The continental breakfast was decent. We ate quickly and grabbed some fruit and coffee for the road. Our goal was to get to Midland, where we would look for a room for the night.
We drove through miles of desert. Texas was definitely making good use of wind power. Many of these miles were lined with windmills. At one point we stopped for a photo op with these majestic white structures. We are suckers for alternative power. It was also a nice opportunity to stretch our legs.
Then it was back in the car we piled. We had found a travel rhythm and Truman was responding positively to our adaptations. It had been peaceful and allowed Brian and I to chat and joke in the front seats. The mood was light and we were on target to arrive in Midland just before dinner.
We pulled into the WalMart in Midland just after 4pm local time for restrooms and wifi. Our goal was to find lodging quickly before Truman's demeanor changed from cooing baby to demon spawn (as a result of pushing our daily drive times to the max).
While I used the restroom, Brian used the wifi to get our bearings. We found hotel row and drove over, relieved to be gettiing off the road for the day. We too, had our own car bound limits. Our mode of tranportation across the country was a Chevy HHR...only slightly larger than a PT cruiser. Brian's 6ft frame became easily cramped after long hours on the road. All of our remaining belongs were distributed between the pop up and the car itself. It's a good thing none of us are claustrophobic.
Unfortunately, a hotel room was not in our future...at least not in Midland. I pulled in to the first hotel, a Hampton Inn and at the front desk requested a room. The quote was just shy of $250. While I was busy lifting my jaw from the floor, the receptionist began explaining the obscene rate. This time the "flexible" cost was a result of a recent oil find. He advised that every hotel from Midland to Odessa would likely be near full, with available rooms at a similar price to the one he was authorized to offer. I was allowed to use their lobby computer to attempt to find something suitable, but found what the hotel staffer said to be true.
I knew the present situation could easily deteriorate into a repeat of the prior evening if we weren't careful. This new information would definitely throw a wrench in our original plans. Brian and I put our heads together and quickly regrouped. Apparently, Pecos was the closest town with lodging in our budget. We would stop for food outside Midland and then make our way to Pecos. Our hope was to continue to coincide with Truman's sleep patterns.
We hit traffic, Truman awoke, and the crying began. We slowly and painfully learned there wasn't much outside of Midland. Hungry and tired, the enviroment was ripe for a fight, but we somehow held it together this time.
About an hour in, Brian saw a sign for a State Park with camping ahead. It was a race against the sunset and there was no guarantee that Pecos would have affordable lodging by the time we arrived. We quickly made the decision to take the upcoming exit and see what Monahans Sand Hills State Park had to offer.
The car rolled to a stop at the end of the off ramp. We looked to the left and saw a beautiful wroght iron arch sign identifying we had found the park. I turned on the blinker and paused to look both ways. We were at a crossroads both physically and metaphorically. In this moment, we were opening ourselves to think outside the traditional lodging box...and in doing so experience something we'd only seen in the movies.
The road was clear, I made the turn, and we pulled through the entrance into the unknown...