Mayhem across North America and spreading…:)

The pictures that will accompany the blogs the last few posts as well as to this post are AMAZING.  I will do that in a few days to keep up with everything!

Being in Delaware was for this trip, more about revisiting my storage and organizing, removing, selling, downpacking, etc.  I did realize I need to put less importance on papers and “things” and do not let them hold me back – which they have a tendency of taking up precious room that could be invaluable in other places.

I think this might be one of the most hysterical blogs ever, so let me begin with the newest chapter not known to others (that is a good band title) – let’s start with the day before I was to leave Seaford on my cross country driving trip.

Last Monday – I had decided to wait one more day – so that I would have enough time to see Alison Schwinn (BACK FROM JAPAN AND THE NAVAL ACADEMY!)  YEAH! – and Fabricia together at Davelli’s.  I did not realize how much I missed them until we were all together, I did not want to stop hugging them!  So…..Monday I had spent heading to Davelli’s, I spent not enough time just chatting with them 🙂 – loved it – LOVED it and I had a chance to tell Alison, a Biden story – I had been carrying that around forever!  🙂

Then I was lucky enough to come across Chris Michaels, Coach Smith, Tynetta Washington, and alot of people I had put into the former post.  You could tell the mixed emotions of being in two worlds – two places, with people that are not able to be left behind was catching up to me…the day was CRAZY – literally spent with a portion of everyone I needed to desperately see and so many more needed!  🙂  no matter what occurs, there is NEVER enough time, EVER – 🙂  packed my truck so tight the whole ordeal with being searched was a major issue but I did not come to have half of my items left behind, right?  🙂  You could not even fit in an extra shirt that is how tightly packed I made it – LOL – so – I was nervous to say the least – but by giving my Mom a small computer, my stereo, speakers, and some other items, I made room for so much, that it seemed to be okay and I had to put my trust in the border and getting lucky at passing over.  Monday I was so incredibly lucky to have had the chance to spend time with so many, yet my stomach was turning cartwheels on nervousness.  CARTWHEELS!  I was so nervous I made one big boo boo – (still kicking myself) – when I was loading items in, I bumped the front windshield with my one speaker and made a small crack in the front windshield!  I was so incredibly MAD – I did not want anything to be wrong with the truck – AGH!  And now there was this small crack in the passenger side, so I resolved to repair that on the way to Mexico…

Heading out at 4:00, I actually was driving at 4:15 AM and I was so tired, it was difficult to be nervous!  My mom packed me food that truly lasted the whole trip, and without that, I would have been hurting VERY badly.  Also, the Fields’ did the courtesy of fine tuning y truck My GOSH – the engine was so clean you can eat off it (this is after my trip!) and the car was so smooth the whole way, I was sure I had been switched trucks!  AMAZING, and wow, talk about a “finely tuned machine” that was my saving grace, even when I was in 103 degree, yes, my gauge clocked the temp at 103 when I crossed into Monterrey on Friday – yet I did not shed one ounce of sweat, amazing what no humidity can do.

I crossed across the bay Bridge and remembered what it was like moving to DE and I was in shock, that I was actually moving to a state full of the environmental topics I loved – and look where I was 6 years later – moving into MD, then I crossed into VA – then Georgia, – onto Tennessee – Alabama, and I found myself in Mississippi.  I called Danielle Levredge and found out she had almost turned her ankle into a fact from the “Alien” movie, yet wanted her “eye-witness” that I just cleared under 1000 miles, about 20 miles short, but I was SPENT.  SO far, the drive was amazing, as I captured pictures from every state as I spent through, and made a pattern of filling up gas when my tank became half full, so I did that every time, I have the actual mileage and amount spent each time I stopped, so I will make that the next blog I just do not have the energy to look through the receipts right now, lol.  I had a body pillow, thanks to Tim Fields’ grandmom, and THANK GOODNESS.  I was playing it safe and erring on the side of caution, I found an AWESOME rest stop that had wireless, and when I stopped, I was so tired I didn’t even get out of the truck – I simply grabbed the pillow and sacked OUT.  Yes, I could have done a hotel, motel, or hostel, lol, but I wanted the road experience an things I learned…And this Was the GRAND DADDY of Rest stops at Toomsuba, Mississippi.  There is security on patrol 24 hours to watch over people that stay there and sleep – there is wifi, the facilities are HUGE – I learned how to shower with a wet nap – and my gosh, the food packed was a saving grace, as well as being able to SAVE tons of money along the way – however, my first night sleeping in the truck was aok as this rest stop was awesome for cleaning up and getting ready for the next day!

I sacked out – woke up – around 4:00 -AM-ish again? – mapped out the Public Library in New Orleans – after hearing a 96 degree day and feeling like 105 – I was headed to a public library to check in with Wifi, banking, info, and just to let the heat die down!  🙂  The day was awesome, hot yes already like 86 degrees at 6:00 in the morning! – I stopped at the Louisiana border to just refresh with making sure I was on track- but what I was really shocked about, when I came to the bridge leading to New Orleans, the length of the bridge heading to the water, I had no idea!  I took plenty of pictures, but the ribbon-like look of the bridge was amazing, you couldn’t see anything past the bridge it was so long – I didn’t know what to expect but was so excited to see New Orleans – and just had no idea what the layout Looked like – the view – and I snapped many, was amazing!

