4360 Miles in 126 Hours

Troy Paiva

6) Around midnight, the three day drive and tonight's shooting catch up with me, but the area is just too flat and exposed to the ceaseless gusting winds for camping. I hustle north for Clovis, New Mexico and a motel room. The speedometer touches triple digits as I streak up Highway 18 through the incongruously named Pep, New Mexico. The cats-eyes run screaming between my feet as I straddle the centerline. All four windows down, the blackness swirls around me.

I spend the third night at an anonymous motel in Clovis. Like so many of the Southwest's small-town motels, it's right next to the train tracks. All night the freight trains' wheels make their piercing, metallic shriek. At the nearby siding they pick up and drop cars with a loud crash every few minutes. They sound like traffic accidents right outside my window. Huddled on the bed, too wired to sleep, I sit up until 3 AM watching The Weather Channel, trying to find a way to slice through tomorrow's late-spring showers unscathed. The network's light jazz is as bland as the institutional particleboard furniture in my room. I'm stuck in a generic, throw away world. Day three has only covered 633 miles, but my body does another 633 while I sleep, fitfully trapped between the trains and the trucks outside.