4360 Miles in 126 Hours

Troy Paiva

8) Day Five- Halfway Between El Paso and Tucson . . . I do a lot of shooting on day four. Combined with the late start it makes for a short driving day, only 489 miles. I arc onto I-20 under maximum acceleration, heading west.

I know it's time to start thinking about working my way back home. I only have two days left before responsibility and real life call.

I slip into sleepy Van Horne at about 10 AM to get an oil change. The Texaco in the center of town seems open for repair work so I pull into the lube bay. The mechanic looks happy to see me, his rotten green grin clashing with his oil-stained red and white striped company shirt. He doesn't even mind the burns as the hot oil spills across his fingers. The service happens deliberately, as does everything in this part of the country. It's just too damn hot to be anything except slow and easy-going. The mechanics laugh easily and sing “Ring of Fire” under my car's dusty and battered chassis.

I grab a quick lunch at an International Airport of Pancakes in El Paso- five different kinds of syrup on the table and none of them are maple. I've obviously slipped into another dimension. Everything you touch in the place is sticky. Loaded up on a greasy brick of road-food, I unglue myself from the vinyl booth, ready for the long run.