We arrived in Gallup, New Mexico, on October 3rd. Because we finally received all the parts and pieces to our fridge, we needed to rearrange our trip a bit. We originally were only going to be in Gallup for a few days. Instead, we stayed a week. With the Albuquerque Balloon Festival going full steam at this time, it turns out the closest place we could get to the repair shop was to stay was Gallop anyway!
On October 6th, we drove from Gallup to Albuquerque to get our fridge fixed and back in working order. I had this weird feeling that once we got there, they would tell us there was some odd reason it couldn't be fixed (I guess just based on the luck we have been having), but that was not the case. We drove up, they came right out, and Badda bing Badda boom, and we were on our way back to Gallup with a working fridge! (Hooray!) – shout out to Dalton Service Center for repair and getting us in quickly.
Gallup is a cute town, population 22,000, and bills itself "As the most patriotic city in the whole USA." The city sits right outside the reservation of the Navajo Nation. Mark and I took one day to tour a Museum of tribal art and history with a large section dedicated to the Navajo "Code Talkers" from WWII who had a significant impact on the pacific ( the original 15 members were from the local area). It was educational; once we were done there, we left to visit the El Rancho Hotel. This is the hotel that all the movie stars would stay in back in the '30s and '40s when they were filming the old Westerns Ronald Regan, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, to name a few. Mark and I guessed that they filmed the Westerns out on the reservation, and the Legends stayed here during that time.
We left Gallup and moved on to Albuquerque. We stayed at Route 66 just outside of town. We stayed there when we first started our journey (2020) and loved it; this time, I can't say it wasn't good; it just wasn't as good as the first time. I think it was more the customer service than the campground itself. We stayed for a whole week. When we made reservations, we were not sure if we would have the fridge fixed by then. (We did-Horray!) On October 16th, we headed to Roswell, spent one night, and headed into Hobbs, NM.
Our journey into New Mexico was for the sole purpose of volunteering with the Escapees group and helping with a Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Build. It was quite the adventure. We arrived on Monday, October 18th, along with about 56 other people (30 Rigs) showing up to volunteer their time to help with building homes to give a hand up for those in low-income situations to afford homeownership. If you want to know more about Habitat For Humanity, here is a link to the national site: https://www.habitat.org/our-work
For the first week, I was on the tiling crew. We started the project tiling a 3-bedroom home. This crew was made of entirely females, except for our leader Jerry. He was so patient and such a great teacher; we were moving on our own in a short matter of time. We worked together like a finely oiled machine. After a few days, I did realize why no men signed up for this project; it truly is back-breaking.
(We made the local newspaper!)
Mark got chosen for the framing crew and helped frame a house with the cement pad poured when the group arrived. The second week I helped with drywall at the ReStore they were renovating – it had previously been a Church/community building. So much goes into building a home; I have a newfound immense amount of respect for construction workers; that work is hard. After being part of this event for two whole weeks, it felt good to say we finally were accomplished so much.
On the first Saturday, we were there, we had one of the future homeowners working alongside us, and I got to hear her story. Single mom of 2 young girls trying to make it on her own. She grew up in Hobbs, and this is all she has ever known. She does have help from her mom, but she does it all on her own for the most part. She showed me pictures of her kids, her boyfriend, and her family. I gave her a tour of the house, showing her what it would look like when finished. Her eyes lit up with so much energy and excitement all she could say was, "this is just so beautiful." Hearing that it meant so much to her made all the back-breaking, bending, and stooping worth it.
Besides the work, we also played. The leaders of our group Rob and Laura, had a jam-packed two weeks plan for us. One of the side trips we enjoyed was the trip to Carlsbad Caverns. That is definitely a must-do if you are ever in the area. We also enjoyed Happy Hour every evening after work at campsite 16. We gathered with our chairs and beverage of choice to chat about our day, meet new friends, and sometimes we had a "subject matter expert" give us a talk about subjects such as Gut Health, Bitcoin/blockchain, Fire Safety, and Wood Carving. It was fun to learn from others as so many were so knowledgeable about many subject matters.
We also ate a lot of food; we had a few potlucks which led to meeting new friends, and we also gathered at the local brewery and supported the community. Again, we enjoyed the beer, but the engaging company & friendship was what made the event. We shared so many stories and so many adventures that it just felt good to chat and engage with others who live the same life we do.
When Mark and I tell our story, people will listen to us and laugh with us, but until you have lived the life, you will truly never understand what it's like to deal with some of the issues we do. Enduring the crazy campsites we stay in, and the adventure out on the roads driving side by side with semi's and being re-routed due to issues with engines, slide-outs, and jacks.
So our last night there, we had a Halloween party with a potluck and costumes. Mark and I went as "Happy Campers that got into an accident!" How appropriate, correct? I guess I was the driver! The evening was full of fun, great food and some great dancing at the end! It was sad to see the two weeks come to an end, but it was so worth it.
The following day, we woke up, enjoyed donuts and bagels as we exchanged contact info with others so we could all stay in touch. A lot of hugs and farewells as we all departed in different directions. You know that old saying…
It's not the journey but who you travel with!
That's so true for this part of the adventure!