I used to cross the country on US 10 once a year for a long time. My mother lived in San Antonio and I lived in LA. I had it down to a fine science. It took me 22 hours. Since I was already getting old I had a good time with it. Using two days to drive and two nights in a hotel etc. When I was young I just drove the 22 hours straight through. The last time I did this was 2000 when my mother died and it was not a planned trip and it was in the summer.
When I crossed in 2012, I was astounded at the differences. And I am going to described them below.
In August 2012, I was driving to confirm my moving back to Texas and to specifically look at property. I had just really simple luggage and my cat. He had a carrier. I kept him loose in the car but with a harness and leash on. Since it was so hot I could not leave him in the car and I had to go to motels that allowed animals for an extra fee. To eat, I either took it on the road or stopped at small almost empty cafes and asked if I could bring him in the carrier and put him under my chair etc. They usually wanted the money and would say yes. In the mornings, it was still cool enough to leave him in the car and I got an earful listening by myself to the rantings of the old coots. Since I am over 65, I look just like them. The big talk of the time was seceding if Obama was elected. That was true from the California border on.
First, I was appalled at the border stops. Leaving California, I was surprised to hear that if you had a UHaul they asked to see your license. It was then run through the computers to see if you owed California any money. If you had any warrants for anything even parking tickets you were arrested and only allowed to leave by paying your tickets. They were also using dogs to sniff everything. Partially unloading a uhaul is not my idea of good time. In the past, I have done this a lot and was never exposed to the kind of searches I saw. And why was I seeing them because of the back up now of stopping everyone and really looking.
Outside of Phoenix, I ran over something and it was twilight and I was pushing it because I wanted to spend the night in Tucson rather than Phoenix and I had got a slow start out of LA. I was in the far right lane and speeding up and slowing down to listen because something sounded funny. I see a truck stop and I decide to exit. As I am coming off the ramp, I am stopped by what I thought was a cop. He accuses me of drunk driving and leaving a casino and wants me to get out and do a sobriety test. I say see these two crutches on the front seat there is no way I can do that. I also tell him I have been to no casinos which he refuses to believe. I will take a breathalyzer because I have not had a drink of anything in three weeks. He doesn't have one. He will have to call for back up. Turns out he is not a cop but a park ranger and is essentially trying to make a citizens arrest. I have to wait 45 minutes for a cop to appear. I tell him my story and he does not even bother with the breathalyzer and it somewhat apologetic, but proceeds to check everything in the car and writes me up two warnings for a cracked taillight which is hairline and a small crack in my lower windshield. I assume this protects the other guys back since I now know I have not been stopped by a cop. This takes another 30 minutes and it is now totally dark and I no longer drive in the dark. So I now have to take anything I can immediately find and pay a lot for it.
The Texas Border Patrol is even worse and was never there 12 years ago. It is a 100 miles in from El Paso. It is now famous and produces over a million dollars in fees for the small town that is near by. The stuff that goes on there even bothers Texas minds and I read all about this later in the Texas Monthly. Outside plates and non pure looking people are in for a big surprise. Oddly, being old very white with very white hair and blue eyes, they just waved me through.
Coming back, I decide to take the northern route and avoid the IS 10. I go the 40 which I find terrifying. Up and down big hills with six lanes of highway and then reduced for big inclines. 18 wheelers passing me at 80 and then down to 50 on the inclines so it is back and forth. And it comes to me--what am I doing going 80 just because I can and I am trying to get away from these trucks which is never going to happen. So I get off and take the scenic route through Prescott which I had never done and I acquire a map of the local antiques stores. etc.
I go to some kind of art faire in the middle of nowhere celebrating I can't remember. I just remembered it was celebrating pies and there were all these booths with all kinds of pies and a small restaurant across the highway. There were cop cars all over. I do the fair and have some pie and at this elevation it is much cooler in the 70s which is good because doing those big inclines at speed with the a/c my compressor has blown out. My car is clean and no marks but it is 12 years old. I did not notice how and why the cop cars came and went but they were following out of state licenses. Over one of the hills although you could see for miles the speed suddenly changes from 70 to 55. If you blink you miss it. I get stopped. The cop offers me a deal. 75 dollars cash or a ticket. I took the ticket.
Coming back in December, I am now loaded and decide to take all the back roads because I have had legal medical marijuana in California for years and I have no idea what the dogs will smell or if I have any. I do not smoke and used mostly pills but I fear loosing them somewhere and not even knowing. I get an old Atlas which is 1999 and has all the stopping places marked because at that time they were not money making income producing for the states who keep loosing taxes. In Arizona back roads you meet a lot of peppers and they are very scary. At a café, I got in with some young ones on motorcycles who provided me with an escort for 100 miles.
I saw a lot of the country and heard a lot because at my age I now stop about every two hours. The inside of the country believes and talks about incredibility stupid things. Going with my Cal plates, they all believe you are crazy, rich and stupid. Driving back with Texas plates was less harrowing. With Cal plates, I was often followed particularly in small towns looking at property.
Driving to Phoenix in August is really taking your life in your hands. in spite of all the talk about progressives--the odds of you finding one when you need one is not good.
They have been conditioned to go along to get along and will avert their eyes and mind their own business which is how they survive.
I absolutely stand with Kos and I have had many bones to pick with him over the years. But on whole, I still treasure this site which I have lurked on since 2002. For him and his family being a target is a real possibility. For people who live there to blithely discount it sucks.