Wyoming Part 2

If you haven’t read Wyoming Part 1, I urge you do to so before reading this post. In that last post, I was left stranded on the side of a mountain, my car at a sharp angle to the Earth’s sweet, sweet axis. Not fun stuff, but definitely funny.

All my friend Mana and I had to bail ourselves out of this snow jail was my poop shovel, which they assured me was no shovel at all, but a small trowel. Walmart lied to me.

Anyway, it was pretty hopeless from the start, but it definitely got worse thanks to two guys who showed up in their truck. To be fair, they were there to help. When they got there, the first thing they did was make it worse. They hooked up my car to theirs and tried to pull it out, to no avail. My car fell deeper off the road and into more problematic snow bank-yness. Next, they tried to drive behind us to pull Betty out from behind. Half-way into this feat two Florida girls are stuck in a Buick on the side of a snow bank, and two guys from Wyoming are stuck in a truck on the other side.

But they had a shovel.

With our powers combined (their shovel, my small axe, and my small poop trowel), we managed to free their truck from the snow in about four hours. Betty the Buick was still stuck. We tried once more to tow her from the depths and this time the tow line broke. They managed to scrounge up another tow line from their truck and we were finally free.

I was taken out for a drink by the guy who owned the truck later that evening in celebration. This proved to be the least fun moment of my life.

I’m writing this post-Wyoming at a desk in a computer lab I’ve been at for the last 12 hours, so bear with me. This part of the story telling will be quick and glossy.

The guy with the truck, lets call him Dan, I learned trapped in his car, was a Trump-supporting, gun-range manager with a silencer equipped to a 22′ in the middle seat when he picked me up. He believed Democrats have been hiring high schoolers with large sums of money to shoot up their schools. He didn’t let me out of the car when I asked, he didn’t drive me home when I asked, and so the story goes.

But I’m safe and sound now. That’s all I will say. Also this: I have been pretty reckless in my short life. I’ve maybe been places alone I should not have been going alone and doing things I should not have been doing. To non-cis non-white non-men: please be careful. Learn from other people’s mistakes and know you are not invincible. Not everyone you meet traveling is friendly for the right reasons.

Anyway, while I was doing that, Mana was skydiving and then we parted ways and I was back on the road West. I was supposed to stay for a few more days, but I needed the road after Wyoming.

I drove very far after that date. I needed to gather control again. I gained it back in miles. I drove until my eyes left me blinded by the road and I was forced to pull over in a town I don’t remember in a state I can’t recall. Immediately leaving the highway were trucks: big, towering semis. They lined the exit I left the highway for, they lined the streets after that, and they filled the gas station parking lot I eventually squeezed my car into to sleep.

As soon as I woke, as soon as the sun rose, I was back on the road. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to do anything else. I just wanted to feel the road beneath me and see the scenes pass by as quickly as possible. I wanted to put distance in between myself and Wyoming.

Well I ran out of gas in the middle of a dessert, I was in this desert for some time now, and before I had told myself to get gas, but I was impatient to stop. My ticker said I had maybe 20 miles left. I don’t know, it’s very unbelievable. Probably had less. Oh, there was no one on this road, too, as per my usual luck. I turned off anything that could use up my gas: air conditioning, music, car lights (not a smart move). I rolled up the windows for proper aerodynamics. It was not a comfortable temperature in my car. I screamed songs at the top of my lungs the whole way, going 20-30 miles per hour and before I had ran out of breath I coasted my poor car in the gas pump 30 miles away. Let me tell you: I was literally coasting to that pump. I was so happy I made it that on my way out I tailgated a guy on the highway and got pulled over for it.

I made it to California that day.

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Wyoming Part 1

DSC_5163I haven’t been posting lately and, I promise, I can explain. But not right now. Right now I’m going to talk about Wyoming.

Here’s where we left off: Colorado.

So. I was camping that night waiting to head on over to Wyoming to see a dear friend, Mana. They were working seasonally as a line cook in Saratoga. The drive to Wyoming was empty. What cars I did see on the road were going the opposite way. I felt like I was driving into a wreckage. This is bad foreshadowing, though, because Wyoming was nothing like a fire and everything like a still lake, or a nice stale beer you don’t mind after too much soda.

That is, until my departure, but we’ll get to that.

I arrived in Saratoga, Wyoming at an ice cream shop which was quickly followed by a bar. My friend and I caught up and traded lives. It was good to feel at home after so much isolation.

“I can’t believe we only graduated a week ago,” Mana said.

I took a sip of my beer. “It’s been a lifetime. I’m not the same person. Like, I feel like I’ve grown exponentially since I left.”

“It’s the new context. We think of ourselves as these immutable beings but we’re like water. We change states depending on our environment. If you didn’t know what ice was melted you would cringe seeing even a drop in your glass of water.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

A short, comfortable silence.

“I’m feeling pretty tipsy already,” I said, breaking it.

“It’s the altitude, man.”

“Damn. Nice.”

