Day one brings the Bowlin’s Bluewater Outpost Travel Center. That’s along I-40, and I gotta say, the scenic views along I-40 in both eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, well, there’s just nothing like them. The red dirt in Arizona goes as far as the eye can see, and in New Mexico shifts to a light tan color. Flat-topped formations with a layer of boulders on top like icing, which spills down at the edges. It’s several hours of wow.
This outpost is jammed during the day, offering a Dairy Queen and all the baubles you could think of. At night, it’s all cleared out. There’s a very busy set of railroad tracks in back of me next to Route 122, a divided four-lane that stands out as a peculiarity in the middle of nowhere like this. Turns out, it’s the original Route 66, so I plan to take it eastward until it merges with the Interstate. Most of my daily drives are no more than four hours, so the slower pace of 66 should be just fine. It’s about the trip as much as arriving back in Illinois, thus I’ve been plugging along at 65 MPH instead of the 75 MPH speed limit. Saves a couple of miles per gallon, which has been between 14-15 so far. Driving here always ruins me for the flat cornfields of Illinois that come later!