I guess I’m near the end but I’m not sure exactly what that means.

May 20, 2010

To wrap up Albuquerque, because there were two more days there, I will keep it short.

Zombie donuts.

Chai flavored…..

I spent an entire day writing incomplete letters that will probably never be sent.

I played a rollicking game of Yahtzee with some hepcats at The Blackbird.

I went grocery shopping at a fabulous Mexican market, tried to grill cactus, pineapple and sweet potatoes but did not have enough charcoal, so I tried wood, which rendered the potatoes inedible, so I cooked the rest in the broiler, only to find out that neither I nor anyone else at the house enjoyed the pungent, tangy taste of cactus. The pineapple was delicious, though.

Oh, and the burrito trucks. A nice cap to an evening out playing Yahtzee.

Aaaaaaaaaaand I finally left.

Jane told me about this place, 9 mile hill, where the view of Albuquerque is amazing. Aaaaand I had to climb said 9 mile hill out of town. Hello again lungs, hello again heart. Did you miss feeling like a mule?

And then I was in the desert, like for real. Hot and dry and sparsely vegetated. And realizing that made me giddy, and then I double checked my water situation, and then I was giddy again.

Midway through the day I caved and bought an mp3 player, since my last one was stolen by someone in a fit of anarchy a few months before I left.

I turned on Passion Pit and the desert bloomed. Then I listened to shark quest and everything was holy. A good investment, I suppose.


Through reservation land and past casinos, and I camped somewhere outside of Laguna, NM, IN THE DESERT, with cactus and crusty dirt and everything.

Next day, through Thoreau, over the continental divide, and on towards Gallup. A quiet, easy ride. Gallup was a bust. Lots of “genuine indian” trinket shops and sub-par cafes. Hitchhikers everywhere, and people trying to sell me tacky rings and bracelets. No thanks.

I rode on though as the sun was going down and was having a hard time picking a place for the night. The people around did not radiate friendliness. I noticed a gap in a rock formation, locked my bike to the base, and climbed to the top. Ooh it was a nice little camping cubby peppered with sage bushes. It was quiet and safe. I finished reading the Grapes of Wrath and laid and looked at the stars. Amazing. It is times like this where I appreciate the solitude, but generally I am missing my friends and having people around to experience life’s wonder with. Even if I can be a little grouchy about it.

It was an easy ride into Arizona the next morning.

Arizona seems to be mostly populated by tacky teepees on beautiful hillsides and grumpy salespeople rotting in near-defunct souveneir shops with “bathrooms for paying customers only” plastered over anything seemingly welcoming. And then the public rest stops were closed for repairs too. Bummer.

Ah, but then I got to the painted desert/ petrified forest just as the evening was cresting. I went in to the information center to see about camping.

“What is your camping policy?”

“We allow wilderness camping, but I have to issue the permit before 5:30, since you have to hike a mile.”

It was 5:38.



“Well, can I just camp behind this building here?”

She looked at me as if I had asked her to go on a killing spree with me.

“Sir, this is a National Park.”

“Even this building?”

“This is all part of the park.”

“Is there anyone else I can talk to?”

“They’ll just tell you the same thing.”

Eventually she dialed up a ranger.

“Yeah. Theres this guy here who wants to camp, but I told him that he couldn’t and it is too late.”

She hardly did my story justice.

In any event, the ranger didn’t care and even made a special trip in to welcome me. She finally issued the permit and gave me directions to the hiking trail.

So I watched the sunset in the painted desert. And I wish you could have been there. My phone’s camera does not treat it right. It was dead silent all night. And I slept better than I have on this entire trip. And then I woke up in the painted desert. Oh holy holiness.

Here are a few pictures for those of you living vicarious.

I ate a big breakfast in the morning after hiking out, complete with colossal pancakes soaked in syrup. Ready to go.

The wind has been blowing consistently in Arizona, although not too incredibly hard. Enough to be irritating. I passed through Holbrook, which was boring, and then Winslow, which was equally boring and rude to boot, and then through a dust storm, which tasted like baseball season, and past a defunct rest stop to an exit leading to a meteor-crater attraction. I nestled in behind some rocks just off the highway, where it seemed that all tumbleweeds eventually tumbled there.

I slept spottily, being too close to the train and the highway, but I felt rested when I woke up at 6:30. A light breakfast and then off toward Flagstaff.

And now here I am in Flagstaff, sitting at Macy’s coffee shop, the first shop to roast their own beans in AZ, and enjoying a wonderful cappuccino. It’s nice here and I might try to stay the night, but anything could happen….


11 Responses to “I guess I’m near the end but I’m not sure exactly what that means.”

  1. ÆX said

    Glad you didn’t back down at the national park.
    There is a hostel in flag I think. There was a coffee shop that had couches to crash on to. forget the name though.

  2. Jane Mahoney said

    Hey Andrew, glad to hear you made it to Flagstaff; guess Grand Canyon might be next. We’re following your trip with great interest since your stopover in Albuquerque. Wondering how much of the old Route 66 highway was still ride-worthy. It was a pleasure and inspiring to have you stick around Albuquerque for a few days and we’d like to see you back sometime. Music down in Old Town last night (beekeeper Mark’s band Trilobite) while you were settling in along the high desert several hundred miles away. Continued safe travels and keep in touch.
    Jane M.

  3. Mom said

    hang in there- love you

  4. leeann jones said

    the natl park story was a true lol moment…you’re so funny…

  5. Halley said

    Did you like Grapes of Wrath? Try James Still’s River of Earth…

  6. Halley said

    Oh also, my brother Elliot really liked Tortilla Flat. I’ve never read it, but he says it’s one of his all time favorites.

    • andrew said

      I really hated tortilla flat… it turned me off of Steinbeck until I read the book you sent. Grapes of Wrath is now my favorite book… especially reading it and following the route. I met a guy the other day, the morning after I finished the book, who owned a little stop on the route. His father was running the shop at the time of the ol’ dust bowl so I had secondhand stories from the passing through. And I’m supplementing the novel with a book of essays by Wendell Berry musing on the issues touched: economics tied with ecology and community.

  7. hwardphoto said

    haha, Gallup, NM. Yeh, I stayed there. thats about it.

    If you go through Needles,CA and Barstow,CA be cafeful.

    Your so close! Can’t wait. 🙂

  8. Tom said

    Congrats you have made grear progress! We have enjoyed the post cards. My Mother grew up in Lonoke AR and knows some of the folks at the bologna political rally! Its a small world after all!! Finish Strong and good luck!!Tom

  9. meredith said

    i’m so proud of you dood.

  10. Dustin said

    My parents were volunteering at the visitor center at the petrified forest. Its too bad they had just left when you came through! They would have been a whole lot nicer to you.

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