Day 19 (From McWhimp to the Las Cruces Man Cometh)

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If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you can’t take the cold, get into the McDonalds. This trip is horribly transforming from a bicycle tour across the country to a visit to every McDonalds in the southwest. I stopped in here to try and minimize the amount of time I’d have to sleep outside. This one was open 24/7. I’ll just stay here until 9 p.m. and then set up camp in a park down the road. I step outside, man it’s cold. I’ll just wait until 10 p.m. instead and then head out. I repeated this process until about 1 a.m. At that point I noticed the brand new tire I put on the bike already had a flat. I should look back at my old posts to try and decipher which terrible thing I did that I’m karmically paying for right now. I took my two original tires, swapped them and took off the new one entirely. That process ate up some time and by then it was already 2am. Ok, it’s 23⁰ right now. I’m just going to rest my eyes here for a second and then head out to that park.

I woke up at 6 a.m. drooling on the table. Oh wow, I just slept in a McDonald’s restaurant in Deming. I think a part of me expected to do that because I tactically placed all of my belongings under the table before ‘resting my eyes’. No one ever came along to wake me up so I guess either this kind of thing happens often, or I just looked too adorable to wake up. Either way, there’s no better way to start a day than waking up confused in a McDonalds restaurant in New Mexico. I need to stop coming to this chain. But the wi-fi. The wi-fi!

Luckily for me, my next destination, Las Cruces, is only about 60 miles from here. I organized to stay with a WarmShowers host there. A warm shower. I could sure use a lot more of those and a lot less of poor sleeping locations. Public bathrooms and fast food restaurants emit a certain level of halogen lighting that I’m convinced perpetuates pitiable decision after pitiable decision. I need to alter my sleeping arrangements fast because my body will be physically unable to keep up with it. I’m already feeling beginning signs of a mutiny. If I keep this up, I’m going to get sick and render myself unable to effectively cycle. I’ve also noticed a direct correlation between a lack of creativity and lack of sleep. A deteriorating imagination is far worse than a deteriorating physique. Ok, I’ve been in Deming much longer than I care for. I must leave this wretched place, never to return.

Halfway through my ride to Las Cruces I ran into my first cycle tourists. I forget their names, but the male cyclist had Parkinson’s disease and was cycling cross country giving lectures at various locations. They began in Seattle and will end up in Florida. With the luxury of not having to haul 70+ pounds of luggage on their bikes (they had a support van) the couple burned me. Maybe I’ll see them again on the road. Probably not.

Once I reached Las Cruces, Mary Beth (my WarmShowers host) left her door unlocked for me to come in because she was still at work. I felt a little awkward entering her home without her there, but I was exhausted and was on the verge of passing out. Walking into Mary Beth’s house without her wasn’t nearly as awkward being woken up by her in the afternoon sleeping in a guest bed. Let the record show I asked if it was kosher before commencing with my nap. Anyway, after a fuzzy greeting, I was introduced to Flossie, Jack, and Bruno, Mary Beth’s three dogs. These three dogs have an absolutely remarkable mother in Mary Beth.

We decided to go out for dinner but ran into some transients along the way. One of them was looking to purchase a collapsible kennel for his dog, but Mary Beth informed him that she had one at her house she would give him for free. We drove back to her house, picked up the kennel and gave it to the guy. This completely random act of kindness reassured my belief that Mary Beth is a genuinely loving person. The crusties were a lot of fun to talk to too. One’s name was ‘Custer’  and the other’s name was Brandon, but everyone called him ‘Lamar’ (because he is black from the waist down). Their dog’s name is Homeboy. Despite their smell and faulty sentence structure, they were a couple of cool guys. Their next destination is Roswell. When I told them mine was the same, they told me they’d wait for me to arrive and are staying with three lesbians there. I gave them all my contact info as they had none. All I can do is cross my fingers that I have to privilege of reconnecting with them in Alien country.

