Experimental nomadic residence #1 a success!So I drove all day Saturday, just over 12 hours, and made it from Collinsville, IL to Santa Fe, NM. It's a good thing I did because I really needed Sunday to get my housing situation settled. More about that momentarily. Overall, the drive was actually pretty nice. Going through Oklahoma and Texas there are a lot of long, straight roads with 75 mph speed limit and few if any police traps. So I was making good progress most of the day. Of course, when the green machine is fully loaded, 75 mph is about as fast as she can go, anyway.
I listened to a lot of music and stand up comedy in the car. I had some Lewis Black and some of the old classic Bill Cosby albums. I was laughing out loud for a good long time at Lewis Black's bit about whether or not frozen stem cells are alive. He screams "THEY'RE FROZEN" at the top of his lungs about thirty times in a row. The great thing about listening to the Bill Cosby routines was I got to do direct back to back listenings of the Eddie Izzard bit on Noah and the ark followed by the Bill Cosby version. Both involve the comedian imitating the sound of Noah sawing wood for the ark. My Dad quotes the Bill Cosby version a lot, so I'd like to play him the Eddie Izzard version and see what he thinks. They are both pretty hysterical.
I also played my entire Imogen Heap collection. I figure most of you don't know of her, but she's a British "electropop" singer/songwriter and she's a frigging powerhouse dynamo. I think her voice is just amazing and her songs are really great. I was blasting "Hide and Seek" really loud and singing along while I drove across beautiful plains next to awe-inspiring wind farms full of huge windmills in Texas. It was a great moment. That song consistently gives me goosebumps.
Of course, for me Queen "The Miracle" is mandatory on any road trip longer than six hours. I also often do the entire 3-CD Wynton Marsalis "Blood on the Fields", but that will have to wait until the next trip.
So anyway, there was some great serene scenery, lots of cruise control, and enough music to keep me comfortable.
I saw a total of 5 crosses larger than thirty feet tall, three of which were over fifty feet tall. They sure can't get enough of Jesus in Texas.
The transition from the boring and somewhat dreary looking plains in the Texas panhandle to the striking brush-covered desert of New Mexico was sudden and dramatic. As I entered New Mexico I watched a long slow sunset redden the sky. There was pretty much nothing man-made visible across my entire field of vision for about an hour. It was just gorgeous.
Today the adventure began in earnest. I did some craigslist searching and google mapping prior to checkout of the hotel in the morning. I went and visited the neighborhood where one of the houses I was looking to rent was. I didn't know the exact address and couldn't spot it from the pictures, but the neighborhood was nice. I got a local paper and looked through the classifieds while I did a load of laundry at a laundromat. The laundromat crowd here was a lot more colorful and less depressing than I am accustomed to. I placed a bunch of phone calls for apartments and made an appointment to see one that afternoon.
After the laundry and some unsuccessful war driving looking for open wi-fi networks hoping the woman renting the house would respond back, I had a little time to kill before my apartment appointment so I walked through the main Santa Fe plaza and generally scoped things out.
At two in the afternoon I rendezvoused with Beth to see this 2BR apartment. We met in a well-marked parking lot and I followed her to the place as it is at the back of a small alley and would have been impossible for me to find via directions. The place was just OK for my criteria. I wanted a house as opposed to an apartment so I could play sax there. It was a little pricey and there was no Internet connection, so that means I'd have to work from a hotel for another day or two while that was connected. So I wanted to wait and see this other place in case it was better.
OK, so this is when the day got "colorful". So Beth left and I sat in my car looking at my map. The next stop was going to be a 50 mile drive to a town called Rio Rancho outside of Albuquerque since there was a nice apartment there that I knew was available and I was probably going to rent even though it was not a house and not in Santa Fe. However, the owner of the condo above the place I had just looked at came out and knocked on my car window. She introduced herself and was relieved to hear that I had not signed a lease with Beth. The weakness of my writing skills is probably going to show here, so I'll have to explain this little episode verbally when I talk to you. Anyway, she (just like Beth) has the standard issue middle-aged lesbian haircut, and she goes on to tell me a bunch of dirt about Beth and that she's charging too much for the place and so forth. She says she grew up in Santa Fe in a nearby neighborhood and that there are a bunch of apartments for rent there that would be cheaper. She then says that if I follow her in her car, she'll drive me past them. This is exactly the kind of local color I'm hoping to get, so I agree. She goes in to the apartment to get her keys and comes back with a woman that I presume is her partner and they hop in their white SUV and off we go. Oh yeah, and she says that she'll go a little ways and then pull over so we can talk, in case Beth comes back with another prospective renter.
So off we go. When we're safely out of the path Beth might be on, she pulls over and chats me up about Santa Fe neighborhoods and so forth. She's extremely nice and helpful. Then she drives me a little further to a street where there are three or four places for rent via the old "For Rent" sign out front approach. So one by one I drive past and write down the phone numbers. She eventually goes on her way and I call the numbers and leave messages. I think she must also be either a full or part time real estate broker based on some of the things she said, but in any case, it was a funny experience.
So then I map out my route and plan to head to Albuquerque to see the place that I will probably rent. I just get on the highway when my phone rings and it's the woman with the house to rent in Santa Fe, which is the one I really wanted because it has all of my criteria. So I turn back around and go take a look at it.
So that's where I am now. I have rented a really nice 2BR adobe 1-floor house in a cute neighborhood about 1.5 miles from the main Santa Fe plaza. It's got an office with a big desk and DSL, a fireplace in the living room, a screen porch out back, and a good sized patio out back with a wood-burning grill. The change in my mood from when I was heading out to Albuquerque to settle for a sub-optimal apartment to when this woman finally called me back was astounding. I'm really delighted here and amazed that I was able to just drive into Santa Fe, check craigslist, and find a short term fully furnished house with everything I need for hundreds of dollars less than what I pay in Hoboken. It's going to be really nice to be able to play my sax without having to ride a train there and back.