Sunday, February 21, 2010

Prada where?

We are at a picnic area on US-90 between Valentine and Van Horn, Texas (map), just a dozen miles from Prada Marfa, an art installation in the middle of nowhere.

I wrote about this weird art the last time we passed it, back in 2006. On that trip, we whizzed past in the eastbound direction. It took us completely by surprise, and there is no place to turn around or even park the bus, so we just kept driving. This time, since we knew enough to be looking for it ahead of time, we were able to stop long enough for a photo, with Odyssey precariously perched on the shoulder.

As luck would have it, Amtrak's Sunset Limited rolled past just as we were pulling over to stop. I'm sorry we couldn't get a photo that included the train as well; the Sunset is one of the last great cross-country train trips. We're thankful to have had the opportunity to take that train all the way from Orlando to Los Angeles; Amtrak has since suspended the service east of New Orleans indefinitely.

We knew that this was the last picnic area before Van Horn and I-10, and we wanted to enjoy one more night of dark and quiet solitude here in the desert. We are across the road from the Southern Pacific rail line, at the location of the old Chispa whistle stop. In addition to Amtrak six times a week, there are several long freights through here each day, and we enjoy listening to them rumble by. There is a grade crossing here for Means Ranch Road, so every train blows for the crossing in the familiar long-long-short-long pattern. Oddly, there is some king of locked receptacle right in the middle of the picnic area, marked simply "US-90." We haven't a clue what it is for, but I can see a lone sheet of paper rolled up in it. Perhaps one of our readers can identify this?

From Van Horn, we will likely be on I-10 most of the way to Tucson. I had originally planned a route that would have diverted north of El Paso onto New Mexico 9, a lovely and mostly untraveled route along the southern border that we've enjoyed in the past. However, I realized just a couple days ago that we will be coming as close to Las Cruces as we have been in a long time, and we should stop there while we have the chance.

The reason for the Las Cruces stop will be to visit in person the Goodyear Tire dealer there that bent our tag axle three years ago. We had extracted a promise from them to pay for the damage, but it has taken most of that three-plus years to actually make the repairs. I finally got all the documentation together to submit a bill to them last month, and have been dreading writing the letter to go along with it reminding them of their promise and explaining why it took three years to fix.

As long as we are coming this close, we've decided to present the bill in person. I think this will eliminate a lot of potential back-and-forth through the mail about the situation. I can answer any questions they have directly and immediately, and I have lots of photographic evidence of the damage and repairs, along with their hand-written promise to pay. Most importantly, if they are going to try to weasel out of it, they will at least have to face me while they do. If they do, we'll already be in Las Cruces if we need to go to the courthouse to file an action.

Once we are in Las Cruces it will no longer make sense to backtrack to NM-9. The route via I-10 is actually both shorter and faster, which will give us all day to deal with the bent tag axle issue if we need it. But other than a few dozen miles here and there, there are really no sensible alternate routes to I-10 all the way from Demming to Tucson.


  1. Hmm.. maybe a geocache of some sort? Looking at for the zip code you're in, there appears to be one called 'Prada Y'all?'. As I'm not member there, I can't get further details.

    And we absolutely love the silence punctuated by trains. So delightful! Enjoy.

  2. I certainly have no idea what the tube is, but it kind of reminded me of good old Paul Revere for some reason, is he supposed to be coming by for a pick-up? Ha!!! I love the sounds of the train when we travel as well! I grew up with them when Mom and Dad took us to Iowa so it brings back memories of family travels! Good luck with your "case".

  3. Without even knowing the parties involved, I would almost bet on the fact you could go to the court house first and get it over with. But perhaps a gentle reminder that it is your intention to do that next will be sufficient. Good luck! How many tires did you wreck in the interim?

  4. Ooh, same thing happened to us when we were on that route, it caught us by surprise and we couldn't stop. I swear next time we're there I'll see it up close and in person. That place is world-famous.

    Look out for the winds, they're really bad here in Niland and headed East toward you. Safe travels!

  5. @Cherie: Not into geocaching ourselves, but it certainly would not surprise me to learn of a cache near Prada Marfa. Although the place is pretty easy to find without a GPS :)

    @Judy: Thanks for commenting. I don't expect we'll ever find out. It looked to us like an "iron ranger" of the sort one puts one's camping fees in. That sort of added to the illusion of the picnic area as campground; to be honest, our "site" there was nicer than some we've paid $20 for...

    @Rod: It actually went pretty well today. Details in my next post. Hard to say how many tires were "eaten" by this specific issue, but we probably bought two or three more tires than we'd otherwise have. I did not bill them for the extra tires, because there's no way to prove it, and it wasn't really their fault that it took three years to fix.

    @Rene: Thanks for the heads up. We bucked strong head winds all day today (and yesterday), and I personally got sandblasted while dumping the tanks at the Anthony Flying-J. I think they can add that as a "spa service": exfoliation, or natural sand scrub, or some such.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!