The three brothers packed their things. Jacob Chu, the eldest, was taking inventory of all the essentials. The middle brother, Joseph, did the same for his own personal effects; double checking that his essentials were packed in place. All who was left was the youngest brother, Jordan, who printed multiple maps from MapQuest. He used a highlighter to show the path they brothers needed to go from Atlanta to Santa Fe.
If the path is to be believed, they would be on the road for a minimum of 20 hours ignoring traffic and time. In reality, Jacob was expecting to be in New Mexico in at least two to three days. The vehicle they were traveling in was, thankfully, regarded as a house on wheels. Jake, Joe and Jordan all agreed to go on this road trip for years, but the vehicle they had on them -- a busted up minivan with rope for seatbelts -- would've been an utter nightmare of a trip. So, the three dedicated a separate jar of money set aside to buy an RV.
After about four years, they'd achieved the goal and an otherwise unbearable car trip in the cooking Sun was made many times more survivable and even more enjoyable. Before they got ready to leave, Jake needed to establish ground rules for the three.
"Now," he began, "I know you two are thinking that 'we don't need any rules, we're in our 20s, Jake; we can take care of ourselves.' Can you really? Because sometimes I wonder." He was looking specifically at Joseph.
"Fair point," admitted Joseph, "so what are the rules?"
"No. 1: Your mess must be cleaned always." He pointed at a trash can nearby.
"No. 2: We will cycle through drivers. When the passenger notices that the driver is tired, he'll swap out the driver and take over while the first guy takes a rest. The only exception is night for obvious reasons.
"No. 3: Time is of the essence. The longer you idiots dilly-dally, the longer it will take to hit the road and I'm including potential rest stops along the route. Any questions?"
"So, no flirting with girls?" complained Jordan, "Dammit!"
"What's the rush, Jake?" asked Joseph, "Why are in such a rush to get to New Mexico? It has a bootheel, but it can't walk anywhere." The pun got a chuckle out of Jordan, for which a fourth rule was added.
"No. 4: No puns. I'm not in a hurry to get to Santa Fe, I just want to make sure we're not overstaying our welcome at the rest stops."
"Isn't that exactly what a guy who's rushing would say?" suspected Jordan.
"No! It's... okay, you got me. I have an itinerary planned once we get to Santa Fe."
"No!" cried Joe, "God, no."
"That's going too far, Jake," said Jordan, "Dial it back."
"Any other dumbass rules to follow, Jake?"
"No..." answered Jacob, disappointedly.
"Alright. Now, I've already checked my belongings. I've got everything I need. You have everything. Jordan has everything. Let's go."
"Who's rushing whom?" quipped Jacob.
"Eat me, you asshole."
The three brothers were ready, they'd all gathered their things and they got to their RV.
Day 1 -- 10:00 AM. Since Jacob was the one who organized the road trip, he volunteered to be the first driver. They stopped at a local restaurant to get their breakfast. About 20 minutes later, they went to a deli to get sandwiches for lunch later, and officially hit the road at 10:51 AM. Looking over the map, Jordan noted some major cities along the route that they would pass through. The first one was Birmingham in neighboring Alabama. In good traffic conditions, they could expect to be there in at least two hours.
Since the arrival time would be around lunch, Jake thought about giving them an option along the way: have their sandwiches in Birmingham and look around for a bit, or get back on the road.
12:57 PM. Jake got off the highway and pulled up to a curb. He got his tuna sandwich from the RV's minifridge and sat down to have a bite. "So far, so good," remarked Joseph, "right, Jake?"
"Yeah, things are going pretty well thus far," commented Jake, "Once we're done, do you two want to stretch your legs out a bit, or should we keep going?"
"No, I'm good, bro."
"I could stretch my legs, Jake," said Jordan. He walked around the RV with his sandwich in hand, and even jogged in place for about 5 minutes. The brothers discarded their trash, and Jake got back into the drivers seat.
