Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mountain Time

We are at a picnic area
along US-180/62, south of Dell City, Texas (map). This is the pointy part of west Texas that is in the Mountain Time Zone.

We had a pleasant drive yesterday from La Mesa to Hobbs, New Mexico, where we had to make a choice -- continue northwest on NM-529 to join US-82, which would take us all the way to Las Cruces via Alamogordo and White Sands, or continue on 180 all the way to El Paso. Both routes are familiar to us.

Originally, I had planned on the more northerly route, because I had planned to take US-70 to Phoenix from Lordsburg, and this meant we'd only be on I-10 between Las Cruces and Lordsburg (alternatives to the Interstate in this part of the country are hard to come by). However, Louise has been looking at scooters on the Internet -- she wants to move up to something a bit faster than the 49cc she has now -- and she wants to look at one in Tucson.

I-10 is pretty much our only choice to get to Tucson. So rather than come into Las Cruces on US-82, and be stuck on I-10 all the way to Tucson, we decided to swing down to El Paso, where we will basically just cross I-10 into Santa Teresa, New Mexico, then pick up NM-9, which runs west along the Mexico border and then across the bootheel. At Animas, we will turn north to re-join I-10 at the Arizona border. This route, at least, eliminates most of the dreaded Interstate through New Mexico.

And so it is that we find ourselves here, on a familiar stretch of road. We passed through the tourist mecca of Carlsbad and descended along side the breathtaking Guadalupe mountains. We more or less coasted here after cresting the summit -- we are very nearly at the bottom of the valley, having just passed the dry lake bed. We figured it to be a few degrees warmer here than any of our other picnic-area choices -- they seem to be spaced every 30 miles or so along this stretch.

In order to make our Saturday scooter-viewing appointment in Tucson, we will need to do about four hours each today and tomorrow. I expect tonight we will be in Columbus, New Mexico, at the familiar Pancho Villa State Park.


  1. In case you aren't aware of it...

    In many states if you go over the 49cc threshhold you have to have a motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license.

  2. We are both long-time motorcyclists, having downsized from large touring and sport-touring machines to a pair of Suzuki 650s when we moved onto the bus. It could go without saying that we are both licensed for motorcycles of any displacement.

    The reason we got the 49cc scooter instead of something larger was due to a misunderstanding of what displacement limit is placed on vehicles being brought into Mexico before they require a Temporary Importation Permit. We understood it to be motorcycles under 50cc; it turns out that it is "under 500cc" -- quite a difference. Now that neither of us has a motorcycle above 499cc, we only need the permit for Odyssey, which still has nine years left on a ten-year permit.

    All of this became a big issue the first time we went to Mexico, when we both had 650s. We had to leave one motorcycle behind in the US -- you are only allowed one vehicle per licensed driver.

    BTW, the fact that some states allow unendorsed riders on 49cc bikes is essentially irrelevant, since those states are few, but we need to ride our scooters everywhere. Our "home" state, Washington, does not recognize a difference; a motorcycle license is needed to ride any size scooter.


  3. Just a quick note from someone who lives near Tucson... I10 thru Tucson is under construction and it's a narrow two lanes. Semi-trucks go thru, but I'd suggest a non-rush hour time.

  4. If you're stopping in or near Phoenix and want some company, let me know ( or twitter@rscottjones) - I'd love to chat and check out the vehicle. :)

  5. @Scott: Just catching up on emails and comments now. Yes, we were in Phoenix, but we're on our way out now, in Maricopa. Sorry we missed you.


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