Per Lauren's suggestion, we got breakfast at a great place called Taco Deli which does breakfast Tacos which are super delicious and really cheap! Yum. Tastes like Mexico... in a good way.
I have to admit, I was kind of dreading the drive through western Texas, hearing all sorts of awful things from alot of people, but I actually really loved it. It was a really interesting countryside with sweeping views almost the whole time. Terrain varried from grassland praries with really neat looking trees, to total desert, to rolling desert hills, to outright mountains in the western portion of the state. It was a long drive, but incredibly easy at 80 MPH and almost totally abandoned highways. We could see rain clouds about 10 miles ahead and scattered around us so we always knew what was coming up ahead. The ability to see several hundred square miles of weather at a given time was pretty unreal. There's really no need for the weather station if you can see the weather you're likely to get for the next hour or so in the distance.
Both me and Beth put in some pretty serious marathon-esque driving shifts. We had a super classy McDonalds dinner... because there was no other food for literally 70 miles in New Mexico. And then the fun started.
First of all, eastern AZ is gorgeous. Amazing rock formations, just super raw, powerful landscape. Desert on steroids. To add to that we were driving through this just at sunset, which was absolutely beautifully accenting everything around. About 2 hours before Tucson, we started seeing some distant Thunderstorms, which was pretty neat. As we got closer, they just got more and more intense. The last 90 minutes was a show put on by nature that I will never forget. Enormous bolts of lightning individually ripping probably 5 miles or more across the sky from cloud to cloud, every 10-15 seconds or so, with the gorgeous sunset backdrop. It was just about the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life. The lightning wasn't even the normal blue tinge I am used to seeing, it was a brilliant white. Some earth shattering strikes to the ground within a mile or two of us were easily the biggest bolts I've ever seen in my life. We cranked some Riders on the Storm, Thunderstruck, and assorted epic music, and soaked it all up.
Got to Jen&Elliot's place, went out and grabbed some beers at the store, came back and chatted for a long time. I'm really enjoying catching up with so many people I haven't seen in forever and meeting new ones on the way. Heard news that New Orleans is possibly going to be evacuated on Saturday, so it seems we're leaving a somewhat literal wake of destruction in our path. Once we hit Portland, I fully expect California to fall into the ocean.
But yes, today was truly our first day in the American West. And I love it. Everytime I've been in the west I have really. It's so much bigger and more dramatic and powerful than the endless sprawling uber-burbs of the Northeast. The northwest is different I know, but I think I'm going to enjoy it just as much if not more.