Monday March 13, 2006, Oklahoma City, OK
And now we have a truck - and it really is a truck! I always thought it was just a big 'Ute', but when you sit up in it on the highway, there are not many vehicles that seem as big. And when you start it up and take off it really roars like a truck - although it does quieten down when it gets up to speed.
We spent the remainder of Juergen's birthday well - he had a well-earned massage, we got the computer working on the internet (thanks to another holiday maker in our place) and we had a really nice fish dinner at Walt's Wharf in Seal Beach.
On Friday Suzy drove to San Diego to celebrate a birthday with friends there. We went along for the ride. It was beautiful driving along the Pacific Coast Highway through one beachside town after another. The real estate is very expensive, but the view is sometimes breathtaking. We were dropped off in La Jolla, a northern suburb of San Diego, and spent several hours looking through shops and galleries and having lunch.
On Saturday we were back on a plane - well 2 actually - on the next phase of our journey. We flew first to Denver and had a bird's eye view of the snow covered mountains as we flew in. Then on to Oklahoma City where we took a cab to our accommodation - Studio 6. Motel 6 is a clean, comfortable budget-priced motel chain here and Studio 6 is an offshoot which adds a good-sized kitchen to the motel room. We booked it on the internet before we left Australia, and they even took notice of our request for a quiet room - I think we have the quietest room possible in a complex that is positioned beside a motorway...
So Sunday morning we roused Tom from his sleep and he very graciously drove at least 20 miles to pick us up and drive back to his house, where our truck has been standing since we bought it in January.
Since we arrived, we are constantly being helped by friends, friends of friends and strangers - and we are very grateful that so many people go out of there way to show their hospitality.
Today we start the process of insuring and registering our truck - we have no idea yet how this will happen, but we'll be sure to let you know how it turns out...
Wednesday March 15, 2006, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Insuring and transferring the truck on Monday went by relatively smoothly, thanks again to some helpful people - Tom for allowing us to use his local address and Eddie and Scott for putting us on to the right insurance broker. We had lunch in Bricktown in Oklahoma City with Eddie - we bought the truck from him on Ebay - and his friend Scott. They gave us all sorts of useful information and advice for which we are most grateful. We also found them very amusing and friendly lunch companions, so it was an enjoyable time.
I spent Tuesday morning packing up while Juergen took the truck across the highway to Hibdens (another Eddie tip!) to get the tyres checked. We couldn't believe it - they spent close to an hour, fixing three holes in 2 tyres and didn't want to be paid for it! Can't see that happening at home. But if you go to a gas station to put air in your tyres, you pay for it. There are so many little things that are different here, even though on the surface the culture feels like it should be the same.
We left Oklahoma City and headed for Tulsa. We didn't want to take the Turnpike, so we headed in what we thought was the right direction and eventually reached a pretty good road which sort of followed the highway - then we saw a sign; it was the famous Route 66. Juergen commented that a lot of people travel great distances to drive this road - and we happen upon it by chance because we want to drive country roads and not highways. Another bonus we blundered into. Sometimes that is the very best way to find things.
Today we had the truck checked in to change the shock absorbers. Here in Tulsa is the home of Sams Offroad (Marilyn and Ron had told us they were the cheapest for the particular parts we needed), so we came here just for that. Rick and his team worked on the truck all day and drove us to a shopping mall to spend the waiting time and picked us up later in the afternoon. We were so impressed with their professionalism and friendliness. We didn't really like spending so much money, but we believe they did all that was necessary to make our truck safe, by replacing shock absorbers, repairing breaks, front end and so on. And to really make me happy, they attached steps so that I can actually get up into the truck in some sort of 'ladylike' manner - mum would be so proud!!!
We had hoped to head to Arkansas this afternoon, but we will leave first thing in the morning and hope to arrive in Baton Rouge on Friday afternoon.