Vast distances between point “A” and point “B” are an accepted fact of life here in the American southwest. Some years ago, my step brother worked as a mechanic in Ludlow. His girlfriend, now wife, worked at Cadiz Summit. A Saturday night dinner and movie date required a drive into Twenty-Nine Palms. Do the math on that one!
When I was courting my dearest friend some years ago, I was working out near Chino Valley, Arizona. For us, a dinner and movie night required a round trip drive of close to three hundred miles, almost eight hours of driving.
Of course I was driving a bone stock ’46 GMC pick up truck at the time. Forty miles per hour seemed the ideal cruising speed for the old workhorse.
At that point in time the razing of an old house or two, and the salvaging of materials, for a fellow who worked for the railroad was a primary source of income. Fast forward a few decades.
Rick became a good friend as we both enjoyed road trips, vintage trucks, and wide open spaces. He moved north and east, I stayed put. The raising of families and the assorted battles that consume so much of our lives led to sporadic but lively conversations.
A few years ago I had a book signing in Berwyn, Illinois and Rick surprised us. He drove all the way from northern Wisconsin for a quick lunch, and to buy a book.
Well, a few weeks ago he notified me that he and Marie, his talented and charming daughter, were heading west. It was a work related endeavor as she was filming a documentary.
Unfortunately, resultant of their schedule, Williams was the western terminus of their odyssey. No problem. There was a time not so long ago when my dearest friend and I would drive to Old Smoky’s for Sunday breakfast.
So, yesterday I kicked off the day a bit earlier than usual to ensure there was time to catch up on correspondence, follow up on leads for photos to be used as illustration in the current book project, and send out an update letter to the state Route 66 associations. Then, after a day at the office, my dearest friend and I saddled up for a drive to Williams, and dinner at the Pine Country Restaurant with Rick and Marie.
The skies were heavy and clouds hung low on the mountains. A heavy, misty rain had swept across the desert in waves shortly before I closed the office, and by the time we had climbed to the ridge line above town on I-40, I felt as though we were being acclimated for Amsterdam.
It was surprisingly warm (mid to high 40’s) but a thick, wet fog shrouded the landscape with varying degrees of intensity. The remainder of the drive to Williams was through heavy rain, patches of fog, and patches of thick fog that reduced visibility to near zero.
The inclement weather, and road construction, seemed to provide little incentive for some drivers to back off on the throttle. I think we have all experienced the bane of the modern highway; drivers who simply set the cruise control and point. They will not let rain or dark of night impede upon their God given right to drive at a set speed from coast to coast.
Just how thick was the fog? Well, for the first time in all my years in Kingman, we began the long descent into town on I-40 and saw not one light in the valley below. In fact, we couldn’t make out a single light until we neared the Andy Devine Avenue exit.
Amazingly it was almost as warm in Williams as it was in Kingman. Even more amazing, we were only about twenty minutes late for our 7:00 dinner.
As always, the food at the Pine Country Restaurant was excellent (shepherds pie), but this time it was greatly enhanced by the coffee and a warm cup to wrap chilled hands around, laughter, another adventure shared with my dearest friend, and conversation with an old amigo.
All to soon came the time to bid adios, and my dearest friend I rolled west through pouring rain and into fog so thick I thought we might need to slip the old Jeep into four wheel drive to avoid getting stuck.
That, my friends, is what makes life worth living – good friends, good food, a bit of adventure to add some spice, and a good looking gal who just happens to be my best friend to share that adventure with.