1:21 PM. The second notable city the brothers would be going though is Tupelo. To pass the time along the way, Joseph was streaming a western on his laptop. Jordan dozed off in the passenger seat next to Jacob with his Walkman tuned to an alternative rock/grunge radio station. Jake was alone with just his thoughts. He and his brothers already ate and he didn't have to use the bathroom yet. He pulled over to look at the map. The next few cities after Tupelo were Memphis and then Little Rock. Little Rock was where he decided that the three of them would stop to have dinner.
5:06 PM. The sights of Memphis were something to behold from the RV. Jake and occasionally Joseph saw the skyline as they passed through the city. Once Joseph was done with his western halfway between Tupelo and Memphis, he noticed Jordan was asleep and took the map from him. The route was already highlighted and the three brothers made it to Little Rock by the evening.
The rest stop in Arkansas's capital was also an excuse for the brothers to explore the city for a while and see the sights they wouldn't be able to otherwise. Jake, Joey and Jordan all went out on their own. Jake went to a book store to grab a journal and pens. Joseph bought "Face/Off" and "The Big Lebowski" on DVD. Jordan bought a Nirvana album on a cassette tape. They returned to the RV and made the trip to Oklahoma City further west where they'd end Day 1 of travel. They arrived in the city at 11:41 PM and rested for the night.
Day 2 -- 8:23 AM. Early in the morning, Jake was the first to wake up, but there was a problem. He wasn't sleeping well the previous night and was quite groggy. Worried that he'd crash, he let Joseph be the designated driver this day. As usual, they ate their breakfast, discarded their rubbish and got onto the highway to the next major city: Amarillo in the upper Texas Panhandle. Now they were just two states from their destination; one state if they wanted to take the extra few hours through the Oklahoma Panhandle.
"I can't believe we made it to Texas in two days," mentioned Jordan, looking at the map.
"It's because that psychopath gets us all up at seven in the morning," jested Joseph, eyes locked on the road.
"You can't say it didn't work. We'd probably be lost in the boonies in Alabama or some shit."
"Heh, yeah probably."
"So, the next city we'll be passing through is Amarillo. Should we stop there for lunch?"
"Nah, starving's good for the body."
"Dick... okay, so what do you think we'll be looking to eat in Texas?"
"Steak, most likely."
"Should've seen that coming. It is Texas."
12:13 PM. Joseph took the RV to a steakhouse in western Amarillo. The three brothers had their lunch and took in some of the sights before getting back out on the road. Jordan even went so far as to get a few souvenirs, falling victim to the tourist trap. Among the most ridiculous things in his bags, he had bought a Lone Star belt buckle, a Stetson hat, a mug with a "Lone Star State" sticker, and a keychain.
"Jesus, Jordan," whined Joseph, "You at least have a safe word before you let Texas in the back door?"
"What?" said Jordan.
"You fell victim to the tourist trap."
"I thought you would've gotten something Elvis related back in Tupelo," commented Jake, "You love music."
"I can go to Tupelo any time; this is my first time coming out to Texas."
"Yeah, whatever. Let's go, it's another four hours to Santa Fe."
4:24 PM. Santa Fe. New Mexico's capital city. Being one of the oldest cities in the U.S., its history under Spain was far from hidden. Countless structures and city blocks were a reminder of Spanish colonial ambitions, a projection of a seafaring empire knocked down a peg to make way for America. It was a blend of Spanish and native Puebloan influences. This was the city of the Southwest that Jacob Chu wanted to see so much; it felt like a modern reproduction of the wild west.
Just like his youngest brother, he was another victim of the tourist trap: a keychain shaped like the state of New Mexico, an I Heart SF T-shirt, a Santa Fe mug, and a New Mexico baseball cap.
"Oh, what the hell is this?!" cried Joseph, "You're just like that doofus."
"Everyone's gonna know you're a tourist now."
"Everyone already does. What native buys shit advertising where they're from? And what about that itinerary you had planned?"
"While I was driving, I thought about what you and Jordan said. I don't need that crap. I just wanted to make sure we all got here safe and sound."
"Yeah, I'm just having fun, man. I'm hanging out."
"For once, you take my advice. Once you're done goofing off, let's get dinner and a show, yeah?"
"Sure thing. Sounds like a plan."