I’m Baaack!

Bro, don’t read this: I ended up hitching a ride from Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and then all the way to Albuquerque. I was at Guadalupe Canyon (in the NP) which is by far the most magnificent and I ran into this old man who actually I’d run into already at Big Bend National Park a few days earlier…turns out he’s doing a similar trekking route as the one I’ve got (sort of) planned, so he gave me a ride ‘cross the border to our next stop in Carlsbad (it was just under an hour, still in the Guadalupe Mountains, so I probably could’ve ridden my bike—had I not been so damn trusting and left it unlocked by my hostel a few stops back. First my laptop, then this. Grrr.). But then Old Man gave me a ride to Albuquerque which is where he lives and while I probably could’ve biked that over the course of a few days, it was nice getting a free 6 hour ride.

The companionship was certainly nice while I’ve got it. I’ve met a ton of people down here, but most of these “friendships” last for the duration of a hike and then dissolve as quickly as they picked up. Though now I have random people imprinted upon the peaks of the mountains I’ve scaled in the Southwest.

George ended up being a great tour guide through the Carlsbad Caverns National Park — there’s this incredible network of underground caves that date back about 500,000 years. George knew the ins and outs and brought me to some very cool rock formations within some hidden caves. Apparently he had been bringing his kids and grandkids for years but this year they were “busy” (I think it’s more complicated than that) so he was happy to have the company of a young person, I think.

When we got to Albuquerque, he let me shower at his house and then he dropped me off at Cottonwood Mall and now George is just another bleep on my radar. Never to be seen again, but probably never forgotten. If I were to be writing a play or a screenplay, George would be the apocalyptal Old Man…the seer who comes to this world to watch over the orphan child and lead him in the direction of the gods….

I had no idea how welcome the cool walkways of a huge indoor mall would be. I’m not generally Mr. Mall, but, what an alternate universe: People who are CLEAN and SOCIALIZING WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY… almost foreign concepts to me by now. I got a twang of…something. Would I say homesickness? Maybe. I went to the food court and got something delicious and greasy and then…Tim is really reverting back to his old ways… saw a movie. Saw 10,000 BC which was both fun and crap—one of my alltime favorite genres…

I found a hostel (which is where I am now, finally online connected with the world) and I think I’m going to lay low for a few days and explore this city. My body physically needs a break from climbing.

BTW, is my movie taste that bad?
Haha—I just saw that Rotten Tomatoes gave 10,000 BC a 9% rating. That’s probably the lowest rated movie I’ve ever seen…and yet, I enjoyed it. What does that say about me?

Next stop? Hmmm… You’ll just have to wait and find out!

Trying to stay sane

I am in the worst mood ever, and sometimes the only thing that makes me feel better is to drive to Short Pump Mall. Besides the fact that it reminds me that Richmond doesn’t suck as bad as it used to, there also happens to be a Barnes & Noble right next door where I can go and mope over a cup of coffee and a self-help book.

I’m at home in Richmond visiting my parents (I’m in boarding school in North Carolina for my last year of highschool…b/c I WANT to, not b/c I’m a bad kid…) and every time I come home my parents get on my case about this guy who I’m seeing that they don’t really like so much. It just really stresses me out because I respect my parents’ opinion so much and they usually respect my decisions, so then I just start to doubt how I feel about Ricky and then I get all anxious and insecure and ARGH!!!

Anyways, that’s not why I’m writing here. I just found this site and like the idea of sharing nice travel experiences, so I thought it would be a good idea for me to focus on something fun my family did and then I got carried away with my rant so now I’m going to try and back up a bit.

Out of all my 17 years on Earth (all of which were spent in Richmond), my family has never once gone to Virginia Beach. I’d gone only once or twice with friends, but never as a family (i.e. never staying overnight in a nice hotel). So we went earlier this week, stayed in a Holiday Inn (that’s nice compared to the dumps I’ve crashed at) and actually had a good time. We spent a lot of time on the beach and on the shops that line the coast. Got some chotchkas and some food that’s probably really bad for you (and yet so good). When we needed a break from the sun we hid out in Lynnhaven Mall for a few hours. There’s a Barnes & Noble there, so we were all happy (we’re all big readers). I even begged my parents (who gave in!) to take me to the Build-A-Bear Workshop which was SO MUCH fun! (Yes, you read that right, I’m 17 and begged my parents for a stuffed animal…and got it, hee hee.) We actually went back the next day for a movie. Saw Shine a Light which was pretty good, but apparently I’m “too young” to get all the references. The Rolling Stones are pretty retro these days and since retro means kinda cool, I kinda know a thing or two about them (or at least that’s how I had to spell it out to my parents who for some reason thought my interest in 70s music meant I was snorting cocaine). Sometimes I feel like my parents are immigrants, though my family’s been in this country pretty much since it started.

At some point in there we also went to the Virginia Aquarium Marine Science Center for my fish-enthusiast dad.

Ok, I actually do feel a little better. See, self-help books do help! (I had read in one of the books in my stack to write about sometime good to take the focus off the bad.)