“Well, it’s not the worst place to get stuck…”

 

After my scare with my emergency brakes in Grants and my unexpected refuge at Enchanted Trails in Albuquerque, New Mexico was already turning out to be full of extreme highs and lows. I ended up staying in Albuquerque over the weekend so I could get Betsy into a shop on Monday. A dear friend recommended Perfection Auto & Truck, and since they were quite close to where I was staying I decided to give them a try. They worked on Betsy all day, rebuilding my old drum brakes. Turned out I only had one fully functioning brake cylinder on the rear passenger side of Bets. The driver side rear cylinder was only working on one side, and the front two cylinders were completely locked up. I decided that this is probably exactly what my emergency credit card should be used for.

While I was sitting at a Starbucks down the road nervously waiting for Betsy to feel better, I received a message on Instagram from Tim. He said he has a shop north of Albuquerque where they worked on old cars and that I should stop by for a check up. Even though Betsy was already at the shop, something told me that I needed to do this. However, once I looked up the map, I realized Farmington was a three hour drive North West, directly in the opposite direction of where I was heading, East on Route 66 and then South to New Orleans.

I woke up early Tuesday morning and I dragged Betsy over the steep rolling hills of northern New Mexico to get to Four Corners Cool Customs where a stranger on the internet who said that he knew what he was doing was going to give Betsy a once over and send me on my way with renewed confidence about the rest of my trip.

At least that’s what I thought was going to happen.

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Betsy at Tim’s shop socializing with all the other hot rods.

I got to the shop and met Tim who got right to work. My uphill power struggles and my electrical issues were much bigger than a what a quick check up could cover so we did a quick valve lash adjustment and he showed me around the shop and we decided to call it a day. I decided I owed him a beer for his troubles and by the time we were done drinking, it was fairly late. So Tim graciously offered me a safe place to park Bets overnight at his place, all I had to do was follow him there.

As we got closer to his residence Betsy progressively lost power, at the point where I couldn’t get her to go faster than 30 mph. We had one last steep hill to conquer just down the road from his house and Betsy tapped out. Not even in first gear could we get her up the hill. We tried and tried and eventually we wore out the battery to the point where she wouldn’t even start. A quiet panic started to set in.

Tim, after towing Betsy and me up that damn hill, assured me that we would figure it out first thing in the morning. Tim offered a warm place for me to sleep in his house and dogs that I could cuddle all night for mental health reasons. I took him up on it even though I felt like a deer in headlights; stunned and helpless.

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I took this picture through tears of stress and anxiety at 6 am.

I slept for at most three hours that night. I woke up before the sun came up feeling even more helpless than the night before. I had no idea where I was, I had never heard of Farmington, New Mexico before. I didn’t know what was wrong with Betsy. I didn’t know if she was ever going to start again. I missed Long Beach. I missed my friends. I missed my family. At this point, my best case scenario included spending Thanksgiving alone in a Walmart parking lot somewhere in New Mexico eating ramen in the back of Betsy and I didn’t even know if that would happen now. I felt lost, scared, sad, alone and I had no idea how I would fix anything in my life at that point. Tears streamed down my face as watched one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen in my life.

Somehow I should have known that Betsy would never leave me stranded in a place I didn’t need be stranded in…

Enchanted Trails

The Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post was an oasis in the middle of the desert for me. After a stressful day I finally had a warm place to sleep, wifi, showers, laundry. It was a luxury I didn’t think would even be possible before I got to Texas!

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Vickie put me up in a trailer named Della, a 1974 Silver Streak. I walked in and collapsed on the floor from happiness, exhaustion, and the weight of the sheer road magic that was just bestowed on me. An overwhelming wave of relief washed over me all at once. I was terrified, drained, and overjoyed at my dumb luck.

 

 

Once I finally picked myself off the floor and explored all the little details of the trailer. I found a decorative plate of the State of California, which was beyond perfect. Instantly I thought, “This is meant to be.” An incredible turquoise sectional couch took up the front part of the trailer. The 70s vibe was fully accentuated by the slick atomic print curtains. There was vintage travel magazines, more decorative plates (one that even said “Bless This Trailer”), vintage board games, ceramic pink flamingos, and even an entire set of vintage melamine dishes and cups in the cupboards!

