Adventures in Albuquerque

Last Friday my little family packed our things and piled into the car for a trip to Albuquerque (and I CAN NOT say that word without getting the Weird Al song stuck in my head). One of Nathan’s relatives passed away and his family was planning on holding a memorial on Saturday morning. Of course events like this are really important for all sorts of reasons, but on top of the obvious, a lot of Nathan’s extended family were going to be there, some of whom the kids and I were looking forward to meeting for the first time. And of course, the kids were stoked to see Grandma and Grandpa.

The drive was supposed to take us about seven hours. A couple hours into the drive, our battery warning light came on. Hubs was pretty concerned, considering we’d just replaced our alternator a couple months ago, and apparently these things are related. We made it to a mechanic (who had cars propped up on rocks instead of jacks), who couldn’t help us. The issue was not with the battery itself, which could easily be replaced. Instead, the bracket that held our alternator was broken. So then we went to another mechanic that called every mechanic around town for the replacement bracket they needed to fix our car and…no one had it. They said they could order the part and get it in by Tuesday. Remember, this was last Friday. We were planning on coming back on Sunday.

All the local car-rental places were closed, but even if they weren’t, we couldn’t rely on our busted car to get us there, and the town was too small to have any taxis, so…not an option.

Nathan and I sat in the car and narrowed it down to three viable options:

  1. Call Kris and ask her to come save us and just take us home. (Kris has confirmed that she would indeed have come and saved us. Everyone, get yourself a Kris in your life.)
  2. Stay in a hotel for a night and then rent a car to drive home the next day. (The memorial was Saturday morning, so if we drove down Saturday we’d miss it completely.)
  3. Catch the next Greyhound bus to Albuquerque. Departs: 10:00pm, Arrives: 4:30am. (Our car broke down around 5pm)

And thus we had a rather classic set of roads set before us. Admit defeat, return to the known and the easy…or do it the hard way, take a risk, and go on an adventure. Well kids, we took the Greyhound.

We spent five hours trying to kill time, walked all the way to four different restaurants recommended by Google before finding out they were all closed, listened to our children bicker and complain, realized in a panic that if we didn’t retrieve our luggage, the mechanic might lock our car into his shop with all our stuff in it, sent Nathan running across town to retrieve said luggage, and then hauled that luggage around town, and then the bus station was closed in the evenings so there were no vending machines or bathrooms for anyone to use and let’s be real–all bus stations get a little creepy after dark. And finally, when we arrived, our two small children were as jet-lagged as if they’d flown to Japan (and I say that from personal experience.) At least, that’s one way to tell the story.

Another way to tell the story is like this: we took a walk along the river, found a weird metal thing in the water and decided it was a magical key from the Land of Hyrule, found a coffee shop with wi-fi and donuts and a four-way chess board (on which Bubs learned to play chess for the first time), we ate some stellar cheeseburgers and beef-stuffed sopapillas with Pina Coladas, and by the grace of heaven we remembered to get our luggage out of our car before the mechanic closed his shop, and we made it to the Greyhound station with time to spare! And we all made it to the memorial in the morning! Bubs was so tired he even slept through it, which was actually super helpful, hahaha.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, have all had similar highs and lows. Meltdowns and naps. Lots of easily happy moments, and lots of opportunities to choose happiness.

I haven’t taken any pictures during this trip. Trust me, the idea of archiving the whole thing crossed my mind right at the beginning. The potential for a good story was obvious. But there was more than one adventure to be had. One was about “type two funny” travel disasters and the challenges of dragging children onto Greyhounds at four in the morning, and the kinds of things that make for good youtube videos. The other adventure was a little harder to grasp, a little quieter. It was about taking the time to get to know my kids a little better, teaching my son to play chess, spending time pretending to be mermaids with my daughter in the hotel pool, going to the family graveyard, meeting people I’ve never met before, and helping my husband manage being away from work for several unexpected days. I suppose I could have recorded those things too, and I have recorded that kind of thing in the past. All I can say is this: that a camera changes things. Sometimes taking pictures and footage enhances your experience. Sometimes the camera makes you an outsider in your own adventure. This time, I didn’t feel like looking at everything through a lens.

In the meanwhile, I’m still in Albuquerque. Looking forward to getting back home–hopefully tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, well, at least I’m in a magical, far away place, where the sun is always shining and the air smells like warm root beer, and the towels are oh so fluffy, where the shriners and the lepers play their ukuleles all day long, and anyone on the street will gladly shave your back for a nickel.

Wacka wacka doodoo yeah.

Image © Nastassia Bas |