01. Introduction: Cross country road trip in a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
02: Day 1: San Diego, CA to Deming, NM
03: Day 2: Deming, NM to Amarillo, TX
04: Day 3: Amarillo, TX to Maumelle, AR
05: Day 4: Maumelle, AR to Knoxville, TN
06: Day 5 part A: Driving the Tail of the Dragon
07: Day 5 part B: Knoxville, TN to Salem, VA
08. Day 6: Salem, VA to Dulles, VA
09. Trip summary and final thoughts
10: Review: 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Despite the long day of driving yesterday, I was anxious to get an early start. I admit that I was also anxious to see how the Corvette faired overnight in that sketchy hotel parking lot. There’s just no way to “hide” that car – Velocity Yellow is bright, and it stands out like neon in a sea of drab beige and silver sedans. It had me a bit worried, but there was really nothing I could do about it so I just tried to put it out of my mind as much as I could.
Anyway, I’m happy to report that the car was just as I left it the night before, although slightly wet from light overnight rain. Whew! With that behind me, the first order of business was to load up on a big breakfast at the local Denny’s. This would be my only meal until dinner time later in the day (besides snacks), so it had to be a hearty breakfast that would stay with me all day.
It had been years since the last time I ate at Denny’s, and unfortunately, I think I set my expectations a bit too high because it was the most unsatisfying breakfast I’ve had in a long time. It tasted like fast food, and not the hearty home-style meal I had been looking forward to. Bummer! To make matters worse, service was painfully slow and I ended up waiting 45 minutes for my bland omelet and potatoes.
I topped the Vette off with gas at the local Chevron station before heading out on I-10 east, and made a quick run inside for a bathroom break and a bottle of water. The place was sketchy as hell, so I was quick to get out of there as fast as I could. All I kept thinking was how much of a target I must look like with that flashy yellow Corvette sitting right outside.
I was only on the road for an hour before I pulled off at a roadside tourist shop on I-10 for another bathroom break and more water. It was here where I witnessed (or heard) the most disturbing thing I’ve encountered in a long time. While standing at the urinal doing my thing, I heard a hefty moan from the stall at the far end of the bathroom, followed by a quick flush of the toilet.
Nothing unusual at all for a men’s room, right? Then it got weird. The guy started talking, and I assumed he was on the phone. Nope. Another guy was in there with him, and they were talking about big rigs and trucking companies like nothing had happened. But…what did just happen?? I could only assume the worst, and I got out of there quick…
The skies were still overcast and dull by the time I got to Las Cruces, but I couldn’t resist stopping by a coin operated car wash to give the Corvette a quick bath. There were bugs splattered all over that thing, and I felt ashamed driving it that way – especially since I was still at the beginning of my trip, and I wanted it to keep it looking as good as possible for as long as I could.
From there I headed on 70 east, which would take me all the way through Roswell and Clovis. If you remember from my introduction post for this trip, I mentioned that Clovis would be an important stop for me due to the fact that I was born there. My parents moved us away when I was still a baby, and I’ve never been back. So I was anxious to see it! But there was a lot of driving ahead of me to get there…
Driving through the White Sands missile range was…weird. Breathtakingly beautiful of course, but weird. Gun ranges are one thing, but missile ranges? How incredibly cool is that? I just hoped they weren’t out there doing target practice today, because the yellow Corvette I was in would have made for one hell of a moving target!
Although I was making pretty good time up until this point, it did occur to me that it might be nice to stop and check it out. But knowing that I still had a full day of driving ahead of me to reach Amarillo, I pushed on.
It was also about this time that I started to get paranoid about something going wrong with the car. I was just starting to enter some really desolate country, and my mind couldn’t help but to wander and think about all the millions of mechanical and electrical parts doing their thing in this Corvette.
If a critical system component quit on me now I’d be screwed. I was traveling solo way out in the middle of nowhere, and the thought of waiting by the side of the road all day for a flat bed or tow truck to come and rescue me had me uneasy. But at least cell phone service was good. I had a full signal for the entire day.