As soon as I was finished exploring my trailer, I went outside to explore the rest of this magical place. Enchanted Trails has seven different vintage trailers (including Della) that you can rent very affordably during the spring and summer months. They are all equally adorable and look amazing all parked right next to each other. Some of them even have matching vintage Hudson cars parked next to them!

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The main building has very toasty bathrooms and wonderfully hot showers! There is also a marvelous rec room filled with vintage Route 66 memorabilia, a game room with retro arcade games, and a TV room too! The laundry room is also filled with vintage laundry equipment that is beyond adorable. In the summer you can also take a dip in the lovely pool as well!

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However, even if you’re not staying at Enchanted Trails RV park, don’t forget about their Trading Post! They have quite a delightful gift store that’s fun to visit even on its own. There’s a lot of unique souvenirs and chachkies that really have a retro, glory days of Route 66, trailer park living theme to them.

I cannot tell you enough how much I loved my time at Enchanted Trails. Vickie was extremely generous and let me stay in Della for four nights, even though I was planning on only staying for one! I don’t know if I would have made it through those four days without her kindness and endless generosity.

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The amazing thing that I realized though is that this kind of road magic is normal for Route 66. We’re all humans and we’re all on this planet together. What most people on the mother road realize is that it’s infinitely easier to be nice to people than not. It’s easier to be kind, generous, and helpful no matter the person’s politics, religion, or values. You would think that taking a long road trip by yourself would be isolating, but it really almost shows you how connected and similar we all are. We’re truly all in this together.

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Rollin’

After waking up in a casino parking lot just past Grants in New Mexico, I had some coffee while watching the big rigs roll by. I thought it was going to be a pretty straightforward driving day, and I was excited to get on the road.

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I headed to the McDonalds across the road so I could brush my teeth and use their wifi. I parked Bets on a small incline and got in the back to get my stuff. All the sudden I looked up and I realized Betsy was rolling back. The emergency brake wasn’t holding.

At this moment I had a fraction of a second to panic. I hopped out of the back of the truck, and the only thing I could think of doing was try to stop her by myself. That clearly wasn’t going to happen. I glanced behind me and I realized that she was heading towards the a curb that was separating the drive through lane from the rest of the parking lot. I thought I was in luck. I assumed Betsy’s tires would roll up to the curb and she would stop. To my surprise, however, she just kept rolling right on over that curb. She secretly wants to be a rock crawler, I think.

Thankfully the second curb stopped her, but now she was blocking the entire McDonalds drive through lane. I quickly got in the cab, fired her up, and went around the parking lot looking for flat ground to park her on so I could figure out what I needed to do.

After a good half hour of mentally preparing myself to drive again, checking all the fluids over and over again to reassure myself,  I hit the road towards Albuquerque, which was less than an hour away. The road treated Betsy just fine, and although it was slow going to keep my anxiety at bay, the driving was warm and pleasant.

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My amazing friend Ian, who started this whole adventure with me in San Bernardino, put me in contact with the Enchanted Trails RV Park located on Route 66 just outside of Albuquerque. Vickie, the owner, was generous enough to put me up in one of their vintage trailers. I didn’t know how much I needed a safe place to stay after the day I had just had and I was beyond thankful for her generosity, and still am!

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Spot the Betsy!

After the stress of that morning, getting into that sweet 70s Silver Streak trailer was absolutely magical, some may even say enchanting…

Green Chiles and High Elevations

My first real adventurer Walmart parking sleep was much better than I ever expected. I got up early and saw a few other travelers getting up as well, which made me feel like I was on the right path.

I went and got breakfast at Jerry’s Cafe, which came highly recommended by my good friend Ashleigh. I knew the moment I entered New Mexico every meal I purchased had to have green chiles in it, or what was the point? I got a bomb breakfast sopaipilla with green chiles and I honestly don’t know why they had anything else on the menu.

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Had to stop half way through eating it when I remembered I should probably take a picture before I inhaled the rest of it.

Gallup has a marvelous Cultural Center with a lovely museum of the area’s history which focused on the Native American culture and arts of the region. It’s free and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re passing through the area. It was a great primer on New Mexico’s rich Native American cultural influence on the area and the United States as a whole, which was the perfect way to start my first full New Mexico day.

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Found this perfectly topical poem in the museum which will be with me for the rest of my life

I kept on driving the mother road down to Hotel El Rancho. The El Rancho is a hotel built in the 1930s by movie stars for movie stars. It was majestic to say the least, so naturally, Betsy fit right in.

