Route 66 with Bubba the Bus, Day 6: Shamrock to Albuquerque

I got up this morning in Shamrock, Texas; checked the oil and water on Bubba–and began the trek Westwards. I didn’t plan to make Albuquerque, as it is nearly 400 miles–and that’s a lot of driving and heat. But, I LOVE this bus. He is SO fun to drive; I find myself looking forward to starting him up each morning and beginning again. I’m a little bittersweet, as I know this part of the journey, will soon end–and I feel like I could do this forever. So, with a joyful heart and immense gratitude, I enjoy each present moment, as it is given to me. I know another adventure is waiting around the corner.

Hands-down the question I get asked the most is; how can I afford to do this–live the way I do? If you look at me on paper; I can’t afford this; I can’t afford San Franciso, I couldn’t afford to travel the world as I have; I couldn’t afford to have a child; I can’t afford this bus; I can’t afford my Tiny Home Adventure; I just can’t. This is all to say, that from my perspective; travel is rarely a matter of finances; but, of attitude. For me, that attitude encompasses two key components; the first is always being able to give a hearty ‘yes‘ to adventure, whatever guise it may take and the second is to know that things will work out. I am not a person of great faith, but, of experience. When I was in my twenties, I used to claim to have faith in all kinds of things, chiming that irritating mantra “things work out for the best.

Now at 50; I know better. I have the experience, that things work out. They may not be as we expected; but, they do work out. I have always been able to say ‘yes’ to adventure..and things have always worked out; which is part of the joy of age; if you view life the same at 50, as you did at 20–you have just wasted 30 years.

I got up, made my Starbucks VIA coffee–(which you should always have when traveling), checked water and oil for Bubba and started day 6. As a solo traveler, I am alone a lot–which doesn’t mean that I am lonely, it simply means I am alone; these are different things, and once we cross the bridge to that understanding, we truly begin to live and love. The streets are quiet, not a car or insect insight. We have the road to ourselves, the morning is cool and we are off.

Bubba is a guzzler–not a sipper; which is unfortunate because the gas bill is monstrous. I keep track of mileage and send a picture to my Memphis co-pilot and dear friend Dave, to tell me how good or bad we are doing. When I first took the keys from Bob–(the previous owner), he told me that Bubba would get about 6 miles to the gallon. My heart sank along with my savings account. I drive Bubba super slow, never letting his RPM’s rev too high—and our gas mileage continues to improve. We are at nearly 12 miles to the gallon now; not great, but better than expected. He will be converted to natural gas, first thing. But, if you want to send me gas money, hey, I’m down!

The drive is spectacular. The sky is the clearest blue I have ever seen; dotted with puffs of clouds. We passed tons of cool old cars, including the ten Cadillacs buried nose down near Amarillo. It was an amazing day of driving, silence, and reverie. It went so fast, I was shocked to be coming into Albuquerque.

The only thing I know about Albuquerque is Breaking Bad, and I mention it now, in case you haven’t watched it–stop reading and start binging.

Happy coincidence, my Starbucks Manager, phoned to tell me he had just finished the entire series. He too was Team White, which probably explains why we have gotten on so well for the past several years working together.

Coming into Albuquerque was in a word: WOW!

And then, it went sideways. Again, in need of a shower, I decided to grab a cheap hotel. I clicked on Trip Advisor and found a 7.8; which sounded amazing for the low price of $29.00. Too good to be true? Yes, yes it was.

I became suspicious when the GPS directed me through a neighborhood of questionable character; lots of boarded-up buildings and a Subway Sandwich shop closed up tighter than a drum at 5 p.m. When I arrived at the designated address, my initial doubts were not assuaged. The building itself was dilapidated and in need of repair, the dirt patch of ‘lawn’ covered in cigarette butts and loitering people.

All I wanted was air conditioning, a bed, a shower and, internet–and I would be content. I entered the office, where I was greeted by a woman I can only describe as a cautionary tale. She was checking someone else in, so she directed me to wait on the lanai. (She literally said lanai.) I returned to the nearly crumbling porch with slanted. At this point, I seriously considered leaving; but, I had made the reservation online–so the $ was already gone, and I just wanted a shower.

When it was my turn, she, her name was Angel, came and got me. I expected to show some ID, get a key and head to my room; but, it was not to be that easy. Angel gave me a tour, which included a number of coded gates and doors, which all operated differently from each other–the only consistent thing they had in common, was that each door or gate, had a different piece of wood nailed to it–where perhaps stray bullets had found their way through. At each gate/door; she demonstrated how to open it–and then, prompted me to do the same. After about 30 minutes we returned to the front desk, where she issued me a blanket, 2 sheets, a towel and a black bag with the letter ‘L’ emblazoned across the front. I was instructed to put all the items in the bag and return it to the front desk when I left. To confirm that I understood the severity of this mandate, she asked me to sign a document, stating that my card would be charged $100.00 if I failed to do so. You might think, as I was, that my shower was imminent; but it was not. Angel conducted a brief ‘pop-quiz’ of our tour; fortunately, I passed.

By this point, I have noticed that it is as hot inside as it is outside, so I ask if there is air conditioning, to which Angel responds by giving me a fan.

At last, I am released to go shower. I won’t explain, as I took pictures for Trip Advisor–(7.8, my ass!)

There was no outlet for the fan, so, I asked for extension cords. The only word I can think that even comes close to describing this decrepit place is a shithole.

Allegedly, there was a complimentary breakfast, but, I wasn’t game to try it out. Oddly, I got a good night’s sleep.

The next morning, I got up, checked Bubba’s oil and water, and put Albuquerque in my rearview mirror.

Until tomorrow…..

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