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Mana apologized for their living conditions before we ever arrived at their house, remarking on its grunginess. They obviously forgot where we used to live not too long ago: a 60 person dorm with one kitchen and communal bathrooms. Moldy everything. When we finally made it from the bar to the house, it was clean enough. And airy. Homey. Dogs everywhere. They had a room mostly to themselves, which I made myself comfy in.

The days were spent talking much of the same talk about life, identity, and the relativity of time. The conversations flowed out of us freely and we lingered from topic to topic through the days. We didn’t feel attached to our shared recent past because it seemed to lack relevance in our present and immediate future, even maybe our foreseeable future. Mana was talking of their dreams of chefdom. I spoke of the road. We both were surprised at how badly we wanted trucks. It was scary, how fast we felt we were adapting to our new lifestyles and how foreign we felt to ourselves. But also kind of freeing. Still is.

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When Mana went to work I would languidly remain in bed, sometimes for the whole day, until they got back, enjoying the fact I had one to be lazy in.

Then one morning it was Mana’s first day off they had had for two weeks. We decided to go hiking up in Medicine Bow. The snow had yet to melt and as I drove higher into the mountains there was less and less of road and more and more of snow. I could tell Mana was getting nervous. We’re from Florida, after all.

“Don’t go up this road, Azia. we don’t want to get stuck.”

I laughed. “We won’t get stuck,” I said.

A few minutes later two Florida girls were leaning too sideways on a snow bank in a buried silver Buick. One kept laughing, the other started.

We were there for a while. DSC_5107.jpg

How to Survive the Million Dollar Highway Without Your Brakes*

(Do not do this!)

I have not always been a careful driver. My brakes have taken a beating. So before heading to Ouray to begin my drive through the Million Dollar Highway, I stopped in Montrose just to see how damaged my poor Betty the Buick is.

Consensus: pretty bad.

My rotors could not safely be filed down and my brake pads were a few millimeters to nonexistent, Wayne assured me. He took me out back where poor Betty was being manhandled and defiled by a car lift and a mechanic. Wayne asked me if I wanted to replace the pads and rotors for $700. I laughed.

On the bright side, though my front wheel treads showed need for replacement, my back tires were looking good. I thanked good ol’ Wayne and the mechanic and rescued Betty from her shame.

And on we went.

So, if you’re like me, relatively ballsy and trying to save money, here’s how you survive the Million Dollar Highway without touching your brakes once.

Use your gears! Crank that baby into a lower gear instead of pressing your brakes when you’re going down that super dangerous mountain. Make sure to keep your RPM at a normal speed, though, I make sure to keep it under 2.5. And check your engine heating!

Turn on your air conditioning and radio and anything else you got! This will put pressure on your transmission and help you slow down.

Roll down your windows.

Hope for the best.

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*I am not a professional in fact I’m barely an amateur so take my advice with caution.

** I felt comfortable doing this because I had to and because I wanted to make sure my brakes were available to me if I needed them so I was conserving my brake pads. Also, I kept one hand conscious of my emergency brake the whole time.

Roadside Update

When driving cross country there is nothing better than road side convenience. I pulled over to get my breaks looked at and next to the shop was a laundromat. I haven’t been wearing a lot of clothes, since I don’t have many, but the ones I do have are absolutely filthy thanks to the last two weeks. The laundromat even has WiFi so I got the chance to write this and my other posts which are on Colorado.

It’s been a wild ride the last week. I was in Denver and then Cañon City . I even briefly spent some time in a little town called Victor. Colorado has done a number on my heartstrings, which is half the reason why I have been having a hard time writing my next posts which are about it. The other half is related to insobriety. I mean, I’m in Colorado!

I’ve been visiting friends old and new, camping, and garnering supplies. My car is doing well, knock on wood.

Keep an eye out for my posts on CO! I promise they’re coming. Also, I have some other ones in mind such as road playlists and how to travel for free.

 

Two Nights in Wilting, Iowa

A day in my dad calls while I was, what else, driving. “You know what’d be nice?” He said. “If you visited your Great Aunt Jan.” This was his way of pawning off his familial guilt. You know, the one garnered from lack of acknowledging the existence of one’s distant relatives?

DSC_3943.jpgGreat Jan lives just outside a small town in Iowa called Wilton in a small housing complex of made up of 15 units. I call this housing complex Wilting, Iowa because it’s made up of 15 elderly people who stay alive by tending to the small five by ten patch of garden each one is provided outside their front doors, especially Mary-Anne. We’ll get to her in a second. Wilting: gnats more prevalent than dust in heavy summer air and the only thing more prevalent than the gnats was the gossip. For a housing complex so small there was a whole lot of news to talk about. As Great Aunt Jan says: “anywho,” the whole town might well have been Wilting, Iowa.

Great Aunt Jan is your classic super scary, soft-spoken, self sufficient mid-American relative you always forget you have until a few days after your birthday when your parents call you at college to inform you of that relative’s annual birthday card. The first and last time I met Jan I first met her she was living in an old farm house in the middle of nowhere complete with rusted key holes and a dial up phone in the basement. I didn’t know then whether she’s going to kill me in my sleep or make hash browns in the morning and I still don’t. Her stone-cold demeanor suggests both.

