May 30, 2019
I was only about an hour and a half out from Phoenix. As a bonus I had finally gotten more than an hour of sleep at one time. I slept on my left hand though so when I woke up it was numb and in a lot of pain. After a while the pain subsided and I was allowed to enjoy the landscape around me. The first, most obvious thing to pique my interest was the Mountain at Flagstaff. I had never seen one before, let alone one with a snowy peak, it sure was majestic.
One the way to Phoenix we passed through a mountain range that I was assuming were the Rocky Mountains. It was interesting to the vegetation change from pine trees to shrubs back to pines and now there were only cacti and shrubs. The grass was now yellow if any grass at all.
Before long the bus had finally arrived. I was here. Phoenix at long last! It was now 8am, I looked around for my fellow passengers that I had met along the way. I asked them if they knew the area, but none of them did. Next I went outside and was immediately blasted with the heat, like opening and oven door. I saw a woman carrying a lot of luggage. She looked to be in her early thirties, tan and in good shape. She looked like she knew where she was going so I approached her and introduced myself. She said that she was from Austria, though her English was very good. Her name was Christina She had come to visit a friend.
I told her that I was looking for a shelter, or a public library to find my way around the city. She unfortunately couldn’t help me with directions. She had to catch a bus, which I thought would be a good idea to do as well, however I didn’t know how much the fare was and either way I was out of money. I considered asking her for money for the fare but couldn’t bring myself to do so. So instead we parted ways.
I decided the next best step would be to pick a direction and start walking, eventually hoping to find a gas station to ask directions. I walked North, North East along some two lane road. There was an airport immediately to my right. An 747 flew close overhead. I kept walking for 10 minutes or so until I saw a contractor of some kind working next to the road and I asked where a gas station was. I arrived at said gas station after maybe a mile or two. Once there I asked the clerk where I could find a public library or homeless shelter, she directed me East.
From there I walked very far, at least five miles in the sun. I was only wearing a tank top, shorts, and flip flops. I couldn’t find anything I was looking for so I asked some homeless people. They all gave me different directions. Some said go north, others go East. The last guy I talked to gave me specific instructions, so I figured he must know his shit.
After maybe and hour or more of walking, stopping at gas stations along the way to fill up my water bottle. I finally found the library. First thing I did was to look up the location of a homeless shelter on google. Somehow though I misinterpreted which direction I was supposed to go. Instead of going East to an adjacent town called Mesa, I headed West, further into Phoenix. Not only did I head in the wrong direction I was looking for the wrong road. After stopping at a bus station, tired of walking, I waited for someone to approach.
A young guy like me named Chris came up. After a bit a small talk I asked if he could spare money for the fare. He said that he wouldn’t quite have enough for the both of us, but that he would talk to the bus driver and see what he could do. He got on the bus, and so did I. I reached in my pocket for the only quarter I had to my name and showed it to the driver. She graciously let me ride for free. Sadly I would take the bus about 10 miles before I realized something wasn’t right
I got off at 87 Ave. The directions said to take AZ 87N. I knew it didnt seem correct but I figured it had to be too close in proximity to where I thought AZ 87N was to be a coincidence. This however was a residential street. I didn’t see anything that remotely resembled a shelter. There was a church but I knocked and knocked on the door and no one answered.
Once again I decided to pick a direction and walk, hoping to find someone to ask about the shelter’s location along the way. At this point I was running low on water, my feet were blistering, and my sunburn was starting to get bad. I asked someone about any nearby shelters, they looked confused and annoyed. I turned around and walked the other way.
It was starting to occur to me that I had royally fucked up. There was no place to get water anywhere in sight. I didn’t know how far I had to walk to find a gas station. I didn’t know if I could hitch another bus ride, and if I failed then I was stuck waiting 30 minutes to try again with another bus driver. It was very hot. I began to panic a bit and walked North along 87 Ave. I just kept on walking for what felt like forever. I was starting to feel light headed, not a good sign. Eventually I found more contractors, working on a suburb in the process of being built. I asked them for water, they said that they had none but the house had water hooked up to them.
I approached a house and turned on the spout. The water was gray looking. It was also warm and tasted like shit. I drank it anyway.
I continued walking North, until I reached another major road. I then turned East and walked until finally I found a few businesses, and a small Walgreens. I went inside and waited until I felt okay again. Stepping back outside I saw a homeless looking man leaning against a wall. I told him the address of my destination. He said it was a two hour bus ride East of here.
At this point I was feeling pretty defeated, and asked him where he stayed for shelter. He explained that he usually broke into abandoned buildings and slept there. He then told me I should go to the bus stop and explain my situation to the driver and see if he’d give me a ride. So I did just that. I told the driver where I was headed and he told me to take the “light rail”. It was a small quick train that ran down the middle of the city.
Luckily the man I ran into earlier, Chris, mentioned that when he had no cash he’d jump on the light rail without a ticket. You see they don’t actually check tickets, unless security happens to be at that stop. So the driver informed me when we reached a stop at the light rail and I hopped on, keeping in mind to dodge security.
At one of the stops two gaurds stepped on as the light rail started going. I was stuck. They were checking for tickets. One of the guards walked right past me and down to the next compartment. The other caught an elderly woman who didn’t have her pass, and didn’t want to get off. Luckily he had his hands full, and they both stepped off with the woman at the next stop. I was free.
Finally I reached the road I was looking for. I had to walk for a few miles. It was dusk now. When I arrived I told the lady behind the desk why I was there and she explained that you have to call ahead to be let in, and that I would have to call at 7:30 am tomorrow. I was pissed. Though she asked if I was hungry and gave me a paper sack with some turkey sandwiches, a bag of chips, and a granola bar. Despite it being so delicious, especially after not having eaten since the burritos I had in Texas, I was feeling like utter shit.
I thought maybe it was time for a back up plan. Maybe I should try to hitchhike to California? Perhaps they have more shelters/resources for the homeless. Either way I needed to a place to sleep for the night.