Sometimes you don’t know how or why something will affect you until you experience it. This has happened to me several times on this trip already.
Last Thursday I crossed into Arizona from California and in the middle of the bridge I saw the mile 0 mark and every emotion I’ve ever had and then some hit me all at once. I pulled off at the first exit and took this picture.
I didn’t expect for that to hit me as hard as it did, but there’s something about crossing into a new state in a vehicle that you didn’t know was ever going to run that really hits you. As big rigs were whizzing by I tried really hard to get a grip but then I realized that this might be the first time Betsy was ever in Arizona.
I’ve had this dream for so long, and I’ve pictured it, and planned it, and visualized it for the majority of this year. But I’m doing it now, I really am doing it. And it’s going even better and more magical than I could have ever planned for. It’s almost hard to believe it’s real because of how phenomenal it has already been.
From the California/Arizona border I took a stunning sunset drive on the Oatman Highway, which was an incredibly exhilarating experience. As soon as I was out of those mountains, I wanted to turn around and do it all over again. However, I had plans to spend the night in Kingman with my friend Shawna’s family, who just happened to live there. They welcomed me like I was one of their own children. They fed me dinner, gave me a bed to sleep in, and a bathroom to get clean in. It was an incredible way to spend my first night in a new state. Shawna’s mother, Isabell, not only made me an incredible breakfast in the morning, but also loaded me up with a whole bunch of road snacks to keep me going, many of which I’m still eating almost a week later!
In Kingman, I stopped by a dollar store and stocked up on some essentials (toothpaste and trash bags) and an AutoZone (which was the biggest AutoZone I had ever seen) to get some Lucas Oil Stabilizer, which came highly recommended by Dan from Blackbird Ranch. After the essentials were checked off, I headed back down towards the mother road to check out the Route 66 Museum and also a short side trip to a older part of Route 66 from the 1920s and 30s.
I pushed through Hackberry (where I had a lovely lunch of tuna, crackers, a cheese stick and Route 66 Black Cherry Soda), Valentine, and Crozier. I was sailing pretty smoothly until my oil pressure light suddenly turned on.
And here I was at the side of the road with my first real break down of the trip! I was so excited! I was finally a real adventurer, vagabond, Instagram person! I had been looking forward to this moment and it was glorious. I was miles away from the interstate, I was in the middle of Route 66, and the sun was setting in the most beautiful pink and purple colors. It was beyond perfect.
It wasn’t long before a local hero, David, spotted me in his super clean looking mustard yellow Chevy C10. He offered to help, and at the time I thought Bets had just lost some oil because she’s old and leaky and the oil level was pretty low when I checked it. I added some of the Lucas Oil Stabilizer (Dan, really knew what he was talking about, unsurprisingly), tightened up the oil pan bolts, and drove her down a couple miles but the light stayed on. That is when I really started to get worried. I called my truck dad, Evan, he wisely told me to check the wires for the oil pressure switch, maybe it was just an electrical issue. And that’s when I saw that Betsy was spewing oil from the switch itself real bad. Like Monty-Python-tis-but-a-flesh-wound bad.
Again, local hero David came to my rescue to check up on me, even thought I was already a couple miles down the road. He told me that he knows a guy and he happens to be only a few miles away in Truxton.
We roll up just as it gets dark and this guy is closing up shop. He takes one look a me and Betsy and he knows exactly what to do. He hands we a wrench with a socket and tells me to take that oil pressure switch out. Betsy pukes a bit of oil to mark her spot. He hands me another switch that would plug the hole so oil doesn’t leak out but it’s not going to be helpful if I have an actual oil pressure problem. He tells me to just drive it and when I get to Flagstaff to find the right part. And that was that.
The entire time I never felt scared. Just when I would start to get minutely worried, a wonderful human would pop up and have a solution to whatever I was dealing with. If I were to try and plan a Betsy breakdown on the road, I couldn’t have planned a better one. Getting on the ground, with oil dripping, while the sun is setting is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. The entire time I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be at every moment. That’s what I believe they call Route 66 magic.
Once Betsy was plugged up nice and good I drove through to Seligman where my friend Ian had magically arranged a great overnight parking situation for me behind the Delgadillos’ legendary Route 66 souvenir and barber shop. Angel Delgadillo is pretty much the reason people still know Route 66 even exists, so getting to stay behind it was an incredible and memorable treat. By the time I got to Seligman, I was wiped out. I made myself some ramen, scarfed it down, and passed out to the sounds of trains going by.
And that there was my first full day on the road completely on my own. There was no part of it that could be been better or more perfect and wonderful.