I made a pit stop in Alamogordo for a bathroom break and to top off the car with gas, and I was getting pretty excited looking at the mountains off in the distance that I was about to drive through. Unfortunately, the rain started coming down pretty good just as I was pulling away from the gas station, and it lasted until I came down the eastern range of those mountains on the other side.
But what a drive! I had no idea that the mountains of New Mexico were so beautiful, and I made a mental note to myself to come back and explore this state in more detail some time in the future. I really wasn’t expecting everything to be so pretty.
My anxiety was starting to build again as I came down out of the mountains and plowed along route 70 towards Roswell. Looking at the map, it was humbling to realize that once I pass Roswell, I’d be all alone for a good two to three hours out on the open road until I reached Clovis.
Right about now I was glad that I didn’t do this drive in my ’96 Mustang GT. The thought of being way out there with an old car hundreds of miles from civilization didn’t sit right with me, which made me realize how much of a spoiled city guy I’ve become. Anyway, I put my faith in the Vette to get me to Texas today, and I kept moving forward.
Roswell was a huge disappointment. I wanted to stop and get a cheesy souvenir (just to say that I’ve been to Roswell), but route 70 bypassed the city completely and I saw none of it. Of course I could have taken a detour and had a look around, but getting to Amarillo at a decent hour was more important to me. Oh well – it will have to wait until some other time.
I’ll tell you what. There is – n o t h i n g – between Roswell and the next decently-sized “town” (Portales) along route 70. Just wide open land for as far as the eye could see, and it really was amazing to be out there all alone. All my fingers and toes were crossed that the Corvette would make it to the other side without incident, so I loaded up some high-energy techno to help burn away the miles. Upon arrival, it felt great to be in civilization again!
Once past Portales, I reached my birthplace of Clovis, NM. It was everything I had imagined it to be, which wasn’t much. Just a small town out in the middle of nowhere with Cannon Air Force base off in the distance. I drove out the the base for a pic of the entry gate (my father was stationed here in the early 70’s), then topped off the car with gas before heading out of town on 60 east.
It’s strange, but I didn’t feel anything special by being there. Not that I expected it to be an emotional moment or anything, but still…Clovis is just an ordinary small town, like so many others I’ve passed through on this trip so far. I’m glad I made the effort to see the place though, at least for the sake of being able to say that I’ve been there (as an adult).
Once across the Texas border, the weather was starting to clear and once again I was starting to get irritated about driving a dirty Corvette. All that rainy driving through the New Mexico mountains earlier today did a number on the car, and it was downright filthy. Luckily, I passed right by a nice coin operated car wash along route 60 in Friona, and gave the Vette it’s second bath of the day.
The rest of the drive to Amarillo was nice, thanks all in part to the 75mph speed limit. God bless Texas and the 75mph speed limit!! It felt so good to cruise worry-free at 80mph in the late afternoon sun, and I can only hope other states raise their speed limits too. 75mph is perfect. Not too fast, and not too slow either. Absolutely perfect.
The storm clouds were starting to build south of me as I approached Amarillo, but I made it to a decent looking Holiday Inn Express before the rain started. Actually, the rain didn’t start until much later in the night, but it was looking stormy out there by the time I arrived.
The car drew more attention as I was unloading, and I had a brief conversation with a man and his teenage son who were sitting outside the main entrance of the hotel getting some fresh air. People sure do like the Corvette – and I was starting to find that I enjoyed talking about it as well. After two full days of driving thus far, I was really starting to get attached to it.
And that’s a good thing because I was pretty hungry at that time, and I wanted to find a grocery store to stock up on food and snacks for the coming days. Unfortunately, the nearest store was 10 miles away. It nearly killed me to get back into that car for more driving, but that feeling was washed away as soon as I pressed the Start button and brought her back to life. It’s a pretty special car that can get me excited about driving it again when I was already completely exhausted from driving already.
The car got a lot of attention in town – I could see everyone stopping along the sidewalk to watch, which is a weird feeling for an introvert like me. But I enjoyed the moment, appreciating how lucky I really was to be on a road trip like this in such an amazing car.
But now I needed to get some rest, as tomorrow was scheduled to be a full day of driving all the way to Little Rock, Arkansas.