headed up to the room. When I finally found the room (I wandered a bit, I must admit) there was a washcloth stuck in between the door and the jamb. Concerned, I knocked on the door and called out. There was no answer. I opened the door gingerly in case someone was there. Everything seemed okay. I set my bags down and went back down to the car to get the rest.


On my way through, I stopped at the front desk. When the woman with bad skin finally showed up, I told her about the washcloth in the door. The woman explained that the maintenance man had been up there to fix the lock. She then asked if I would rather have a different room (NOTE TO SELF: next time get a different room). I had no reason to believe she would lie about the maintenance man and some of my things were already in there, so I said it was okay. I took the rest of my things up to the room.


I went back to the woman and asked her if there was a place to get some beer.


“There’s one over by Romantix,” she said in such a way that all I heard was Romantix.

“I thought Romantix was an adult shop,” I said.

“Oh, it is!!” the woman said, shaking her open hands at me in a universal ‘no’, “don’t go there!! The shop is in front of that, at the Phillips station.”


I went to the Phillips station. I couldn’t see anything in the tightly packed little store except a few smaller bottles of alcohol behind the counter. A kid who looked too young to be working behind the counter in such a store pointed to the back where there was a big walk-in refrigerator with plastic strips hanging from the ceiling. Those strips normally make me think that behind them is an employees-only area. I guess not in Nebraska because there was the beer. They even had one of my favorites, Voodoo Ranger. I bought my beer and headed back to the hotel.

The room was great. The beautiful shower had a transparent glass door and a big mirror on the other side so you could watch yourself the whole time. Great, I thought sardonically, just what I want. The bed was king-size and very comfortable. I turned on the TV and grabbed a beer. Oh, shit I thought. I don’t have a bottle opener! I looked around the room to see if there was a built-in one or anything that I could use. I settled on the wire soap rack in the shower. It doubled that, whenever the beer spilled, which was every time, it just ended up in the shower. I must admit that it wasn’t the classiest of ideas. But it worked.


I called Paul to tell him where I was. He knew already because he followed me via my iPhone almost as well as Google does.


I got ready for bed, turned the TV off, and fell into a very restful sleep.

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