The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Rob Langrell

Seven-state drive ridiculously fun


A friend of mine introduced me to the term “windshield time” a few months ago.

When you look it up on the internet, that phrase is riddled with negative connotations. The expressions “wasted time,” “unproductive” and “worthless” are bandied about.

I had a bit of windshield time last week. Forget all of the thumbs down on the web, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Before I get into the details, let me be the first say this kind of road trip may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Simply put, you might simply think a bit of insanity had set in.

That Saturday, my 17-year-old son, Connor, and I set off on a journey. It was his first college visit and it had come along with an invitation to attend a four-day baseball camp at Harding University, which has been recruiting him for several months. The school is located in Searcy, Arkansas.

The plan had me helping him get checked in and settled on campus on Sunday, and then I’d continue east to visit a friend and former co-worker who lives and works in Paducah, Kentucky. After all, there was no sense turning around and driving back to Clovis and then ultimately returning to pick Connor up on Wednesday.

I’ll save you the Google search. It’s 1,000 miles. Each way.

Before you get too far with questions and comments, yes I do know that airplanes have been invented. Long story short, hopping on a jet wasn’t going to work this time.

We set off early that Saturday morning and traversed out of New Mexico and across Texas, Oklahoma and a good portion of Arkansas. Last Sunday, I continued onward and out of Arkansas, touching roadways in Missouri and Illinois before traveling into Kentucky.

It was a great opportunity to see so much of small-town America. Stopping for lunch at an Indian casino in Oklahoma was interesting. Navigating through towns with names like Happy Bend (you certainly won’t get it confused with South Bend), Bald Knob, Hayti and Cairo.

Once at my final destination in Paducah — at least for a couple of days — my buddy and I got a chance to visit a moonshine company, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and a riverboat casino in Illinois on the banks of the Ohio River.

Nearby, we also descended on the town of Metropolis, Illinois. Yes, the town that was dubbed in 1972 as the “Hometown of Superman” by the Illinois Legislature. It also has a 30-foot statue of the “Man of Steel” in front of the courthouse and a museum dedicated to him. The newspaper is even called the Metropolis Planet, a spinoff of the fictional Daily Planet where Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane all worked.

Pointing the car west on Wednesday morning and arriving home 1,000 miles later was bittersweet — and exhausting. But, the chance to see some new characteristics of America sure was pretty cool.

Rob Langrell is the publisher of The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at: [email protected]


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