Week 13. What on earth can we say about week 13. From hitch hiking a cop car to seeing the Taos Earth Ships, to breaking up a fight to taking a trip to ER and a million other things in between…
Lilly had been looking forward to seeing the Earth Ships – completely sustainable off-grid houses – for our entire trip so after leaving Albuquerque we spent a day hitch hiking up into the absolute middle of nowhere New Mexico to see them. Then we went to Texas, and things got a little crazy. Who’d have known.
I don’t know that we ever knew the name of this man, and he took us just a few miles down the road, but we’re thankful he did and for all he told us about the mountains in the distance.
Rail picked us up in his van not long after and was happy to take us a few miles North to the road we needed for Santa Fe. Rail was one of those guys with a million stories to tell and a Jack of all trades, but today he was heading home after doing the electrics on his friend’s house. He would carry on the whole day, he said, but it was too damn hot to be in a tiny crawl space fiddling with wires. We agreed. Unfortunately he was headed home to what he was sure would be an argument, as his girlfriend had recently relapsed (he himself had been clean for 20 years since his son was born) and he wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Leo Santa Fe PD
We left Rail and were happily stood near the on-ramp, thumbs and sign out, hitching when a cop car pulled over. Damn. Hitch hiking isn’t illegal in the vast majority of states but it also isn’t hugely popular, so the police always take an interest. We’ve been stopped because people called the police on us, stopped because the police were bored and wondering what we were up to, and stopped because we look ‘really young’ and they thought we were ‘teen runaways’. “Which would this be?!” we asked ourselves as the cop climbed out…
“Want a lift?” he shouted in our direction. What?! YES! We grabbed our bags and ran towards the car, noticing the ‘Santa Fe Police’ emblazoned on the side. As we approached a stern look crossed his face: “You…you don’t have any guns do you?”. “No. We’re English.” we replied, and climbed into the caged-in, plastic back seats. Slightly surreal to be hitch hiking surrounded by bars, taking selfies and snapchats as people in the cars next to us look on totally confused why we were happy…Officer Leo took us all the way to the door of our hosts, Zoe and Amon, and happily took pictures with us afterwards. What a guy.
Zoe & Amon
Zoe and Amon were quite the pair. Having met when Zoe was studying in Botswana, they’d stayed in a long distance relationship for two years before Amon was able to move to the US and reunite them in New Mexico. Now, Zoe was a elementary school teacher, and the two lived together in a lovely split house with a bright, sociable kitchen. We had a great time playing “10,000”, a seemingly complicated but actually quite simple dice game, and hearing all about Zoe’s work – how do you teach kids whose parents never finished school themselves and who probably hadn’t eaten breakfast that day? She told us how the last day of school before summer doesn’t hold the excitement for many of them as it does for other kids, as for many of them it means having to be at home with drug addicted parents and nowhere to find food. On her teacher’s salary, Zoe was buying simple snacks and meals to prepare as food packs for kids she knew would struggle over the long school break.
The day after arriving in Santa Fe, we set off hitching for Taos – a town a few miles North that was the closest location for the Earth Ships we were so desperate to see. Quickly we were picked up by Bruce – a guy heading up to Angelfire in the mountains for a day of mountain biking: in the summer they keep the ski lifts open so that you can ride the slopes on two wheels instead. Bruce not only picked us up and took us up to Taos, but he took our number and we arranged to get a lift back to Santa Fe with him too at the end of the day! We just had to hitch it back to the drop off point in time…
We don’t remember her name, but we’re thankful she picked us up in the truck with the broken clutch and the seat pinned forward with a plank of wood. We’re not so sure she should have been chain smoking the way she was, pregnant stomach touching the steering wheel, but who are we to tell her that.
Jonesy couldn’t quite understand why we were standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, and picked us up out of curiosity more than anything. At any rate, he had some spare time and was happy to take us to the bridge where “people like to kill themselves. Wait, you’re not trying to kill yourselves are you?!”
