Saturday, December 17, 2005

I-10 Mobile Estates, in the Middle of Nowhere™

We are parked on a dirt strip just off an on-ramp for I-10, west of Kent, Texas (map). This part of Texas is really desolate, and stopping options were quite limited. We did scope out the interstate rest area just east of Kent, but there was no place level to park, and it was quite busy with trucks. We also pulled off in Kent itself, but that turns out to be a convenience store and not much else. There was some dirt and gravel there, too, but we felt the store would attract spectators.

So here we are -- we basically pulled off at every exit until we found a good spot. This exit serves only unimproved ranch roads, and so there is no traffic here to speak of. We are shielded from the east-bound drivers by the overpass, and the west-bound drivers are all the way across the freeway, so it is relatively quiet and obscure.

This morning we woke up in only slightly more formal digs -- a picnic area (what Texas calls most road-side rests) just north of the small town of Eldorado, on US277 (map). We were in similar straights last night, traveling west on US190, and our map showed the picnic area just a mile or two off our route. It, too, was quiet and peaceful, if a bit cold. The temperature dropped to the low 30s over night, and, as is common in such conditions, all our air was gone by morning.

Today's drive was uneventful and mostly across vast emptiness. We did pass through one town of any size, Fort Stockton where we made a Wal-Mart stop for some necessities. We stayed off the interstate as long as possible, sticking mostly to US190, but we are now almost unavoidably stuck on I-10 through the rest of Texas and probably most of New Mexico.

Yesterday we did get to stop by the Red Cross Response Maintenance Center, where we ran into fellow DOVEs Don and CC Ramsey, met yet more volunteers, and got a nice tour of the place by Hershell Johnston, who heads it up. The place was very neat and orderly, in contrast to the semi-organized chaos of the DR headquarters. It was also quite a sight to see all the ECRVs in one place (they are normally staged throughout the country). We had a brief introductory orientation in one of these while we were in Baton Rouge, and are slated to take the 40-hour operator training course.

Tomorrow we will pass through El Paso, TX, and end up somewhere near Las Cruces, NM.

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