I came into New Orleans, and found the public library surrounded by construction, after a few passes, I found a garage for @6.00 all day!  DEAL!  I made it to the library – got some GREAT info on Overdrive to use in our library – took pictures of the library then headed OUT!  I was able to see the front harbor, the French section, the Mardi Gras layout of streets, the stadium, all the stints you could see in a day – and surprisingly, I found that I liked it, yes, but was not drawn to it as I thought I would be ?  The pictures I have are AWESOME – you will like ALOT – but I realized that when I was at the library – my credit, debit cards had been frozen – I had no new access…this presented a new problem..this was….Wednesday – Monday was our true paycheck day, but we get our pay early – zoo…good chance this was going to be in (our pay would be in) tomorrow – sooo…do I keep the truck in the garage where it is safe and guarded, but risk sleeping in the truck in the garage and being stopped by security – OR – (I had 3/4 tank of gas)  take the risk and push forward and get into Texas and stop and chance a truck stop there and be that much closer to the border?  –  If our pay was not in on Thursday – I would be stuck in Texas hopefully at a place I could “camp” out until our pay came through, AND I could try to figure out why my debit cards, credit cards, all were frozen….I was a little distressed…but I just had this pit in my stomach that I DID NOT WANT TO STAY overnight there, it was just a feeling.  True, I could wake up – and have instant wireless at the library before heading out but weighing the chance of not finding a place to clean up or shower and having to remain awake for many miles…I took the risk with my heart beating and made for the Texas border.  I, not having a GPS and doing unbelievably good so far – made the one dumb mistake of not taking a ramp right outside of New Orleans to Route 10 and instead went route 12, then to route 10, and I wasted literally almost 1 hour worth of gas – I was BEATING myself on the head when I passed the exit for the New Orleans front where I have been earlier today and now passing one hour later after having left – mistakes like that cost you being stranded in the middle on no where and I was ALREADY nervous about making to the Texas Border and how far in I should go – could I make it to Beaumont? – Houston?  I doubted I would make it to Houston as I had 15.00 available right now – and I was in Louisiana with a little lest than half a tank – and trying to get to Baton Rouge – made it, and still gas…sooooo what the heck….pushing to Lafayette – stopped for gas – 15.00 saw the had a caged tiger for display at the Grosse Tete , Louisiana Gas Station – wow is all I could say – I could not go over and see him, I did not approve of that small concrete cage – but held my breath as I crossed bayous and it seemed Lake Charles was doable – I found a Love’s Truck Stop right before Lake Charles, and had  a little of 1/3 tank of gas left but wanted to find out if there was a place here, like I had in Mississippi, I signed up for $4.99 wireless at the truck stop but then it stopped working so no wireless to see, when our pay came in I could transfer the funds to my American Bank to have access there, I was sure the restrictions was because someone saw the charges from state to state, and despite the call I made ahead of time clearing this, I was sure this was the case – NOT GOOD when you rely on that on the road and go from state to state wondering – will I make it?  (That took my anxiety level to new highs in certain locations…) BUT – I am a gambler and thought – moving to at least make Texas tonight, and if I was stuck anywhere, I needed to see I was making progress.  I also thought, if I wound NOT have given into the temptation of seeing what New Orleans was all about, look where I would be? – OR – maybe not since I saved tons of gas by using the garage for 6.00 in New Orleans!  (So far, I found by filling up when I was at half a tank of gas, worked well – and I managed to pay all the way from 3.20 a gallon to 3. 11 in places, I was getting to be a guru of gas pricing!).

The only bigger bummer was on the way – somewhere,  truck had a large object fly out of the back of the truck, and yes, you guessed it, happened to hit where that crack was in my windshield.  Um yeah, not a small crack anymore, it was spreading across to the middle!  I had only obtained liability, I found out that the windshield was not covered, and well, this was only one year old too – I had had this replaced before – but only a year ago – so all that combined, it was hard to put my anger over the windshield below my conscious level every 5 minutes,  but I would find out there were more pressing concerns…

When I asked if there were places other than this truck stop in Lafayette, LA that I could park and sleep – well, little favorable response helped me to decide to move forward to Lake Charles, the next stop, which I did.  Something persuaded me to keep going to Vinton, LA, as close as I felt comfortable going to the border without further notice of funds for gas, so just short of the Texas border, I found the Longhorn truck stop, saw a 18 wheeler pulled of, parked beside that truck, and that was the last I remember when I passed out exhausted!  It;s funny sleeping in my truck, that was already packed to the hilt – I look at my truck COMPLETELY different now, LOL, bur I realized when you are so tired from driving, I was grateful to just be able to have someplace to stop – sleep, and nothing else!

I woke in the morning, and knew this stop had showers  – I went to the restroom planning on changing and cleaning up in the bathroom, and saw a shower stall someone had left open.  This is the deal, truckers come in, pay at the desk for a shower – return the key when done to the shower room – (four of them) and close the door.  Someone had left the shower #4 open!  – I slammed in there so fast – getting a shower was HEAVENLY – and walked out with a different shirt on but it seemed none the wiser – (I left the door open too).