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“Charm of Yesterday… Convenience of Tomorrow”

Being in the city for so long got me and Betsy antsy to go back out in nature and do a hike for once. We headed outta Gallup and to Red Rock State Park to see Church Rock. This was my first taste of high elevation hiking and boy was it ever wonderful. I took a million and one photos and felt like I was my old self again, taking photos of every desert flower hiking in the desert. Betsy felt right at home too, as expected.

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Betsy sure looked great with those red rocks!

After what felt like a wonderful breath of fresh air, we kept on truckin’. All the way past the continental divide! (This wouldn’t be the last time I would cross it on this trip…) Now, I was in the same watershed as my final destination of New Orleans!

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Crossing the Continental Divide, take 1

We filled up and drove on towards Grants. It was a lovely little town, but one where the harsh economic slap of the interstate super slab was sorely felt. I stopped for a quick bite to eat and got on the move once more.

There is some flawless Route 66 driving in that part of New Mexico. Just a lovely two lane country road as the train tracks run parallel. The I-40 on your right, with semis passing by and checking out Betsy cruising along the side. That feeling cannot be captured or repeated ever again and I’m completely grateful I lived to experience it.

As I drove into the first of what would turn out to be many new Mexico sunsets I knew I wasn’t going to make it to Albuquerque that night. I felt Betsy get a bit tired too, and I wanted to find a place to rest for the night. I saw that there was rest area just off exit 102 on I-40 right beside the Sky City Casino and I thought that would be a great place to spend the night.

Turned out the rest area was closed, not sure why. So I ended up posting up in the parking lot of the casino. It was well lit and loud, but I backed up into a spot at the end of the lot so Betsy’s butt was facing the interstate. I got in the camper and conked out for the night.

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Breakfast with some semis

It was probably the best sleep in Besty I’ve ever had, which was exactly what I needed to prepare me for the biggest scare with Betsy I’ve ever had the next morning in a McDonalds parking lot…

The Art of Asking for Help

You could say that I’ve had a pretty tumultuous month on the road.

From getting stuck in Farmington, NM for almost 3 weeks, rebuilding almost everything on Betsy, to completing the Route 66 part of my journey, to pushing through my longest and farthest driving day ever from Oklahoma City to Austin, TX, to getting stuck yet again in Austin with my soul twin I had never met in person before and living with her in her 24ft RV, Mander the Dodge Commander.

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Mander and Betsy. Best Friends Forever.

This entire trip I’ve been at the mercy of the unpredictable, spontaneous, wonderful, and magical kindness of strangers. This takes practice, time, and the elusive skill of trusting your gut more than your fears.

I recently rewatched Amanda Palmer’s TED talk about the Art of Asking and I couldn’t believe how much of this I experienced myself since the first time I watched it.

I feel like I’m always getting asked how I’m pulling this adventure off, and to tell you the truth I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. I’m relying on the fact that everything I need in this world to survive another day already exists I just have to be creative enough to see it and open and felixible enough to let it into my experience in whatever form it comes in.

Right now I’m stuck in Austin. If you don’t follow my Instagram, you might not know but Betsy’s transmission decided that 3rd gear was the only one it wanted to be in. I’ve tried everything and at this point it’s looking like the only option I have is to take the damn thing out and most likely take it apart and put it back together. Again.

At this point I’m only 8 hours from my planned final destination of New Orleans. I’m at the end of my nest egg that I saved for this trip, which was supposed to be 2 weeks long which has turned into 2 months long. My emergency credit card is maxed out from having to fix my brakes in Albuquerque. And I still have to figure out how I’m going to rebuild my entire transmission in the middle of the street.

I’ve been extremely lucky to get the help I have received, even without asking for it, and I’m beyond grateful that anyone even reads this, and follows my damn journey in any capacity, and wants to help any amount at all to let me live this crazy dream I’ve had for as long as I can remember. But I think I’m at the point now where I have to be even more vulnerable and ask for help now more than ever. So here it goes…

If you know of anyone that can help me here in Austin either with their expertise, their tools, their garage space, their trailer or tow truck, their leftovers from Christmas dinner, their friendship, their extra coffee, a place to shower, or a temporary job or gig so I can make some money here I would be more than grateful for it. If you have been following my story from afar, you have watched me break down again and again and again. You have also seen me keep pushing through it all again and again and again. If you’re not in Austin or the surrounding area and you don’t know of or don’t have any of the things above to help me, I also have a PayPal and Venmo. If you have any other ideas on how you can help, feel free to shoot me a message or leave a comment!