After several failed attempts at getting anyone to pick us up from the bridge and take us to the Earthships (everyone turned straight around at the bridge and headed back into town – our side of the road was empty…) we resolved to walk the rest of the way, thumbs out for luck. A way down the road we passed a man working on his truck outside the only house, or structure, we could see for miles. He called to us asking what we were doing and after finding out, offered to give us a lift the rest of the way. Thanks David!
Arriving at the Earthships, we headead straight for the welcome desk. The website, and sign on the desk, told visitors that a tour was $7 per person but after speaking to the woman at the desk and offering our services with any job they could think to offer, they waived the fee and let us in to explore.
Susanne & Susanne’s friend
Once we’d had our fill of the beautiful, sustainable artistic wonders that are the Earthships (we ended up watching the explanatory video three times) we wandered outside the entrance and held up our sign again. Soon after, Susanne picked us up after having visited a friend who lived in an Earthship up the road and agreed to take us into Taos…but not before having AMAZING burgers! We also went to collect mail from her daughter’s ex-boyfriend nearby and discovered he was building a beautiful tiny home on native land overlooking the mountains. After hearing our story, he joined us in the car and took us to explore the Taos Pueblo – a Native American village that has been inhabited for over 1,000 years. At this point, not wishing to rush our exploration of the Pueblo, we reluctantly text Bruce to say we may not make it to the pick up point in time and would hitch home instead. It was tough to be turning down a ride, but felt more important to enjoy what we had in front of us. We met his dad and explored the very Adobe building that he had grown up in. So worth it.
A little while later, once the sun was setting and the Pueblo was closing to visitors, we checked the time to see about hitch hiking home… and found we had time to get to the drop off with Bruce!! But only if we rushed…Driving fast, Susanne sped us towards the Southern rim of Taos where we were meeting Bruce. Thankfully we just made it, less than a minute before Bruce pulled in with a smile and two cold beers ready. YES.
The next morning we head off in the direction of Clines Corners, hoping to avoid going back to Albuquerque before heading East on Interstate 40. After being questionned on our age twice – once by a man who decided he didn’t want to give us a lift because we looked too young and once by a man who approached on foot to give us water and ask if we were teenage runaways who needed help – a man called Ronny pulled over on his way back to work at a garden centre. Ronny tried his hardest to help, but despite living in the town his entire life he couldn’t quite get his head around where we wanted to go or why and decided to drop us on a tiny road parrallel to the highway we wanted to be on, at a raw materials market. Reluctantly we waved him goodbye and looked around us at the trucks piled with bricks and steel, wondering how long it would take us to get away from there.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t often the market was visited by female English hitch hikers so we quickly attracted a lot of attention from the workers and tradesmen. One such worker was called Roberto, and he kindly gave us cokes from his truck whilst less kindly joking about taking us home with him.
About an hour after being dropped off by Ronny, and after we’d mostly shaken off the workers, Sophia swung round and pulled in after initially driving past us. THANK YOU SOPHIA.
Marsha & Jesse
Sophia dropped us a little way down the road – far enough away from the market – at a gas station where we met Marsha and her lovely dog, Jesse. Marsha agreed to take us to Clines Corners on the condition that we chatted to her in the car and kept her awake – something we were more than happy to do.
We reached Clines Corners in great time and changed our sign to say Amarillo. In high spirits and excited to be going into Texas, we decided we would listen to the ‘Is This The Way To Amarillo’ song on repeat until we next got picked up. I think we listened to that song an easy 50 times. During that time of singing and clapping and dancing around by the side of the road at the infamous travel stop, we drew a lot of attention from people who just wanted to chat or find out what we were doing. One guy, on a road trip with his family, wanted to buy us weed and offered us a swig of whisky whilst he was changing a nappy. I can’t help feeling he was trying to ignore the whining children he had in tow and live vicariously through us.
Chris & Tori
Eventually (“Is this the way to Aaaaaamarillo, I’ve been weeping like a willowww…”) a mother and daughter pulled over, shouting out the window “You’re not going to murder us, are you?!” We replied that we wouldn’t, and asked the same question of them. Deal struck – no, we wouldn’t murder each other – they agreed to take us to Amarillo as they were heading all the way to Oklahoma City and could do with the company. We’re so glad we met them.
