Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ancient crossroads

We are at the Comanche Trail city park,
in Big Spring, Texas (map).

This is an enormous park, with a large public pool (currently closed and empty), a golf course, an amphitheater, a half dozen or so lighted tennis courts, three or four playgrounds, perhaps a dozen group pavilions, the town's namesake spring, a reservoir with fishing, and this tiny primitive campground, with a half dozen sites consisting of concrete/asphalt pads and crumbling concrete picnic tables. Camping is free, with a limit of five nights per month.

Only two of the sites are large enough to accommodate Odyssey, but we've had the whole place to ourselves since we arrived Thursday, other than some local who has pulled in each evening and spent the night in his car, apparently due to some family circumstance. Behind the amphitheater are a bunch of camp-style pedestals (we think for some kind of event that is run there) with spigots and power, and we were able to fill our empty water tank before parking here for the night.

Thursday afternoon we explored the park on our scooters, and learned that the presence of the spring here made this place a crossroads for ancient people and wildlife, and many native American trails intersected here (hence the name of the park). Captain Randolph Marcy "discovered" the spring in 1849, debunking the myth that all of west Texas was a desert and opening the west to emigration by settlers of European descent. Unfortunately, over-development, commencing with the arrival of the railroad in 1881, completely depleted the spring by 1925, and the historic spring is kept full artificially now as a historic monument.

Yesterday we had a visit from Neal and Cali, of GeekBrief.TV fame. They are starting up a new adventure, preparing to go full-time in a yet-to-be-acquired motorhome, and chronicling their journeys in podcasts on BigTrip.TV. In addition to debriefing us on our experience building and living aboard Odyssey thus far, they shot some interview video footage of us which we expect will turn up on the BigTrip site at some point. It was really great to finally meet them in person -- nice folks, and we're expecting great things from them. They also treated us to dinner at local favorite KC Steaks and Seafood (excellent, BTW) -- Thanks, Cali and Neal!

In other news, on Wednesday evening I turned on the TV for the first time in over a week, to try to catch an episode of one of my favorite programs, MythBusters. To my dismay I discovered that the DirecTV receiver had gone belly-up -- the only signal it would provide was a black screen, and the "on" LED would not light, in spite of numerous hard-power-cycles and resets. A call to DirecTV support revealed that my only options were to (a) replace the receiver by purchasing a brand new one, or (b) sign up for an 18-month contract, in which case DirecTV would replace it at no additional charge.

Having nothing to lose, I completely disassembled the unit this morning. All the on-board fuses were good, and the only evidence of any badness that I could find was a swollen electrolytic capacitor. Unsoldering the cap from the board and sticking it on my tester showed the 5,600µF reading only about 18µF, and so I am hoping this is the entirety of the problem. There's a Radio Shack here in town, but I hold out little hope they will have anything close to the right part. The fix for this might have to wait until we reach Albuquerque, the next city of any size that we'll be through.

With no other commitments on our calendar now until the Wyoming Escapade in eight weeks, we decided to just spend another night here in Big Spring, taking advantage of an honest but free camp site and the very pleasant temperatures here. We even got a chance to pressure-wash the bus yesterday, which it sorely needed. In a few minutes, I'll head to town to hunt for capacitors, as well as drop several items in the mail from my latest round of eBay selling.

I expect we will head out tomorrow, heading northwest to Brownfield. Our general plan is to continue northwest to intersect with US60 in Farwell TX/Texico NM, then continue west to Encino, NM, where US285 and I-40 will take us to Albuquerque. From there, we will head north on US550 all the way to Delta, CO, and a visit with our good friend Alfred. After that, things get a bit murky -- what route we take north through Colorado and Wyoming will depend on how much time if left ahead of the Escapade.


  1. The Man loves Cali. He is jealous you got to meet her. :)

  2. Been following your blog for over a year now. See that you will be at Escapade.

    See you there. Look me up in the Heartland booth.

    Jim Beletti


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