FRIDAY 13TH NOVEMBER
Yesterday was Matt’s 29th birthday. Hard to believe I have a son a heartbeat away from 30! I feel so much for him, his birthday forever inextricably interwoven with Danny’s loss. I’m so glad I’ll be seeing him tomorrow.
Today is the first anniversary of Danny’s death, something I’ve been dreading for all of us. But we got through the day, as with all the other “firsts”, no choice in it! I did pretty well really. It was a weird day. I went on the bow by myself in the morning to listen to some of Danny’s music and just reflect. Hearing an anchor being dropped, I looked up and saw, to my delight, Arena setting her pick near us. I bounced up, waving to Steph on the bow, tears of pleasure in my eyes. I was so happy to see my lovely friend.
We got in the dingy and went over to see them straight away. They’d decided to surprise me, hoping they’d arrive before I left to join Matt and Meg. Four hours to spare! I got a big tearful hugs from Steph. I miss hugs. Bernie’s not much for physical contact, even between friends in need. And I’m so tactile, sometimes it’s hard. I was so so pleased to see her, even if it was brief.
Kim picked us up at 1pm and we headed for Hermisillo, where I was to fly from early the next morning. She and Bernie dropped me at my hotel at 3pm and I hid out for the rest of the day. I listened to music, had wine and food, shed tears and generally thought about how life can change in an instant and your reality is forever different.
I will miss you always, Danny. Our lives are forever less without your beautiful spirit in it. 💖
SATURDAY 14TH NOVEMBER
Today was manic. I got a cab to the airport at 0630 and with my flight not leaving until 0850, thought I had plenty of time! However, after a total lack of signage, coordination, zero English speakers among airport staff and three different queues, I finally was checked in to the correct place and aboard my flight. The first leg of the trip was to Guadalajara. We were 20 minutes late arriving, turning a one hour turn around into a very tight connection with my next flight to Las Vegas.
Presenting my passport and Mexican visitors visa (FMM) to the check in woman as I went to board, she refused to let me on, saying I had 10 minutes to go and renew my FMM. I literally ran to the opposite end of the terminal, downstairs, back to the other end on the bottom floor, and panting, found the Immigration officer. He was awesome, filling in my new one in record time. I raced back to gate B2, certain I’d be too late, and saw the woman who’d sent me off beckoning at me to hurry. Rueing my lack of fitness, I made it on last, the doors shutting behind me. God, I was lucky. That’s the closest I’ve come to missing a connection. All because of an FMM which had run out a few days earlier and shouldn’t have been a problem. Every website said not to worry, as most offices are closed due to Covid-19 and its impossible to renew unless you’re leaving and returning. Oh well.
My travel drama was not quite over! I cleared customs in record time, got my bag and was joyfully heading out to find Matt, when I nearly got stopped at the last hurdle! At the last check point, the guy asked how long I’d been in Mexico and where I’d been. I told him the exact truth and he said “you’re lucky, if you’d been to Mexico City or living ashore, I’d have had to make you quarantine for a week.” As it was, he sent me on my way.
And suddenly, there was Matt. After almost a year, a horrible heart breaking year, I had my boy in my arms again. Such joy and relief. After a bunch of three way hugs, we hit the road.
The plan was to drive to the town of Williams, and visit the Grand Canyon the next day. The Hoover Dam was en route so we checked that out, just on dark.
We stayed the night in Williams, a town just west of Flagstaff and a short run into the Grand Canyon National Park. Viewing this astonishing work of nature was the day’s plan for the 15th. We didn’t get there till around midday, as we all slept in!
Matt’s got a dodgy ankle so we stopped at various places to look and admire, rather than doing any of the hikes. It really is truly breathtaking. You’d be seriously annoyed, as an early settler, coming up against that impasse, completely unexpectedly! We saw some elk in the forest on the way out, which was cool.
MONDAY 16TH NOVEMBER
We stayed last night in a wee town called Gallup. The hotel was nothing to rave about but comfortable enough for the decent price of $57 for the one night for three of us. It was a long drive from the park and we didn’t arrive till after 8pm.
A lot of miles covered today! Matt was happy to be passing through very interesting and diverse geology. Incredibly long straight roads, and the young ones took turns at driving.
Meg and I are pleased to have Matt’s expertise to explain the volcanic geology! We found the local Walmart, after checking in, as I needed jeans and we wanted food and wine for the evening. Ticked all those boxes, then relaxed with a vino!
TUESDAY 17TH NOVEMBER
We stayed stayed last night in the town of Alamogordo. It was a great hotel with a very good breakfast. We have them grateful feedback on the way out. I rang Bernie before we left and had a catch up, as well as talking to the kittens.
We went to the White Sands National Park this morning. There weren’t many people there so we were able to have vast areas of these beautiful white dunes to ourselves. Matt and Meg took some gorgeous photos for their Instagram. I just took holiday snaps!
The five hour drive from White Sands to this city of Lubbock, now firmly in Texas. The Trump mad population have put flags up everywhere. Nauseating. However, the endless flat, desert-like terrain en route was very interesting. There were massive ranches, though barely an animal did we see! Then there’s endless miles of oil fields, which was rather sobering, oddly. Its a bit creepy to see the pumping arm (horse head) of each little oil well bobbing up and down. Another feature, was the cotton fields which have just been harvested. So there were round bales of cotton, not hay. We went through tiny, barely – there towns with names like Tinnie. That particular town (don’t blink!) was set in a gully with one of the few rivers we’ve seen. So there was a narrow strip of greenery and then it gave way to arid desert again. The town of Roswell had little to remember it by, except for its obsession with UFOs! Even the McDonald’s was UFO themed. And there was a diner called Big D’s Downtown Dive!
Tonight we are in a big town called Lubbock. Not a very nice name! We’re all a bit tired, covered a lot of miles the last few days. 1048 miles, in fact. So we’re just chilling to my music. Might hit the hay soon.
18TH NOVEMBER 2020
Today we were up earlier than usual to get to a Covid testing place at 9am. Meg had to get one done. I’m sure it’ll be negative. Then we hit the road and busted out the 5 hour drive to Dallas, stopping only for food and loo breaks. Meg teases Matt about how often he goes to the bathroom but he says he listened to his Mama and takes every opportunity that presents itself! Good lad.
The terrain has been endlessly flat, though the vegetation changed slowly from desert to tree clad, autumnal acres. Lots of cotton fields also, in the process of harvest. And the never ending oil wells and wind turbines. At least wind turbines don’t give me the heebie jeebies.
Today was one of those days. I was constantly on the verge of tears. Once we arrived at our hotel (a very nice La Quinta) I had half a gummy of sativa which improved my mental space 100%. It’s great being able to take it, knowing exactly what you’re getting, that it’s safe and regulated, and the effect is predictable. Man, it irritates the hell out of me that NZ missed this opportunity. We’ve had a lovely evening, the three of us just chatting. Nice to know we don’t have to rush off tomorrow. Meg’s appointment isn’t till the afternoon.