Final Day & Driving Home

October 19, 2912  —  Friday

After last night’s sunset finish, I started driving again.  I hoped to get southeast of the LA/San Diego heavy traffic, but three hours of bumper-to-bumper driving only landed me in Anaheim, best known as the home of Disneyland.  I didn’t care about Disney magic at that point, I just wanted a bite to eat and lots of sleep.  On the map, Anaheim looks like a hop-skip from Santa Monica, but not at 6:00 P.M.

This morning I woke up refreshed and smiling  —  tonight I would be home with Steve and sleeping in my own bed.

I can’t remember how many freeways I crossed as I headed southeast to avoid downtown San Diego.  Let’s just say it was plenty of freeways, but I did notice that LA now offers toll booths for solo drivers who want to drive the HOV lanes.

Just before I crossed the state line into Arizona, a really long train sped past me, headed west.  The whistle blew, and I swear it sounded like it was saying “so long, California.”

The stretch from the CA/AZ line to Tucson is great for thinking or listening to music.  California’s rocky hills gave way to Arizona’s sand dunes and then vast chunks of desert.  When I spotted the sign, Tucson–160 miles, the next thing I saw was one lone saguaro cactus, the perfect welcome back symbol.

At the far north end of Tucson, the sunset became more spectacular with each mile…gold melting to fiery red, then hot pinks and deep purples.  Welcome home, Donna!

I looked at the clock.  I hoped to pull into my garage at 6:00 P.M. with yet another 6 to describe the 66 trip.  Nope, wouldn’t make it.  At 6:04 I turned onto my home street and drove super slow, paused at the edge of my driveway, watched the clock, and at 6:06 P.M. precisely turned off the motor.

Home.  Six weeks plus two days of travel are over.  My car wears the miles with an obvious badge of road honor: dust, mud and dead bugs.  The trip odometer reads 8,227 miles.  Route 66 Chicago to LA directly is 2,451 miles.  That means the Route 66 drive would have been about 5,000 miles — and I drove 3,227 extra miles in side trips, getting lost and the occasional backtrack.

I am grinning ear to ear, depleted and full up at the same time.  This was the trip of a lifetime, a fabulous adventure start to finish, and even though the word is over-used today, AWESOME.

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