“BAM!” The mean looking man slammed a metal rod against my driver side car window.
“STOP”, he screamed at me.
I had pulled into a border control “checkpoint”, right outside of my destination for the night in Alamagordo, New Mexico, probably 100 miles from the border.
I was kind of in shock. What happened was, I pulled in, stopped my car, and this man with a badge on was standing off to my left giving me the stink eye, as if I had already done something wrong. So I stared back and we got into this evil eye staring contest. It was a bit uncomfortable. Then, after a bit, he waved his hand, like “go ahead”. I’ve seen this at other stops, they just wave you on.
So I started to go, and then he slammed the metal object he was holding into my window. Luckily, the window didn’t break.
But quickly, he was angry with me.
“THAT LIGHT IS RED! THAT MEANS STOP!”
I hadn’t been looking at the stoplight.
I fired back “You motioned for me to go ahead, so I started going.”
“THIS IS A US BORDER CONTROL CHECKPOINT!” he screamed at me. “HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THROUGH A BORDER CONTROL STOP?”
“I don’t know” I said. At this point I was feeling angry, nervous, and just uncomfortable. I forgot about the window and wanted to avoid this confrontation, but it was already on.
“Where are you going?” he said to me in an accusatory tone.
“Alamagordo.” I said.
“For what purpose?” he asked, getting further into the “guilty before proven innocent” mode.
“Traveling.” I muttered.
“Do you always travel with this much stuff in your car?” said angry border guy.
“I don’t know.” At this point I just didn’t want to play this guy’s schoolyard game.
“Are you a US citizen?”
I fully realize that this question is unconstitutional, and I could challenge him on that, but I saw that this interaction was not going to get better for me, so I played the game.
“Ok I can go?”
“Yes that’s what I said!”
Sadly, this was just another example of a power tripping guy in a costume with a badge that knows he can get away with whatever he wants to do, without accountability. There was no reason for him to damage my car, simply telling me to stop would have been enough. But anyway, I will likely just report this to my insurance company and get it fixed. No point in filing a complaint with irrational people.
The beginning of my trip was actually quite fun. I couch surfed with someone from Couchsurfing.org in Tucson, and ended up meeting a couple of her friends and we sat in the living room, drank wine, and chatted travel and rock climbing stories! The next day, her friend showed me the town a bit. I got a much better impression of Tucson than I had before. There are some cool spots there and lots to do. I think it would get boring after a while but there are certainly worse places to be!
After my Alamagordo night, I proceeded to the famed Carlsbad Caverns. I’ve wanted to go there since I read about it 6 years ago. It’s in my “1000 places to see before you die” book. It was not actually in Carlsbad, it was 38 minutes away. Too bad I didn’t know that before my drive, I never would have gone to Alamagordo had I known that it was not actually in Carlsbad where I planned my trip around!
They told me it would take 2.5 hours to see everything, but I breezed through in about an hour and a half. It was an amazing experience, and at times I felt like I was in a real life game of Dungeons and Dragons! It’s hard to believe none of these amazing rock formations are man-made.
So my goal after that was to get to Midland, Texas, about 3 hours away, to relax, eat, and get a hotel. But there was a problem.
Midland is smack in the middle of oil country. And, this area is going through a huge boom right now, with some new deposits found recently.
So hotel prices are completely out of control. I’m talking Days Inns for $160, Motel 6 for $100 and Quality Inn for $225. I wasn’t interested in any of this. So I found a Starbucks, pulled in and quickly found a hotel in the next closest town on the way to Austin, San Angelo, about 2 hours away. I booked the hotel, grabbed my stuff and hit the road.
This part of the drive was hairball. Lots of road changes, construction, uneven pavement, huge trucks, and 1 lane a lot of the way. I didn’t enjoy the drive down.
I get to my hotel in San Angelo, check in, and start unpacking….and….where the F is my laptop? It’s not in my laptop bag. It’s…GONE! OH SHIT! I freaked out. I immediately knew I left it in the Starbucks. I called them, but they were already closed.
UGH! Now it’s 11:00, I’m exhausted, and I have to get up at 6 to call and find out the fate of one of the only possessions of mine that would devastate me to lose.
So sleep was rough, I got up and called and….YES they have my laptop! How amazing. But now I have to do that crappy drive twice, and add 4 hours to my driving day which was only going to be 3!
I got back up to Starbucks, gave the kid that rescued my laptop 20 bucks, and, although I really wanted to hit the road again and try to get to Austin by 3:30, I needed to return a couple of emails. So I quickly got to work on that and…an extremely beautiful woman walked into Starbucks. Ugh! I wanted to say something. I mean she was really attractive, smiling and looking amazing in this orange business-type skirt and blue shirt, but I was totally trying to get this stuff done, and was feeling the stress of potentially not being able to get into my new apartment. So I watched her walk right by my table, and then leave, and I finished my work and got out of there.
But not chatting her up really bothered me all day. It still bothers me as I write this. It’s not like I was likely to make an amazing connection and want to stay in Midland….but I think my fear of success is what stopped me there (i.e. what if her response is positive? then what?). Note to self: don’t do that anymore, don’t hesitate to talk to beautiful women, and drop the excuses!
Made it to Austin around 4. Had to sign like 80 pages for my 2.5-month sublease, got keys, started moving in. I guess I’m in party zone right by the UT! Should die down after this weekend, which is graduation weekend. On the plus side I’m central to everything and already have some events lined up this weekend. Time to get social fast!
Now it’s time to get started on business #1 of my 6 businesses. 🙂