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.

IMG_3782
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.

View this post on Instagram

Well, my transmission took a big ol' dump. She's stuck in 3rd and I can't get her out. So it's looking like I'll be in Austin through the holiday season. I keep repeating to myself that it's about the journey and not the destination but it's hard to keep from getting discouraged. If you know of any temporary jobs here in the Austin area, please send them my way. This will probably be my biggest hurdle yet. Thanks so much for all your support and help along the way. I can't believe the places I ended up, the people I've met, experiences I've had, and relationships I've cultivated because of this trip. It's everything I wanted it to be and many things I never thought I could have. I'm grateful beyond any possible comprehension and I never want to stop feeling that way, even when I'm in the depths of despair fighting Betsy's hissy fits. ❤️🔧

A post shared by Alice Pye (@travels_with_betsy) on

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.

Advertisements

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.

IMG_2354
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.

IMG_2355
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!

IMG_2362
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).

IMG_2375
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.

23733818_1987903044801593_5570193410314207232_n
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.

IMG_2408.JPG
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!

IMG_2415
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.

IMG_2431
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!

IMG_2520
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.

IMG_2358

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.

IMG_2218
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.

IMG_2231
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.

IMG_2251
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.

IMG_2274
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.

IMG_2284
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.

IMG_2083
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.

IMG_2105
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!

23164600_488244178242161_6125637397284651008_n
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.

IMG_2166
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.

IMG_2225
Oatman Highway at Sunset with my girl