I re-contextualized the checkout requirement to mean that I just needed to get my stuff; and the bedsheets / pillowcase out of the Male Dorm; and return the can-lid-key to the front desk by the deadline. So after setting the rocketpack to the LOW setting; I proceeded to clean myself up and dress. The shaving part took a while because I did not have shaving cream, so I did a latch and pull method making sure I did not feel the razor against my skin. I may look like someone with a 5-o'clock shadow, but at least its better than a stubble that itches, and looks clean! The reason I mention tying my shoes is because I cannot do it the normal way - it becomes a 20 minute process for me. I normally wear moccasins or moccasin-style slip on shoes; but today I decided to wear my hiking boots, since the shoes are easier to attach to my backpack.
Why is it a 20 minute process to tie my shoes again? Dear reader, it is a manual mental process for me - ever since I was young, no matter how many times I am shown how everyone ties their shoes, I can never get it and always get a tangled untie-able mess that we end up cutting the laces with scissors. So I spent over a year at age 11 with my boots in my room, an hour a day everyday studying the knots and hand movements and figured an alternative, sequential set of muscle commands to achieve the same knot results to tie my shoes. The process is fairly involved and breaks down the tying mechanism, which resulted for me a tighter knot with shorter string lengths that greatly reduced the chances of the knot being undone while walking; but takes me 20 minutes at my fastest to complete tying both shoes. The great news is that it only takes 1.5 minutes for me to un-tie and unlace my shoes and take them off. The normal pull the lace trick works, as long as I do not do it fast, and I wind the laces really tight, so I can't simply take off my shoes after undoing the knot.
One of the fellow guests, Michael had just finished making his breakfast as I came into the kitchen and said to me 'Help yourself to some oatmeal, plenty left!", and I oblige, intending to supplement it - I am near broke, so I had to plan on not eating for 24 to 28 hours afterwards. I placed the last 4 slices of dense pumpernickel bread into the toaster; and grabbed 4 eggs from the refrigerator (the hostel provides bread, eggs, milk, cereal, and oatmeal for free - what a generous hostel!). I noticed the cast iron 12 inch skillet (weapon-worthy AND naturally non-stick, yay), and grabbed some butter and fried the eggs sunny-side up with some salt sprinkled in. I like my eggs over-easy, but can't coordinate the flip with spatula, so I am equally happy with sunny-side up. One plate with the eggs separated into 4 yolk-centric pods; 4 pieces of toast arranged in a cross formation with eggs in center with yolks not overlapping each other; and a green bowl with the oatmeal served. Breakfast of Champions commences!
The oatmeal was interesting.. there were sesame seeds and flax meal mixed in, along with some raisins mixed into the oatmeal - lots of variations of textures, mixed with what one would expect of oatmeal and raisins. I could tell it was a dense oatmeal designed to go a long way. I liked it, and made note about the extras Michael put in for future reference. I then proceeded to consume the eggs and toast using the yolk as dip for my toast - I always enjoy this meal, especially savoring the yolk and toast prospect. Breakfast done.
TIME CHECK: 9:48AM - Just enough time to pack my backpack; strip the sheets and pillowcase; and check out.
I pack up the backpack, taking my time doing so while sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor; and with 6 minutes remaining, took those items to the living room and piled my stuff there; and handed the sheets and pillowcase to the front desk; and checked out. They handed me 5 dollars, which I was initially confused by, but then was reminded that it was my key deposit!
WALLET CHECK: $16 USD after buying train ticket / day-pass. Enough to have a decent normal human sized dinner! I am estatic when I realize that I won't have to go for 24 to 28 hours without a meal!
I now have until 1pm to finish up everything else, walk over to the Alvarado Transport Center; and board the train bound for Santa Fe, NM. With my stuff taken care of, I can focus on the rest of the tasks.
I started to clean up, which included the hostel chore of wiping down the kitchen table and counter tops. Cast Iron is great at cleanup - all I needed to do was rinse it and wipe it off - no fuss, no muss! I was reminded again how weapon-worthy it was as I handled it and felt the denseness and weight of the cast-iron. I placed it gingerly on the dish-rack to dry, with no way for it to tip over the plastic dish rack and cause some material for a comedy scene.
I asked the front desk if I could print a train ticket on their printer, and they indicated that I should e-mail it to them. I went to the New Mexico Rail Runner site and purchase a day-pass for the distance of 4 zones, which was how many zones separated the Downtown Albuquerque and the Santa Fe South Capitol train stops. The day pass was only $1 USD more than the one-way fare, so it was worth the extra flexibility and usage as a bus-pass. I e-mailed the ticket to the Route 66 Hostel e-mail and they printed it out for me. That was very kind of them to do this for me.
