Last week my niece and I traveled 1,284 miles, a journey we had been waiting to take for three months. Below are a few of our observations and lessons learned.

My eyes were bigger than my vehicle

Don’t overestimate the storage capacity of your vehicle. I was concerned about some things, nearest and dearest to my heart, getting lost or broken. I chose to move those items myself. It would have taken two additional SUVs to get the stuff left behind to Santa Fe. I got lucky, Barbara offered up room in the trailer she will be towing out West.

Even after careful packing and stacking the SUV was packed. The back and side windows were blocked, it would have been nice to have a better range of vision.  We had to remember to choose parking spots that we could pull through so there was no backing out involved.

Best laid plans

The plan was to get to Springfield, Missouri the first night. Unsure why I wasn’t thinking about construction traffic on 70 West, it took us 1 ½ hours to get from Cloverdale to Terre Haute. We arrived in Rolla, Missouri around 11:30 pm Central Time, and decided to call it a night.

Gas 101

Rolling into Rolla at 11:30 the night before, we were beat and decided to get gas before getting on the road the next morning. The entrance to 44 was a roundabout, we missed the exit to get gas and were back on the highway. The gauge showed 23 miles until empty…..we finally found a Pilot Travel Center with 6 miles to spare. Yikes. We did not let the gauge go below a half tank the remainder of the trip.

Tulsa to Oklahoma City scenic drive

Oklahoma and scenic drive. I don’t normally think of those things going together. The drive was 106 miles of beautiful, green, rolling scenery. The ascent into the high plains began on this leg of the trip. The horizon could been seen for miles when reaching the tops of hills.

Oklahoma City Federal Building Memorial

The first thing we noticed when we got out of the car was the heat. The heat was different, it was no longer humid; it was like the same feeling on your face like when opening an oven door.

The Memorial, sad and somber, yet so peaceful and serene.

Oklahoma City to Texas Panhandle

I lived in the Chicagoland area for several years and am no stranger to tolls. However, the Will Rogers Turnpike is odd. Toll fees (about $4.25) are charged at various mile markers on the I-44 turnpike as well as all entrances and exits off the turnpike. Toll Booth workers at entrances/exits ask if you are going to Missouri or Oklahoma…..sometimes you have to pay…..sometimes you get a refund (we got a quarter)….and sometimes you get a credit for the next toll. We were thoroughly confused and decided it wasn’t worth trying to figure it out.

Western Oklahoma scenery is much different from Eastern Oklahoma.

 Texas Panhandle

Do not enter the Panhandle with a near empty gas tank. There is a lot of nothing for miles and miles and miles.

 Amarillo, Texas

Here are the highlights.

Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior Travel Center. It looked closed, but we found it to be an interesting name for a travel center.

The Big Texan Steakhouse. If you can eat a 72 ounce steak in an hour; it’s free. Why?

Cadillac Ranch. 10 or 11 old Cadillacs half way buried into the ground. There are several cans of paint laying around so any and all can add their own artistic expression to the cars. It was so windy, we kept getting dirt in our mouths; it was a really good idea we decided not to paint.

New Mexico


We pulled into Santa Fe Sunday around 1pm Mountain Time and hit an art fair on the plaza.

About a week into Santa Fe living a couple of things that are really different. U-turns are encouraged, in fact, I am unsure how you would get around if they weren’t. Driving is a little scary.

I tuned into CBS NFL Pre-Game Show at 10:00 Sunday morning. Sunday Night Football begins at 5:00 pm.