To open ourselves up to the greatest happiness we have to face our biggest fears. This is me doing just that.

Ode to a Walmart Parking Lot

The duality of life in America is perfectly exemplified by a Walmart parking lot.
A sight for sore eyes after driving all day, you cruise around to find the perfect spot to call home for the night.
Not too close, but not too far from the main entrance either.
Close enough to the truckers, but far enough so that the sound of their engines idling all night is just a soft background hum.
You claim your stake, settle down, and listen to the sounds around you.

The sounds of real life America.
Families going to shop for their groceries for the week.
Teenagers hanging out and causing trouble.
Some cars drive by with a sappy, mellow tune barely audible, and others make everything vibrate around them from their turned up bass.
Minivans, big lifted trucks, adventure rigs, RVs, beater sedans, daily drivers and everything else in between is in this lot.

Perhaps there exists no better representation of what America really is than a Walmart parking lot.
People from all walks of life, all different values, beliefs, religions, theories, economic backgrounds, families, languages, races, colors, lifestyles, genders, sexualities, identities, cultures, experiences, and infinite amount of differences are here.
They all are valid here, they are all provided the same thing.
Just a safe place to park, be it for an hour or for the night.

Yes, the experience is different for all.
Yes, sometimes it’s less safe than others,
Yes, there’s better places to park out there.
Yes, their business practices are less than admirable, to say the least.
Yes, people are constantly coming and going.
Yes, it’s loud.

But they are open to everyone.

Isn’t that what makes any country great?

Go sit in a Walmart parking lot and tell me what you see.

Wigwam to Walmart

After a fun night at the Wigwam Motel I was ready to roll once again. But first, tacos and beer at Romo’s Restaurant in Holbrook! I had a great lunch while using some free wifi, I finished off a blog post, and set off for Petrified Forrest National Park.

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She really could be a NPS truck. No one would even know.

I followed Route 66 to the North Entrance, but I would suggest from Holbrook heading toward the south entrance because it all the cool hikes and views of petrified wood were on the other side for the park. From the South Entrance you can drive up through the whole park and rejoin Route 66 by exiting at the North Entrance.

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Painted Desert

Petrified Forest National Park holds the only remnant of Route 66 on National Park land. An old 1932 Studebaker sits where the Mother Road once ran nearby. The line of telephone poles you see, traces the original route through the entire park.

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That’ll buff out.

Something about being in this spot gave me some really strong emotions. I walked around this Studie, strolled over to the telephone poles, lined them up in my view from either direction, and squinted. It was like the ghosts of everyone who’s ever traveled through that spot all hit me at once. Even before Route 66, the pioneers going West for the gold rush, and the cowboys and rancheros. Countless human beings have taken this trip. All of their hopes, all of the dreams, all of the expectations for what was out west just waiting for them. What did their lives look like when they were traveling? What happened to them? Did all their dreams come true? Did they find new dreams? Were they happy out west or did they regret ever making the daring passage? Did they make it to their planned final destination or did they let the journey take them for a ride?

There I was in the middle of my own pilgrimage on the route and the spirit of all those that came before me was there with me too. It was that feeling of anticipation before you make a big life changing decision. You’re excited but terrified all at the same time. You’re scared to start, but you know you must. It felt like that times a million. It felt like I was feeling that feeling for everyone that had or has yet to come through this point on the road or in their lives.

To say the least, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I can’t even write about it without getting weepy.

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What happened to kitschy post cards like this?

And just like that we had crossed our 2nd National Park off the list!

Now I was eager to make it to New Mexico before the end of the day. I had decided Gallup should be my goal for the night. Two National Parks and three states would be under my belt before I went to sleep that day.

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On the road, you never miss a sunset.

I rode a great stretch of dirt Route 66 just as the sun was setting and came up on a rest area in Lupton which is right on the state line of Arizona and New Mexico. I briefly considered setting up camp there for the night, it was pretty dark and quiet there, but I knew I just had to get into New Mexico before I could call it a day. So I pushed on to Gallup.

