Saturday, February 11.: Goodbye Marathon - Going West
Saturday morning we packed up, secured the trailer (which was to wait for Erik's return in the middle of the following week), and set out in the Wagon, heading west to El Paso, where both Erik and I were to fly out on different flights and to different destinations the following day. Him going back to Fort Worth for drill (USMC), me going first north and then east, back to Stockholm, Sweden. A different world, one I could barely remember.
The day was relatively uneventful, though I enjoyed it - I like road trips, I loved watching the landscape changing around us, and I relaxed in Erik's mostly silent company. Sometimes watching him out of the corner of my eyes, sometimes singing more or less under my breath, mostly just watching the world and the road and the traffic, sometimes taking a picture of or commenting on something.
We passed through Alpine and Marfa, now almost familiar after wandering around the day before, filling the tank before setting out into the emptiness of West Texas. We passed through Valentine (population 217), with a Prada store on the western outskirts, surrounded by emptiness, but mostly with boarded up buildings facing the road, and later Van Horn, which was bigger but looked much the same (down to the boarded up buildings). We passed through emptiness and we saw people living where there could hardly be anything to live of. We saw improbably orchards in what seemed an otherwise dry landscape, and we saw more and more traffic as we came further west. El Paso is surrounded by outlets in an almost industrial-looking maze and while we had had some idea that I should buy boots while there, at that point it was a long time since breakfast, I was discouraged by the thought of navigating any kind of shopping experience and especially shoes (which take time, I hate buying shoes for that reason - although the satisfaction if I actually find ones that I like and that fits and that doesn't hurt is immense), and instead we tracked down our hotel (inside Ft. Bliss).
We needed dinner, and we both would be more than happy to let the other one decide on something, which meant that actually deciding took a long time since both kept handing responsibility to the other. In the end I decided on type of food, Erik tracked down a restaurant, and we went there without mishap. After finding a pharmacy so I could shop all the things one cannot get here (or rather the things I knew about - that list keeps growing), the evening was spent in the hotel room, mostly looking for a TV channel that was NOT talking about Whitney Houston...
Sunday, February 12.: Leaving Texas
Breakfast at the hotel, wandering about a bit (there was a kind of outdoors museum with various aircraft, tanks, missiles, etc which I of course could not stay away from), then a taxi to the airport, goodbye to Erik, a cup of tea, then eventually my own flight. First to Chicago, uneventful, in Chicago, getting some food and a beer, then it turned out my flight was delayed, and I was getting sleepier and sleepier.
By the time we were allowed to board, I fell asleep almost as soon as I sat down. I woke up when the brakes kicked in at Heathrow - by which time I found out that I had all of 20 minutes to change terminals, get through security, and find my flight to Stockholm. ARGH!
Since I slept through what was Monday in Sweden on the plane, I was unable to sleep at night, and the following weeks were spent jetlagged out of my mind, totally unsynchronized with the world around me. This eventually led to a delay in blogging about my experiences which means that the story hasn't been told until now, the end of May, more than three months after I got home.