I was so so lucky to have another connection in Albuquerque to cushion the blow of leaving Tucson. Didn't hurt that New Mexico is beautiful and deserty but with the added bonus of More Trees, but I was even more appreciative that I got to see Sarah's brother and sister-in-law and finally meet her precious baby niece. John, Erika, and Nora (eep!) were such welcoming hosts. I got in late, but not too late for us to eat dinner at Monroe's, which was this deliiiicious New Mexican restaurant. We actually bundled up in winter coats, continuing the weird weather roller coaster I'd begun in CA.
The next morning I had enough time to hang out for a while, so we went for a hike with Nora and the puppies, which ended abruptly when a strange man started yelling at us to turn back. And also howling. It was fine. We turned back, but other than that it was a great hike! Really cool landscape. Nora is such a little sweetie, and I enjoyed spending time with the sister-in-law of my sister-friend. Bixby and their dog Peter got along swimmingly too, and Nora loved having a whole other dog friend to play with.
And then I left again and drove to Austin but I stopped in a few spots along the way. I drove though Fort Sumner, so obviously I had to see Billy the Kid's grave. I saw fracking machines, which looked like really strange and giant birds pecking into the earth, and I could smell them before I saw them. I bought a pair of shoes at a gas station, but I promise they were cute. I stayed at a Motel 6 in Lubbock. And then there was Austin.
What happened in Austin was I put my wallet on the trunk of my car and started driving, and then that little pocket of some very essential items was suddenly gone. I retraced my route twice, and it was still very much gone, probably blending its little tan-and-gray self into the big tan-and-gray Texas landscape. I didn't know what else to do but drive to North Carolina. And so I drove to North Carolina.
HOWEVER! Three very incredibly lucky things happened after that minor catastrophe/major setback.
First: I thought I had $75 on my person: twenty stashed in my car, a twenty-five-dollar gift card, and thirty dollars left over from the MST still in my pack. 75 dollars is not enough to buy the gas necessary to get a person from Texas to North Carolina, let alone the hotel room I would surely need since it was already early afternoon and the drive alone is twenty hours. BUT sometimes not unpacking all the way pays off, and when I went to get the precious and small amount of cash out of my backpack, my beautiful beautiful SECU credit card with my very own picture on it was nestled beside the bills. I suddenly had money and a photo ID, and things were not so bad.
Second: When renting a hotel room, you need to provide a driver's license, and my driver's license was somewhere in a city I had driven fast away from. I knew that this requirement existed, but for some bizarre reason, I know my driver's license number by heart. (Pro tip: save this info in your phone! Also, if you have an extra driver's license, stash it in your car somewhere!) When I offered the bare bones information I had and the credit card with my picture on it, the kind kind kind man behind the desk told me not to get him into trouble and handed me the key for a room on the third floor. Thank you, stranger.
Third: After eight thousand caffeinated drinks, after driving over the Mississippi at night, after hitting traffic in Houston and Atlanta, after tearful phone calls and many podcasts and Bixby faithfully riding shotgun - after all that, I got home. And the next day, my dad called me to let me know a wallet-shaped package had arrived in the mail from Austin, TX. "Open it," I told him, trying not to be as excited as he was. Inside was my wallet, coins and all, missing some punch cards that presumably fell out when it flew off the back of my car. And a note: Hi Anna, I found this wallet at XXX address. Thanks! Tony. I googled the return address, but it was just a post office. Thanks!! THANK YOU! You are the best person, Tony!!! I hadn't bothered canceling any of the cards because I a) have to believe that people are fundamentally good and b) am lazy, so I was immediately back in business and ready for the next leg of the trip. Can't stop, won't stop, here I come, Florida!
Next up, How George Weasley the Hyundai Elantra Busted His Nose (and His Feet) and other adventures I had in the Sunshine State.