When I got into town, only a short drive away, I instantly regretted not staying in that lovely and quiet rest area. The only place I could find to safely park Betsy overnight was a Walmart parking lot. I parked Bets near some big ol’ semi’s and huddled up for the night, after eating some pretty bomb ramen. I soon learned that the big semi’s just idle their engines the entire night through. I mean, I guess I could say it was kind of like a fancy white noise machine that fancy people get because their fancy houses are so expensive and well insulated that they can’t hear anything except their own thoughts and the existential dread that comes along with that which keeps them from sleeping at night.

In the end, I knew this trip wouldn’t be complete without sleeping in at least one infamous Walmart parking lot…

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Home is where you park it.

Standing On A Corner

After being not driving for a couple days I was ready to hit the road pretty hard. But first I needed to pick up my new oil pressure light switch from NAPA.

I got up bright and early that morning and me and Bets headed over to get her all patched up. Got the part, whipped out my trust vise grips, lefty-loosy, righty-tighty, and she was as good as new! I didn’t even make a mess, a dirty old rag comes in very handy in parking lot repairs!

I decided to treat myself to a celebratory breakfast at Miz Zip’s Cafe to fuel up for the day’s drive ahead of me.

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Shortly after this photo was taken, everything you see was drenched in hot sauce.

And I was off to the races! Actually, next was Winona which was completely forgettable, ironically. I think I got gas there? Maybe?

I drove right past Twin Arrows and stopped at Two Guns. Now that’s how you name a town. There was some really cool stuff to explore around here. I parked Betsy and walked around for a bit to try and find the Apache Death Cave (which is my new band name, by the way) but I felt a bit uncomfortable leaving Betsy all alone at the end of an abandoned road.

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Betsy, the archeologist! All she needs is a hat and a whip!

We couldn’t drive any further because there was a bunch of nails in the road, and I wasn’t about to risk that. It looked like there were a bunch of dirt trails (with no nails on them) among the ruins so I’m already making plans in my mind to come back with a sweet 4×4 ride to crawl around and find some ghosts!

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Dat Arizona sky tho!

After Two Guns was the famed Meteor Crater. What can I saw it was a big ol’ hole in the ground! It was cool to see if you’ve never seen it before, but I probably won’t be stopping by again. It costs $18 to see the crater, but that includes a pretty good museum and a short movie, as well as an informational guided tour/hike around the rim (which I skipped).

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There, you’ve seen it.

Now, after the crater came the thing that I was most excited for the entire day. I was about to be… brace yourselves… standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. I know, I know. I flipped out.

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I’ve suggested they change the lyrics to “It’s a truck, my lord, a 63 Ford, slowing down to take a look at me”

Also turned out that me and Glenn Frey had matching boots. That was cool.

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I’m basically an Eagle at this point.

I must have hung out there for more than an hour just watching people come and go just to take pictures with this ridiculous land mark. It filled my heart with joy.

Oh and Betsy made a new Ford friend with that famous flatbed!

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Look at that big ol’ fridge!

Turns out, that corner isn’t the only cool thing in Winslow. I also stopped by the La Posada Hotel, which was a Harvey House originally built in 1928. If you’re ever in the area, definitely stop by this historic establishment. Not only is it incredibly interesting architecturally (it was designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, such a badass babe she needs four names), it also serves as a gallery for the art of Tina Mion, who’s stunning work made me misty over and over again.

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Betsy really enjoyed the butterfly garden!

After Winslow, I quickly stopped by the Jackrabbit Trading Post which was actually a really great place, with a whole lot of original Route 66 feel to it! I ended up getting a Route 66 Cream Soda to help get me to Holbrook where we would be spending the night!

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Betsy makes Ford friends wherever she goes!

If you watched my Instagram story from that night, I think you knew I had a great time in there. Although it was fun and totally iconic Route 66 kitsch, I don’t know wether I’d recommend staying in one of these things. Although everyone was very nice and the stay was pleasant, the imagery of the wigwams is used here a bit problematically. The Native Americans in this part of the country didn’t use these teepees, and I really doubt any Native Americans were consulted in their design (yes, I know it was the 1950s, but it’s 2017 now and we can hold ourselves to a better standard). The fabulous Globetrotter Motel is just across the street, and is probably a lot less culturally cringe-y and comes with high recommendations from many people I’ve talked to on Route 66!

