Route 66 // Day 1 // Georgia to Albuquerque, New Mexico

(5:31 a.m.)

Why, when we go on an adventure, do we have to begin so darn early?

I’ve never been a morning person, but I’ve always wished to be. I’m like the human equivalent of Chicken Little before 8 a.m. and all I can think about is how we’re all going to die and what’s even the point of going somewhere. Morbid, I know, but I am, without a doubt, not emotionally equipped for mornings. As I stare into the mirror blow-drying my hair, eyes droopy, I think about anything but Aphid. I think about all the fun stuff I’ve spent months planning; this trip is what got me through this past Spring wedding season. Every moment not spent working was spent planning or day-dreaming about this trip. Except it’s here and all I can think about is crawling up under the covers and forgetting this whole thing.

Ten years together, and he finally knows not to talk to me. The last time we were up this early together, we got into a huge fight about who was taking up more room at the sink. I think about how polite it is that he’s leaving me alone, because I know it’s hard for him since he loves to talk in the mornings. Tom is treating getting me to the airport like herding cattle. When he does talk to me, it’s to ask me the same questions my dad asks me before we travel. Yes, I have my license. No, it’s not expired. Yes, my suitcase probably is over weight. This is really the first time I ever remember traveling alone with him – like, actually traveling. Yeah, our honeymoon, but all of that was such a whirlwind that all I remember is not packing for it and having to buy clothes at Target during our layover.

It’s now 6:25 and I’m feeling a little better – is it too early to call Dad and check on Aphid? Probably. But he won’t mind.

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I can pick a grocery store line and I can pick an airplane seat – we’re flying Southwest, so we board and then get to pick our seat. So naturally, I gravitated to the seat directly in front of a cranky toddler. Praise God for headphones and on-flight live stream television, because nothing stifles ones anger like an episode of Four Weddings. Tom says kids must fly free on this airline because I swear they outnumber the adults and it smells like a rancid diaper. We had a quick layover in Kansas City, but didn’t even leave the plane. The weight limit for bags is 50 lbs. – my bag weighted 50.5 pounds. Another talent I have. The man who checked us in ignored it. I liked him.

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3:10 p.m. I’m writing from a teepee. We came to check in at the Nativo Lodge, but our room isn’t quite ready, so they sent us out here. I like the teepee except I feel like I’m contracting a disease from the little mats they have in here to sit on. We went to the 66 Diner for lunch and my little photographer’s brain went into such a tailspin that I was almost too excited to eat. We lunched on a “66 Burger” – topped with bacon and green chilies. Tom says he thinks everything is going to be topped in green chilies out here. We also ordered milkshakes because that’s what they’re famous for – Tom got strawberry-banana and I got the 66 Special – strawberry mixed with Oreo. They were both fantastic, but I liked Tom’s better. That’s usually how it goes.

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This teepee has a radio in it and they’re playing “Collide” by Howie Day. It’s like they’re around a decade behind us – which, is okay with me because I don’t think we’re any better off.

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We ended up checking into the room and heading out to explore Old Town. Albuquerque isn’t anything like I expected, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s just different. Everything is clean here – nothing looks absolutely looted or trashed like it does back home. After picking up a few souvenirs (including the cutest sweater ever for Wilder) we drove over to the Sandia Peak Tramway. I had no clue how high that tram actually went, but it was a little nerve racking. I’m a self-proclaimed wimp, but for once in my life, I wan’t the biggest wimp in the room. Tom had a white-knuckle grip on the pole inside the tram and all of a sudden got really quiet and cranky. Once I figured out he was scared to death of riding this flimsy little trail car up the side of staggering cliffs, I was delighted and had to call attention to how brave I was being every few seconds. Once we reached the top, we took a quick selfie, and decided to go back down – the altitude was kinda not our thing and it was freezing/windy, but the view was nice. We finished our day at La Hacienda, which was the biggest cluster of a Mexican restaurant I’ve ever seen. Seriously, they need to take lessons from Tapatios. I think our waitress had a few screws loose, but it was still fun sitting on the patio sharing a plate. Between the fact that we were jet-lagged, delirious, and a teeny bit tipsy off a margarita, our conversation wasn’t dull. Falling asleep once we arrived back at the hotel wasn’t a problem at all, let’s just say that.

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Overall, my first little taste of Route 66 is everything I’ve wanted it to be. You know how you can spend months planning a vacation and looking forward to it, and dreaming about what it’s going to be like? And then you get there, and it’s great and all, but it’s just not AS good as you imagined it? This is AS GOOD as I imagined it to be. It’s every bit of cheesy, weird, bizarre, old America that I wanted it to be. The only other place that has ever lived up to the expectations I set in my mind is Yosemite. While Route 66 and Yosemite are two opposite ends of the spectrum, they both make me fall in love with America all over again; something that really takes effort these days. Sometimes.

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