Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Day 33: The long walk into Grants

May 23: It was a bitterly cold morning, and I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag. Eventually I did so, but not after laying around for an extra half hour.

Haiku and Prana passed by just as I was almost ready to start hiking for day, so we would up walking together for the better part of an hour.


I was looking forward to this day because finally--finally!--I'd be hiking into a real town with actual services, something I hadn't seen since leaving Silver City 17 days earlier. Grants was a small (but very real!) town located beside Interstate 40 and it's biggest claim to fame, perhaps, is that Route 66 passed through the town in bygone eras.

What the town did not have, however, were crosswalks, so I had to be particularly careful about crossing the streets here. Oh, they had a couple in the middle of town, but I couldn't find any on my walk into the center of town, and I definitely wanted to cross some streets.

At the edge of town, I passed by Friendship Park, which had a large army tank as a centerpiece. I'm not sure if that was a deliberate dig at American foreign policy or done with pride and joy, but it seemed a little tasteless (or perhaps ironically amusing) to me either way.

The tank at Friendship Park. With friends like this, you really don't need enemies!

My route took me past the post office, but it was Sunday so it was closed. I'd have to return tomorrow to pick up my laptop. Initially I had planned to arrive into town tomorrow, but I wasn't complaining about getting into town a day earlier than expected considering I had planned out my route for 18 days when I left Silver City.

My intention was to stop for lunch somewhere in town, then figure out where I'd spend the night by getting online with my phone and checking prices, but before that happened, a vehicle pulled up beside me with a woman driving and a hiker in the passenger seat. "Do you need a ride?" the hiker asked.

Umm, uhh... Well.... The trail followed a road north out of town, and many of the hotels were near the Interstate at the far side of town. I certainly would mind getting a ride the last mile or two--I had already passed the junction where the trail veered north and was now off-trail. I didn't have to worry about breaking my steps, but I also hadn't eaten lunch and I still didn't know where I was planning to get a room for the night. I didn't know....

So I said that, and Michele--with one L, she told me--said to get in. She'd drive me somewhere I could get lunch, then wait until it was ready and take me to the hotel of my choice. She said that she was scheduled to pick up another hiker in an hour and planned just to drive over there and wait so she had nothing better to do anyhow.

So with that decided, I jumped into the back seat and we were off! First she headed to the hostel in town where she dropped off the other hiker, then she drove me to the Blake's Lot-a-burger for lunch. I hadn't realized that that was a chain of restaurants until now. I thought the one I saw in Silver City was just a local store! I guess there were at least two of them, however, which officially makes it a chain.

Grants was located on Historic Route 66, and if you want a photo of your car showing it's driving down Route 66, this is the place for you!

I went in and ordered a quick meal, and while it was being prepared, I got online to check hotel prices, eventually making a reservation for the Motel 6 at the far side of town.

After eating, I hopped back into Michele's car and she started driving toward Motel 6. A block before that, however, we saw a hiker on the side of the road and Michele said she was going to pull over and ask if he needed a ride. As we got closer, though, I realized that I knew that hiker. It was Pez!

We pulled up alongside of him. "Hey, Pez! You need a ride?" =)

He had just gotten into town himself and also went for lunch before lodging. He had just gotten lunch at Subway and was walking to a hotel, but the Motel 6 was just a block away and it seemed pointless to get a ride such a short distance. I didn't blame him--I wouldn't have taken a ride for just a block, either!

Anyhow, Michele dropped me off at the Motel 6, and I quickly got myself a room and Pez wasn't far behind me. Michele parked in the lot since the hiker she was picking up in a half hour was at the Motel 6. She was in wait mode.

She seemed quite rabid about helping hikers, and I appreciated her energy. =) I also gave her $10 for the little taxi ride around town, but she didn't ask for it. She used to work at the post office in Grants which was how she first learned about the thru-hiker community hiking through the town each year.

This is mining equipment, displayed in front of the Mining Museum. I had hoped to visit the museum while in town, but unfortunately, it was closed due to the pandemic. I could only enjoy the outdoor displays.

My first task, of course, was to strip out of my nasty hiking clothes and take a shower. I put on my cleaner camp clothes and took my dirty clothes down to the laundry room to wash the really nasty stuff that hadn't been washed in over two weeks.

Then I got online on my phone to look into getting a COVID vaccination in Grants. It seemed like a town large enough to have a vaccination center, and there were two places in town where one could get shot. Unfortunately, there weren't any available openings for two days. I really wanted to get it done and over, though, so I scheduled the first appointment that I could on Tuesday morning. I'd have to take a double-zero, but after being separated from my laptop for nearly three weeks, I figured I could make good use of the double-zero. Of course, I wouldn't get my laptop until tomorrow, but I could at least check a lot of email and messages with my phone and at least work my way through some of that backlog. And it would give both Evenstar and Addie a chance to catch up. =)

I emerged from my room several hours later, hungry for dinner. I hadn't left the hotel since arriving so had nothing to eat except the food I hiked in with--which I most certainly didn't want to eat! Nope, I had to go out. There was a Taco Bell a block away, on the other side of the road, so that's where I headed.

I tried to order a naked chalupa (among other things), but they said they were out of them. "Nooo! Why? Oh, God, why?!" I cried. It was a very disheartening discovery to learn that shortages were still occurring around the country. Or at least in Grants. Or at least at the Taco Bell in Grants.

I found something else to order, but it just wasn't the same. I left with a sting of disappointment.

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped at the Walgreens next door to pick up some snacks, drinks and other stuff for the room.

Then it was back to my hotel room for the night, and the end of my 33rd day on the trail.

My home for the night was the Motel 6.

'Twas a long road walk into Grants


Michael said...

I continue to be grateful for all of those kind hearted folks that reach out to help hikers, offering rides, trail magic, the like. Thank you to you all.

Mary said...

"The M48 Patton tank served as the U.S. Army and Marine Corps's primary battle tank in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was widely used by U.S. Cold War allies, especially other NATO countries." From what I could find, the tank was part of the Vietnam War. It's not tasteless but a tribute to those who fought in a thankless war ("conflict"). It's too bad they didn't add a plaque.

Ryan said...

I don't mind monuments for veterans, but then they could have named the park Veterans Park, or the Vietnam Memorial Park or something. Calling it "Friendship" Park then sticking a tank on it seems not just tasteless, but an insult to the soldiers who fought in the war. None of the soldiers sent to Vietnam were there out to make and hang out with friends. Which doesn't mean, of course, that they couldn't make friends while deployed overseas--and I'm sure many of them did, but they certainly weren't sent there for that purpose.

Now, admittedly, I don't know anything about how the tank ended up in a park named "Friendship Park" and there might to a totally logical reason for it, but without any other context, it just looks and sounds tasteless to me--and that is in absolutely no way meant as an insult to Vietnam vets. The park could have been given a more suitable name or the monuments could be moved to pretty much *any* other park in the city without this problem.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the miner is using a water canon, typically of use in New Mexico to blast the riverbanks high and low in looking for gold. Highly disruptive to the environment.
-di and her guy

Ryan said...

I've taken mining tours before and I think that particular tool is used to drill holes in the rock which they pack with explosives to blow up into smaller pieces. Hydraulic mining generally doesn't get used so much nowadays because of the environmental problems it creates, but they do still need to drill holes and pack them with explosives in modern-day mines--especially with the underground mines.

Actually, I'm not even sure that's a real tool on display outside. It might even just be a cutout for artistic purposes. If it were a real tool, I'd imagine that they'd want to preserve it by keeping it inside.