The thing is that Route 66 is kind of this mishmash of history, culture, and people from all different times, backgrounds, cultures, histories, ideals, thoughts, theories, you name it. Each one of those things belongs and deserves it’s place on the mother road. They can all co-exist together and when you experience them on this string of a road you travel, like a each bead on a hand crafted necklace, on you really can start to get a glimpse of the vastness of what America, as a society, is. I wish everyone gets a chance in their lifetimes to experience as many facets of this road as possible. Without all those facets co-existing together we wouldn’t have the beautiful country we do today, for better or for worse. You have to accept every part of it to enjoy the whole thing fully. Every. Single. Part.

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Baby’s First Breakdown

Sometimes you don’t know how or why something will affect you until you experience it. This has happened to me several times on this trip already.

Last Thursday I crossed into Arizona from California and in the middle of the bridge I saw the mile 0 mark and every emotion I’ve ever had and then some hit me all at once. I pulled off at the first exit and took this picture.

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Pretty sure I couldn’t even see what I was taking a picture of because I was ugly crying so hard at this point.

I didn’t expect for that to hit me as hard as it did, but there’s something about crossing into a new state in a vehicle that you didn’t know was ever going to run that really hits you. As big rigs were whizzing by I tried really hard to get a grip but then I realized that this might be the first time Betsy was ever in Arizona.

I’ve had this dream for so long, and I’ve pictured it, and planned it, and visualized it for the majority of this year. But I’m doing it now, I really am doing it. And it’s going even better and more magical than I could have ever planned for. It’s almost hard to believe it’s real because of how phenomenal it has already been.

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Oatman Hotel in Oatman, Arizona int he middle of the Oatman Highway

From the California/Arizona border I took a stunning sunset drive on the Oatman Highway, which was an incredibly exhilarating experience. As soon as I was out of those mountains, I wanted to turn around and do it all over again. However, I had plans to spend the night in Kingman with my friend Shawna’s family, who just happened to live there. They welcomed me like I was one of their own children. They fed me dinner, gave me a bed to sleep in, and a bathroom to get clean in. It was an incredible way to spend my first night in a new state. Shawna’s mother, Isabell, not only made me an incredible breakfast in the morning, but also loaded me up with a whole bunch of road snacks to keep me going, many of which I’m still eating almost a week later!

In Kingman, I stopped by a dollar store and stocked up on some essentials (toothpaste and trash bags) and an AutoZone (which was the biggest AutoZone I had ever seen) to get some Lucas Oil Stabilizer, which came highly recommended by Dan from Blackbird Ranch. After the essentials were checked off, I headed back down towards the mother road to check out the Route 66 Museum and also a short side trip to a older part of Route 66 from the 1920s and 30s.

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Betsy is so photogenic

I pushed through Hackberry (where I had a lovely lunch of tuna, crackers, a cheese stick and Route 66 Black Cherry Soda), Valentine, and Crozier. I was sailing pretty smoothly until my oil pressure light suddenly turned on.

And here I was at the side of the road with my first real break down of the trip! I was so excited! I was finally a real adventurer, vagabond, Instagram person! I had been looking forward to this moment and it was glorious. I was miles away from the interstate, I was in the middle of Route 66, and the sun was setting in the most beautiful pink and purple colors. It was beyond perfect.

It wasn’t long before a local hero, David, spotted me in his super clean looking mustard yellow Chevy C10. He offered to help, and at the time I thought Bets had just lost some oil because she’s old and leaky and the oil level was pretty low when I checked it. I added some of the Lucas Oil Stabilizer (Dan, really knew what he was talking about, unsurprisingly), tightened up the oil pan bolts, and drove her down a couple miles but the light stayed on. That is when I really started to get worried. I called my truck dad, Evan, he wisely told me to check the wires for the oil pressure switch, maybe it was just an electrical issue. And that’s when I saw that Betsy was spewing oil from the switch itself real bad. Like Monty-Python-tis-but-a-flesh-wound bad.

Again, local hero David came to my rescue to check up on me, even thought I was already a couple miles down the road. He told me that he knows a guy and he happens to be only a few miles away in Truxton.

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That guy there. If you’re ever in the area, go visit him! Tell him Betsy and I sent you!