After dinner, Mary Beth drove me around to check out a few of Las Cruces’ sights. While walking in front of a bar called El Patio, a man approached us named Isaac Funk and invited us in for a drink. We accepted the offer and I am eternally grateful that we did. Before I begin describing Isaac, I have to quote him: “Don’t let my dimples foo you. I’m a real tooth chipper”. Isaac is a litigation lawyer who made a ton of money during the BP oil spill by suing the company. From there he went on a 7 month bender in places like Iceland, the Virgin isles, Seattle, and Las Cruces. I should also state that he was born in El Paso, spent 16 years in Liverpool, received his undergrad degree from Amherst, and law degree from Yale. He is well educated and highly intoxicated. Isaac, Mary Beth, and I discussed matters like family relations, death, and fighting. Isaac loves to fight. He was convinced that every person at the bar wanted to fight him. He’s gone through 5 fiancés and came to Las Cruces to visit his sister. Calling this man a character would be an understatement. Between his constant threats to other barflys, and his reiteration that he’s not a good person, Mary Beth and I saw a tortured soul. One minute he’d be talking about how violent he was, and the next we’d be dancing to Otis Redding. I was beginning to believe that he was all talk when it came to fighting because he didn’t have a scratch on him.

I later learned from another regular that his sister came looking for him at the bar when he wasn’t there. It was obvious that Isaac was avoiding his family and just getting drunk all the time instead. I could relate to that, but not on a scale like this. I could see how badly he wanted to express himself and every time Mary Beth or I asked him about his family, he’d begin to tear up, but as if a switch flipped in his brain, he immediately revert back to a violent state. I felt sorry for the man, I was literally watching him kill himself and there was nothing we could do about it.

It was getting late and Mary Beth had work in the morning so we left Isaac and El Patio. Before we did Mary Beth told him to contact his sister and I told him I hope he finds what he’s looking for. His reply to both of us was “Get the fuck out”. Another boy trapped in the body of a man.

Mary Beth is an absolutely wonderful woman who has had to deal with the loss of her father and former husband in a brief amount of time. I know how strong of a woman she is and how she is dealing with her grief in a positive manner by openly talking about it. To have met Mary Beth and Isaac in the same night was powerful. Observing the ways in which people deal with their grief on such an intimate level was eye opening. We all carry the weight of something on our shoulders. It is impossible to live a life void of anguish. The essential aspect of loss is the way in which we choose to deal with it. Having the privilege of witnessing various methods of coping allowed me to closer dissect my own. Being open and honest about who I am and what I’m feeling may leave me more exposed, but at least I’m alive. I spent a long time repressing those feelings through a plethora of distracting methods, like alcohol. I miss my brother, a lot. But I learned that drinking heavily on a regular basis isn’t going to bring him back. I learned that very early on. I don’t know what Isaac is looking for; I just hope he draws the conclusion that he’s not going to find it at the bottom of a whiskey bottle sooner than later.

Having said all of that, I really wish I could have spent more time with Mary Beth, Isaac, Custer, and Brandon. We’re all just a cornucopia of fucked-up-edness.


Miles: 59.29

Calories: 2143

Time: 5:22:50

Total Ascent: 486 ft.


4 responses to “Day 19 (From McWhimp to the Las Cruces Man Cometh)

  1. I love your summary of our crazy evening! I hope Isaac finds his way out of El Patio and on to a peaceful life. Thanks for the kind words!!

  2. Hi Mary Beth, I’m Susan, Tom’s mom, and I just want to thank you for your kindness to my son. This trip of his, and this blog have made me laugh and cry, and mostly worry. But when I read about the kindness Tom is shown along the way from individuals like you , it makes me feel joy.. Thank you and God bless you

  3. Tom, I’m so glad you got to know the best person in the world I know – Mary Beth! She is so kind, selfless and a true adventurer. Hope you come back to Las Cruces again. We are full of beautiful vistas and peculiar characters. 🙂

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