I had more time still, so I went outside and made a phone call over to my bank's anti-fraud division to put a travel notice on my account and debit card, so that I would not get unexpected DECLINED errors when I make purchases. They had left a message with me early this morning wanting to speak with me, so this was my first opportunity to return the call and also take common-sense preventative measures.
12pm NOON. Time to head on over to the train! I bade everyone farewell, and Michael gave me his email address for further contact. I marvel at how well the backpack travels, and how easy it was to walk with 35 pounds of cargo on my back and hips. At one corner were two people handing out flyers titled "Resources for the Homeless" workshop this upcoming Thursday. I strike up a friendly conversation with him about the homeless - there are many here, and from all the pillows, blankets, and possessions in plastic bags they are lugging around, almost all of them are there by circumstance, and Albuquerque does not get cold at night - making it a perfect climate. The people here are warm and friendly to everyone, which helps. What is interesting is that the ones who are there by circumstance only ask for a cigarette or a light for their cigarette; instead of change. I suppose it is to numb the emotional impact of their situation...
I take the flyer making note of Thursday - I want to see how I can help contribute to the resources available, probably different opportunities to do volunteer work. The day passes are inexpensive, so travel throughout the cities of New Mexico is quick and easy.
So I arrive at the Alvarado Transport Center, and poke about a bit to find the boarding platform for the NM Rail Runner train; and find it. They are on Saturday schedule since it was a holiday (Columbus Day) today, so the Northbound train was not arriving until 1:46pm, another hour to go. I sat down on one of the benches, and decided to call Herman and John to check in with them (both had asked me to check in with them from time to time, so I started to adopt a weekly schedule). I asked Herman how hard is it to have a friend pre-pay a lodging reservation, and was told that not many places do this. John and I had a nice chat about technology and pizza and we concluded our conversation when people around me were gearing up to board the train.
I napped through almost all of the train ride, which was a bit over and hour; and get off at the Santa Fe South Capitol depot; bring out my iPhone and used Yelp to locate a nearby cheap meal that was not fast food. Pantry Kitchen was a couple of miles away south-southwest-ward, so I started to walk there. Many 4 star reviews, most dishes were 10 bucks. I had $16 in my wallet. Enough for a meal, a drink, tax, and tip if I used both the money I had physically, and what is left in my debit / bank card.
It is a bit past 3pm, and Ingrid contacts me and we start to sort out lodging for me, as she intended to help me out. We try a couple of calls, and started to look for options available for 7 days. I get to the restaurant, and ordered liver and onions; and iced tea. The food comes after 20 minutes fresh from the stove. The liver is slightly breaded, and is topped with a generous portion of grilled onions; there is an assortment of bell peppers and squash, sprinkled with herbs on the side; and a single scoop of mashed russet potatoes topped with beef flavored brown gravy. Normally I do not order this dish, as it is always prepared badly in my past experience - liver is usually overcooked past edible phase; and too many spices are applied in an attempt to make the taste better. In this case, this is the first time I had this dish cooked properly and very well done! It was delicious - the liver was cooked exactly right - not too done to let through its merits; the breading added a nice texture; the vegetables were not overcooked - grilled lightly; and the potatoes and gravy were done really well!
By this time, I had 20% battery left on my iPhone, and Ingrid contacts me again to tell me that none of the accommodations were working out. I look online for a bit and found a place - The Santa Fe Suites, had an extended stay single available, and at $59 per night. She calls them to book them, and explains to me that they need to fax her a legal 3rd party charge authorization form; fill it out; and fax it back to them. I had a fax service with my phone service; and I used my phone (now at 8%) to coordinate the faxing and emailing. I finally sent the complete form to The Santa Fe Suites with 1% battery life; and got the reservation! The bill comes and with tax and tip, I spent $15.86 - leaving me with $0.14 cents to my name.
I arrived at The Santa Fe Suites after going through (2.7 miles) several streets; two trails along the rail; and stumbling through a large retirement home; some desert wilderness; and another large parking lot, after the sun had set. Along the way, the sunset was absolutely amazing, the clouds looked like pink and purple sand dunes wisping across the deepening sky in a breezy manner! I looked on in Gratitude as those pink and purple sky dunes disappear into the night, whilst walking along the trail and railroad.
I check in at the front desk, went up to the suite, and settled down for a quiet night of relaxing and reflecting upon the day. At some point, it got too cold and I realized someone had left the air conditioning on COLD, and I could not find the climate controls for the unit. Instead I unplugged it from the wall, and finally went to sleep at a bit before midnight.