Chris and daugher Tori were heading back from dropping their son/brother Bailey at university – they’d decided to make a mother / daughter road trip out of what would otherwise have been a very sad occassion for a close family. We adored travelling with them MILES across country, stopping at the big watering hole (hah!) and to spray paint the cadillac graveyard on the way to Amarillo and being treated like we were family. Having realised that Oklahoma City was basically next on our list of destinations, they even agreed to drop us off at our couchsurfing host’s that night, and pick us back up in the morning to carry on the journey. That next morning they arrived with coffee and McMuffins and I cannot describe how lovely that was! That day, we went to the Route 66 Museum and terminally worried the older lady at the desk who asked how we all knew each other – “oh, we’re hitch hiking!” – before being treated to Arby’s. What a dream. It was very hard to say goodbye after those two days.
We arrived at Trista’s house in Amarillo after starting that morning in Santa Fe and were, to be honest, exhausted. Alas, Trista is an amazing ball of energy and announced excitedly that she was having two other couchsurfers to stay that night too, and also a load of friends over for a party. We galvanised and drank a few drinks and before long were happily sitting out back chatting animatedly with Texans who – inexplicably – had never heard the Amarillo song! Crazy. After a few more drinks and a few more people joined the party, tense words were said between two of the guys and I ended up breaking up a fist fight…but that’s a story for another day!
Once we’d said goodbye to Trista, and spent the early part of the day with Chris and Tori, we were picked up on a slip road by Rick who was driving back to Dallas after dropping off his son with his ex-wife. She lives in Wichita, he lives in Dallas, and every other week they both drove the four hour drive up/down to Oklahoma City to swap over parental duties. It was long, he said, and he hated the drive, but it was the only way to regularly see his son and that made it all worth it.
Rick dropped us at the door of Eliad’s house in Dallas after driving us around the city at Golden Hour. Eliad moved to Dallas from Israel and was enjoying working as an area manager with Starbucks – he got to travel around and help out struggling branches whilst simultaneously taking home all the free coffee he could care to drink. Lilly was extremely happy about this, being an utter coffee fiend. We talked about everything under the sun that night, and even got treated to breakfast at a local Mexican place the next morning before we said goodbye and went on our way….
…only to end up back that evening, one ER visit later! Thanks for picking us back up and taking us in, Eliad!
Frank, bless him, pulled over when he saw our sign for ‘Waco’ and instead had the pleasure of dropping us off at the ER. You can read the full story of that incident here. After spending the morning at a funeral, all he wanted was some company on his way to Waco. Unfortunately, we couldn’t provide anything more than mild panic and a story to tell another day.
When we stayed with Eliad the second night, he already had a Couchsurfer staying – another English girl! Luckily, she didn’t mind us intruding at all and even treated us to tacos the next day!
Tellia and Jr
When all is said and done, I think it’s fair to say that Dallas wasn’t hugely kind to us. We met some lovely people, but after one failed attempt at leaving the city we weren’t that amused when attempting to leave the next day landed us outside an infamous drug affiliated motel being screeched at by a hooker convinced we were stealing her corner. Tellia and Jr picked us up at just the right time, saying they had seen us earlier on and driven around the block to find us knowing full well that we must be tourists. They’d been following the tour of their cousin’s Christian rap group and were headed home past Waco, happy to drop us at the door of our next hosts…
Sharon & Craig
We were so happy to arrive at Sharon and Craig’s it felt like coming home. Sharon and Craig are the parents of the lovely Brett we stayed with in Kansas City – Week Four – and even though their son was still in Kansas City and we had never met them, we spent a night of bliss doing normal family things like eating dinner and watching the Olympics on the telly.
Sharon dropped us at a truck stop south of town after a guided tour, and we were quickly picked up by Chris – a trucker off duty who was heading home to Austin.
How do we begin to describe Scott? Scott asked us to stay with him in Austin after mis-reading our “It’s Easy When You Have Tits” post thinking that we shared his view of the world and were, like him,…anti-feminist. Needless to say, the pouring rain that kept us all mostly inside for two days gave us plenty of opportunity to explore our differences in opinion.
What a week.