We roll up just as it gets dark and this guy is closing up shop. He takes one look a me and Betsy and he knows exactly what to do. He hands we a wrench with a socket and tells me to take that oil pressure switch out. Betsy pukes a bit of oil to mark her spot. He hands me another switch that would plug the hole so oil doesn’t leak out but it’s not going to be helpful if I have an actual oil pressure problem. He tells me to just drive it and when I get to Flagstaff to find the right part. And that was that.

The entire time I never felt scared. Just when I would start to get minutely worried, a wonderful human would pop up and have a solution to whatever I was dealing with. If I were to try and plan a Betsy breakdown on the road, I couldn’t have planned a better one. Getting on the ground, with oil dripping, while the sun is setting is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. The entire time I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be at every moment. That’s what I believe they call Route 66 magic.

Once Betsy was plugged up nice and good I drove through to Seligman where my friend Ian had magically arranged a great overnight parking situation for me behind the Delgadillos’ legendary Route 66 souvenir and barber shop. Angel Delgadillo is pretty much the reason people still know Route 66 even exists, so getting to stay behind it was an incredible and memorable treat. By the time I got to Seligman, I was wiped out. I made myself some ramen, scarfed it down, and passed out to the sounds of trains going by.

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The legendary establishment itself.

And that there was my first full day on the road completely on my own. There was no part of it that could be been better or more perfect and wonderful.

 

 

 

On The Road

Well I’ve technically been on the road a week now.

Let’s see how it breaks down so far.

  • Miles travelled: 539
  • Top speed: 70 mph
  • Lowest speed: 6 mph
  • Highest elevation: 4,613 ft at Sheep Hole Pass
  • Times burst out crying uncontrollably out of happiness: 5
  • States traveled: 2
  • Sunsets seen that were too beautiful to capture: 5
  • Mornings I’ve woken up to watch the sunrise: 4
  • Times I’ve felt alone: 0

Setting out from Long Beach last Friday morning I made it to San Bernardino all by myself. (My mom and I previously traveled the Santa Monica to San Bernardino Route 66 stretch, if you happened to catch that in my Instagram stories back in July, I think.) Instant Instagram friend Ian, seasoned Route 66 traveller who happens to run the End of the Trail Route 66 Store on the Santa Monica Pier, caravanned with me from Devore all the way to Amboy. Truly couldn’t have done it without him, Betsy was struggling pretty bad up the Cajon Pass there. We had an incredible long lunch at Emma Jean’s Holland Burger in Victorville, saw the Bottle Tree Ranch, Barstow Train Station, and Amboy Crater by the glow of a full moon.

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Cajon Pass, Elevation 3,829 ft

 

I had to say a proper goodbye to my desert family before I left California, which of course meant staying there longer than I originally planned. I helped plaster a Wonder Dome in Wonder Valley, with red clay we dug out from the ground ourselves. Lindsey, the brains and spirit behind the Wonder Domes, taught me to make fry bread which we ate for three days straight.

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Betsy Meets a Wonder Dome

I stayed at Super X Ranch, my once a month desert pilgrimage and home base for the past year, for probably the last time in 2017. My dear friend and name twin, Alice, helped me sweat out the bad stuff by doing Bikram Yoga for three days in a row with me. She also figured out a way to help keep my camper locked up and safe when I’m sleeping or have it parked. I stocked up on non-perishable food items for the trip with Alice’s help as well. I have a solid menu of beans, ramen, tomato soup, instant mashed potatoes, almonds, tuna and crackers, and Miller High Life, the champagne of beers to last me for the whole trip, I bet!

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Traditional Super X Ranch Greeting

Just a couple miles up the road at Blackbird Ranch, Dan, artist and gear head extraordinaire, helped turn Betsy into a bonafide mountain climber. To people that know what they are doing, everything is always a simple fix. Remember this the next time you get stuck on a project. Seek help from people that know WAY more than you. Never stop asking questions. Easier said than done however.

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Betsy met an ancestor at Blackbird Ranch

Yesterday I crossed into Arizona and it all really hit me how real it all was all the sudden. The countless hours of crying and banging my head on the wall out of frustration because I didn’t know if Betsy was ever even going to run again all paid off at that moment. I know I still have over 2,000 miles ahead of me but everything from now on is going to feel like a down hill ride.

Well, maybe after Flagstaff it literally will be.

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Oatman Highway at Sunset with my girl