Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Coast to Coast: Day 13: Holbrook, AZ - Grants, NM. Tuesday, May 20, 2014

     I didn’t really sleep the night before. Even after my strange rattlesnake experience, I forced myself up at 5:30 in the morning. I only had a few hours of sleep. It was just enough to get me going, but only for a while. I was riding on borrowed energy, and it was about to run out.

     I passed the same gas station where I bought the magnet for my gas tank, and bought another one in case I lost the first one, as well as a Route 66 mug. I like collecting mugs for some reason. I love coffee, and having lots of mugs is convenient. I didn’t have room to carry the mug on my bike because it was delicate, so I went across the street to the post office to ship my spare magnet, mug, and the rain jacket that I never used back home.

     I made it just over 150 miles to Grants, New Mexico before my body told me that it had reached its limit. My brain was absolutely fried. I couldn’t think, and I could hardly keep my eyes open and on the road. Grants was a one horse town, but it was nice that I didn’t to have to deal with traffic and the city of Albuquerque. I checked into a cabin at the local KOA, pulled the equipment into my cabin, and slept very deeply for 5 hours straight. I really needed the rest.

     It was 6:30 pm by the time I was up, and I was really hungry. I was craving BBQ, so I searched up the only BBQ restaurant in the town. When I got there, it looked like it had been closed down for years, so I went down the street to the burger joint “Badlands Burgers” and ate there.

“Badlands Burgers” where I had dinner

     The inside of the burger joint was empty, except for the owner and two of his kids. Since there weren’t any other customers and he noticed that I was alone, He decided to start a conversation with me that lasted through dinner.

The inside of “Badlands Burgers”

     We talked about the Pacific Coast Highway. I asked him if he had ever been on it. He said he went most of the way in his truck. He also used to live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and has seen most of I-40. I probably should have asked him what brought him from a large city in North Carolina to a place like Grants, New Mexico, but the burger was so good that I got lost in it. We didn’t talk too much about my trip before I headed out; my sense of taste overwhelmed my sense of sound.

     Back at camp, I had just pulled out my laptop when an older, nicely dressed man smoking a cigar stopped and looked at my bike. He spoke in a deep German accent.

“Is this your motorcycle?”
“Yeah. I’m on my way cross country across the United States.”
“It’s interesting. I don’t see a lot of Americans going coast to coast”

     He was certainly right. The only American I met going coast to coast was the motorcyclist I met just outside of Kansas City. He continued:

“It’s great that you are doing this. Many things will happen to you in life; but no matter what, no one will be able to take this experience away from you. So what do you do for a living?”

“I worked at Kroger for 5 ½ years before I went on this trip. I’m a student”.
“What are you studying?”
“Business. I want to be a fund manager”.

“Ahh. I do a lot of that sort of thing. I’m looking at several companies now, but I think the market is going to fall soon. I might sell my stocks and go into commodities for the time being”.

     With that statement, a light bulb turned on in my mind.

“Well, wouldn’t that be a bad idea? Even if you were 100% sure the market was going to collapse, if you sold now and it took a year or two for the economy to follow, you would be losing capital gains and dividends in the process. When it finally does collapse, you don’t know if the stock prices will fall enough to offset capital gains taxes and brokerage fees you will incur from selling. I also wouldn’t go into commodities unless I was the producer of a commodity. Say I bought some diamonds in South Africa. What stops a diamond mine from flooding the market tomorrow and devaluing my holdings?”

     I think he opened up a little after I said that. Maybe it wasn’t something he was expecting a teenager in a leather jacket to say at a campsite in the middle of nowhere. We then had a long discussion about the global economy and the stupidity of derivatives and banks, as well as different investing strategies. I could tell this guy was pretty well off, and not just because he told me he downsized from a million dollar home to a $400,000 townhouse for extra investing money. He had the mind of a true value investor, and he had the knowledge to back it up. A commodities discussion took us into salmon fishing, and he told me that the sonar system Alaska uses to track the fish population is accurate to the hundreds. Fishing is regulated so there is just the right amount of fish along the coast to reproduce. I absolutely loved the conversation. I checked the reviews for “Badlands Burgers”. I wanted to know why the restaurant was so empty, as there is usually a very good reason. Nope. It was a very highly rated restaurant, and everyone seemed to have a good experience. The food, as I experienced myself, was fantastic. I was actually baffled that the restaurant wasn’t as busy as it should have been. Maybe it was just an off day for the restaurant.

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