I got in around two in the morning. Just as I was falling asleep, around three, the train went by. At least I thought it did, but then I realized it was someone playing the accordion in the other room. Except there was no other room other than the one Jan was in and there was no way she had gotten back up to do a diddy. That’s just not how Jan lives her life. The accordion was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard through a wall, melodious and getting louder by the second. Turns out it was the train. It might as well have been coming into town through her front door and breaking through my rem cycle.

Let me tell you more about Jan. Doilies on everything, even the shower curtain. She’s one of those people that has never questioned the fabric of their existence as it’s “nothing to worry about.” She talks in monotone no matter what and she talks nonstop, never saying the same thing twice. Her stories always have a beginning, middle, and punchline-ending. She has a story for everything I say and everything I don’t say. On the first day I asked if I could borrow a can opener and the price was one anecdote about a female relative or other, how when they were once young, running away from home, but had not gotten very far as they had to come back for a can opener. Surprisingly accurate in my case as well. Always remember a can opener, kids. So when she started talking about what’s been up in Wilting, of course I was interested, but only half paying attention. Well what was up was a kidnapping.

Now Mary-Anne is the tenant in apartment fifteen. As I was grabbing Jan’s mail my first morning at Wilting I couldn’t help but notice the garden outside of M.A’s (M.A for Mary-Anne, but also for MAstermind) door. It was the most catered to, decorated, and extravagant one in Wilting. Well behind every beauty there’s a beast.

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Mary-Anne’s gaudy garden

Great Aunt Jan loves her tulips. Her garden is probably one of the sparsest in Wilting, but that’s because she knows what she likes and she doesn’t compensate for anything else. Jan is a no-frills kind of gal (except for the doilies). But when her tulips weren’t coming up this season she got worried. This poor woman went to dig them up one day only to find they were missing. Not only were they missing, but the container she put them in was missing as well.

A few days later, M.A. strikes up conversation, claiming she hadn’t stolen Jan’s tulips. Jan hadn’t yet mentioned her tulips to anyone. M.A. had gone, in the middle of the night, and dug up Great Aunt Jan’s tulip bulbs, straight out of the ground. This is how badly M.A. needed to live through her plants.

Another time, Jan’s lilies started showing up in the garden of M.A. When confronted, M.A. shrugged and said maybe the wind blew them over. They both knew very well that Jan’s lilies didn’t grow from seeds.

But Jan assured me, this Mary-Anne is a charmer. So here’s what I learned in Wilting, Iowa: Watch out for those charmers and don’t move to Illinois. It’s one of the most broken crooked states there is, but only after Wilting, the home of the #1 bulb thief Mary-Anne.

Day 1: Eager, Young, and Unqualified

I’m known to be spontaneous, so it came as no surprise when I called my parents half way out of Florida when I was supposed to be going home to the Florida Keys.

“You’re where?” Dad said, “Oh, O.K. Well, have fun.” And that was pretty much it.

I’m writing to you from a local cafe called “Local Cafe” in Fayetteville, TN. It’s officially Day 1. I woke up in a Super Walmart parking lot in Grandsden, AL much to the surprise of the guy waiting for his partner in his car next to me. I smiled and got on my way. First stop: Noccalula Falls. Not much was falling, so I headed North.DSC_3835

This is how badly I wanted to get out of Florida: I changed my tampon at a stoplight in Orlando. Oh, by the way, always keep toilet paper in your car. You just never know.

Anyway, let’s take a little inventory:

$800

Boots

Assorted tampons found in my college’s “free store”

Birth certificate

Hammock

Rope

Clothes

Passport

Drivers License

My Lucky Yu-Gi-Oh Card “Dian Keto the Cure Master” my close friend Hunter gave to me one night I was doing LSD at a party.

IMG_9676And that’s about it. Right about now I really wish I had brought a can opener and a tent, they’ll have to be got on the way.

I don’t exactly have a destination, except maybe Alaska, and I don’t exactly have a route, except maybe West, but that’s the beauty of it.

I graduated from college four days ago. The last couple of weeks I’ve been applying to myriad of marketing and publishing jobs in NYC, LA, and DC. I got some of them, but none of them seemed appealing. My college was the first place I have 

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lived for more than a year since I was 8, and I really didn’t feel like continuing the streak of long-stays. I had to get on the move. I didn’t know this, however, until I was driving 

home. Needless to say, I turned around and headed straight on out of Florida, less the sunshine state and more the state Americans come to die. I didn’t feel like dying, I had just graduated.

So here I am. I’m not trying to Into the Wild this, but this morning I woke up in my trunk outside Walmart in Gadsden and knocked my head on bananas I hanged on a handle with my bra and, god dang it, I felt alive.

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So far all I’ve seen is some really depressing scenes of American food before it becomes food, but I wouldn’t exactly call them living animals, either. I was drinking bone broth out of the carton when I passed the Tyson Chickens. I think I may go vegetarian.

I also passed some extremely skinny curious cows.

I’ll keep you all updated as to where I am and whether I’m coming back.

P.S.

If you feel like going on a little road trip and you’re in IL, TN, or CO, hit me up!