Feeling 100 times better, AND seeing we DID get paid early on this Thursday! – YEAH!  I felt BOLD – confident, and Texas here I come!  I had a little less than a 1/3 tank of gas left, but I headed for Texas, stopped at the Welcome Center, called Bill Cox, the Seaford teacher ahead of me, hired at ASF, he was in Houston, and told him I was headed into Texas and would meet him in Laredo this evening – (I didn’t want to take in too much how far I was looking at, but figured, after driving nearly 1000 miles the first day – the second leg would be nothing compare to that!).

I arrived in Beaumont, Texas, and almost pulled off the road, there was a Bancomer Bank there!  I could find out why my credit, debit all were frozen, and said there was money according to online, yet when I tried to use them, declined every time!  AGH!  I pulled in like I saw the Embassy, amusedly told my story to the Bancomer member I hit through the door first, :), and found out no one spoke Spanish there!  – Ironic! – but I tried to call the numberon the bank of my Bancomer card, and when I did yesterday – was told that no English speakers were available until the next day (which did not help me – I needed gas NOW to get out of Louisiana when I had called!) –

I tried several things and still – NOTHING – I was dying!  🙂  But I knew the transfer I had made would be going through today – Thursday! – so I headed to the nearest mall they directed me to get wireless.  I went into the Barnes & Noble in Beaumont, an went to it.  Money there !  – transferred from Intercam (love them!) to my American Bank – YEAH! Here is love for ya – I bought the books for the ASF library requested by various people, and that was my first purchase even though I had been stressing if I had enough fumes to make it to the Mexican border, so if anyone questions my loyalty to ASF, please direct them to this page!  I proceeded to fill the tank up, line up the Mexican insurance to cover my truck, purchased some board games for the library – then to check about getting my windshield repaired.  Looked like 298.00 and if I learned anything from this trip so far,I decided to NOT and have the money if something else would occur – so I did not do my windshield repair) this KILLED ME knowing it needed fixed! – and called Bill telling him I would meet him in Laredo this evening.

The thought occurred to me that money is a major comfort but in different ways to people.  SO many let it go to their head, but here I was, just grateful to have the amounts I needed to get me on the road – to get home – and that was everything to me!  I love the fact that I was brought up to not let it get to me, and still share the wealth even if I had lots of money – and I was sooooo freaking excited to have funds (even though no news on the Bancomer funds yet) – however I had been able to transfer them to my American account – I so felt like I had lifelines or something….:)

I left Beaumont, Texas around 3:00 PM and arrived in Laredo, Texas around 11:00 PM, filled up with gas, got the Hotel 6 where Bill was at, and CRASHED.  Literally.  The mental exercise of trying to figure ahead if I don;t have enough money here, I can pull from Here, then here, then there…well you can imagine.  My next fear was exactly how much I would need to get my vehicle permit and immigration cost – what if I did not have enough?  What the heck would I do? I still had no original FM3 (my Mexican work visa) and this weighed heavily on me too, could I come back in as a tourist even though I could not locate my working visa?  I was so tired, the best thing that could happen was to fall asleep…

We woke to pouring rain in the AM – but despite that headed out by 6:00 AM – I followed Bill (our first time we travelled together, LOL) – and made it with a wave of hand through the first step of vehicle inspection – I couldn’t believe it!  All the items I was worried about coming across, NO PROBLEM?  WHAT THE HECK?! This was  GREAT sign!

We rambled a little before finding the vehicle permit building, but then sure enough found, it.  There are three stations, first for showing immigration papers, passport, etc, second for copies of these items to take to the third station, where all is checked to allow for your permit for your vehicle and pay for it then you are free!

We both made it through all the way to step three quickly, and then I was hung up on the copy of my FM3 at this point.  No, I cannot get a vehicle permit unless I have the original.  I told the staff there impossible, because I lost it and I did not know where the original was, just this copy – and I was scheduled to get a new one when I arrived in Mexico.  Still no, so yes, this was an issue  🙂  – I was told to go back to immigration – the step one stage – they looked at it again and said it is okay – I went back to stage three, they said no – impossible without original!  LOL – I went back to stage one, got at the END of the line, got up told them the same thing again, and this time – was told to go with this one individual to an outside where I first drive in – first thought was for me – I am SCREWED – this is like an interrogation room, right? – Bu this time – Bill -(by the way, he had two dogs that he was bringing in, and when we had gone through the lines, and he presented his form to have his pets pass, they said they were not worried about that!)  WHAT?  I could have brought a million animals and I do not think they would check!  I couldn’t believe it! He was cleared and ready to go, so we decided he needed to start to not let his dogs sitting in the card for who knows how long so he started ahead on the Mexican adventure!

Sorry reader at this point, if you are not tired from the above experiences, I have to say, I am exhausted.  Reliving this whole scenario has wiped me out, but this is not eve the best part YET.  I am going to let you soak all this in, and then you will see what happened what occurred when I walked with my escort to the other office building for immigration, so until tomorrow?


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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