4360 Miles in 126 Hours

Troy Paiva

2) Day Two- Don't Mess with Texas

The next day grinds on across New Mexico. Interstate 40's shoulder is littered with dead dogs and twisted carcasses of recapped tires. Bypassed Route 66 towns lay sleepy and arthritic alongside the freeway with its endless convoys of semis throbbing past. The legendary old highway is reduced to a butchered afterthought of a frontage road. Running from nowhere to nowhere else, its blind crests and tight curves are impossible for today's high-speed tractor-trailers. Weeds grow in the expansion joints and the centerline peels off in chunks.

Petro, Pilot, Flying J, Loves – these are the truck stops of the Southwest. Actually no longer called truck stops, they are now “Travel Centers.” At night they glow like gritty space stations inviting you in from the black void. I gas up anonymously, sticking my credit card in the slot, pushing a couple of buttons. I never have to communicate with a soul. Thanks to modern technology, the road gets a little bit lonelier.

The windshield of my Subaru is peppered with insects, creating a strangely beautiful backlit patina. I even have to scrub the headlights. Windshield squeegee buckets out here smell like death and decay. They are never drained, only refreshed occasionally. I'm sure some of them have had this slurry of gore in them for years.