2014 Chevrolet Corvette: 23 to the 66
October 22, 2013
Corvette owners aren't strangers, they're just friends who haven't met.
The night we checked into Conway, Arkansas, two older guys occupied us with stories of their times with Corvettes. They've owned one. No, make that two. A '67 and a '69. They're too old for that now, but not too old to tell us a few stories as we unload our bags. This...this is becoming a trend.
Frio and I are keeping to ourselves, for the most part, but the Corvette owners are finding us. Every one of them has a story. Their time with a Corvette bears repeating.
The great, green hills of Arkansas drift past our windows, and apart from the visible nuclear plant, we wonder what lies on the other side of the interstate. This is the pace, and the pain, of a scheduled road trip. There are so many opportunities just an hour or so away, but time prohibits too much. I bitch, and then I shoot from the window seat.
Oklahoma calls for a fill up, but the idea of a detour gets the better of us and we're off onto a dirt road in no time. The sky is huge and the lack of everything is refreshing. Open space is addicting and it's with some regret that we head back to the Sinclair to fill our tanks. And then we meet another friend.
Camp Pendleton is 90 minutes south of L.A. and this iffy guy did some time there. He abandons his Dodge and chats up Frio about a few of his exploits. The tattoo of a dagger on his arm told me he's holding some back, but his head shakes with nostalgia as he retraces his steps. He digs the car. He digs us. Dan grabs second and digs down the on-ramp.
Texas takes over and Route 66 starts to surface. Long since bypassed and overrun by I-40, there's not much of it left. What is left is just that, it's been left. Ditching the 40 here and there takes us through derelict towns with more memories than residents. Gas stations, empty. Restaurants, empty. Motels? You wouldn't dare.
Payne's BBQ gave us a taste of the real and we wanted more. No more chain hotels for us. Enter Tucumcari, New Mexico.
Sidestepped by I-40, it's a wonder anything's left, but it still has a strip. And more importantly, it has nostalgia. Nostalgia has kept plenty of things alive, including the Corvette, but old Tucumcari begs to be believed. It seems to have dodged inevitability so Frio and I honor its resilience and grab a room at a motor inn.
Historic and charming translates to run down and WiFi free, but the attached bar has tequila. Two rooms and two shots, please.