Friday, March 14, 2014

Thursday, the 13th...*cue Jaws music*

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” 
― Jack KerouacThe Dharma Bums

Sunset over the mountains near Mogollon, NM

Well, doing my usual morning at McDonald's, killing time so I don't wake my uncle up too early in the morning!  Headed down to southern AZ to visit with him and his wife today and drop off some things he had left in Texas (and hopefully take a shower!), before heading out for some more exploring.

A couple of notes from my last post.  I did not get to see the actual caverns at Carlsbad, because they close at 3:30, and you have to walk to them, and didn't think I was going to be up to that, and glad I didn't try it.  On a side note, today my cough sounds worse, but overall am feeling better, so we'll see how it goes.  After leaving Carlsbad, I headed up to Artesia, and then across to Alamogordo.  About 20 minutes the other side of Artesia, I realized that all these little cities in between the two did not have gas, so turned around, went back, gassed up, then headed out again.  The last few miles before Alamogordo wind through the Lincoln National Forest (which I will talk more about later), which is also a mountainous area.  So, it was dark, I was tired and half falling asleep on the road, some areas of which did not have guardrails.  It was interesting, to say the least!  The best part was when a large elk bounded across the road in front of me (thankfully not too closely).

Oh, and did I mention I got my nose pierced (and my tattoo touched up, but that's beside the point) while in Texas?

Stopped at Wal-mart in Alamogordo to pick up some sodas.  When I came out, the lady next to me was starting to pull out, and she stopped.  She had noticed the square dance sticker on the side of my car, and she was the secretary of her local club.  So, I got to randomly talk square dancing in the parking lot of Wal-mart in New Mexico.

All I remembered of my previous night's drive through Lincoln National Forest was how tired I was, but did remember seeing some patches of snow, and the fact that it was mountains, so figured I should go back and investigate.  It was well worth the backtracking.  The mountains were pretty, and there actually was a forest in the middle of the desert in the middle of these mountains.  And in the middle of the forest, in the middle of the mountains, there was an old wooden railroad trestle across a gap, with snow on the other side.  Perfect picture view.

Took off again on the highway towards Las Cruces, and ended up at the White Sands National Monument.  Again, beautiful.  You're going through this flat desert with sand in various colors from bright red to drab brown, and then, all of a sudden, there are these brilliant white, high sand dunes ahead.  The contrast of the white of the dunes, with the green of the plants and shrubs that live on them was awesome, and at several points, when the road went directly through the dunes, it felt like you were driving through snow, it was that white.  And the gift shop there is great.  From beautiful 3D postcards, to MANY native american crafted gifts.  It made me wish I wasn't conserving money.

Back on the road again.  There were lots of people traveling on bikes.  And I mean traveling, not just riding, with full packs and everything.  There was even one guy riding with a small trailer being pulled behind that had a medium sized dog in it!

What time zone am I in?  Where am I anyway?  This was the question of last night.  And actually, when I was confused on time zones, it was because I was in New Mexico, which is Mountain Standard time, and I was trying to go visit my uncle, who lives in Arizona (not the same one I am visiting today).   I knew that technically Arizona SHOULD have been on the same time I was, but I also remembered that Arizona doesn't participate in Daylight Savings Time, which just passed.  Sure enough, they are on the same time as California now.  Do I have jet lag yet?  If not, I probably should.

Definitely my favorite thing about my Prius is it's amazing gas mileage.  I headed north on 180 yesterday to Glenwood, to the Catwalk, only to find that it was closed.  That was okay, though, got some great pictures of trees/mountains.  The problem was, my car started saying it was hungry just outside of Silver City, NM.  No problem, there were all kinds of little cities I would be passing through.  Glenwood had a gas station but it was closed.  Headed towards the ghost town of Mogollon, NM, but realized it meant heading through more mountains, so after getting to the top of the first one and getting some great sunset shots, like the one above, turned around and headed south onto 78.  Went through several more towns that were on the map, but had no facilities of any kind.  Which is how I found myself on the side of an uphill section of mountain, 40 minutes away from my uncle's, and in the middle of nowhere, Arizona.  No problem, it's what I have USAA for.  Though, if you recall, my last interaction with them ended well after some problems in between, and this was a repeat.  Now, mind you, USAA outsources its roadside service to another American company (no talking to people in India), so this has to do with the outside service, and not USAA.  I love USAA.  So, I call for roadside assistance and explain the problem.  The sweet little girl is trying to be helpful.  "Where are you located?"  On such and such road in the mountains in AZ.  "Yes, but where exactly?"  Repeat answer.  "What crossroads are you at?" No crossroads, I'm in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the mountains in Arizona.  (Now, I did give her the last intersection in detail that I went through, but that was a little ways back.)  Would it be helpful if I gave you the coordinates off my GPS?  "Why, yes, it would."  Cue coordinates and thank God for James (my GPS, who used to be Miss Judy, but after the last update he went through a sex and nationality change).  "Great.  I'm sending someone out now."  So, I stood by the side of the road for a while, in hopes that someone would stop and help.  And several very nice men (and one couple) did, but no one had gas.  I figured with all the trucks driving through these mountains, someone would carry a gas can, but apparently not.  So, called a friend to chat until the driver came.  All of a sudden, I realize that it's been an hour, and I actually haven't even received a confirmation call/text, and help has not arrived.  And my phone is dying.  And so is the very small battery on my Prius.  Cue frustrated tears.  Call roadside assistance again.  "I'm sorry, ma'am, we have no record of your previous call." ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???????!!!!!?????  Now, this lady was extremely helpful, and I think she was consulting with her manager off and on to expedite things.  She was able to find approximately where I was easily, and called the tow company herself, and asked them to call me for further directions/problems.  I quickly received a phone call from the tow company,  and went over the same thing I had gone over with the first lady.  I am on such and such road, in the middle of nowhere, in the mountains.  These were the last cross streets I passed.  It was a while back, can't tell you how far.  "Did you pass such and such?"  I have no idea.  "Did you see such and such at the intersection?"  Not a clue.  "You really don't remember that?"  Um, NO!  That was an hour and a half ago, I have no idea.  Thankfully, he had a reasonable idea of where I was at, and got there as quickly as he could.  He was a very pleasant gentleman, happy to help, and said he had actually received an automated call in response to the first call I had sent to USAA, but all it had said was the street I was on, with no explanation as to where I was, and when he replied that it would be 2 hours, since he didn't know where he was (and they did not send any other information), he never received anything back saying to go out.  So, once again, USAA got an earful from me this morning.  :-)  And that was my adventure from yesterday.  Oh, and it was too late to stay the night at my uncle's, and all the hotels in the area were either overpriced or full, so just slept in my car again.

Hopefully, today will be full with just as many adventures, and no misadventures.

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