The Last Ride

    How do I begin to tell the end? We have been living in New Mexico for quite sometime now and our journey came to an end nearly 2 years ago. Still I am determined to finish our story here before a new one begins. The last leg of our journey was filled with some of the kindest people and the most discouraging situations. Our route through New Mexico started with inspiring surroundings. The Rio Grande National forest was stunning and wild. Our first night across the border we slept atop a hill in a wildlife area north of Chama. Trees sheltered our camp and we were surrounded by green grass and rolling hills. So far New Mexico seemed like a gem.
     In the morning we were picked up by a local Chama resident, a bubbly Native American woman, who was in a hurry to get to the Chama days festival where she was supposed to be volunteering. We considered going to the event ourselves, but decided we should keep on as the day was still young. She dropped us off in town and we kept on moving. We passed over the Rio Chama tempted to stop and bathe, but resisted the urge and continued on with our greasy hair and grubby sunburned skin. A little while out of town, when the landscape turned to green pastures again, a young man pulled over and picked us up in his little economy car. We whirled through the mountains, passing by some of the most breathtaking scenery I've ever had the privilege to observe. At one point we saw a black bear running along a slope, seeking the cover of the forest. The young man we were riding with was headed for Taos to climb one of the highest peaks in the area. It found it rather funny that I was thinking to myself "I wish I could go check out some peaks in Taos." Even though we had no appointments or responsibilities we were not necessarily free. We were prisoners of our own determination. We asked to be dropped off right at the 285 junction. He let us out across the street from what appeared to be a gas station in the middle of nowhere.

      We wandered over to this perceived gas station only to discover that it was long abandoned. There just happened to be a few cars parked outside, owners nowhere in eye sight or ear shot. We decided to eat lunch while we evaluated our current predicament. We each had less than a half a bag of water in our packs and we were 30 miles from the nearest town. We did not know where or how far the nearest water source was. Most of our food required water to cook. It was only about noon. After fighting red ants for territory at the junction for quite sometime we decided to walk on and hitch. After  all if we had to walk 30 miles to water, we better get started.

     We walked and walked and walked, every person that drove by either completely ignored us or scorned us. We walked until the sun started to recede over the horizon. Disgruntled, thirsty, and hungry, we put up our tent and went to sleep right next to the highway as strangers whirred by through the night.

     In the morning we packed up and before we even reached the road a car pulled over and a guardian angel told us to hop in. Moments like these make you realize that the universe will always provide. The driver was a young man full of philosophical conversation. He held like minded views on the nature of life and Ty kept constant conversation with him. He decided to drive us a good hour past his turn off. We eventually parted ways in Espanola after he insisted on buying us breakfast at Sonic. We exchanged emails, but have not kept in touch.

    Espanola was a rundown western town. We filled up our packs with the hose outside sonic and attempted to find a gas station, but couldn't find one that wasn't closed down for at least a mile. Finally we gave up and just started out of town. The heat was miserable as the sun kissed our weathered skin. The whole town seemed to be decaying under the heat. We passed a dead squirrel laying on the sidewalk as we came over a hill and saw a Chicano in a restored Chevy with chrome wheels pulling over for us. He told us to hop in the truck bed and drove us down the highway a few miles to a liquor store. We shared a beer and continued on to the next gas station looking for a ride. Several people handed us cash, but ignored our request for a ride. After an hour or so waiting in the glaring endless sun, a teenage boy with his younger brother said he could give us a ride to Santa Fe. He dropped us off near a freeway on ramp in Santa Fe where we were kicked out of a gas station parking lot for "panhandling". Even though we were only asking for a ride, people continued to pull over and give us money. As soon as we headed towards the road a young woman named Katy pulled up with her labradoodle in the car and asked if we needed a ride. We jumped right in, both the dogs full of excitement to have some company.
     Katie was going to El Paso to visit her Grandma, so we were hoping to just ride with her all the way there and get picked up by my dad. Katie was young, but had years of travel behind her. She hopped trains for a long time and was actually stopping in Albuquerque to stay the night with an old friend that she used to ride the rails with. She said she was sure he wouldn't mind if we stayed there as well. This blind trust seemed crazy, but also quite refreshing. After arriving in Albuquerque, we drove by Starbucks where her friend worked and he confirmed he didn't mind at all if we stayed. Katie took us over to his apartment and we all made ourselves at home. He had a very small one bedroom apartment in an old concrete building. We decided to put our tent up outside on the enclosed, roach infested, concrete patio area. It wasn't much, but we were more than thankful for the generosity and a safe place to sleep in the city. I called my dad to see if he could arrange a ride for us from El Paso and to our disappointment he could not. We were really dreading the trip from El Paso to Carlsbad, as it is a very long desolate stretch. The 285 was the route we had planned on taking, we were dreading that long desolate stretch as well, but at least we didn't have to hitch out of a cartel terrorized border town. We decided to just have Katy drop us off somewhere we could catch the I-40 in the morning and head over to the 285 again.

     Catching a ride on the I-40 in the middle of the Albuquerque metro complex was easier said than done. We walked through nearly the entire town of Albuquerque, on ramp to on ramp. People continued to give us money, but no ride. This was a strange trend that did not begin until we arrived in the metropolitan area of New Mexico. We had a sign that read "Carlsbad to visit Dad", charming right? People weren't giving in though. We walked all day, and as the sun started to go down we posted up at yet another on ramp determined that we would get a ride. At this point we were on the outskirts of the business district. FINALLY! A pickup pulled over and a man waved us over, we noticed he had his wife and daughter in the vehicle so we offered to ride in the back, but he assured us it was fine to drive in the cab. This man told us that the last time he picked up a hitchhiker they had tried to kill him. He had a strong feeling he should pick us up though and took it as a sign from the lord. This family live in Edgewood and dropped us off near the exit in a grocery store parking lot. It was dark and we planned to camp out under the highway bridge or something, we weren't sure, but it was a small town compared to Albuquerque so we weren't to worried. After we said our goodbyes and gave our thanks we began to walk off when they pulled up next to us again and told us to get back in, we were sleeping at their house. We couldn't even believe it! They lived out on some land and let us put our tent up in their large yard. They fed us dinner, and we all watched movies together while munching on popcorn. This family shared their home with us and opened their hearts. The man shared stories of prison and drug addiction and explained how he has recovered his life and his family through his relationship with god. Receiving this act of kindness was reason enough for our entire journey, it gave our struggles purpose. To experience the love that runs deep in the souls of all mankind.
     In the morning my brother called and said his friend was driving up to Albuquerque and they could pick us up later today. We were dropped off at the McDonalds with love in our hearts and a handful of homegrown carrots from their garden. After waiting until nearly nightfall, braiding hemp and twisting wire all day, my brother and his friend finally arrived. This was our last ride.

1 comment:

  1. You guys are living life how it was meant to be - freely. Keep making postings in your blogs. By the way, I like the wood layout for your blog. Good choice.