Here we are! We have arrived!! First night of vacay. Woooohoo!!!!! We took off from Wichita around 745 am. All packed up and in good moods, ready to hit the open road. We drove past fields and fields. Little towns in Kansas like Meade, where they have the famous Daltens who dug an escape tunnel underneath their house. Then we passed Liberal, Kansas with the Wizard of Oz House. Further along the road we got to a town called Hooker, Oklahoma. They were so proud of their town. They even had a „Hooker True Value „ Hardware store. We started to notice we we’re all hungry, but luckily I had packed snacks—so we all munched on corn nuts and chips to take off the edge. Thomas announced he wanted to wait and eat lunch in Texas. So we drove further past Oklahoma. By the time we reached the border of Texas we were the „grumpmobile“ as Thomas referred to us. Out of caution that we would all remain friendly with each other, we pulled over in Stratford, Texas. We ate at Subway, that was connected to a gas station. Charlie found a huge Mickey Mouse stuffed animal that he walked around with. We headed out with a coffee that was wayyyyy too hot for both of us. We headed out with full bellies and happy moods. Thomas started the drive but soon realized he had hit his limit with driving and was too tired to carry on. So I took over the last leg of the drive. As soon as I got in the drivers seat I noticed the gas tank was nearly empty and we needed gas, soon! I told my copilot Thomas to check for the nearest gas station. It was 15 miles away. So we began a joke that if we run out of gas, Thomas will be the one going to get it so, „it would only be 15 miles to run“ then as we got closer „ it would only be 10 miles to run“, etc. He started stretching in the car and took some sips of coffee to get revved up as a joke. He had us all laughing. Finally we reached the gas station and filled up the car. All chilled. We only had 25 minutes left to Tucumari!
As we entered the small run down town, that had been ignored since the interstate was built, there was a sense of sadness. Abandoned buildings, old neon signs hung outside of old shops that had closed signs on them or were abandoned. It was a glimpse into the past. We found our little Motel called, „the Blue Swallow Motel,“ which immediately cheered up the mood. They were blasting old music from Elvis and Frank Sinatra in the back, there were colorful seats sitting the small property. There were a couple of old timer cars parked for Show out in front. I felt like I was really on Route 66, or the movie Cars. We had room #10. It had the original light fixtures and toliet/shower. They had it adorably decorated. We felt as though we had stepped back in time. We settled in, got Charlie’s bed set up and set out to explore a little of the town. Full of art, murals and remnants of the past, we soaked it in. We decided to eat at a restaurant called, „Pow Wow Restaurant and Lounge“ which was somehow a lizard lounge. They had lizard people painted on all the walls. Also there was a standing lizard statue that talked to Thomas. We ordered our food and everyone enjoyed their dinner. After that interesting experience, we headed to the grocery store for milk and a beer for Thomas. Charlie was yelling „PAPI!!!!“ at the top of his lungs while running through the grocery store. After the entire grocery store in Tucumari had heard that we were there, we checked out and left. We headed back to the motel. Charlie and I took a shower in the teeny tiny shower from the 50s. We got him all ready for bed. Thomas read him his favorite story, „the gruffalo.“. We did a shortened version of the pajama dance, and he hit the hay.
Thomas and I retired outside to the side garage attached to our room. We relaxed into a couple of chairs letting the day slowly close before us. The music was still blasting from the speaker so it gave a certain ambience with the sprinkling rain and neon lights shining on the wet asphalt. We unwound for some time, people watching and just reminiscing in the events of the day. Eventually, we joined Charlie in the room and we all fell asleep. Day One in the books. Success!